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Musings of a music student

Anandabhairavi

A soothing raga in Carnatic Music, Anandabhairavi is a janya ragam of Natabhairavi. The pann equivalent of it is Kausikam.

Aarohanam – S G2 R2 G2 M1 P D2 P S

Avarohanam – S N2 D2 P M1 G2 R2 S

Carnatic Compositions

Syama Sastri has composed so many types of compositions in Ananda Bhairavi including gitam, swarajathi, varnam, part of ragamalika and a host of krithis. Makes me wonder if it was his favourite ragam. The list includes O Jagadhamba, Marivere, Himachala Thanaya, Pahi Sri Girirajasuthe, Mahilo Amba, a swarajathi, Samini Rammanave (varnam), Parvathi Janani (gitam), Amba Ninnu Nera (first of the Ragamalika).

On the other end of the spectrum is Thyagaraja who stopped composing in Anandabhairavi as a gift to a theatre performance he enjoyed watching which had a number in Anandabhairavi. The artist apparently wanted his name to be synonymous with the raga’s name he seems to have made history like he thought! Hence there are just a couple of compositions in Anandabhairavi by Thyagaraja, including Nike Theliyaga.

Other compositions by other composers are:

  • Manasa Guruguha, Kamalamba Samrakshathu (1st Navavarnam), Thyagaraja Yogavaibhavam by Muthuswamy Dikshitar
  • Ramabhadra Raa Raa, Paluke Bhangara by Bhadrachala Ramadas
  • Samagana Priye by Periyasami Thooran
  • Ayyara by Aanayya
  • Ni Mathi Chellaga by Kavi Matrubhoothaiyer
  • Poomel Valarum by Mazhavai Chidambara Bharathi
  • Raveme (swarajathi) by Veerabhadrayya, who is said to have composed the first known swarajathi
  • Karpagavalli Nin by Jaffna Veeramani Iyer – first raga of the Ragamalika

Listen to Marivere Gathi a composition of Syama Sastri in Anandabhairavi.

Drama and Anandabhairavi

Kathakali performances uses an amalgamation of ragas, one of them being the characteristic Anandabhairavi. However, the raga used is entirely governed by the mood and character of the story. Kathakali music has no qualms in using one allied raga after another, if the mood demands the same. Where as in Carnatic music an Anandabhairavi or Huseni or Mukhari would not follow a Bhairavi rendition. (source)

Listen to a Kathakali padam, Sukumara Nandakumara, as a part of Poothana Moksham (story of a rakshas Poothana being killed by baby Krishna), which is sung more fluidly, unlike the krithis in the raga.

Yakshagana, a theatrical form of the West coast, also uses Anandabhairavi to perform stories from Ramayana, Mahabharatha.

Use in Movies

Here is a hilarious song from the movie Thooku Thooki where “Sethji” Baliah and Lalitha sings a duet in Kapi – Anandabhairavi, “pyari nimbal mele namki mazaa”, that definitely brought a smile to my face. The Hindi-ish portions are set to Kapi, while the Tamizh portions starts with Anandabhairavi.

Well, not just for wooing as in the above song, but Anandabhairavi has been extensively used in one aspect – baby shower songs in movies, I noticed.

  • Poi Vaa Magale from Karnan
  • Sri Janaki Devi from Missiyamma
  • Sittu Pole Muthu Pole from Iniya Uravu Poothadhu

Nalvazhvu Naam Vaazha from the movie Veetuku Veedu also seems to be some marriage related song, though there is no way to know for sure, it was not pictured in the movie.

Of course, other famous songs in this raga include Konja Naal Poru Thalaiva from Aasai, Anbendra Mazhaiyile from Minsara Kanavu.

P.S: I am adding some random facts here because I didn’t know where else to put them!

  • Muthuswamy Dikshitar’s Thyagaraja Yoga Vaibhavam has this famous prosody pattern in the Pallavi.
    • Thyagaraja Yoga Vaibhavam
      • Agaraja Yoga Vaibhavam
        • Raja Yoga Vaibhavam
          • Yoga Vaibhavam
            • Vaibhavam
              • Bhavam
                • Vam
  • Syama Sastri’s Himachala Thanaya was initially sung in Misra Chapu, in a thalam that he frequently used.
  • The movie Ananda Bhairavi does not have any song in the raga titled.

