Deepak Ram

Samvād (Conversation)


1. Raga Madhukauns
aachor, gat-rupak tal, gat-teental
2. Raga Kirwani
alap, gat-ektal
3. Raga Yaman
gat-matta tal, gat- teental
4. Raga Mishra Khamaj
dhun-dadra tal
  Total Time: 70:45


All tracks published by Seher Music Publishing (ASCAP)
Producer: Deepak Ram
Executive Producer: Ates Temeltas
Recorded on July 25, 2004
Recorded at Conscious Sound Productions, San Rafael, California by Robin Livingston

About North Indian Classical Music

Indian classical music is based on the exploration and improvisation of two musical entities (melody and rhythm) within very strict guidelines. Melody is governed by the Raga system while rhythm is governed by the Tala system.

It is extremely difficult to describe Raga; it is often compared to a mode, tune, or song. While itencompasses these devices, it cannot be confined to any one of them.

For a group of notes to be classified as a Raga, it must satisfy some basic rules:

  1. It must have a defined ascending and descending pattern (like a scale) of no less than five notes. The ascending pattern may be different from the descending one, and it often is.
  2. Within these notes, there is a hierarchy: The Vadi, or king note, which is the most important; the Samvadi, or queen note, which is second in importance; and the Anuvadi, which are minister notes.
  3. Each Raga has its own characteristic phrase (Pakad), or motif, that is made up of the important notes. This is often referred to as the “key” of the Raga.
  4. Each Raga has a designated time for performance: early morning, late morning, midday, etc. Early morning Ragas, for example, usually have flattened seconds and flattened sixth notes.

These guidelines and rules channel the musician’s creativity as they expose and develop Ragas in performance.

The rhythmic aspect of Indian music is defined by the Tala system, as Raga defines the melodic system. A tala is best described as rhythmic cycle with a specific number of beat-units called matra. Each tala has within it three stresses, with varying levels of intensity. The main stress occurs on the first beat of the cycle, called (SAM). A second, less intense stress occurs within the cycle(TALI). Then, there is a negative stress, called (KHALI),where a stress is deliberately avoided.

Before a student begins to improvise, he or she learns many fixed compositions in a few Ragas and Talas for a period of ten to fifteen years.

In this recording you will hear four Ragas and one Dhun (folk melody), each piece beginning with Aachor-Alap. Alap is described as an unfolding of a Raga, which is free of any tempo or meter. The "nectar" is extracted from each note, then clusters of notes, gradually moving through the range of the instrument.

An abridged form of Alap is known as Aachor or Aachor-Alap. Following the Aachor, you will hear a Gat (the only pre-composed section of the performance). A Gat may vary from one to four cycles of the chosen Tala.

The Recording

The bansuri in this recording uses the note E as the tonic, but I have given the Raga scales in the key of C for easier reading.

Raga Madhukauns

Ascending/ Descending: C E (Flat) F (sharp) G B (flat) C
Raga Madhukauns begins with an aachor, which is an abridged or shortened alap.
Alap is described as an unfolding of a raga which is free of any tempo or meter. The “nectar” is extracted from each note, then clusters of notes, gradually moving through the range of the instrument.
The first composition is set to Rupak Tal.
The second composition is in teental.

Raga Kirwani

Ascending/Descending: C D E (flat) F G A (flat) B C
Raga Kirwani begins with a chhed which a quick introduction to the notes of the raga, this opening is typical of string instruments such as sitar and sarod. After chhed you will hear an alap and a short jor (which is an extension of alap and re-examines phrases in alap but with an un-metered pulse.
The composition here is in medium tempo ektal (note the spectacular accompaniment by Ustad Tari Khan)

Raga Yaman

Ascending: B D E F (sharp) A B C
Descending: C B A G F (sharp) E D CRaga Yaman begins with a gat in a nine beat cycle (composition that synchronizes the melody to the tala).
A second faster composition in drut (fast) teental follows, the vistar (elaboration and improvisation) in matta tal.

Raga Mishra Khamaj

Ascending: B C E F G A B C
Descending: C B (flat) A G F E D C
The word mishra means mixed, and allows the performer to seek out “loopholes” in the raga rules and also introduce notes that do not otherwise belong to the raga...
There are two compositions in this performance the first is a dhun, which can be described as an air inspired by folk music.
The dhun is set to a six best cycle. The second composition is a drut teental.

Notes by Deepak Ram