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The anatomy of a raga

August 6, 2013, DHNS:
soulful: Ranjani Vasuki and R Ganesh.

Music lovers were recently treated to Raganuraga, a classical music concert by R Ganesh and Ranjani Vasuki. The event was held by the Kala Premi Foundation on the occasion of its fifth anniversary. As Ganesh explained the salient features of each raga, Ranjani sang and demonstrated it.

The ragas that were performed included mohana, deskar, vaasanti, shivaranjani, kumud, mohanakalyani, kalyani, yamuna kalyam and shankara bharanam.

They began with the raga mohana and explained its features to the audience. Ranjani sang Saint Thyagaraja’s kriti, Yavarura Ninuvina to highlight the points explained. Ganesh explained that this raga is also known as bhup or bhopali in Hindustani music and has been widely used in film songs such as Jyothi Kalash Chalke, which Ranjani then sang.


Taking up raga kalyani, a similar elaboration was done. Ranjani rendered Purandaradasa’s Pogadiro Ranga to show how it is used in classical Carnatic music. This raga, popular as yemen in Hindustani music, is another one often used in film music.

“Usually, only a handful of people attend classical music concerts. However, a true artiste never gets perturbed by this fact. Although many people may not attend such concerts, there is no dearth of those listening to classical music. Modernisation is required, which is why we ensured we did the same in the performance,” explained Ganesh. He added, “It was an interesting gathering and we are glad that the response was good.”

Ranjani, who quit her job as a software engineer and is now pursuing a Master’s
degree in music, said that it was their attempt which was novel.

“We started with the fundamentals of classical music along with an explanation. We wanted the audience to understand even subtle differences in ragas. For a performer, it is quite a challenge to keep changing ragas, sometimes only by one note. It was truely an experience demonstrating this to the laymen,” she said.

She added that after the concert, there were many who asked if a similar performance could be held at homes or organisations.

The rain on the evening of the concert did not deter enthusiasts from making their way to the performance.

“It was a wonderful experience. While in most concerts, we just get to listen to music, here we understood the nuances of the pieces,” said Radha R. Others like Susheela, who makes it a point to attend events like this, said that it was an enriching experience. “I am so glad I came here. I have learnt so much that I did not know,” she said.

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