Rajan Parrikar Music Archive

Short Takes: Kamod and Shyam Kalyan

by Rajan P. Parrikar
First published on SAWF on July 22, 2002

Rajan P. Parrikar in New Orleans (1989)

Rajan P. Parrikar in New Orleans (1989)


The nightly Ragas Kamod and Shyam Kalyan are the subject of this filing of Short Takes.  Both these melodies furnish a rich and fertile tonal space for elaboration.

Throughout our discussion, M = shuddha madhyam and m = teevra madhyam.

Raga Kamod

It is hard to convey Kamod’s spirit through the written medium.  The gestalt is best imbibed through study and by listening to classic renditions of the past masters.  Such ragas have very little basis in scales.  Among the deleterious habits to have come to nest in the realm of Hindustani pedagogy is the urge to pigeonhole ragas into an aroha-avaroha set, then tack on the vadi-samvadi pair, a pakkad phrase, and then presume that one has successfully described the raga.  The aroha-avaroha set is an ex post facto construct that ought not to be the starting point of inquiry.

Let us now consider Kamod and put its key lakshanas under the lens.  The reader who is not familiar with the terminology I bring to bear in my writings is encouraged to remedy the situation. For this is the language of Indian music and of raga in particular.  Gone are the days of the illiterate ustad with his indifference, not to mention ignorance, to the intellectual component of our musical heritage.

S, (M)R (M)R P, G M P G M (S)R, S
This sentence represents Kamod’s signature.  The R-P coupling is a recurring theme; the special sangati G M P G M R S has come to embody the Kamod anga. The (M)R R P cluster is suggestive of the Malhar anga.

S M R R P, m P D P, G M D D P, G M P G M (S)R S
Two points are of interest here. The teevra madhyam is weak in Kamod and appears only under the aegis of pancham; it can be dispensed with without injury to the raga swaroop.  The G M D D P cluster draws on Raga Hameer.

P P S”, S” R” S”, S” R” (S”)D D, P
The uttaranga uthav is Kalyan-inspired (note, despite the absence/weakness of N).  Notice the elongation of D (deergha bahutva) in the avarohi sense and the weak N (alpatva). The komal nishad is occasionally introduced in a vivadi dosha via S” D n P.

PDPPS”, S” (N)R” S” NS” D, P, m P D P
Another variation of an uttaranga launch.

The P and R swaras are powerful, the former in a sampoorna nyasa bahutva role (i.e. nyasa in either direction), the latter as nyasa bahutva in the avarohi sense only.  Tying together these disparate and elusive strands into a seamless composite presents a challenge.  The zigzagging contours erect barriers to quick tans in a khayal setting.  Their formulation, therefore, assumes groups of swara doublets such as SSMRPPDDmPS”S”DP.

Strands of Malhar, Hameer and Kalyan prevail in varying degrees, so does some genetic overlap with melodies such as Kedar and Chhayanat.  But all these ragas have their respective lakshana lines clearly marked out.

Ramashreya Jha “Ramrang” at his home in Allahabad

A great vidwan, like great books, is a source of perpetual delight (to paraphrase Valluvar in the Kural).  Pandit Ramashreya Jha “Ramrang” gives us a magisterial account of Kamod, recorded over the telephone.

The music redacted for this edition is calculated to illustrate and enthrall. Some of the key selections are unpublished and hard-to-find.  We kick off the clipathon with Lata Mangeshkar‘s number from CHITRALEKHA (1964), adapted by Roshan from an old Kamod bandish: eri jaane na doongi.

Straddling of the Kamod-Gaud Malhar boundary comes naturally to Roshan. Try, for instance, his seductive composition from NOORJEHAN (1967) in Suman Kalyanpur‘s voice: sharabi sharabi.

Shankar-Jaikishan affirm their trust in Lata in this strong tune from AMRAPALI (1966): jaa’o re jogi tum.

The last two compositions were earlier filed under Gaud Malhar but they hew better to the Kamod line (I had no intention of writing on Kamod at the time). As indicated earlier, Kamod does carry a strand of the Malhar anga.

In RAAGINI (1958) Amanat Ali and Fateh Ali render a cheez for O.P. Nayyar. Not a kosher Kamod but still a respectable effort: chhera diye mere dil ke taara ko.

The classical segment begins with a couple of druta compositions by Jha-sahab.  The first, his own: kala na Ave ho balama.

D.V. Paluskar (seated, far right) and Vinayakrao Patwardhan (seated, second right)

D.V. Paluskar (seated, far right) and Vinayakrao
Patwardhan (seated, second right)

Jha-sahab picked up this fetching cheez in his nomadic young days with a drama company.  They don’t make these type of compositions anymore: maana mat maana kara maanani.

D.V. Paluskar lays bare Kamod’s soul with a couple of traditional compositions.  The vilambit, hoon to jana mana chhande, is followed by the chestnut, lagi re mori na’i lagan.

The Rampur-Sahaswan view by Mushtaq Hussain Khan.

Bade Ghulam Ali Khan

Bade Ghulam Ali Khan

‘Aftab-e-Mousiqui’ Faiyyaz Khan draws out long, graceful meends.  Notice the abhasa of n around 3:35: lagi re.


Kumar Gandharva‘s is a fine example of the recensions well-worn compositions are subjected to: lagi re has its mukhda and sam re-vectored.

Kumar Gandharva’s own creation, Raga Kamodvanti – a smoothie whipped up with Kamod and Jaijaivanti: ye to maana.


Sublime moments with Bismillah Khan.

