Many ragas sound similar to the layman, how does one distinguish one from the other? Let’s take the case of two Hindustani ragas – Marwa and Sohini.
The first time I came across Marwa was when I was learning a vachana of the Shaivite mystic, Basavanna.My teacher was a disciple of Pandit Basvaraj Rajguru. “Emphasize on the phrase, n-r-g-m-d”, my teacher exhorted. Raag Marwa is traditionally presented at sunset.
Here is a beautiful rendition of raag Marwa by Ustad Amir Khan.
Sohini which sounds similar to Marwa corresponds to raga Hamsanandi in the Carnatic scale. In Sohini, the emphasis is on the phrase, g-m-d-n. In Carnatic music, gamakas are an essential feature in the presentation. The beauty of rendering similar melodic phrases in a different style (Hindustani) presents its own distinctive challenge. Here is a beautiful rendition of raag Sohini by Ustad Rashid Khan. Sohini is traditionally presented at sunrise.