Raga Ranjani | Shashank Subramanyam | Darbar VR360 | Music of India

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#darbarfestival | The Carnatic Raga Ranjani has gained significant popularity in the past half-century, turning up in more and more viruthams and ragamalikas.
► Welcome to the Darbar VR 360 Festival. We’ve released over 50 immersive VR videos showcasing some of India’s finest artists performing in breathtaking natural landscapes, spanning Hindustani, Carnatic, Dhrupad, and percussion.

For the best experience use a VR headset with headphones. Experience being the sole ‘audience member’ right next to the musicians for your own private raga performance, enjoying the music amidst India’s natural world. For more info, including the full program, see www.darbar.org/video360

Born to a biochemist father in the extraordinarily musical village of Rudrapatna, in Karnataka, Shashank Subramanyam started learning early in life - some say he could recognise all 72 Melakarta scales by the age of two-and-a-half. His first musical immersions came with singing and violin, but he fell in love with the venu bamboo flute as soon as he picked it up, focusing on it from that point onwards.

Initially he taught himself, but soon entered the gurukul as a student of legendary Carnatic flute maestro T.R. Mahalingam. His guru insisted that he should continue his vocal training, and avoid listening to other top masters of the day in order to develop his own style. The approach worked, and his tireless study led to the creation of new forms of gamaka (singing ornament) and breathing techniques.

He has incorporated overblowing textures and novel hand positions, and immersed himself into the grammar of Hindustani music too, frequently collaborating with artists from the North, including a jugalbandi with sitarist Pandit Kushal Das for Darbar. Over the past decade he has worked with artists including Paco de Lucia, Terry Riley, and Remember Shakti, and is today recognised as among the finest bamboo flute exponents to have ever lived.

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"It’s about ‘kalpanaswaram’ - how aesthetically you can combine these mathematical structures with music." (Shashank Subramanyam)

Ranjani (or Ranjini) is a Carnatic raga derived from Dharmavati, the 59th Melakarta scale. Musicologist and vocalist Dr. S. Bhagyalekshmy classifies it as an ‘asymmetric pentatonic’ raga, also noting that it has gained significant popularity in the past half-century, turning up in more and more viruthams (Hindu-themed improvised songs) and ragamalikas (multi-raga forms)

It ascends with SR₂G₂M₂D₂S and descends with SN₃D₂M₂G₂S - the asymmetry comes from the fact that Ni is missing from the ascent, and Dha from the descent. The absence of Pa gives a spacious flavour, capable of supporting many different moods. For just example, Carnatic flautist Vijay Kannan describes seeing “anger, bhakti, pity, braveness, and surrender” in it.

Recorded by Darbar in 2019, on location in West India:
-Shashank Subramanyam (venu)

Technical team credit:
-Jagdeep Shah (DOP)
-Sandeep Virdee (location sound)
-Nirmal Singh (360 editor)
-Christoph Bracher (ambisonic sound dubbing)
-Special thanks to Sherna Chatterjee & Mortimer Chatterjee

Darbar believes in the power of Indian classical arts to stir, thrill and inspire. Through shared experiences and digital connectivity we ensure that one of the world’s finest art forms reaches the widest possible audience. Founded in 2006, we deliver premium quality live events, music education, broadcasts and online engagement through promoting artistic innovation and creative technology. We are also committed to providing a platform for new talent from India and the UK.

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