Friday, March 4, 2016


An abiding belief of IK has been that all songs are great, some great by birth, some which achieve greatness, and others which have greatness thrust upon them, ha, ha, ha…The ‘boring ragas’ with bright prospects we talked about in this post,of course, belong to the second category…

Jhinjhoti is a raga not many would hold brief for. So much so that a friend of Missus, a knowledgeable and fine gayika confesses ‘not having gone into’ the raga…! Ustad Abdul Karim Khan’s plaintive Piya Bin Nahi Aawat Chain in Jhinjhoti (before which, says Pt. Rajan Parrikar, others sound like schoolboy howlers) was a favourite with YT from times immemorial, and therefore, not being a fine gayika, has ‘gone into’ the said raga.

Music literature says Jhinjhoti and its kin raga Khamaj, the paterfamilias, are bally ragas of ‘kshudra prakriti’! Loaded words, those, so shhhh…habits as old as Mannu die hard! The classification is supposedly on account of their being rooted in the ‘folk idiom’. Pt. Bhatkhande called it a light raga, fit for thumri and the like. Nyet for dhrupad and khayal. What condescension I sayyy…! But wait!...Here is what a western expert writes about Jhinjhoti

[On recognizing the raga]:…”In the ever shifting wilderness of aroha-avaroha...the profuse orchards of the raga-mala...shadows of the towering thaats...the neophyte will always have trouble telling one thing from the other...but from any handful of notes, I can pick it (Jhinjhoti) out at a hundred yards…Such is the great tunefulness of its nature..”

[Going rave, attending a US concert by Shahid Parvez]…”The first full touch upon the chalan sent a shiver down my spine…It was unexpected and incomparably sweet!” (one would think Peter was onto Malkauns or Bhairavi!)

Then: “I was experiencing visions such as I had known only a few times before…”

Shujaat Khan’s presentation of the raga on DD Bharati, especially the initial prose, is cited as the best exposition of Jhinjhoti available to the lay public. The Ustad calls it incredibly sweet, and talks about its versatility, of how different combinations of its notes result in myriad moods, like shringaar, bhakti or gambhirya. He sings and plays to us the ancient bandish “lakuti, chutki, ab bairan bhayi, Hariju jo diyo, sur ma lagati” . The context or the traditional bandish is how a ‘lakuti’ or a humble stick become divine music united with Krishna’s lips…

In very kind words he explains how unbeknownst to the common listener, Hindi movie makers have made unfettered use of ancient compositions, passing them, by default, as their own. The first sample he sings for our benefit is: Koi hamdam na raha, koi sahara, na raha..and what a great song that...avantage navaneet chauram Kishore ! Shujaat hums the lakuti notes thus:

[*]R P’ D’ S R M M G R G S… P’ D’ S R G R M P’ D’... M D’ D’ P’ R G M n G S

From this, it is but a short step for one to make out the Hindi song notes:

RP-—---MGM-—G—-RG—--SR-- Sn’-- D’-- D’—P’-- S


Thus the credit for this excellent piece goes not to the Music Director Kishore Kumar, but to the song writer Majrooh..avantage Majrooh.. and the trail is deeper into the woods than that:

The original koi hamdam with different antaras was sung by Kishore’s Dada Ashok Kumar in 1936 much before Kishore Kumar adapted it in the 1961 Jhumroo.. (Kishore was then a 5-ish commando in Khandwa) It’s said he forgot the source, his intuition got the better of him...ha, ha…The original score was by Saraswati Devi, who again was not Saraswati Devi, but Khorshed Minocher-Homji sailing under the fictitious Hindu name! SD was the tops in her era, her other famous songs being Mai ban ka panchi ban ke...and  Jai Jai Janani Janmabhoomi ..

