Sameshwari: A transcript

By Dr. lalmani Misra


It is one of several precious lectures recorded when Dr. Misra had been hospitalized. Despite pain and debility, his mind always retained its lucidity. Talking to his disciples, Laxmi Ganesh Tewari, Om Prakash Chourasiya, son Gopal Shankar, daughter Ragini and others, he spoke at length on why he created Sameshwari. The Hindi lecture is almost 40 minutes long. An abstract of the transcript is being given here.


Sāmeshwari Raga is an attempt to preserve the notes used in Sāmgana. Dr. Lalmani Misra directed a research on the tradition of Sām-pātth and gathered that out of thousand possible thirteen branches of Sām had been prominent. Of these only three remain in existence (in 1979). The chanters of Vedic richās used either a single note or two notes; But the Sāmik chanters always used three notes. The singers explored further and disovered more notes. M G R S D has been determined to be the basic set of notes used in this order by Sāmik singers. Arguing that there could not have been two traditions of music without leaving any traces, Dr. Misra concluded that Sāmik notes were exactly those followed in Shadja grāmik tradition. His conclusion relied upon Bharat's statement that in jāti, the Madhyam is Avinashi (indestructible) and Avilopi (immiscible) coupled with Naradiya Shiksha's sloka stating that first note of Sām-gān is the Madhyam of Venu. Both statements proved his conclusion that ancient musical scale using notes in descending order can be translated into modern Shadja grām by considering the Madhyam to be Shadja and moving up the scale.

What are the Sam notes ?

If the Vedic notes are traditionally considered to be M G R S D, then in relation to modern music practices, the notes would be S N D P G. In those times there were no microphones or loudspeakers. Sam was sung in large, wide, open or canopied spaces with the intention that all present should be able to hear it. In such a condition if the song has notes M G R S D it would be audible at best in a single room, but if the notes, S N D P G starting from Tār-saptak are sung they would be loud enough for all to hear. So, from this angle of usage too, S N D P G seems more appropriate than M G R S D.

In this way I found S N D P G M R, S N D P G as prominent notes and M R as minor notes to be the Sāmik notes.

How would one know which notes to stress?

Based on the movement of Raga, its mood, the consonance of notes you would get some prominent notes; apply them so. Pancham would be Vadi, Shadja would be Samvadi. When you sing Sameshwari, you would come across greater ठहराव ( thaharav, stability) on Pancham and you would enjoy staying on this note. Pancham even in the original phrase M G R S which becomes S N D P, becomes Shadja occupying thereby a prominent place. So with Pancham as Vadi and Shadja as samvadi you can have several combinations using other notes -- G P D N D, D N P D P, G P S N D N D P, G G P, P D G P, G M R N S. So the M and R are passing notes which should be touched without staying; they are not to be used in S G P D N S while ascending, hence they naturally become weak.


References :

More about Sameshwari in Raga-Rang

An Introduction to Sam-gana

Samgana on wikipedia

Veda on wikipedia

डॉ लालमणि मिश्र विकीपीडिया पर

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