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


Megh (also known as Megh malhar) is an important rag, regarded as one of the six principal rag-s of the antiquity (Tagore [Six principal rag-s] 1982). Although there are several versions of Megh, the description here relates to the most popular, pentatonic variety.

Tone material:  S R m P n
Sa and Pa are dominant notes, while Re and lowest Pa are the important resting notes. There is a touch of Ma for Re which makes it very distinct.  R /P, M \R and n \P are characteristic glides.  All the movements are slow  and dignified. Some musicians, as the case is in the recording presented here, prefer to use ornaments like gamak add to the serious ethos of this rag.

Some characteristic phrases:

R n S \Pn /P
mR mR- S
R m \R \n S
m P /S n \P
R m R /P
n S \P /R

Besides the above popular variety, some musicians include Dha as well, either distinctly or as a grace note for flat Ni (Bharkhande [KPM VI] 1978: 273). Perhaps this helps to keep it distinct from rag Madhmad sarang, which has the same notes but also has a strong accent on Ma.

There is a variety of Megh which has both natural and flat Ni (Shah [Malhar ke prakar] 1969: 62) and there is another variety which includes flat Ga with oscillation (ibid). Even when Megh does include both forms of Ni (natural in ascent and flat in the descent), it can be made distinct from Brindavani sarang (vide) by repeatedly stressing Re.

As a member of the Malhar family of rag-s, Megh is associated with the rainy season. Megh means clouds, and the compositions in this rag are also full of appropriate descriptions of the rainy season and the rain-bearing dark clouds.

Time:  any time during the rainy season (Bhatkhande [KPM VI] 1978: 273)

Further listening:
Recording by Bade Ghulam Ali Khan
Recording by Amir Khan
Recording by Nikhil Banerjee

Recorded by Veena Sahasrabuddhe

Composition: chhota khayal

गरज घटा घन कारे
पावस रितु अायी
मोरवा पपीहा बोले
दादुर शोर मचाये

रैना अंधेरी बिजुरी डरावे
अजहु नहीं नाथ अावे

Black rain bearing clouds have gathered. The rainy season is here. All the birds and animals are happy. The night is very dark and the lightening is indeed frightening, and my Lord hasn’t returned home.

Tal: Ektal (medium fast tempo)

4-11: Performance begins with a sustained Re, an important resting point in this rag. Note the touch of natural Ma for Re
13-21: R n \P, a characteristic glide. Note ornamented Re (gamak) and oscillations (andol) on the flat Ni, which continues in the next phrases as well (22-31)
45-51: Another typical glide from Re to lower Pa and return. Note a touch of ma for the sustained Re
55-69: Oscillations on Re, followed by R /P and return to Re. Focus on Re continues through the next few phrases. Note recurrence of glides: m \R and n \P
123: Again R /P with sustained Pa
135-139: Use of gamak, phrase returning to Re
160-167: Pa is in focus in association with notes above like the flat Ni
168: High Sa is included as well. Note descending slide from Sa to Pa to middle Re (176-179)
225: Composition begins. Note that the refrain starts off on the accentuated beat (sam) itself and coincides with Re, important note in this rag
270: Second line is presented and repeated with variations
288: Next line
306: Concluding line of the first section (sthayi). Note the profuse usage of gamak
331- 455: Elaborations using vowel “aa”, first around Re and slowly moving up to Pa and ultimately to the high Sa. Note the glide R /n \P \R (381-385)
474: Second part of the composition (antara) reaching the high Sa and above
509: Second line
563: Concluding line of the composition. Note the extensive use of gamak

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