Way back in 2013 I began this Ragamala series. I wanted to collect a variety of tracks from diverse genres that were based upon or direct interpretations of particular ragas. I have to confess that despite many years of listening to South Asian classical music my ear is still as wooden as when I began to seriously pay attention to khyal, dhrupad and other forms of classical music. I think I can identify Malkauns but that’s about it.
I feel terrible about this. Surely, I should be more competent and clever. But each time I try to read anything about the structure of ragas the better to tune my ear, my eyes glaze over and my mind closes up shop. There is simply too much new vocabulary to learn and I’m not sure how much such knowledge would increase my listening pleasure.
Of more interest to me is the mood each raga attempts to induce in the listener. I like to see if it works on me, and I’m happy to report that Bhimpalasi does.
Bhimpalasi is an afternoon to early evening raga. A time of day that for most modern families is stressful. Kids back home from school. Commotion all over the place and pots and plates banging in the kitchen.
They say this raga speaks to the melancholy, sad aspects of the human soul. And in so doing, is effective for the release of stress and anxiety. Some recommend Bhimpalasi as part of the treatment for depression.
I began this weekend listening to Ali Akbar Khan‘s interpretation from his Bangla Desh album (1972). I’ve since listened to it a couple more times and this afternoon let Saskia Rao’s doleful cello sink slowly beneath the skin. And I am proud (and surprised) to report I feel absolutely peaceful, light and relaxed.
There are some very nice interpretations here. Lata sings two film songs (one composed by SD Burman, the other by Madan Mohan) including one of my all-time favorites, Khilte Hain Gul Yahan. An enigmatic early fusion/jazz group from the UK give us Bhimpalazi (1969) and Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan contribute two straight-ahead versions on sitar and sarod, respectively. The Dutch cellist Saskia Rao shows how beautifully that instrument fits into the Indian soundscape and finally, Mehdi Hassan gives us a filmi ghazal from Azmat (1973).
PEACE. SUKOON. SHANTI.
01 Raga Bhimpalasi [Ali Akbar Khan]
02 Nainon Mein Badra Chaaya [Madan Mohan and Lata Mangeshkar]
03 Bhimpalazi (Looking Eastward to the Blues) [Indo-Jazz Ensemble]
04 Raga Bhimpalasi [Ravi Shankar]
05 Khilte Hain Gul Yahan [SD Burman and Lata Mangeshkar]
06 Bhimpalasi Alap Jod Jhala [Saskia Rao]
07 Zindagi Main To Sabhi Pyar Kiya Karte Hai [Mehdi Hassan]