July 16, 2020

The Magic of Yaman Through Khayal & Cinema

Ramneek Singh


Renowned vocalist Ramneek Singh reveals two sides of the Raag Yaman, presenting it first in classical Hindustani forms, then as it reappeared, transformed, in classic scores of the Golden Age of Hindi Cinema.

Additional vocals Malhar Singh

Program Note

Raag Yaman, a romantic evening raag, is performed at a time when Nature creates an ambiance of complete surrender to the Ultimate after a hectic day, and thus evokes a sense of deep introspection.  This fundamental Hindustani classical raag comes with a colossal canvas in which limitless variations can be created. This is why this raag has inspired composers to use it to create moods such as devotion, romance, serenity and poignancy.  Yaman has the magic of calming the nerves and bringing out the lyrical excellence of a song.

Yaman’s serenity is close to everyday life as its note combinations create a kind of peace that one feels in the company of their loved ones, spending quality time or watching a beautiful sunset together.

In the first part of tonight’s program, I will first explore the classical aspect of Raag Yaman through slow- and fast-tempo khayal-based compositions, which were written and composed by my grand guru, Ustad Amir Khan. The lyrics are “Kajra Kaise Daroon”: the lady in the song is sad as she awaits her beloved; she complains to her friend that she has no inspiration to dress up and wear ornaments as there is no news of her dear one’s arrival. In the fast tempo composition, the lady has finally met her beloved and is now bribing him with words of love and admiration, and thus asking for ornaments and expensive gifts. The composition is “Aiso Sundar sugharwa Balmwa.”

The second part of the program switches to the golden age of Hindi cinema (1940s to early 1970s). The lyric qualities and emotional richness of the Raag Yaman caught the ear of renowned cinema composers from this era, who popularized it by using it extensively as the basis of songs for film soundtracks. Joined by my student and son, Malhar Singh, I will sing some solos and duets in Raag Yaman from this classic cinema repertoire.”

— Ramneek Singh