Many hues of the raagas

An unusual concert finds common threads in multiple genres

Published: 24th June 2014 07:47 AM  |   Last Updated: 24th June 2014 07:47 AM   |  A+A-


BANGALORE: Raaga is a musical theme created by a specific set of notes to bring out mood, season, and time. A unique concert of classical and semi-classical styles, Raagas Everywhere, was held at Bangalore International Centre recently to make people understand the importance of raagas in our daily lives and how they have become an intrinsic part of every genre of music.

It was a different kind of experience with Western and Hindustani classical, Bollywood, Sufi, Folk and many other musical forms reverberating all across the venue and enthralling the music lovers.

The evening resonated with complex raagas like Kaushiki Kanhara, Malgunji, and Shyam Kalyan while at the same time, demonstrating the prowess of the musician. With Chaitra Sontakke singing Bhoopali of Hindustani tradition, it was amazing to hear the same notes of this raaga in Western classical by Bharat. Other simpler raagas like Bhimpalasi too resounded with equal resonance. 

The Italian Western classical piece by Bharat was like Keerawani while the Bollywood number, Suno Sajana channelled raaga Shyam Kalyan beautifully. With percussionists and instrumentalists treating music lovers to a sublime blend of the classical notes in every genre, the vocal performers revealed the glory of the raaga, romancing each note and demonstrating its different facets.

City Express spoke to a few artists performing at this concert.

Hailing from a musical family, Bharat Bevinahally has spent several years learning Carnatic violin before switching over to the guitar. A brilliant Blues guitarist, he is into playing Carnatic styled Blues. While his primary style is Western, the foundation that was laid by his classical training, the various raagas and rhythms, still form the basis of his compositions and playing. "I still think of the Lydian mode as Kalyani, the major scale as Sankarabharana and so on. Definitely, raagas have helped me visualise the bridge between Western and Indian forms very clearly," he explains.

A well-known Hindustani classical vocalist from the Gwalior gharana and a teacher who is spreading the 'joy of music' through the Shankar Mahadevan Academy, Chaitra Sontakke said Indian music blends very well with other genres. "I do find raagas in all genres of music blending so well, the overall experience is beautiful. People enjoy listening to film songs based on classical music. However, people should be made aware that pure classical music is different from raaga- based songs which can be heard in Bollywood and regional movies."

Sneha Bharat is a Western classical vocalist from Mumbai. She has trained with the veteran Western classical vocal coach Patricia D’ Cunha for over 10 years, completing Grade 5 in vocals from the Royal College of Music, London. She has performed with the Bombay Chamber Orchestra at the prestigious National Centre of Performing Arts (NCPA), Mumbai.

Some of the most popular compositions both in the film and indie worlds have incorporated elements from all forms in a seamless manner, said Sneha Bharat. A teacher of Western vocals at Octavium, she says, "Western classical music has fundamentally much in common with Hindustani classical. The evolution of classical and contemporary Western music has formed the basis for compositions by several music directors in India in conjunction with traditional folk and classical forms in India."

Explaining the concept of raagas through the art of story telling, music lover and creative writer Veena Prasad who narrated this concept beautifully, spun the story of a boy and a girl in love with each other and discovering raagas everywhere. The concert saw the performance of vocalists : Chaitra Sontakke, Sneha Bharat, Rishikesh Hari, Priya Nandini, Bharat Bevinahally, and P S Rohit on percussion, Kiran on tabla and Prakash Sontakke on the slide guitar.

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