Harikambodhi – Raga Ruminations

Harikambodhi is a melody that occupies prime real estate in the pantheon of Carnatic ragas. For some reason it is often overlooked as the center piece in a concert in favour of a similar sounding raga. Given the popularity of raga Shankarabharanam or raga Karaharapriya, carnatic music lovers couldn’t be faulted for thinking that Harikambhodhi (which is only a note different than the former) would share the same strong following. Unfortunately it does not enjoy the same regard in concert lists that even its janya (derivative) raga Kambodhi enjoys.The reasons for this step-sisterly treatment on the concert stage are not entirely clear to me. I’d love to hear from you dear reader your thoughts on this.

Fortuntely, Tyagaraja has composed several songs in Harikambodhi ranging from Ebthara Neethana to Dinamani Vamsha and Ramanannu Brovara, as have numerous other composers. 

Here’s a classic rendition of Dinamani Vamsha by Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar.

Raga Harikambodhi corresponds to raag Khamaj in the Hindustani style of music. Khamaj is one melody that is heard in ghazals and bhajans. Here’s a rendition of raag Khamaj by Pandit Ravi Shankar and his daughter Anoushka.

This raga has been heard in many movies across genres and one of the most popular songs based on Harikambodhi was “Dil Hai Chota Sa” from the movie Roja.

My friend Shoba Narayan and I had presented a show “Classical Ragas in Indian Popular Music” recently at the Bangalore International Centre. Harikambodhi was one of the ragas that was heard by the audience. Here is a snippet of the raga that shows the transition from the silver screen to the classical music stage.

For those who want details, Harikambodhi is a Melakartha raga (28th) and the scale is as follows. SR2G3M1PD2N2 SN2D2PM1G3R2

I remain hopeful that Harikambodhi will get its due on the concert stage.

7 responses to “Harikambodhi – Raga Ruminations

  1. In my opinion, harikamboji, when one starts to present a raga, it has limited usages and becomes repetitive, unlike kambodhi. Kamach has very nice and pleasing uasages The janya ragas have more ranjakatva and appeal. Same is the case with Shankarabharana or Karaharapriya. Their Janyas are more appealing. Eg; Abhogi or Sriranjani. Varjya of certain notes adds to the beauty of a raga.

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    • Thanks for the feedback Harini. I do believe Harikambodhi has still not been heard often enough for listeners today to enjoy the nuances – the onus is on the musicians. I am looking for vintage recordings of this raga alapana and will post them once I find them.

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  2. My guess is that if yester year musicians had taken up these for main and grind into the ragam’s prayogams and finer nuances, they would have been famous. Why they didnt take up is unknown. Maybe their predecessors didnt experiment and so they also left them out. Since we don’t have any of their recs, we are unable to comprehend beyond what songs from trinities offer. I am sure these ragams also can offer same length of brightness if people now start experimenting and then next gen can benefit from it. On the similar lines, malaimarutham or valaji are more famous than a Chakravaham or a Ramapriya…

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    • You’re right Shankar. Even if the stalwarts did sing this raga alapana, we don’t have the recordings. Regarding the appealing nature of Melakartha vs janya (corresponding) ragas it largely depends on the prevailing mood and how the alapana is rendered. Yes, structure of the raga is an important factor but not to a great extent in my opinion. A crisp Ramapriya and a nuanced Harikambodhi may sound more appealing than a monotonous valaji with repetitive phrases as its a pentatonic scale (audava)!

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  3. Pingback: #5 – Raga Harikambodhi – Podcast | Chitra Srikrishna

  4. Pingback: An unusual Tyagaraja composition | Chitra Srikrishna

  5. I read this post completely about the comparison of latest and previous
    technologies, it’s remarkable article.

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