In the video you hear Dada Muni recall warning Kishore, the song is in "chaudah matra ka ada chautaal, tumse nahi hoga". Kishore feigns ignorance about ada chautaal promising Dada his effort will be better than the previous avatar. And boyyy...the song scales new heights. Ada chautaal yields place to 1-2,1-2,1-2 chords, strengthening our senior's conviction, tabalchi as he is, that bols like tirkit, or tin, or dha dha toona don't matter, for they are anyway not very distinct in published audios- what matters is matra or interval between beats!
A closer approximation to lakuti is another Jhinjhoti  film song sung by Hemant Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar:

Bas ek chup si lagi hai, nahi udaas nahi.

It follows the first sargam with precision...avantage Gulzar...

About its technicals, this is a sampoorna raga, with shuddha swaras, save descending nishad which is komal...vaadi-samvaadi are sa and pa, though the jhinjhoti soul hovers between re, sa, and (lower) ni, dha, pa...comprehensively, it goes M G R G S… R n D n D P M P D S… D S R G D M P… R M G R G D S… S R G M G D S…. R M G R M P D…. N D P D M G R G S… R n D P D S… S R n D P D S

Cinderella boards the pumpkin coach...there, there...! Listen to the consummation of bhakti rasa:

Pati Devan Mahadev Shivshambhu (bada khayal taught in JA gharana)

Then karunya rasa for you:

Chhup gayakoi re, door se pukaar ke (Lata Mangeshkar, Champakali); Mera Jeevan kora kaagaz (Kishore Kumar, Kora Kagaz); Rehte the kabhi (Lata Mangeshkar, Mamta)

What versatality I sayyy...!

What brings us here is- why do Jhinjhoti compositions go beyond the theoretically defined ‘prakriti’? If one calls it ‘the wrong question’, then we are consigning to the WPB the concept of prakriti persayyy I sayyyyy..(fun intended)! There our equation e= (k*S)^p+(l*T)^q+(m*E)^r+(n*गंमत)^s steps in…wherein musical consummation has been conjured up a product of 4 attributes, raga vistara, emotion infused by singer, technique, and an unknown called gammat in maiboli, maximum weightage going to ‘emotion’.  However, people have tried to shadow the swaras and have come up with observations on how different combinations of notes engender in the listener’s mind different emotions. Pta. Kishoritai’s feel of the swaras has already been discussed in IK here.

To begin with, Dave of Dave Conservatory, a British music resource, believes that a note followed by the sharp version of the same note creates an eerie and chilling effect. This is illustrated by the background piano that plays when the white shark attacks holidaymakers in Jaws.

According to Marathi magazine ‘Sangeet Kala Vihar’ of Miraj, a khayal comprises various ‘sutras’ (strings of notes). Basically they say, there are two types of sutras, jyeshtha and kanishtha (major and minor). They are as under:

(0)        S  G  P
(4) S  g  P
(1)        S  G  M
(5) M  d  S
(2)        M  D  S  
(6) P  n  R
(3)        P   N  R

According to the analyst (though we have not been able to get a hang of it so far):

“1+ 3= Hamsadhwani/ Shankara; 2+4+6= Kafi; 4+5+6= Jaunpuri/ Darbari; 0+3+Re Ma Dha + Ni Re Ma= Kalyan thaat

“The basic principle of Hindustani classical music is that Ragas are created when Samvadi swaramalika of Shadja comes into a conflict with swaramalika of vaadi swara. The swaramalika of Shadja will normally have 4-5 swaras.

“The mood of a Raga is determined by the clash of vaadi and samvaadi swaramalikas. The atmosphere of conflict can be felt most keenly in ragas with teevra madhyam. In such ragas, ni and (komal) re are found to be in conflict with the basic sa in abundance. Ragas with re- dha conflict come next in raw-power-status.

Quite plausible, requires more research…. so more, later paarkalam...chuddam...nan se piet…. Not that it is strictly about Jhinjhoti…(#)

[*] ’ for lower octave and n (i.e. el nino) for komal nishaad.

(#) “let’s see” respectively in Tamil, Telugu and Khasi- so you can guess where-where have we been, to look at the queen, in the service of the BTN!

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