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Program Guide | Queen's Park Concert Series

What's Hindustani music?

Hindustani music is one of two major forms of classical or art music found in India today, typically finding its representation across the North of India as well as Pakistan and Bangladesh, with the other major form Carnatic music being represented across the South and Sri Lanka. Khayal is one of the primary subgenres of Hindustani vocal music, which is what will be presented today. It represents a confluence of older musical traditions such as Prabandha, Dhrupada, and Qawwali. It developed an identity of its own in the royal courts of India, beginning with the Delhi Sultanate, and culminating at the courts of the Gaekwad kings of Baroda. It is primarily an improvised form, with the song-text providing a basis for spontaneous musical creation within the grammar of the raga (melodic form) and tala (rhythmic cycle). In modern times, Khayal has continued to evolve as one of the many living Indian performing art traditions practiced today.

What will be presented today?

Raga Des

Des means homeland, and the Raga (melodic form) reflects that through its feelings of reminiscence, charm, and comfort. Often, song-texts in this Raga are themed around the monsoon season, romance, and belonging. Each Raga has their own musical grammar, which means that the sargam (musical notes) present in the Raga have specific sequences, inter-relations through vocal ornamentations like meends (slides), and harmonic intervals. The following compositions are in Raga Des.

Song-Text #1: Eri Sakhi Savana Tala | Vilambit Jhaptala (slow-paced 10-beat rhythmic cycle)

Meaning: With the arrival of the rainy season, the flames of loneliness are upon me. My mind is not at rest, without the love of my life.

The dense, stormy clouds gather around, as my heart quakes for Krishna.

Song-Text #2: Ghana Gagana Ghana | Drut Tintala (fast-paced 16-beat rhythmic cycle)

Meaning: The sky is full of dense, stormy clouds. Friend, they let out tears because of Krishna.

The peacock cries out, and my mind cannot fathom anything (of this situation). Krishna’s visage keeps forcing itself into my mind, yet he doesn’t come to me despite my pleadings

Raga Bhairavi

This raga is quite popular and, over the past few centuries, it has become a tradition to conclude recitals with Bhairavi. I will be presenting a short doha (couplet) composed by Sant Kabir, a mystic who was known to be critical of religious dogmatism. He was influenced by the teachings of both Hindu and Sufi philosophies, and his teachings revolve around discarding the ego to reveal the ultimate truth. This couplet will be presented in pure un-metered improvisation which is called alap.

Song-Text #3: Doha by Kabir | No Rhythmic Cycle

I started searching for the devil but could not find anyone. When I searched inside myself, I realized, no one is more devilish than me.

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