Monthly Archives: December 2013

Anandabhairavi – Raga Ruminations

Anandabhairavi is one of the more appropriately named ragas. As the very name suggests, the raga evokes a feeling of happiness. It is a gentle melody. Musicians bring out the nuances of the raga in a slow tempo often in interesting patterns and phrases. It is easily believable that the raga as claimed can reduce blood pressure and alleviate depression.

Some of the popular compositions in this raga are Tyagaraja’s Neeka Teliyaka and Ksheera Sagara Vihara, Dikshithar’s Kamalamba Navavarnam and Tyagaraja Yoga Vaibhavam, Shyama Shastry’s Marivere and O Jagadamba. Paluke Bangaramayena, another song in Anandabhairavi, that describes the presiding diety Rama in the temple town of Bhadrachalam is a composition of Bhadrachala Ramdas.

Listen to Bombay Jayashree sing O Jagadamba, a masterpiece by Shyama Shastri. I hope it does for you what it does for me –  soothes the heart and mind.

As far as I know there is no Hindustani equivalent raga that corresponds to Anandabhairavi.

Anandabhairavi has been heard in several movies. Here is a charming song in raga Anandabhairavi sung by Jesudas in the Malayalam movie Shastram jayichu Manushyan thottu.

For those who want details, raga Anandabhairavi is a derivative of Natabhairavi (20th Mela). The scale is as follows. SG2R2GM1PD2PS SN2D2PM1G2R2S

Amritavarshini – Raga Ruminations

Rain – that’s likely the first word that pops up in any music lover’s head, when the raga Amritavarshini is mentioned. It is commonly attributed as a creation of Carnatic composer Muthuswamy Dikshithar and what’s likely an apocryphal story. The story goes that when the composer had visited the drought-stricken town of Ettayapuram in the Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu, he had prayed to the goddess at the local temple. His song “Ananda amruthakarshini” in this raga is said to have led to a torrential downpour in the town. Incidentally, Ettayapuram’s famous son was Subramaniya Bharathi, the fiery patriot and Tamil poet.

Here is a recording of Maharajapuram Santhanam singing the song in a slow tempo. One can savour the nuances of the raga while listening to it.

Muthiah Bhagavathar’s composition Sudhamayee is another popular piece in the raga.

As far I’m aware, there is no Hindustani equivalent raga to Amritavarshini.

For film buffs, Amritavarshini is a find.  The structure and feel of the raga is such that it can switch from classical to light music effortlessly. Several composers such as MS Viswanathan and Illayaraja have dabbled in this raga for composing film songs.

Watch how Tamil actors Sivaji Ganesan and Jayalalitha compete on stage in the movie Paattum Bharathamum while dancing to the song “Sivakami aadavandhal” sung by TM Soundarajan and P.Susheela. The song was set to music by M.S. Viswanathan.

Years later, Illayaraja came up with this dreamy song sequence “Thoongathu vizhigal rendu” in this raga for the movie Agni Nakshatram. The song was a duet by Jesudas and S.Janaki.

For those who want details, Amritavarshini has a symmetrical pentatonic scale SG3M2PN3 SN3PM2G3 and considered a derivative of Chitrambari (Mela 66).

Karaharapriya – Raga Ruminations

Raga Karaharapriya reminds me of the banyan tree. With its innumerable branches and roots, the banyan tree stands tall and covers a large surface area. Karaharapriya too exhibits such breadth with a wide range of derivative (janya) ragas and holds a special place in the pantheon of primary (Melakartha) ragas.

There are several stories, possibly apocryphal, behind the name of the raga. The most popular one was that the raga referred to the priya, the loved one (Rama) who killed (hara) the demon Khara, the brother of Ravana. Tyagaraja has composed several songs in this raga from the slow-moving Chakkani raja to the medium paced Pakkala Nilabadi and Rama nee samana. Papanasam Sivan’s Appan Avadharitha on Lord Ayyappa and Neelakanta Sivan’s Navasidhi Petralum on Lord Siva are other popular songs in this raga.

Here is a rendition of raga Karaharapriya by the stalwart Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer.

Karaharapriya corresponds to the Kafi thaat of Hindustani music. Here is a rendition of raag Kafi by Pandit Bhimsen Joshi.

A true measure of a raga’s popularity is when it’s reach extends outside the concert hall. Karaharapriya continues to adorn the repertoire of music directors, particularly in Tamil cinema. Illayaraja has composed many songs set to it. One of my favourite AR Rahman songs Pachai Nirame, from the movie Alaipayuthe, is loosely based on this raga.

For those who want details, Karaharapriya is a Melakartha raga (22) and the scale is as follows –  SR2G2M1PD2N2S SN2D2PM1G2R2S

Hamsanandi – Raga Ruminations

Hamsanandi is one of the most beautiful ragas in Carnatic music. When I first heard the song Paahi jagat janani, I resolved to learn as many pieces as I could in this raga. Paahi jagat janani, a composition of the Travancore king Swati Tirunal describes several virtues of the mother Goddess. Paavana guru pavana pura, a composition of Lalitha dasar which describes Lord Krishna was made popular by singer Jesudas in all his concerts. Other compositions in raga Hamsanandi include Srinivasa tiruvenkata mudaya, a Tamil piece by Papanasam Sivan and Needu mahima pogadana, composed by Muthiah Bhagavathar after he heard the raga (Hindustani version) for the first time during a visit to Benares.

Enjoy Papanasam Sivan’s Srinivasa venkata mudaya sung by Ranjana and Gayatri.

Hamsanandi corresponds to the Hindustani raag Sohini which is usually sung in the evening. Listen to an alaap of Raag Sohini by Ustad Rashid Khan.

When I saw the Tamil movie Salangai Oli years back, the song “Vedam Anuvilum oru naadham” (composed by Ilayaraja in raga Hamsanandi) sung by SP Balasubramanyam made a tremendous impact.

The epic Hindi movie Mughal-e-Azam with music score by Naushad had a great song in raag Sohini sung by Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan. The music is the background for a tender love scene.

For those who want details, Hamsanandi is a derivative of the Melakartha raga Gamanashrama (53). It has six symmetrical notes in the ascent and descent and this is the scale – SR1G3M2D2N3 SN3D2M2G3R1S