JASRANGI: Novel Concept of Fusion of Two Ragas For Male-Female Jugalbandi in Indian Classical Music

Introduction: The concept of Jugalbandi is well known in both forms of Indian Classical Music (Carnatic and Hindustani). Jugalbandi, literally means “binding together”, an ancient Art form where two artists bring their skills in an impromptu fusion. It can be instrumental Vs Instrumental; vocal Carnatic Vs vocal Hindustani and the combinations could reach sky limit. The concept of Jasrangi is relatively new, developed by Pt. Jasraj Ji where two ragas will be sung at the same time, but in different pitches by male and female singers. Adult men and women typically have different sizes of vocal fold reflecting the male-female differences in larynx size. Adult male voices are usually lower-pitched and have larger folds. In order to preserve the tonal quality of both male and female vocalists, the concept of Moorchhana is developed in Indian Classical Music.

            The classic example is Jasrangi-Jugalbandi between Pt. Sanjeev Abhyankar and Vidushi Ashwini Bhide (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-q4K_z_Ob8). High prominence is given to     Shadga-Madhyam and Shadga-Pancham Bhav. For example, Madhyam (Ma) of female becomes Shadaga (Sa) of male voice and male Pancham (Pa) becomes female Shadja (Sa). In the process, both get comfortable in their Shrutis to sing accordingly. Consequently, the relative scale of Abhogi Raag becomes Kalavati as shown in Table 1. However, note that two ragas are in different scales.

            This opens up another possibility of singing two ragas in same scale by female singer duets or male singer duets. On a day to commemorate the memory of Carnatic Music Pitamaha “Shri Purandara Dasaru”, his particular composition becomes relevant here. In Karnataka state of India, composition “Bhagyada Lakshmi Baramma” is sung in both Carnatic and Hindustani styles in Raag Madhyamavati and Bibhas respectively. The purpose here is to bring a contrasting styles of singing emphasizing Gamaka in Carnatic style, while keeping immaculate note purity in Hindustani style, both set to 8 beats Tala (Adi and Bhajni Theka/Kehrawa).

            Gamaka is the heart and soul or lifeline of Carnatic Music, despite Hindustani singers use it occasionally. For example, in Madhyamavati (Sa Re Ma Pa Ni (Flat)), Ma and Ni are embellished with Gamaka.  In other words, when they sing Ma and Ni, they bring additional notes embedded into it which gives a very different feeling as compared to a pure note. In fact, Ma is an oscillation of a quarter note of Ga mediated through Ma to Pa (Sangati). Similarly, Ni is an oscillation of a quarter note from Dha or even from Pa (e.g. pa ni dha ni dha ni). There is a graceful modulation of voice around a single note emphasizing the individuality of Raag. The oscillation could be between adjacent or distant notes with specific rules. The fluidic movement of Gamakas including, sometimes quarter notes makes it hard for documentation and the only way this Art survived through centuries may be due to traditional “Moukhika” style of passing the information through singing, listening and reproducing it. That may bring up some kind of subjectivity and the concept of “Manodharma” into the rendering of Carnatic Classical Music.

            On the other hand, Hindustani style concentrates on hitting the note as precisely as possible emphasizing on the purity of note. Progression from one note to another note of Raag is rather slow for a better expression. Raag Bibhas has 5 notes Sa, Re (flat), Ga, Pa Dha (flat).  The inclusion of two flat notes gives an extraordinary strength to the singer who can induce a specific emotion by dragging these two notes at appropriate times. In this Raag, Re and Dha are not oscillating, thus bringing contrasting style to Madhyamavati. It is to be noted that use of Gamakas are common in both forms of Music depending on Raag and mood of the artist. Today, St Louis sisters (Amoolya and Ankita Pandurangi) try to demonstrate Jasrangi, guided by my wife Guru Sandhya Pandurangi of St Louis and by my sister Guru Veena Varuni (from Bengaluru, India). They are accompanied by Shri Ram Lakshmanan on Mridangam, Shri Raghu Pandurangi on Tabla and Amoolya Pandurangi on keyboard.

About Author: Dr. Raghu Pandurangi is a scientist raised in Dharwad and Mysore with an avid interest and exposure to both Hindustani and Carnatic Music. His passion is to understand and appreciate the knowledge behind Indian Classical Music, analyze and make it a user-friendly version for people who are interested in knowledge based appreciation of music. He plays Tabla and learns vocal music under his wife Guru Sandhya Pandurangi and daughters Amoolya and Ankita Pandurangi. Ref: Google😊, Veena Varuni and Pandurangi family.