Until next,

Vid 🙂

Kuntalavarali

Kuntalavarali is a light raga – in carnatic music, one could classify a ragam that does not involve much gamakam in its grammer as light. I would even call it breezy. It is sung mostly with Madhyamam as base sruthi. A child raga of Harikamboji, it has a zigzag scale thus.

Aarohanam – S M1 P D2 N2 D2 S

Avarohanam – S N2 D2 P M1 S

Carnatic Compositions

  • Sankadame Jagam, Patiyil Pasuvinilave by Lakshmanan Pillai (I know the first song, but the second one is merely mentioned in an essay on the composer; there are no recordings I know of to corroborate it)
  • Kandavarkku Kanavilum by Swarna Venkatesa Dikshitar
  • Ninnupogada Tharama by GNB
  • Sara Sara Samarai by Thyagaraja
  • Bogindra Shayinam by Swati Thirunal
  • Thillana by Balamurali Krishna
  • Shivaya Namavendru by Papanasam Sivan
  • Antharyami by Annamacharya – set to tune by Pinakapani

Listen to Kandavarkku Kanavilum in Kuntalavarali ragam, a composition of Swarna Venkatesa Dikshitar.

 

Use In Movies

If I have to talk about movie songs in this ragam, I have to talk about this song in the malayalam movie, Manichithrathazh – Oru Murai Vandhu Paarthaaya. The tamizh portion of the song is a beautiful Kuntalavarali.

Other movie songs in this ragam are:

  • Raja Vaada Singa Kutti from Thisai Maariya Paravaigal (by MSV)
  • Maname Nee Eesan from Ashok Kumar (the movie, not actor), music by Papanasam Sivan

Until next,

Vid 🙂

Kedaragaula

Kedaragaula, another janyam of Harikamboji, has a very brisk characteristic to it. Probably why it is attributed as a morning raga or said to be apt to start concerts with. Also a ragam more frequented in ragamalikas in viruthams and RTPs.

Aarohanam – S R2 M1 P N2 S

Avarohanam – S N2 D2 P M1 G3 R2 S

Carnatic Compositions

  • Thulasi Bilva by Thyagaraja
  • Nilothpalambikaya by Muthuswamy Dikshitar (4th vibhakthi)
  • Samikku Sari Evvare by Papanasam Sivan
  • Jalajanabha by Swati Thirunal
  • Saraguna Palimpa by Poochi Srinivasa Iyengar
  • Seshachala Vasa by Chowdiah
  • Antha Rama Sowndharyam by Arunachala Kavi
    • I learnt this song from Padma mami who used to explain the meaning when she taught the charanam; it compares each body part of Rama to something very picturesque. While singing the song, I used to visualize a cartoonish effect of the whole charanam. I was amazed to find that musician+painter S Rajam had made an illustration of the same. (Check featured image)

Listen to a Chowdiah‘s composition in Kedaragaula, Seshachala Vasa sung by me.

Kedaragaula and Kathakali

Kathakali, is an art form that enacts a story during its performance. If you remember, the act starts with a large screen being drawn in front of the audience, behind which the decked up dancers would get into position. This is when the act is also inaugurated (invocation) by the vandana slokam, which is sung in Kedaragaula. Of course, in certain performances, I did find it being sung in ragamalika too. Below is a recording of the musicians rendering the said song in Kedaragaula. I wasn’t able to find a decent recording with dance included though.

Use in Movies

The last line Satre Sarindha sung by Ambikapathy (from movie titled the same!) in the song Vadivelum Mayilum, (supposedly the 100th / 101st) when his lover appears on the upparikai, that is Kedaragaula. So is Aanandha Nadamidum from Nandanar, sung by MM Dandapani Desikar.

Image credits: carnaticmusicreview.wordpress.com

Until next,

Vid 🙂

Natabhairavi

Natabhairavi has equivalents everywhere; Dikshitar literature is Naririthigowla, Hindustani is Asaveri, Western Classical is natural minor scale, Greek is Aeolian mode, Tamizh music is Padumalai Palai. It is the 20th melakartha raga in the system, and it seems to have started out as a synthetic raga, and then post Trinity vaggeyakaras should have composed krithis in it much later.

