Begum Parveen Sultana’s rendition of Raag Maru Bihag is soothing, colourful and a celebration of the possibilities of the raga outside the ordinary. She opens her recital at the Darbar festival 2007 with this piece, introducing the raga with a brief alaap.
The expansion of the raga is done in detail in the bada khayal set to vilambit Ektaal which is spread further over an expanded scansion of 48 beats. Her portrayal of Maru Bihag through bol-alaap, vistaar and gamaks is done with fluency, grace and full-throated rendition. She weaves complex phrases against simplistic ones, creating a canvas of myriad vignettes that takes Maru Bihag to its melodic pinnacle.
The faster composition in drut Teental is performed with jet-paced taans in double and four times the speed straddling four octaves with elan and effortlessness that is characteristic of Begum Sultana.
The diva is accompanied on the harmonium by Chiranjib Chakraborty and on the tabla by Partha Sarathi Mukherjee. While Chakraborty gives a melodious support, filling every space with an extraordinary array of the raga’s phrases, Mukherjee gives a confident presentation balancing the melody and his improvisations throughout the recital.
Raag Maru Bihag is derived from Kalyan thaat. It is a convoluted raga, very sweet in its melodic structure. It is an audav-sampurna raga, that is, it uses five notes in its ascent and all seven notes in its
descent. Its dominant note is Pa (5th) and the sub-dominant note is Sa (1st). Maru Bihag has Kalyan-like characteristics in its purvang (lower and middle octaves) and uses Bihag-like phrases in its uttar-ang (upper octave). Its arohana and avarohana are as follows:
S G M P N S
S N D P M G M G R S
Begum Parveen Sultana (Patiala gharana)
Partha Sarathi Mukherjee (Tabla)
Chiranjib Chakraborty (Harmonium)
Gunwant Dhadyalla (tanpura)
Nina Burmi (Tanpura)
Ranjana Ghatak (tanpura)
Debipriya Das (support)
Raag Maru Bihag, Thaat: Kalyan, Samay: Evening