Pentatonic ‘special’ five Ragas – Durga, Dhani (Bhimpalasi), Bhoopali, Madhmad Saarang and Maalkauns
In classical music there are few major Ragas which are Pentatonic (Odav-Odav Jati) meaning that both the ascent and descent recitals take five notes each. Few popular examples are Bhoop, Durga, Dhani, Shivranjani, Malkauns, Saarang, Bairagi etc..
Among these pentatonic ragas, there are a special 5 of them; namely Durga, Dhani, Bhoopali, Madhmad sarang, and Malkauns, which share the same musical key-pattern or key combinations. If you look at any keyboard, this pattern can be easily identified by the set of the Black keys in series on the keyboard. This article is dedicated to this special pentatonic pattern.
There are a few reasons why we can call them special 5, let us discuss these reasons in detail which will also reveal the characteristics of these raga.
Reasons for calling these pentatonic ragas a set of special-5..
R. 1). There is a lot of harmony in this pattern of special 5..
All my friends who know some basic sound recording would know a feature called echo effect, which gives any single sound of note played a boost by repeating it while getting diminished along time. These special 5 ragas sound especially melodious when an echo effect is applied to them. Ie. it works especially well with our special 5.
R. 2) All of these special 5 share this unique pattern with just a difference of the Base key or Tonic Major key location. What I mean is that once you start playing just those black keys from any keyboard by fixing your base key or tonic key on any one of the five keys, one of these raga start taking its shape.
For example if one fixes th e base key on the first of the nearby twin keys, Raga Durga starts taking a shape:
Shift it ahead to the third one, the first from the trio, it sounds like Bhoop (Bhupali)
One step more, Madhmad Sarang,
And yet one more step to right for the Tonic key, it becomes Malkauns..
R. 3) Now having said that, all the special 5 have nothing in common when it comes to how they sound ie. all of these special 5 sound completely different from one another.
And due to that despite sharing the note pattern 4 of them belong to totally different note family or Thaat, ie.
Raag | Thaat
Durga – Bilawal
Dhani – Kaafi .
Bhupali – Kalyan
Madhmad Saarang – Kaafi
Malkauns – Bhairavi
R. 4) Despite being multifaceted in nature all these raga sound elegant and deep, especially during the vilambit alaap recitals.
R. 45) The number of reasons also has to be 5 for the special 5, the last but not the least ie. not for the number’s sake reason –There is huge number of popular bollywood and folk songs which are based upon these special 5 ragas and, especially the 3 in the middle have inherent capacity to make the song a Viral hit. –
-> Dhani Pani da rang vekh ke, Radha kaise na jale, Tujhe Dekha to yeh Jaana Sanam, Ye zindagi usi ki hai
-> Bhupali – Dekha ek khwab to yeh silsile hue, Kanchi re kanchi re, He… nile gagan ke tale, o mere sona re, etc.
-> Madhmad Saarang Aa laut ke aaja mere meet, Kaushalya mai teri from Eeshwar movie, Chori chori maine bhi to yaari nibhayee re
All are ‘ex’-viral hits
Balancing the duality
Music is dual its nature and needs a complementary character – especially so in rhythm. If there is a Main beat (Sum) there is one secondary main beat (Khali) to complement, If there is a dominant chord or vaadi swar there is a subdominant chord or a samvadi swar. If there is bass sound there is treble to complement and If there is a sharper note there is a flatter note too.
And like any other art-form of dual nature, for an example photography – where one looks for a balance of light and dark shades, color balance – it is nothing but a matter of striking a right balance in music and a right mix of those two contrasting aspects.
Music is in finding the right balance of notes, tones, aaroha (ascent) and avaroha (descent) or bass and treble – just like one finds a middle path – a balance from two extremes in life. Life is balance, Music is Balance.
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