The Shortest Ragas

To capture the hours of Raga Sangeet into minutes for the new recording technology invented at beginning of the 20th century was an impossible feat. This challenge to code Raga music became a heavy task that was easily lifted by many masters of this art!

By Baithak Foundation

Any flat disc record that was made between 1898 and the late 1950s and playing at a speed of 78 revolutions per minute is called a '78 rpm' record. Commemorating one hundred years of recording technology, The Record News Issue, 2000 (p.99) estimates that the total number of gramophone records issued in India would amount to about half a million, each with 500 to a few hundred thousand copies.

Radha Pining for Krishna from a Gita Govinda manuscript (1775-1780) by Artist: Master of the first generation after NainsukhSmithsonian's National Museum of Asian Art

Dadra by Kashibai a 78 rpm recording
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The Love Lorn Voice

Kashibai is now a forgotten voice like that of many lesser known singers. She was an expert in Dhrupad, Khayal and Thumri. Her broad and emotive voice is the embodiment of lover who longs for an audience of her beloved. It is a master stroke to hold these emotions in this short rendition of a Dadra, a light classical composition. 

Raga Kalyan by D V Paluskar a 78 rpm recording
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Genie in a Bottle

To hold a raga like Yaman in a short recording without compromising on its nature, majesty and flow is a task that Pt. D.V. Paluskar has executed with ease and beauty. Though the world lost him at the age of 34, he lives on through these recordings and we pine for more!

KHI - Roshan Ara BegumThe Citizens Archive of Pakistan

Raga Kalavati by Roshanara Begum a 78 rpm recording
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Queen of Music

Aptly known as Malika-e-Mauseeqi (Queen of Music) Roshanara Begum lived between India and Pakistan. She received the Sitara-e-Imtiaz Award and the Pride of Performance Award from the President of Pakistan. These scintillating 3 minutes provide a glimpse of her performing flare.

Images of Sundrabai from The Record News IssueBaithak Foundation

Raga Jogiya by Bai Sunderabai a 78 rpm recording
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The Forgotten Sundrabai

The lady who was once a very successful singer in the glamorous town of Mumbai soon lost her fortune as she was a master of music and not business. She sang, composed and even acted in films and dramas. She was an advisor to the AIR as well as a regular performer. 

The festive inauguration for the new Maharaja of Kolhapur (1947-06)Original Source: The Association of Poles in India 1942–1948

Raga Gaud Sarang by Azambai of Kolhapur a 78 rpm recording
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Azambai of Kolhapur

Azambai a disciple of Ustad Alladiya Khan who also received training under Ustad Abdul Karim Khan. She was a famous vocalist of the 1930s and sang in films too. However only a dozen or more of her recordings are available with collectors and the rest of the history is unknown. 

Een Nederlands eskader onder bevel van Cornelis Simonsz van der Veer voert een verrassingsaanval uit op drie Portugese galjoenen in de Baai van Goa, 30 september 1639 (1653) by Anthonissen, Hendrick vanRijksmuseum

Raga Nayaki Kanada by Mogubai Kurdikar a 78 rpm recording
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The Celestial Voice

A great Guru and an accomplished vocalist Mogubai mastered the Jaipur gayaki and has the credit of creating gems like Vidushi. Kishori Amonkar and Vidushi. Manik Bhide. The purity of notes and the honey-like quality of voice create a combination that overwhelms the listener.  

Bhairavi Ragini from the Manley Ragamala, an album painting in gouache on paper (1610/1620)British Museum

Tarana in Raga Bhairavi by Kale Khan a 78 rpm recording
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The Unknown Khansaheb

Kale Khan is a name unknown to most listeners as nothing much is available in archives or in collective memory. This three minute Bhairavi is a gentle reminder that there have been many greats who contributed to the world of Indian Classical Music. 

Wish to know more about other Raga families? Explore exhibitions on Raga Malhar and Raga Sarang.

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