Raag Charukesi – Copenhagen 1986
Raag Charukeshee gets a very inspired treatmeant in this live concert. This raga juxtaposes a “major” scale with a “minor” scale. It’s mood is devotional and it should be heard after sunset. It is originally a Karnatic Raga with ascending scale: C D E F G Ab Bb C and descending scale: C Bb Ab G F E D C
After a long alap, two compositions in Teental of 16 beats will be played.
Sarod: K. Sridhar
Tabla: Sopan Dev (Bengt Berger)
Tamboura: Björn Weinreich
Recorded by John Höyer Nielsen in concert on Copenhagen september 15, 1986 AVAILABLE AS MP3 ONLY
“In his most recent purely classical album, K. Sridhar exhibits both his traditional and his innovative side by performing a Karnatik raga in a very pure Hindustani style. Raga Charukeshee is built on a scale that is not part of the Hindustani Thaat system. The top half is minor, ccontaining komal Dha and Ni (flatted sixth and seventh degrees). But the bottom half is entirely major, which means that it changes radically in mood depending on where you play in the scale. Charukeshee permits any note to be played either upward or downward, which means it has to rely on other factors to give it its distinctive character. Sridhar ingeniously starts his alaap by only using the five notes, which create the top half of the minor scale. The impression he gives is that he’s going to be playing one of the Kanras, for he even uses some of the slow vibratos that are typical of that family of ragas. But when his alaap has reached the upper register, he stays within the major half of the scale, and gives the impression that he is playing in a major thaat, such as Khamaj or Bilaval. Only when he picks up speed does he play sequences that include the entire scale, thus revealing its unique nature. The result is three distinct mood changes, which have an impact similar to the modulations from key to key used in Western music. This effect however, is only a small part of Sridhar’s expressive palette. During the alaap, he uses a variety of quiet effects that create dynamic contrasts to the main melody notes. Sometimes he taps out four or five note phrases without plucking the strings at all. Other times, he uses slides that mark numerous distinct notes as they slowly decay, the vibrato varying in both speed and depth like a mournful cry. He uses a gamak technique during slow teental which actually seems to make the note get louder as it continues to vibrate. His sophisticated use of laya (variations in tempo against the underlying beat) requires the tabla player to do everything he can to simply hold the beat down. My favorite of these laya variations is a two-minute barrage of amazingly fast trills, which are so perfectly controlled they seem paradoxically to be almost slow and stately, like the vibrating wings of a floating dragonfly. And he has one technique which I believe he invented. He keeps his fifth fingernail on his left hand almost an inch long, so he can actually play chikare (strums) with either hand.” – Teed Rockwell, India Currents Magazine