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


As a light rag, Pilu, is extremely popular in folk music and semi-classical genres such as thumri, dadra etc. It is rarely performed in the pure classical idiom, except may be by instrumentalists.

Tone material S R g G m P (d) D n N

In the lighter genres, all the twelve notes can be used in Pilu. Generally, natural Ga and natural Ni occur in the ascent while the flatter varieties of the notes are used in the descent. Lower Ni is an important resting point. Ga and Pa can be sustained as well. While natural Dha is commonly used, flat Dha is included in special phrases in conjunction with Pa and flat Ni. This is clear from the accompanying recording.

Some characteristic movements:
g R S N S
N S R g- S g R S N-
G m P d P m P g R

One of the versions of Pilu, often referred as Shuddh pilu, has only flat Ga and Dha along with natural Re and Ni (Thakurdas [Rag darshan I] 1987: 98). The version immortalised by the legendary Abdul Karim Khan of Kirana gharana depicts this version of Pilu, which is rather akin to rag Kirvani. In instrumental compositions, flat Re and sharp Ma are also included.

Many folk songs, especially women’s songs from Gujarat and the Mithila region, are in Pilu (Thakur [Sangitanjali IV-2] 1957: 186-187).  Most of these songs begin with low Pa and range between the lower and the middle octave.

It is customary to tune the first string of the tanpura in Ma, while singing Pilu. Considering this note as Sa, the tonic, then the original Sa will sound like Pa and the whole rendition gives an impression of very low octave movements (ibid).

Time: anytime (Thakurdas [Rag darshan I] 1987: 98)

Further listening:
Bismillah Khan EALP 1294 and EALP 1285
Ram Narayan EALP 1327
Recording by Abdul Karim Khan
Recording by Vilayat Khan

Performance by Ajoy Chakrabarty

Composition: bandish ki thumri

जावो जावो मोसे ना बोलो कान्हा
झूठी बतियाँ ना बोलो
अो निठुर निपट निडर झगडा काहे मोल लिनो

बहुत दिनन पर अायो
बात बहुत ना बनावो
मोहे अब तुम क्यूं सतावो
कलैयाँ मोरी छोड दियो

Oh Kanha (Krishna), please go away. With a pack of lies, why do you wish to invite a fight with me? You seem to be heartless and brazen. As it is you have come after so long. Please don’t pester me by holding my wrist.

Tal: Ektal (fast tempo)

3-13: performance opens with a typical phrase N S R g, in which flat Ga is sustained and the phrase returns to lower Ni
15-21: Variation of the above phrase. Note the lower Ni being sustained at the end of the phrase
24: After the flat Ga, now natural Ga is approached in conjunction with Ma
32-37: A typical movement starting on lower Dha and emphasising flat Ga
38-49: Returning first to Re, and then to lower Ni
62-69: Pa is approached – S G -m G mP – and sustained. Note the phrase returning to natural Ga
70-89: Melody proceeds to include flat Ni and the high Sa. Note the phrase returning to natural Ga (89-90)
92-95: Movements with natural and flat Dha
101-103: Again descent to lower Ni
119: Composition begins
138-147: Movements characteristic of Pilu
150: First line presented and repeated
174: Second line
193: First two lines repeated
221: Next line. Note the alliterations with words beginning with syllable Ni such as Nithura, Nipata, Nidara
240: First line with variation
254-284: Elaborations using words of the composition (bol)
287: Elaborations using solfeggio (sargam)
301: Similar elaborations continue with a bit faster pace
344: Second part of the composition (antara)
358: Second line
363: Next line
372: Concluding line of the composition

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