Listening Log – [Pt. IV]- Medhi Hassan Ghazal- Raga Sahera
Medhi Hassan Ghazal- Raga Sahera.
Medhi Hassan Ghazal- Raga Sahera
Listening Log – [Pt. IV]- Medhi Hassan Ghazal- Raga Sahera. Throughout March- April 2020 Listened /watched (streaming) to youtube video: For copyright info and credits see information under video clip.
Medhi Hassan Ghazal was a singer of Indian Classical music and was well known for, amongst other things, being one of the best performers of the raga ‘Sahera’. Sahera is a raga (Indian music scale/mode) based on the whole-tone scale and is notoriously difficult to pitch. Like other ragas it also uses microtones. Here he is accompanied by Ustad Sultan Khan on sarangi, Kamran Hassan on harmonium and Ustad Schaukat Hussein Khan on tabla. I had the privilege of attending one of Ustad Sultan Khan’s concerts and meeting him afterwards. He is a master musician and truly inspiring figure.
This version of the Raga Sahera opens with a harmonium drone and a slow tabla beat over which Medhi Hassan Ghazal speaks an introduction to the piece before he breaks into singing the actual raga scale. He slowly develops the singing into longer melodic phrases, extending, varying and decorating the melody in more and more elaborate ways. He improvises intricate note embellishments and the melody line is constantly subjected to variations through diminution and augmentation.
All the while the harmonium is playing long notes in the form of drones. Gradually the Sarangi joins in and starts ghosting and echoing the vocal melody playing busier and busier melodic figures. After 6 min the tabla, which has been pretty silent since the intro comes back in with languid rhythmic flourishes, punctuating sections and then falls away again.
Now the more and more chromatic notes are added to the vocal melody and Medhi starts undulating vocalisations and long melismas with fewer and fewer distinguishable words.
Suddenly at 8.20 min there is a short-spoken word section again after which the melody line returns, intensified in both dynamics and speed becoming louder and faster. The Sarangi plays off it in equal intensity and matches the busy melody line with more notes. Even the harmonium has stopped playing drones and is joining in the crescendo leading to the finale.