With the onset of Hemant Ritu, it’s time to explore Raag Yaman Kalyan, one of the first taught to aspiring students of Hindustani classical music due to its simplicity and popularity.
It’s a new day, a new beginning and a new season. According to the Indian calendar, we have now entered the Hemant Ritu. Soon, temperatures will dip, but hopefully our spirits won’t; not if you stay with us and the music we have lined up for you.
We are often asked why we end up taking up such uncommon and unheard of ragas. Well, it’s great to explore unchartered territories, isn’t it? Having said that, today, on the onset of Hemant Ritu, we would like to bring to you the raga that is probably the most commonly sung, performed, rendered in the Hindustani classical arena: Raag Yaman Kalyan.
Raag Yaman Kalyan has gained popularity, due to its elevated an ethereal beauty. Usually sung in the first half of the night, Raag Yaman Kalyan is one of the first ragas usually taught to a student aspiring to learn Hindustani classical music. This is partly due to the simplicity of the notes in the raga, and partly due to the familiarity of the raga. The raga comprises of all the major swaras, along with both the madhyamas (natural and sharpened 4th). Almost all known artists have sung this raga in one performance or the other.
The Hindustani classical fraternity recently suffered a massive loss. On 24 October 2017, we lost the legendary Girija Devi, who was the flag-bearer of the Benaras Gharana. She had shifted to Kolkata after the demise of her husband. Girija Devi was known for her fearless, yet loving style of presenting Thumris, Dadras and Tappas; apart from traditional classical Khayal gayaki (singing). The fluidity and ingenuity in her singing was unparalleled. Girija Devi was, and still remains an inspiration to thousands of singers across the globe. The link below is one of her earlier recordings, estimated to be around mid-80s. While the recording is two whole hours of sheer gold, she performs Raag Yaman Kalyan only for the first 40 minutes. After that she slips into Thumris in other ragas.
There are many fabulous recordings of many virtuosos of Raag Yaman Kalyan. Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan has also sung the raga many a times. However, he was rarely recorded on video doing that period. The Ustad was one of the pioneers of Hindustani classical music in his times, and till date, remains a pillar. There hasn’t been, and will never be another of the calibre of that legend. Here’s a short rare video of the Ustad singing Raag Yaman Kalyan.
While classical music sees a lot of Raag Yaman Kalyan, commercial music sees a lot of it too! Yaman Kalyan isn’t a raga we can cover in one single meeting, but we’d like you to be initiated into the Bollywood influences the most popular raga has had. One of the classics, you cannot miss, in the long list of Bollywood songs based on Raag Yaman Kalyan, is by the one and only K J Yesudas. Music director, Ravindra Jain, makes sure he sticks to the true form of the raga in the composition. Many deem this, the song below, to be one of the richest times of Bollywood.
The number of times Raag Yaman Kalyan has been performed, the number of artists, who have sung it, the number of composers, who have composed in the raga, demands that we talk about it over multiple meetings. So, let’s take the discussion of this raga to the next time we meet. Until then, take care, and please listen to, and support good music!