Raag « Kamal Music Center

By: Kamal Music Center  09-12-2011

Raag « Kamal Music Center

Bhupeshwari is a truly remarkable rag.  It is found in the background music of films, in qawwalis, and other light musical forms.  It is also beginning to be performed in classical styles.  It is of recent invention, but in a short period of time it has spread throughout India and Pakistan.  Common examples are Aziz Nazan’s “Chadta Suraj Dhere Dhere” and Mehdi Hassan’s “Ab Ke Hum Bichray”.

It is a rag which appears to be developing before our eyes (or ears).  It is a rare event to witness the birth of a rag.  Because it has developed only within the last few decades, it tantalises us into thinking that perhaps we can actually document the birth of this rag.  Unfortunately the details are still remain beyond our reach.

Many feel that we can ascribe this rag invention to a particular person.  According to some, it was developed by Alladiya Khan of the Jaipur Gharana.  However, we must remember that Alladiya Khan died in 1946.  If this is so, then why is it that Bhupeshwari appears to be unknown until several decades after his death.  According to others, Bhupeshwari was invented by Pandit Mani Prasad of the Kirana school.  This time-scale seems to make sense, but serious questions arise as to whether this was a completely organic creation or was he “inspired” by some pre-existing work.  Whether any of these claims are true is difficult to say.

There is some inconsistency in the nomenclature for this rag.  In India, three names arose.  The major school, and possibly the oldest was to call it Bupeshwari.  This is an obvious inspiration from “Bhupali”, which is its closest North Indian relative.  There was another school that came up with the term Bhupkali.  Again this is an obvious link to Bhupali.  Today only Hari Prasad Chaurasiya seems to use this name; it appears that the name “Bhupkali” never gained many supporters.  To make the situation more complicated, as the rag was enfolded into the corpus of South Indian rags it acquired the name Vasanthi.  The South Indians do not seem at all inclined to adopted the name Bhupeshwari, so it is unlikely that the name Vasanthi will go away; but it is likely that this name will remain permanently relegated to the south, and not have a generalised acceptance.

Even though Bhupeshwari seems to be emerging as the dominant name, there are still linguistic pressures at work.  Variations such as“Bhupeshri” are also starting to emerge.  These variations are the result of long understood linguistic processes, and are certainly no surprise.  Equally unsurprising is the lack of a commonly accepted spelling; therefore Bhupeshwari, Bhoopeswaree, Bhoopeshree, Bhoopeswari, etc. are all to be found.

But the origin of the rag and its nomenclature are not the only problems, for there are more thornier issues; particularly the problem of it’s parent modality.  The fact that this is an audav rag (only five notes) brings up many practical issues.  We are are left to try and deduce the pitches of non-existent notes.  (If this sounds crazy, it is!  This is like trying to determine the hair colour of a man who is absolutely bald.)  In the south, some suggest that this rag is derived from the 16th mela Chakravakam, but others hold that it is 25th mela Mararanjani, the 26th mela Charukesi, or even the 27th mela Sarasangi.  The situation is not much better in the north; this rag does not fit into any of Bhatkhande’s 10 thats.

So this is what is so amazing.  By all the “rules”, of north Indian music, this rag is absolutely crazy, but it works!  It is an amazingly powerful ragwhich has all off the pathos of Shivaranjani.  This is itself amazing, because it is markedly dissimilar to Shivaranjani in it’s harmonic structure.  But the sheer power of the rag has quickly propelled Bhupeshwari into the public consciousness, where it is becoming very popular in light, classical, and filmi sangeet.

In spite of the historical and theoretical problems posed by Bhupeshwari, it is a remarkably simple rag.  It is simply BhupaliDeshkar that uses a komal Dha instead of the shuddha form.  The rag is defined entirely by its modality, therefore there are not any tricky pakards that you have to navigate.  This gives a lot of flexibility in its performance.  However, many north Indian classical musicians feel that audav rags are inherently limited in their possibilities for full development.  Bhupeshwari shares this quality with MalkaunsChandrakaunsKalavati and other five noterags.











Sa – Pa

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Indian Classical Music « Kamal Music Center

Contemporary practice tends to flow somewhere in between these two approaches, although the degree seems to be a question of individual artistic interpretation. The Vadi / Samvadi system is generally discounted by modern musicologists; those who still adhere to this theory find Bhairavi to be particularly problematic.


Raag « Kamal Music Center - raag

This means that the missing madhyam of Bhupali is tivra while the missing madhyam in Deshkar is shuddha. Common songs based upon this rag include “Jyoti Kalash Chalke” or “Pankha Hoti To Ud Ati Re”. The same notes of Bhupali are also used in rag Deshakar. Bhupali is classified under Kalyan thaat. Also called Bhoopali or Bhoopaali. Bhupali is a a very common raag.


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You will probably find that just as flute players have multiple of different sizes to suite different keys, and players have multiple tablas for a similar purpose; you will probably find that this is not going to be your only purchase, but that it is merely your first purchase. This is simply to allow you to have different instruments in different keys that allow you to handle the variety of solo and accompaniment jobs that fall your way.


Indian Classical Music « Kamal Music Center - indian classical music

Although this is not the time to go into the details of murchchanana, let it suffice to say that if you take Durga and start the scale from Ma you get Bhupali. In this page we will only be concerning ourself with the common form, and leave any discussion of Madhuradhwani for another time. It is fairly easy to perform and compose in rag Durga, because it does not share its modality with any other north Indian rag.