Kamod was dear to Bade Ghulam Ali Khan.  The cannonade of tans issuing in this popular recording is a spectacle no words can adequately render.  His own bandish: chhand de.

Heightening the frisson, Bade Ghulam Ali‘s tarana.

Kumar Gandharva

Kumar Gandharva

Raga Shyam Kalyan

A chalan bheda within the Kalyan framework and an overlay of the Kamod signature G M P G M R S are the chief features of Raga Shyam Kalyan.  Although one observes idiosyncratic touches across various stylistic schools, chiefly in the poorvanga,  the core of the raga is almost universally acknowledged.  It goes without saying that a certain musical maturity is required to abstract away the central themes.

The definitive tonal activity in Shyam Kalyan is summarized below (Reminder: m = teevra madhyam):

S, R N’ S (M)R, R m, m P, P G M R, M R N’, R S
Much may be gleaned from the above phrase.  The opening sangati is shared by Raga Shuddha Sarang but the agency of intonation and punctuation keeps the two ragas apart.  The Sarang-anga demands a straight arohi approach and nyasa on R. Whereas in Shyam Kalyan an arohi approach to R must formulated so as to not precipitate the Sarang-anga.  This is accomplished by spiriting away the sangatis in the direction of teevra madhyam.  The avarohi nyasa on R is necessary.  The concluding G-laden cluster lent by Kamod smothers any Shuddha Sarang aspirations: P G M R, S or G M P G M R, S.

R m, m P, D P, D m P, G M P, G M R, R N’ S
Teevra madhyam is elongated (deergha bahutva), gandhar is skipped in arohatmak sangatis (langhan alpatva) going from R to m. Dhaivat receives Kalyan-like treatment (another point of departure from Shuddha Sarang which, as a Sarang-anga raga, keeps a weak D).

R m P N, N, S”, N S” D, D, P, S” N D P m P, N, N S”
The elongation of N in arohi and of D in avarohi passages are points of interest.  In avarohi prayogas, N may be skipped as indicated above.

With this preamble, we have in place all the necessary procedures to venture into the theatre of performance.

Shyam Kalyan was the first to come under Jha-sahab’s critical gaze (vide Volume 1 of Abhinava Geetanjali).  An entire audio library of his penetrating commentaries has now grown in our archive, documents of inestimable value to the serious student of Indian music.

Ramrang holds forth on Shyam Kalyan.

We warm up to a cheez from Khandwa’s Pt. Kishore Kumar.  Keep your ears peeled for Panditji’s subtle caress of komal nishad in the antara (the Khandwa school specializes in vivadis, among other things).  The film is DARD KA RISHTA (1983) and the composer, R.D. Burman: yoon neend se.


Pt. Kishore Kumar

Pt. Kishore Kumar

Ramdas Kamat‘s modern rendition of the Marathi natyageeta from the 1916 drama, SAUNSHAY KALLOL: svakara shapatha vachani.

In the first offering from Jha-sahab’s felicitous suite, the raga-charitra emerges beautifully in the astha’i itself: aise subana ke.

Ramrang‘s druta bandish in Ektala has made its way into the repertoire of several vocalists (Satyasheel Deshpande briefly provides vocal support in the antara): bela sanjha ki.

Some 30-35 years ago, a disciple of Omkarnath Thakur called on Ramrang and sang his guru’s beautiful Shyam Kalyan composition.  A couple of days later he dropped by again and was astonished to find that Jha-sahab had not only remembered Omkarnath’s bandish but had produced a near-identical match by sewing new words onto the melody.  Jha-sahab recounts the episode.

Jitendra Abhisheki‘s concert at the 1985 Kesarbai Kerkar Samaroh in Panjim, Goa, is framed in the next two clips; both are Jha-sahab’s compositions.  The vilambit, hamare piyare maa’i.

We heard bela sanjha ki earlier in Ramrang’s own voice.  Jitendra-bab also makes good on it.

Jitendra Abhisheki

Jitendra Abhisheki

The Agra contingent is out in full strength.  A careful listening will reveal some of the special Agra touches, especially in the poorvanga.

Khadim Hussain Khan prefaces his khayal with a nomtom alap.

Vilayat Hussain Khan (“Pranpiya”) on an old 78 rpm.

Pranpiya’s son Younus Hussain Khan.

A mehfil of Basavraj Rajguru.

Tarana by Raja Kale.


Vilayat Hussain Khan

Vilayat Hussain Khan

No Shyam Kalyan catalogue can be complete without Bismillah Khan’s old recording.

Nikhil Banerjee.

Bade Ghulam Ali Khan‘s treatment stands apart from the rest of the pack for its maverick turn of phrase, a brazen G m P sangati.  The rasika is urged to find it in his heart to forgive the great man for this venial sin.

Bismillah Khan at his Varanasi home

Bismillah Khan at his Varanasi home

Raga Shuddha Gunakali

This aprachalita raga is also called “Raat-ki-Gunakali.”  It retains a Kamod base and draws on tonal ribbons from Bhoopali/Deshkar.  The following chalan expresses its essence:

S, (M)R (M)R P, P P D P, P D->R P, G M S R (S)D’ S

Ulhas Kashalkar deals an old bandish, mohe leta ri rasa batiyana sanga.

The same composition is presented by the Khan Brothers, Mohammad Sayeed and Mohammad Rashid.

As a vidwan and as a teacher, Ram Marathe was highly regarded.  But his effete vocalism, as any middle-class Marathi hag will tell you, had the virtue of running out of steam even before he got down to his foreplay. The same cheez, mohe leta.