Thursday, January 24, 2013

A Worthy Sibling - Räg Märu-Bihäg!

Räg Märu-Bihäg proves its mettle as a worthy sibling to Yaman with countless melodies...

A new post after a long hiatus here  (due entirely to my lethargy, let me confess!) after we looked at one of the most complete rägs (Räg Yaman) in detail! But now let’s move on our enjoyable musical trek towards a few more räg-matrices that are performed during the first quadrant of night. Naturally, the framework of notes used here is also similar to some extent. Most naturally, Räg Märu-Bihäg beckons us due to its closeness with Räg Yaman.

Märu-Bihäg, undoubtedly, is one of the most pleasant matrices in Indian Classical music tradition that uses all seven flat notes in the octave and also uses Teevra Madhyam (sharp fourth note) additionally. A number of musicologists have highlighted its similarity with Yaman, especially in its descent and can, therefore, be called its sibling! Märu-Bihäg also allows for a vast potential in its expansive treatment in presentation and has, therefore, been one of the favoured rägs with vocalists and instrumentalists, alike.

A number of seniors have left behind some remarkable compositions in this matrix, but Pt Vasanträo Deshpände’s ‘Mein patiyä likh bheji’ set to mid-tempo Teen-täl merits a special mention here. Thanx to good old DoorDarshan, you can actually enjoy Vasanträo’s super-expressive Märu-Bihäg bandish in video here!

Also special is Pt Bheemsen Joshi’s ‘Tarpat rainä din’ with some outstanding and breath-taking tän-patterns. But what I have specially for readers of ‘Music-Fundaaz’ is one of the most memorable Märu-Bihäg presentations by internationally reputed violinist Pt DK Dätär in a concert organized by Saptak, Nashik in 2000 where he was accompanied by Pt. Vibhav Nageshkar on tablä – enjoy the violin that sings…

Popular music has borrowed heavily on Märu-Bihäg matrix treating listeners to a number of delightful compositions. The top-recall, without doubt, is the immortal Latä-Rafi duet ‘Tum to pyär ho’ (Film: Sehrä) under the baton of Late Vasant Desai. But Mukesh, not really well known for classical singing, also holds his own in ‘Matwäli när thumak-thumak chali jäy’ based on Märu-Bihäg. The crown, however, definitely goes to late RD Burman for composing an exceptionally delightful song based on this räg in recent times. ‘Pancham-dä’, the composer responsible for popularizing Western music in Hindi films single-handedly, was always unpredictable in the sense that he came up with a lilting and hummable yet conservative, hardcore classical composition that was least expected of him - the most fitting example being ‘Rädhä jäye nä’ (Film: Mehboobä) sung by Latä Mangeshkar!

The enchanting world of Maräthi bhäv-geet is replete with many such compositions in Märu-Bihäg. Geet-Rämäyan, as usual, gives us an all-time favourite, ‘Palavili Rävane Seetä’.

However, my personal choice is ‘Jeevanät hi ghadi’ (Film: Kämäpuratä Mämä, Music: Yashwant Dev) sung by Lata-didi. 

Indeed a worthy sibling to the eternally pleasant Yaman – this Märu-Bihäg...!


  1. Raja- Maaru Bihaag- what a raag! My first introduction to it was through the iconic "jaagu mein sari raina" by Prabha Atre.

    And love your blog! I think in recent times, you an your blog have brought me back to my music!

    Thank you!

    1. Thanx Shruti! I deliberately avoided 'Jaagu mein...' to avoid stereotyping this beautiful matrix. Listeners, for years, equated Maru-Bihag only with this bandish but there are other interesting compositions, too! I could showcase only one because I thought Vasantrao's presentation was way too good & expressive... :)

  2. Wonderful!
    And incidentally I have been learning this raag now. :)

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