my mind

Raga Bhoop

Raga Bhoop
Bhoop is an extremely deceptive Raga. It contains only the five notes Sa, Re, Ga, Pa and Dha, and all in their shuddha versions. And so is generally seen as easy to play on the flute.
The reality is quite different though. The connections of these notes are quite difficult to manage. The notes follow each other in long curvaceous paths, all connected in avarohi meend. And then maintaining the poise through expected slow development is quite a task. Things get easier as you move into the Madhya/druta laya bandish, and at faster tempo.
Observe closely the avarohi meends from Sa to Mandra Dha, Pa to Ga and then again from the Taar Sa to Dha. The Raga dwells more in the Poorvanga, i.e. in the space from Sa to Pa.
The Gandhaar is the most important note, and the Pa-Re Sangati is the most important aspect, which is a trademark of the Kalyan Anga.

Bhoop Phrases :

Bhoop Bandish :

On a Journey to explore Ragas….

Hello Friends,
I was conducting a workshop for flautists recently, and realised something important.
For my students back home in Pune, who see me a few times a week, the exploration of a Raga is quite a continuing process. And I am right there to clear any doubts or correct them. But that is not the case with the distance learners, and participants in the workshops, like the last one. And I need to do something for them.
A Raga progresses through phrases, and the entire structure of the raga can be shown through a set of few phrases across the whole range. Practicing these phrases is a good way to internalise the structure of the Raga.
I have decided to post here such a treatment of the Raga, one by one, so that it provides material for practice to all of you. I will write a short comment on the Raga, followed by an audio of an alaap, which can be easily broken down into component phrases for practicing. I will also include one Bandish played on the flute. This is an E flute, and would suit most of you.
I am refraining from giving any links to the Bandish or other material on the Raga, but am sure you can browse for these on Youtube..
Enjoy your Riyaz…

A broad roadmap to becoming a classical performing musician

I am glad that this has come up as the very first question on this forum…

Unless you are born in a musicians’ family, you really do not know what and how much you have to go through, to become a performing musician. I myself have said a few times that I completely underestimated the effort and time required ( and still working at it!).

I think the process can be broadly divided into three basic stages:

·         Stage I : The How Stage.

This is the beginning part. The focus is on producing a good sound out of the flute. You also learn to play all the swaras to a reasonable level of accuracy. Then you  go on to play various alankars in Laya. The tempo should always be just so that clarity is maintained. Speed should never be the aim at the expense of clarity.

In short, the focus of this stage would be on developing the playing skills and dexterity.

During this stage, I strongly feel that you should also try and play popular songs, as many as you can. This will help develop the sense of melody, and will ease the process of connecting the notes.

·         Stage II: The What Stage

This, I think is the most difficult phase.  You can now play the flute reasonably well, but do not know what to play.

You are getting more and more acquainted with the concepts of the raga and tala, and are able to play a few bandishes. How to expand and develop on the bandish using various musical material ( like alaap, taan etc.) is what you are learning during this stage.

What is really required is to internalize the structures of the raga and tala, wherein you get these into your subconscious. So you do not deviate from the structure of the raga, and are also able to comfortably catch the mukhada and arrive on the sama.

You are now able to present a raga through both Vilambit and Madhya/drut bandishes, and are able to give a reasonable level of performance. 

·         Stage III: The Why Stage

The aesthetics, or the core of any art form, is a different matter however, and develops as you start finding the answers to the “why” question.  Only then you can begin to form your own aesthetic sense, and aspire to make every single moment of the presentation meaningful. This is the stage where you graduate from just being comfortable in your presentation, to the ability of trying and making it beautiful.

These stages of course are not discrete and exclusive, but there would be overlaps, and you would keep going back and forth, consolidating your own concepts, and honing your skills to finer and finer levels.

As you go along, you also start realizing that just “understanding”  something, and being able to do it beautifully on the flute, are two different things, and there is a huge gap between these. Riyaz is the process of bridging this gap, and this process happens at a much slower pace than you would expect when you begin.

Lastly and most importantly, you need to be lucky to find a guru who guides you through the whole journey.