Shyam Kalyan Raag Description

Shyam kalyan is a popular rag of the Kalyan family.

Tone material: S R G m M P D N

The ascent is pentatonic where Ga and Dha are avoided. The use of natural Ma is restricted to phrases such as G m \R S and m \R. Sharp Ma and Ni are important notes in this rag. In fact, Ni could be the leading note for the ascent. Re is emphasised, and Pa is a resting note.

Some characteristic phrases:

M P G m \R
G m P G m \R

Rag Shuddh sarang and Shyam kalyan have some similarity; although the former doesn’t  include Ga. The concluding phrase – G m R S helps to maintain the impression of Shyam kalyan. Although this phrase also occurs in rag Kamod, dominance of sharp Ma and Ni in Shyam kalyan gives it a distinct character.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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