Raga Malhar or Raga Miya Malhar or Raga Miyaan ki Malhar
Malhar is a Hindustani classical raga. Malhar is associated with torrential rains.
This Raga is also referred to as 'Miya Malhar' since it was a wonderful creation by Sangeet Samrat Miya Tansen. The combinations of the melody can really ape the vagaries of nature in the thunder of clouds and the rain torrents falling from sky onto the earth. The Shuddha Nishad of Madra Saptak makes the Raga very impressive and sweet rendering requires bold presentation of the combinations to enthral the audience with the Raga mood.
Besides the basic Shuddha Malhar, which was the original Malhar, several Malhar-related ragas use the Malhar signature phrase m (m)R (m)R P, including - Miyan ki Malhar, Megh Malhar, Ramdasi Malhar, Gaud Malhar, Sur Malhar, Shuddha Malhar, Desh Malhar, Nat Malhar, Dhulia Malhar and Meera ki Malhar. This phrase is prominently heard in the raga 'Brindavani Sarang'.
It can be determined that raga Malhar or rather Miyan ki Malhar is a mixture of ragas 'Brindavani Sarang', raga 'Kafi' and raga 'Durga'.This raga has a Vakra form (meaning that the svaras of a raga are not completely arranged in a particularly straightforward manner), and is classified as a Ghambir Prakruti raga (meaning that it is played slow with patience, and it is played in a serious tone/note).
One of the most popular rags of the malhar family, Miyan ki malhar or Miya malhar is supposedly a creation of the legendary Miyan Tansen and patronised by the great Emperor Akbar. Many interesting anecdotes are woven around this rag because of its association with the rainy season, and the texts of vocal compositions include descriptions of rain, thunder, clouds, lightning, etc. (Bhatkhande). Bhatkhande describes this rag as a mixture of Malhar and Kanada.
Flat Ga is present only in the descending phrases and is intoned with a slow and repeated oscillation. The typical concluding phrase also includes flat Ga; g M R S. Natural Ni is always in association with flat Ni, either with a short Dha or Sa in between. The occurrence of both Ni one after the other with a touch of either Dha or Sa in between is the highlight of this raga.
Miyan ki malhar and rag Bahar (vide) have the same tone material. However, the melodic movements in Miyan ki malhar are rather serious and slow, moving more in the lower tetrachord, whereas movements in Bahar are more sprightly and centre around the high Sa. The phrase n D N occurs in both rag-s: in Miyan ji malhar, however, it occurs as m P n – DN, with only a touch of Dha whereas in Bahar, Dha is included in full measure g m /n - D N. Miya ki malhar includes typical glides such as MR /P and P /n. while S /m and m /n are common in Bahar. In descent of Miya ki malhar it is imperative to include Dha like S D n \P, followed by g ~ m R S, whereas avoiding Dha, like S n P, will give an impression of Bahar.
According to legend, Malhar is so powerful that when sung, it can induce rainfall.
Many written accounts describe the Raga Malhar. Tansen, Baiju Bawra, Baba Ramdas, Nayak Charju, Miyan Bakhshu, Tanta rang, Tantras Khan, Bilas Khan (son of Tansen), Hammer Sen, Surat Sen, and Meera Bai are some of those said to be capable of starting rains using various kinds of Raga Malhar.
Mughal emperor Akbar once asked his court musician Miyan Tansen to sing 'Raga Deepak', the raga of Light/Fire, which caused all the lamps in the courtyard to light up and Tansen's body to become so hot that he had to sit in the nearby river to cool himself. However, the river began to boil, and it became apparent that Tansen would soon boil to death. So he set out to find someone who could sing Raga Malhar to cure him. In due course, he reached Vadnagar, a town in Gujarat. There he came across two sisters named Tana and Riri, whom he asked for help, to which they agreed. The moment they started singing the Raga Malhar, rains came down in torrents, which helped cool Tansen's body.
The many variations of Raga Malhar have been categorised chronologically by era – prachina (before the 15th century), madhyakalina (15th – 18th century) and arvachina (19th century and beyond). Ragas Shuddha Malhar, Megh Malhar and Gaud Malhar belong to the first period. Variations of Malhar include:
1) Anand Malhar (first sung by Gaan Saraswati Kishori Amonkar)
2) Chhaya Malhar
3) Desh Malhar
5) Meerabai Ki Malhar
7) Miyan Ki Malhar, also known as Gayand Malahar as both nishad shudh and komal swing around the dhaivat like a (gayand)elephant swinging his head
8) Ramdasi Malhar
9) Dhulia Malhar
10) Charju Ki Malhar
11) Nanak Malhar
13) Surdasi Malhar