Time Theory in Hindustani Ragdari Sangeet… By Pt. K. G. Ginde
The question is invariably asked that in Hindustani Ragdari Sangeet, why do you sing a particular ‘raga’ at a particular time?
Let us understand what is time theory and how it came into existence.
Our music was first nurtured in temples. If you follow the history of music, from temples, music came into our social, religious ceremonies and then the court tradition started. In the seavices of the deity, certain melodies were sung at certain hours. Consequently, people were used to listening to those melodies at those fixed hours. The tradition continued and we got used to follow a certain ‘raga’ at a certain time. This is the origin of time theory.
Now suppose you are in a closed, air-conditioned hall, where we are almost cut-off from outside environment. You do not know whether it is morning or night. Suppose you are locked in this particular room with a musician for few days. How will you judge whether he is singing in the morning or in the evening or in the night?
After giving thought to this fact, various musicians. musicologists have found that the mood of the artiste, the temper of the artiste is suited to a particular mingling of swaras at different hours.
‘Laxangeet’ specifies three catagories of ‘ragas’.
( a) Ragas having ‘Shuddha Rishabh’ and ‘Dhaivat’.
( b) Ragas having ‘Komal Rishabh’, ‘Dhaivat’.
( c) Ragas having ‘Kamal Gandhar’ and ‘Nishad’.
Again, ragas having ‘Rishabh’ and ‘Dhaivat’ as ‘Kamal’ with ‘Shuddha Gandhar’ are under special category known as ‘Sandhiprakash Ragas.’
‘Sandhiprakash’ means twilight. It occurs twice a day. Around sunrise and around sunset. So, ragas having ‘Komal Rishabh’, ‘Kamal Dhaivat’ and ‘Shuddha Gandhar’ are ‘Sandhiprakash ragas’. It means ragas derived from ‘Bhairav, Poorvi, Marwa’ are categorised into ‘sandhiprakash ragas.’ They are sung during twilight hours, followed by ragas having ‘Shuddha Rishabh’ and ‘Dhaivat’ with ‘Suddha Gandhar’ are derived from ‘Kalyan’and ‘Bilawal’. Then comes ragas having ‘Komal Gandhar’ and ‘Nishad’, where you have ‘Kafi, Asawari, Bhairavi, Todi’.
The time cycle is devided into two parts. Day and Night. From noon to midnight,
we take it as ‘Poorvang Pradhan’ (पूर्वांग प्रधान) and from midnight to mid-day is Uttarang (उत्तरांग). Where uttarang is dominant (उत्तरांग प्रबल) we sing it after the midnight. Therefore we hear ‘Vasant’, ‘Paraj’ and similar ragas after midnight. Then comes ‘Bhairav’ and associated ragas up to mid-day. They slowly you come down and come te the lower octave.
Suppose the cycle starts say from ‘Sandhiprakash’ evening; where you have ragas derived from ‘Poorvi’, ‘Bhairavi’ and ‘Marwa’, where ‘Poorvang’ is dominant (पूर्वांग प्रबल), ‘Rishabh’ and ‘Dhaivat’ are usually dominant and ‘Gandhar’ is of course ‘Shunddha’.
Another factor is Madhyam Tivra (मध्यम तीव्र). You will find it more in the evening ragas than in the morning ragas.
In the morning ragas you will mostly find ‘Madhyam Shuddha’ (मध्यम शुद्ध) – exception is ‘Todi’. Ragas with ‘Tivra Madhyam’ (तीव्र मध्यम) are sung in the evening followed by ragas with ‘Rishabh’ and ‘Dhaivat Shuddha’ and then followed by ‘Gandhar’ and ‘Nishad’. Now if you take ‘Multani’ it comes under ‘Gandhar, Nishad’ catagory.
Prior to ‘Multani’ you sing ‘Bhimpalasi’ where ‘Madhyam Shuddha’ is prominant. In ‘Bhimpalasi’, ‘Nishad’ is very high. If you make that ‘Nishad’ more towards ‘Shuddha’, ‘Madhyam’ looses its importance and gives way to ‘Tivra Madhyam’ (तीव्र मध्यम). So you enter into ‘Gandhar, ‘Nishad Kamal’ catagory and lead towards ‘Multani’. (‘Bhimpalasi to Multani’)
In ‘Multani’, ‘Gandhar’ becomes ‘Shuddha’ and you get ‘Kalyan Thaat’. Then comes ‘Madhyam Shuddha’ which we find in ‘Poorvi’. Though it is taken as occidental note (विवाटा), it is weaker than ‘Tivra Madhyam’.
