Friday, January 7, 2011

Meet the Lord - Räg Yaman

With a complete scale and an impossible range of possibilities to match, Raag Yaman is treated with reverence. Let’s look at the matrix in its classical ‘avtär’…

कमल चरण करित स्मरण नमन सर्व मंगला,
तन-मन हो भाव सुमन, 'यमन' येथ रंगला...

This is without doubt the most popular räg-matrix really! A räg that uses the complete scale, capable of expressing an exhaustive range of emotions with an unfathomable depth of potential in presentation! It has also been referred to as the Lord of Rägs – come let’s get acquainted with Räg Yaman!

Technically speaking, Yaman belongs to the ‘Kalyän Thät’ and is sung in the first quadrant of night. The matrix uses all seven notes in the scale and, barring teevra madhyam (sharp fourth note), all others are flat. With typical phraseology that drops or Pa in the ascent but uses them out of sequence in descent (e.g. ‘Ni-Re-Ga-Ma-Dha-Pa’ or ‘Ni-Dha-Ni-Re-Sä’), Yaman never fails to achieve an effect of well-being, serenity, and a pleasant ambience all around. Yaman-Kalyän, its sister-melody that’s very close in nature to Yaman, differs only in its usage of both shuddha and teevra madhyam (flat and sharp fourth notes) and both these matrices have been sung extensively by artists over past few centuries. Here is a typical layout and phraseology of Yaman for you -

With its enormous potential, Yaman has always beckoned artists to discover something new in its phrases and all great vocalists and instrumentalists have given us their own flavour of this räg over changing times. Recorded material from several all-time greats from earlier generations has left behind some sparkling gems in Yaman for posterity. The greats of current generation have also explored the vastness of Yaman in their own inimitable way.

To begin with, here’s Late Smt. Heerabai Barodekar’s Yaman that personifies ‘Kiränä Gäyaki’ with its emphasis on purity and completeness of ‘swar’ and serenity in presentation.

And listen to Pt Kumär Gandharva’s all-time hit recording of Kalyän (Kumar-ji always referred to this räg-matrix as ‘Kalyän’) that refuses to fade from popularity charts.

Or take ‘Swar-Bhäskar’ Pt Bhimsen Joshi’s Yaman recorded about thirty-five years ago. Although his ‘täleem’ is typically ‘Kiränä Gäyaki’, some ‘Punjab & ‘Patiyala’ influence is very much evident in this presentation by young Bhimsen-ji. Some very aggressive tän-patterns and the overall approach seems to have been borrowed from his early forays in the North India in search of a ‘Guru’! You will definitely discover new moments of pleasure every time you hear ‘Eeri äli piyä bin’.

In the instrumental territory, I have for you a wonderful ‘äläp-jod-jhälä’ on sitar by Pt. Budhäditya Mukherjee played recently in a concert in Pune. (The recording quality may not be top-drawer since this was recorded from the auditorium.)

To round off, here’s a traditional bandish from ‘Gwalior Gharänä’ presented by Vijay Koparkar that typically projects the pleasant personality of this evergreen räg-matrix.

It is inevitable that Räg Yaman, with its immense potential, presented an irresistible proposition to composers in light and popular music. The number of songs composed in this matrix and the range of emotions they express is really unbelievable. But more about Yaman’s versatility in its lighter form in the next post…

1 comment:

  1. yaar vina by kumarji is a very good example of how only a few notes are sufficient for a maestro. He does not go above gandhar for first 20 or so minutes, that too without any repetition.