Raga Ruminations – Begada

The Begada varnam Intha Chalamu by Veena Kuppayyar is one of the best varnams of the genre. Begada is one raga that needs a certain level of dexterity to bring out the nuances. The varnam is a important lesson for students just for the muktayi and chittaswara patterns following the charanam.

Shankari Neeve, a composition of Subbarayar Shastri is a popular piece in raga Begada. Listen to this Begada, the raga and the song by Voleti Venkateshwarulu, what I feel is one of the best renditions.

Here’s another gem in this raga – Nadopasana, the magnum opus of Tyagaraja rendered by Sanjay Subrahmanyam.

Kadaikkan Vaithannai Aalamma, the Tamil composition of Ramaswamy Sivan is one of my personal favourites. Here is an old Doordarshan TV recording of a concert by KV Narayanaswamy where he begins with this song.

There is no Hindustani equivalent to raga Begada though the rare raag Hem Kalyan sounds closest to this scale. Here is a rendition of raag Hem Kalyan by Ustad Amir Khan.

Begada has such a strong classical structure that while making the transition to the silver screen the raga doesn’t give much scope for innovations within the framework for music composers . Here is a Malayalam song Ambala Parambile from an old movie Ningal Enna Communistakki by singer Jesudas.

For those who want details, Begada is a janya or a derivative of the 29th Mela raga Shankarabharanam and the scale reads as follows. SG3R2G3M1PD2PS SN32DPM1G3R2S

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