Then comes ragas like ‘Jaijaiwanti’, where ‘Kamal Gandhar’ starts showing its presence. This leads to Gandhar, Nishad Kamal ragas. Such ragas are known as Paramel Praveshak (परमेल प्रवेशक). Here you travel from Khamaj to Kafi. Marwa is also one of such raga. If in Marwa you use Shuddha Rishabh it becomes yaman.
If you go on this way Gandhar, Nishad Kamal becomes prominant. After ‘Darbari’ Gandhar goes on rising and becomes again Shuddha after midnight ragas. The cycle goes on…
I don’t mind singing ‘Todi’ in the evening – but after Todi you must follow ragas following Todi. You may ask, ‘Puriya’ is a Sandhiprakash Raga. Why do you sing it at night?
But to achieve asthetic effect for a successful Puriya you have to start with Yaman or Bageshri and then follow it up by Puriya. Then only the effect of Puriya will be maximum. The cycle has to be completed in some way so even if you are singing in the ·evening, start a cycle with morning ragas, it does not matter only when you follow the cycle, you will be able to keep up the tempo. Not vice-a-versa. For example, if you start with Yaman and then come back to Bhimpalasi, you will be able to see the effect by yourself. Another aspect of time theory is a physical aspect. In the morning, our voice is heavy. It is not supple. So you have to sing ragas showing the other lower tetrachord (मंद). Mandra means the repeatation of Uttarang in lower octave.
As you progress, gradually your voice gets tuned and you go on to another Poorvang and carry on.
That is why even in ragas you will find in morning melodies we do not have many ‘taans’. If you indulge in taans in Bhairav, the spirit of Bhairav will not remain there.
Todi is suitable to ‘alap’ singing. Kamal Rishabh Asawari is also very much suitable for ‘alaps’.
On the other hand, in the evening, your voice is more free, you can use taans and fast delivery.
So this is a basic assumption, which our ancient musicians had established for time theory in Hindustani Ragdari Sangeet. I have been told by many musicians that the same is followed in Karnatic Music. But unfortunately, the ‘Kacheri’ (कचेरी) is held mostly in the evenings and they were deprived of listening to morning melodies.
In Karnatic music, there is also a specific convention. which theyfollow .A Kacheri starts with a Varnam (वर्णम),followed by a short Kriti (कृति). Then Kirtanam (कीर्तनम) then you come to Pallavi (पल्लवी) – the main part – the peak.
You follow this with Kirtanam, the Jawali (जवाली), then Ragamalika (रागमालिका) then Shlokam (श्लोकम) and then with Mangalam (मंगलम). You can not start with Mangalam first or Pallavi first and go on with Kriti.
By the time you sing Varnam, your voice gets warmed up and you establish yourself with Pallavi, in short, there also is a convention.
I have heard musicians saying that they don’t believe in time theory. But I have not heard them playing ‘Todi’ in the evening not ‘Bhairav’ in the evening, nor ‘Yaman’ in the morning. Why not, I wonder?
The temperament of the listener also counts a lot. This is because, he is used to hear a particular raga at a particular hour. However tuned I or a musician may be, if I start singing ‘Todi’ in the evening hours, I think 90% of the people will be pretentions against me and will not be able to conceive what I say.
The main theme of Ragadari Sangeet is to establish or to magnify a personality. Each raga has a personality and each musician is a worshiper of that personality.
The worshipper worships a ‘raga’ and unfolds its image before his audience, He makes you experience what ‘raga’ is like according to his own interpretations. And only when it is done in the true sence, then only we can enjoy a ‘raga’ through various styles and forms of ‘Ragadari Sangeet’ ie. Right from Dhrupad, till Khayal and Thumri. Beyond it is all applied music.
The article is complied from Lecture
Demonstration series given by Pt. K. G. Ginde