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#Musings with Nitin Amin: Raga Basant Mukhari

21 Song Salute to the Great Lata




Combining ragas has been a prevalent exercise in Hindustani Classical Music for centuries. A memorable example is - Raga Nata-Bhairav. It is a mixture of two ragas – Nata and Bhairav where you will notice raga Nata in the first half - the poorvang followed by raga Bhairav in the uttarang. The raga which we are going to discuss today is another variant of Bhairav – the beautiful raga Basant Mukhari.


Basant Mukhari is also a mixture of two ragas – one is Bhairav and other one is Bhairavi. The difference is, in this case it is the first part of the saptak – that is the poorvang which uses the Bhairav and the second part that is the uttarang uses the Bhairavi. So Basant Mukhari is Bhairav and Bhairavi combined, this has also been called as raga Hijaz Bhairav.


When you make the mixtures of ragas (which are known as jod ragas), where you are joining two ragas, it can be done in different ways. Advanced listeners of hindustani classical music will note the Nata Bhairav and Basant Mukhari ( Bhairav - Bhairavi) probably have the simplest way of joining the ragas, where one half of the saptak - the poorvang or the uttarang is from one raga and the other half is the other raga. The shift or transition happens at the joint which is either the madhyam or the pancham. What is important to notice is that the parts (either poorvang or uttarang) of the respective ragas do not change.


In the case of Basant Mukhari it is the Bhairav in the poorvang and Bhairavi in the uttarang. In some other cases what happens is the ragas are more intertwined together, where you have more than one joint and you keep shifting from one raga to the other raga all through the range and hence in such cases it becomes a bit more complex.


Let's take a deep dive into the structure of Basant Mukhari to understand how this “connection” is made.


The meend from ‘Ma’ to ‘Re’ (‘Ga Ma Re’) which is the most characteristic of Bhairav is retained in Basant Mukhari. Because Basant Mukhari uses this part – the poorvang of Bhairav as it is, without any changes. In Bhairav we move to its uttarang through another very characteristic meend, but that is not going to happen here because we are going to connect the part of Bhairavi in the uttarang.


In raga Basant Mukhari,we smoothly move into Bhairavi part. It uses komal nishad, komal dhaivat and then the komal rishabh and then you move on to the Bhairav. So in Basant Mukhari, you should be able to differentiate very clearly between Bhairav in the first part, Bhairavi in the second part and the smooth joints.


At some point in our experience of two ragas coming together, we stop looking at them as different entities and it eventually becomes a single composite entity. Same thing happens here, as Basant Mukhari starts taking the shape, you forget the Bhairav and Bhairavi leaving the sweet memories of a single beautiful raga.


There is a beautiful song by Lata Mangeshkar based on the raga Basant Mukhari – “ O basanti pavan pagal na ja re na ja….”.


The full RagaParichay session and a bandish in Teental in Basant Mukhari can be accessed here: Raga Parichay : Basant Mukhari


We encourage you to ask questions, request clarifications and contribute your personal experience of Raga Basant Mukhari. Please feel free to post your comments here or on www.ragasphere.com/ragaforum


More videos on www.youtube.com/ragaquest


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