Indian Raga

Shanti Hiranand was born in a business family in Lucknow. Her love for music goes back to her childhood. Soon it became an all consuming passion for her. Starting her early training at the Music College in Lucknow, she had to shift to Lahore in the early 1940s because of her father’s business interests. Her first performance was on Radio Lahore in 1947. After the partition her family shifted back to Lucknow and she started training under Ustad Aijaz Hussain Khan of Rampur. Alongside she continued performing on AIR. She met her guru, guide and mentor in Begum Akhtar in 1957. Begum Akhtar already had two excellent ganda-bandh (officially accepted and initiated) shagirds, or pupils, Rita Ganguly and Anjali Banerjee. From reading Shanti Hiranand’s biography of her guru, ‘Begum Akhtar: The Story of My Ammi’, one gets the impression that she was the only student who…

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Indian Raga

Melody and Raga : Terminology

Melody is the fountainhead of Indian music and ragas are the fundamental organizing principle of Indian classical melody.

Ragas are fixed sequences of a minimum of five notes arranged in ascending and descending order (respectively the aroha and avaroha). Unlike contemporary Western scales, but like the modes of early European music, the ascending and descending notes are not identical. Adjust the sequence or introduce an extraneous note and the result will be a different raga. Since ragas have been systematically studied for centuries their permutations have been calculated mathematically and defined scientifically. New ragas do come into being, however, through the blending of elements of two ragas to produce a so-called mishra or mixed raga with the names of the parent ragas. At times, too, apparently new ragas have turned out to be unknowing rediscoveries of ragas that have dropped out of the repertory. A…

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