Jhalla in Raga Darbari

Instrumentation: orchestra (2222-4231 hp, 2 perc, timp, str)
Duration: 6 minutes
Year of composition: 2024

Programme note

This Jhalla in Raga Darbari marks my first piece that is fully based on North Indian Classical music. After three years of intensive study as a performer of Indian music, I also saw perspective for this music in an orchestral context. My fantasy was to combine the wide palette of colors in orchestration with the magic of North Indian ragas. In my Raga Malika for Drums and Orchestra, of which the Jhalla in Raga Darbari forms the last movement, I could bring this fantasy to life for the first time. The Raga Malika features multiple evening ragas: Yaman, Charukeshi, Patdeep, Hemant and Darbari.

Raga Darbari is one of the oldest, most treasured and deepest ragas of Indian music. It is a melody suitable for midnight, where it enjoys its deepest focus. Many masters of Indian music have played and developed Raga Darbari through hundreds of years. Originally Darbari is a very slow moving raga, but the sitar meastro Ustad Vilayat Khan was one of the first artist to take the raga to very fast tempos as well. Traditionally sitarist play a movement called jhalla in the last part of their performance, combining a slow moving melody with rapid accompaniment. This has been a great part of my inspiration for my Jhalla, especially the recording of Ustad Vilayat Khan playing Darbari in his 2002 concert in London, which later took the name “When time stood still”.

In Jhalla in Raga Darbari, you will hear the signature melodies of raga Darbari, along with sitar-like textures and harmonics. Together with orchestral colors inspired by composers like Ravel, Mahler and Stravinsky I look forward to a eclectic ride towards a climax in this overwhelming midnight raga!


Commission info

Jhalla in Raga Darbari is a part of Raga Malika for Drums and Orchestra, which was commissioned by Kamerorkest Somer and Grachtenfestival Amsterdam. The piece was first performed by the Noord Nederlands Orkest (NNO).