Bihag is a popular late evening raga in Hindustani classical music, but not too common in the semi-classical genres. In classical music, however, it is regarded as a raga of Shringara rasa (romantic sentiment). The mood of the raga is celebratory as well as romantic, making it a common raga sung especially on occasions of marriage. The name 'Bihag' is said to derive from ‘Vihag’ or ‘Vihang’. Bihag has carved for itself an independent swaroopa and garnered enough melodic heft to qualify for the cachet of a Raganga Raga.
Raga Bihag is a Hindustani classical raga belonging to the Bilaval Thaat. It is a melodious raga for beginners as well as experts. Raga Bihag uses all seven music swars. In Bihag, both the Madhyams (Shuddha & teevra) are used. The Shuddha Madhyam is the prominent one while Teevra Madhyama is only used with Panchama in Phrase PA MA' GA MA GA. In Avaroha, Rishabh and Dhaivat are not used as resting notes however they are used in Meend. In this raga, Nishad is a prominent note and Aalaps or Taans are generally started from this note.
Raga Bihag is a beautiful rag. If the number of Nyaas Swaras in a raga is more and if its chalan is not complicated(vakra), then the raga is quite expandable. Along with being melodious, Bihag is quite Expandable due to many Nyaas swars. In Bihag, The nyaas is mainly on Gandhaar, Hence Gandhaar is referred as the Vadi swar & Nishaad is referred as Sanvadi swar. Along with Gandhaar & Nishaad, Presence of Nyaas is also felt on Shadja & Pancham.
This is a very sweet melody equally popular with both the beginners as well as experts. P M G m G combination is raga Vaachak. Madhyam Teevra and Madhyam Shuddha are used as follows: M P G m G or M P D M P G m G or P M D P M P G m G.
In Aaroh, Aalaps or Taans are always started with Madhyam Teevra rather then Madhyam Shuddha like: M P ; M P D G m G ; M P N S' N D P ;. But when Aalaps or Taans are started with any other note, Madhyam Shuddha will be used like: ,N S G m P N S'. In Avroh, Teevra Madhyam is used along with Madhyam Shuddha, like: M G m G; P D P M G m G. In Sapaat Taans (Straight Taans), only Shuddha Madhyam is used in Avroh, like: S' N D P m G R S.
As far as the Thaat of raga Bihag is concerned, in olden days the Thaat was considered as Bilawal, as Madhyam Teevra was not used. No doubt the raga is full of Bilawal Ang, for example D-G sangati, PmG RS etc. However in recent times the use of Madhyam Teevra is in practice. It is extensively used in different ways like MPGmG, N DP M P G m G, MPDMP GmG, P MGmG mG RS (still keeping Bilawal Ang intact). In view of use of Madhyam Teevra many renowned musician categorized Raga Bihag in Kalyan Thaat.
In Avroh, Rishabh and Dhaivat are not used as resting notes however they are used in Meend. In this raga, Nishad is a prominent note and Aalaps or Taans are generally started from this note. This raga is full of Shringar Ras. This is a Poorvang Pradhan raga.
This rag is very popular. Some common songs in Bihag are 'Boliye Surali Boliyan', 'Hamare Dil Se Na Jana Dhokna Na Khana', and 'Tere Sur Aur Mere Geet'. It is a late night rag (9:00pm-midnight) of audav-sampurna jati. Its strong characteristic is the use of both madhyams. Opinion differs as to which Ma should be given prominence. The orthodox approach is to give importance to the shuddha Ma. However, more modern interpretations tend to give importance to the tivra Ma. It is this emphasis on tivra Ma which causes some musicians to assign this rag to Kalyan that.