Raga Hamsadhwani, created by the eminent musician Ramaswamy Dikshitar (1735-1817), is said to be Lord Ganesha’s favourite raga. A Carnatic import, it sits comfortably in the Hindustani pantheon, like a well-adapted migrant. Given the raga’s propensity towards a sort of divine playfulness and merriness, it is easy to understand its inception in north Indian classical music inspired by Ustad Aman Ali Khan of the Bhendibazaar gharana. The latter, known for its stress on breath control and ‘open-voiced’ singing, is simply apt in terms of justifying the existence and popularity of the super-ethereal pentatonic melody.

A raga popularized by a Bhendibazaar exponent sounds no less exotic, though, in the full-throated rendition of the Patiala doyenne, Begum Parveen Sultana who, commencing her tarana in Hamsadhwani with a short insidious alaap, fills the senses with her crisp, filigreed singing. Her easy command over not three but five or six octaves makes the listening experience a truly magical one. The Patiala ornamentation, so obvious in her rendition, somehow, does not deter the discerning listener.
The tarana is the sort of gayaki that becomes a singer’s forte only after long relentless riyaaz. Begum Sultana sets the tarana rolling with some brilliant truly phrasings in the nom tom mode resembling alankaars. She gets the tempo going with the immediacy of a heart pang. The performance never sinks to the level of verbal juggelery or vocal gymnastics- usually a temptation for lesser artistes. The Begum is truly a queen!


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5 responses »

  1. Khurshid says:

    Hi Indrani,
    Heard the rendition of Raag Hansadhwani by Begum Parveen Sultana after reading your article. Begum Parveen Sultana has an amazing voice.
    Your article was educative and crisply written. Though I enjoy listening to Hindustani Classical Music I had never bothered to find out anything about the origin of the raaga or the history of the vocalist. Thanks for the information. Looking forward to more such reading.

  2. Yaman and Kalyan are two different names of the same raga. Yaman Kalyan, interestingly, is slightly different, as it uses shuddha madhyam occasionally along with the teevra madhyam of Yaman. The difference is not much, and in this article I would use Yaman to mean both Yaman and Yaman Kalyan.

  3. Leandro says:

    Hi Indrani,

    It is obvious that you have a strong passion for music, and you have all the reasons for being. I was delighted in hearing some of the music, and it’s got a “super-ethereal” quality, as you had mentioned earlier. This type of music reminds me that when the heart wants to sing, there should be no barriers.


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