Aarohanam – S R2 G2 M1 P D1 N2 S

Avarohanam – S N2 D1 P M1 G2 R2 S

 

Carnatic Compositions

  • Sri Valli Devasenapathe by Papanasam Sivan
  • Parulaseva by Poochi Srinivasa Iyengar
  • Nalina Nayana by Balamurali Krishna

I have not added Sri Neelothpala Nayike in Naririthigowla by Muthuswamy Dikshitar to the list of compositions. All the renditions I find of the song sound more like Reethigowla; the scale is also slightly different.

Listen to Sri Valli Devasenapathe, a Papanasam Sivan composition in Sanskrit.

Also listen a composition in total contrast to the above, sung by Balamurali Krishna himself.

 

Use in Movies

You will find so many movie songs cast to this ragam, but it is not really that popular in the Carnatic scene. I think this is why. Natabhairavi is the parent raga for a huge list of popular ragas such as – Anandha Bhairavi, Abheri, Sudha Saveri, Hindolam, Saramathi, Darbari Kanada are a few among the lot. Music directors who score for a movie are obviously not carnatic grammer bound. But our obsession to label every movie song, to a raga probably made us go for the obvious parent raga Natabhairavi, which could justify most tunes. One more reason could be that the interval / gap between these notes follow exactly the same pattern of the natural minor scale notes under western music. (Source: link)

Having said that I will list out a few movie songs in Natabhairavi here.

  • Maniye Manikkuyile from Nadodi Thendral – sounds more like Jonpuri
  • Mandram Vandha Thendralukku from Mouna Ragam
  • Andhi Mazhai Megam from Nayagan
  • Aasaya Kaathula from Johnny
  • Oh Butterfly from Meera
  • En Iniya Pon Nilave from Moodu Pani
  • Snehithane from Alaipayuthey
  • Vaseegara from Minnale

Until next,

Vid 🙂

Saraswathi

Saraswathi, the raga shares its name with the Goddess of Learning – and that is probably why that almost every song I know or have heard in this raga, is sung on Her. Corollary: if you listen to a song that starts “Veena Pusthaka” or “Saraswathi” or the likes, take a quick guess that it is in the raga Saraswathi, you will almost always be right.

Technically, it is a ragam sans Ga & Ni ascending and only sans Ga descending. The parent raga is Vachaspathi. The Hindustani equivalent raga goes by the same name, Saraswathi (the raga is said to have been adapted from Carnatic by Hindustani).

Aarohanam – S R2 M2 P D2 S

Avarohanam – S N2 D2 P M2 R2 S

Carnatic Compositions

  • Anuragamule by Thyagaraja
  • Saraswathi Dhayai Nidhi by Papanasam Sivan
  • Saraswathi Namosthuthe, Kavalai Ellam by GNB
  • Vageeshwari Vani by Harikesanallur Muthiah Bagavathar
  • Kalaimagale by MM Dandapani Desikar
  • Kodu Bega Dhivyamathi by Purandhara Dasar – I know of the one in Vasantha, but I am not able to find any rendition online in Saraswathi
  • Sharade Chandranane by ES Sankaranarayana Iyer

Listen to Saraswathi Dhayai Nidhi by Papanasam Sivan.

 

Use in movies

The song Ilakkanam Marudo from Nizhal Nijamagiradhu sounds like Saraswathi in only some phrases. There is also a Malayalam song in the raga, Saraswathi Yaamam Kazhinju from Anavaranam. Yet another classical song in this raga is Yaanai Mugane from the 1947 movie Kannika, composed by Papanasam Sivan; irony is, this song is on Lord Ganesha 😉

This song Veena Vaani (again on Goddess Saraswathi) from the movie Pon Megalai rendered by Kalpana Raghavendar and Madurai Srinivasan is a classic in this raga.

P.S: You might already know this, but just clarifying – Swans of Saraswathi by Agam the band, is based on a Thyagaraja krithi, Bantureethi Kolu, a song on Lord Rama, in the raga Hamsanadham. It has no relevance whatsoever to the raga Saraswathi.

