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Memorable Maru Bihag

Wednesday, February 13, 2019
By Amarendra Dhaneshwar

The raga 'Maru Bihag' is one of the most popular ragas. One often hears artistes rendering this raga in evening or early night concerts. In a way, it is probably a raga of recent origin. The first artiste who popularized it was none other than the great Kesarbai Kerkar whose 78 rpm disc on which she recorded this raga literally took the music world by storm. Crtitics then kept wondering whether this was a combination of 'Marwa' and 'Bihag'. In reality, it has no connection with Marwa'.

Some even wondered whether it was linked to the folk songs of 'Marubhoomi' or the desert areas of Marwad or Rajasthan. Be that as it may, there is little doubt that this raga creates instant impression and draws the listener into the atmosphere which the notes occasion. The interpretation given by the legendary Kumar Gandharva seems logical. He said the title 'Maru' suggests that it is the most loved one variety of the raga 'Bihag'. The use of two madhyams gives it a special character. Dr. Nabanita Chaudhary who performed at the Udayal concert which was held at the Hall of Culure, Nehru Centre, began with the raga 'Maru Bihag'.

Nabanita sings in a strong and broad voice. The slow composition 'Paiyan Tori Lagi' was set to ek taal. Nabanita systemmatically developed the theme of the raga and the composition. Her delicate balancing of the two madhyams was a proof of her mastery of the medium. Her swoops were forceful and alaps had a soothing touch. She has learnt semi classical fare from none other than the thumri Queen Shobha Gurtu. She sang a classic dadra and a bhajan too.The overall impact of her performance was positive. Bhushan Parchure on the tabla and Dnyaneshwar Sonwane on the harmonium lent superb support.

In the later half, it was Phil Scarff the American saxphone player who held us spell bound with hisraga 'Shree'. This raga is quite heavy and serious. Phil could easily the capture the essence of the raga within no time. 'Gajarava Baje',the famous slow khyal was played like a gat. He also played 'Yeri Hun To Aasn', the familiar drut teen taal bandish. It Hindustani music on a purely Western instrument. Kudos to 'Udayan' for bring these talented musicians to the city concert stage. Bhushan on the tabla was scintillating.

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