The Automated Transcription for Indian Music (AUTRIM) Project by NCPA and UvA


Bhairav is a very old rag, regarded as one of the six principal rag-s used for rag classification (Tagore [Six Principal Rag-s] 1982).

Bhairav is one of the many names of Lord Siva, especially in his powerful and awe-inspiring form as an ascetic with a trident, skulls and snakes, and with matted locks and a body smeared with ashes. Yet, this dignified and sober rag  has been found to evoke peace and devotion with a shade of melancholy. Bhairav is the main rag of a large family including Shivmat bhairav (vide), Nat bhairav (vide), Anand bhairav, Bengal bhairav, Ahir bhairav (vide) and Saurashtra bhairav.

Tone material: S r G m P d N

Although the ascent can be direct, like  S r G m P d N, some artists avoid Re and Pa in ascending passages. The distinctive feature of Bhairav is the slow oscillation on Re and Dha, which are both extra flat (ati komal) and regarded as the predominant tones.  However, Sa, Ma and Pa are sustained as well.

Some characteristic phrases:
G m \r ~ ~S
m P G m d~P

Rag Kalingda has almost the same tone material as Bhairav. Kalingda is very sprightly, however, and there is no oscillation on either Re or Dha. Flat Ni can also be used in this rag, but only sparsely. Unlike Bhairav, Kalingda is mainly performed in thumri and other lighter genres. Hence, it is possible to find other incidental tones being added to the basic scale. Rag Ramkali (vide) and Bhairav have some similarity but the the use of sharp Ma and occasionally flat Ni in Ramkali make it quite distinct.

Time: early morning (Bhatkhande [KPM II] 1952: 195)

Further listening:
Bhimsen Joshi “The Best of Bhimsen Joshi” vol II
BRI/23; Nasir Aminuddin Dagar EASD 1420
Recording by Pandit Jasraj & a film song

Performance by Padma Talwalkar

Composition: chhota khayal

जागो मोहन प्यारे
साँवरी सूरत मोहे मन ही भाये
सुन्दर श्याम हमारे

प्रात समय उठी भानूदय भये
ग्वाल बाल सब भूपती अाये
तुमरे दरस के काज ठाडे
उठी उठी नन्दकिशोरे

This is a traditional composition, popular among musicians. The devotee is imploring Krishna (Mohan, Shyam, Nandkishore) to wake up, since the sun has risen. Krishna’s dark, beautiful countenance pleases everyone’s heart and therefore all people including the cowherds, children and the King are waiting to catch his glimpse.

Tal: Tintal  (medium tempo)

11-16: The first phrase ends with a characteristic movement of Bhairav, G m \r. Through out the performance this recurs several times (77- 81, 111-114)
34: The lower Dha is held with oscillations, typical for this rag
51: Re is held similarly. Although both Re and Dha are regarded as extra flat once can see variations depending upon the context
98: The middle Dha is held with oscillations
119: The composition commences with refrain on the 9th beat of the cycle
219: The second part of the composition (antara) starts off on the 10th beat of the cycle
274: After having presented the composition, the melodic elaboration begins
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