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Shades of Malhar by Bhabani Shankar Dasgupta

(Shri Bhabani Shankar Dasgupta, a sarodiya, music-guru and the eldest son of Padma Bhushan Buddhadeb Dasgupta, writes about the intricacies and subtle differences between the different shades of Malhar, which might immensely help not only music lovers but learners too)

Painting by Jayita Sengupta


This particular variety of Malhar is very close to DESH and BRINDABANI SARANG. The note Gandhar (GA) is a forbidden note (Barjit Swar) in this Raga. The note Sudh Nisad (NI) is normally used in the ascending phrases (Arohi Varna) and Komal Nishad (Ni) is used in the descending phrases ( Avarohi Varna). The Raga has probably originated from KHAMAJ THAT and the emphasis is laid on the higher octaves (Uttaranga).


GAUD MALHAR is yet another variety of Malhar that has originated from KHAMAJ THAT. Sudh Gandhar (GA) Komal Nishad and Sudh Nishad (NI) are the most important notes in this raga. The stress or emphasis is on the higher octaves (Uttaranga). If there is too much emphasis on RE GA MA PA MA in the middle octave, it becomes NAT MALHAR .

In GAUD MALHAR the trend should always be towards TARA SA ie RE PA MA PA DHA NI SA (TARA SA).

NAT MALHAR and GAUD MALHAR are very close to each other. People often step into the territory of each other, while singing or playing these Ragas. While in GAUD MALHAR the emphasis is on MPDNS DnPM (n denotes Komal Nii) in Nat MALHAR the main stress is on RGMPMGMRS.

Listen to Ustad Amir Khan's rendition: (ht