The Rubin is transforming. Read important updates from our Executive Director.

It’s raining raga! Brooklyn Raga Massive returns to the Rubin on Wednesday, June 15 to present the Malhar group of ragas (melodies from Indian classical music) that reflect the feeling of monsoon clouds over the heated Indian plains.The intimate concert will feature the maestros Jay Gandhi (bansuri), Abhik Mukherjee (sitar), and Suryaksha Deshpande (tabla) combining their musical forces. The chemistry between these artists, nurtured over years of friendship, is something rare and beautiful.

What is raga music like?

Raga means “to color the mind.” The music is subtle and precise in order to capture a specific mood to match a specific time of day or season.

What characteristics make this raga a “monsoon raga?”

According to Brooklyn Raga Massive, there are several musical elements that make monsoon ragas distinct: the altering rhythms of the tabla portray the gradual metamorphosis of the rain from a light drizzle to a heavy downpour; a variation on one note in the traditional musical scale creates the aesthetic image and feeling of an overcast sky; sliding between distant notes in the scale depicts the voyage of the monsoon clouds from the sea to the mountains.

To get a bit more technical—in Hindustani classical music, the application of the two variants of the seventh note (flat and natural) and the long glissando (slide) from the 2nd to the 5th note are the aspects that evoke this imagery.

Where else do monsoon rains and art come together?

These ragas have inspired numerous poets worldwide – perhaps the most famous is Kalidasa and his “Meghadootam” (The Cloud Messenger). The beauty of monsoon ragas can also be found depicted in the Kangra Valley ragamala paintings.

A Ragamala painting (source)

The concert itself will be set against a backdrop of monsoon imagery and art from the Rubin’s exhibition Nepalese Seasons: Rain and Ritual, which explores the influence of the monsoon on Nepal’s art and culture. Note the looming, rain-filled—or “pregnant”—cloud imagery in the painting below.

King of the Serpent Deities, Nagaraja; 14th century; Gilt copper alloy; repoussé; Rubin Museum of Art; C2005.16.18

What is Brooklyn Raga Massive?

Brooklyn Raga Massive has been making huge waves in music of late, bringing about a “raga renaissance” of sorts. Since the sold-out performance of their critically acclaimed version of “In C” in 2015, the Rubin has become a home for their special presentations. Following the concert, join the artist collective in the spiral lobby for their classic Brooklyn Raga Massive jam session.

Join Brooklyn Raga Massive at the Rubin on June 15, 2016.