Until next,

Vid 🙂

Kalyana Vasantham

Kalyana Vasantham, a janyam of the melakartha Keeravani, is a pentatonic-septatonic raga with the scale…

Aarohanam – S G2 M2 D1 N3 S

Avarohanam – S N3 D1 P M1 G2 R2 S

Carnatic Compositions

  • Sri Venkatesham by Ambi Dikshitar (there is a conflict if the composer was Muthuswamy Dikshitar; as grandfather and grandson usedthesame signature guruguha)
  • Nadhaloludai, Kanula Thakani by Thyagaraja
  • Innudaya Bharathe by Purandaradasa
  • Deva Jagannatha by Gopalakrishna Bharathi
  • Annalin Aanai varnam which can be found in Panchapakesa Iyer’s varnam book (there are articles that claim this song to be Panchapakesa Iyer’s own, but the varnam book does not list a composer name for this varnam)

 

Listen to Sri Venkatesham of Ambi Dikshitar in Kalyana Vasantham. This krithi was popularized by Maharajapuram Santhanam.

 

Used in Movies

Bharathi’s song ninnaye rathi endru is presented in the raga Kalyana Vasantham in the movie Kanne Kaniyamudhe; so is the song Kanchi Pattuduthi from Vayasu Ponnu. However, the biggest challenge in identifying movie songs in this raga is to not mis-identify songs in raga Chandrakauns as Kalyana Vasantham. Note that Kalyana Vasantham’s ascending swaras if used in the avarohanam too, makes it sound like Chandrakauns.

l am leaving you with Kadri Gopalath’s saxophone play at the start of the movie Duet, which is an obvious Kalyana Vasantham.

 

Until next,

Vid 🙂

Ganamurthi

Ganamurthi is the 3rd melakartha raga in the Carnatic Raga system in vogue right now. Since the first two ragas on the 72 melakartha list aren’t that known, Ganamurthi was my best shot at kick starting Ragapedia. A close second choice was Mayamalava Gowla, the ragam we learn first in training, but more about that raga, much later. For now, read along about Ganamurthi.

Aarohanam – S R1 G1 M1 P D1 N3 S

Avarohanam – S N3 D1 P M1 G1 R1 S

Ganamurthi is also called as Ganasamavarali in the Muthuswamy Dikshitar literature.

Carnatic Compositions

  • Ganamurthe by Thyagaraja
  • Bruhadheeshwaro by Muthuswamy Dikshitar (has the raga signature, Ganasamavarali)
  • Indu Chakra Mein by SD Batish, a Hindustani musician and composer, who has composed Hindi songs in each melakartha raga, that beautifully describes the raga lakshana of the raga. Listen to Prince Rama Verma explain and then perform the song, here.

Listen to  Ganamurthe in the raga Ganamurthi, a Thyagaraja krithi.

Use in Albums

I doubt there are any film songs composed in Ganamurthi. However, there is a song tuned by Ilayaraja in the raga, in his devotional album Geethanjali – “Vetrigalin Mudhar Porule”.

What is Ragapedia?

As it is my first post in the series, I want to tell you a bit about the background. I have had partially successful and unsuccessful attempts at the AtoZ blogging challenge earlier (the one that happens throughout April).  This year too, I was planning to write for a month at first. Then I chanced upon this movie Julie and Julia, where Amy Adams takes up a challenge to herself that she would try out French recipes and blog about it for an year, that piqued my interest. Actually, she wanting to take up a challenge and see it through to completion, piqued my interest, and I wanted to do something like that. Only difference is I am trying out carnatic ragas instead of French recipes 😉 Tick tock!

Until next,

Vid 🙂

Rabindra Sangeet

A post of mine that has been sitting in the drafts for more than a year, and the irony, it was a guest post. I am sure Dr. Madhubanti would have even forgotten she wrote this, but how could I leave a beautiful post such as this from seeing the light of the virtual world! Here, she talks about her roots, poetry, music and specifically Rabindra Sangeet. Read along!

“Watching me rattle through words at a million miles an hour, it may surprise you to learn that I learnt to sing before I could talk. Today, my music collection is eclectic, ranging casually through genres and across the world.

But my deepest and most abiding love remains for the two types of Bengali music that permeated the very walls of my family home in Kolkata. On the one hand, there is Bengali folk music – evoking the rivers and mountains of a lush, green region and the loves and losses of the people living on and off that land. (Yes, I can hear you thinking: how on earth is a city childhood conducive to imbibing folk music? But bear with me: I’ll come back to this shortly.)

On the other hand, there is Rabindra Sangeet – the uncategorisable musical oeuvre of a literary genius in whose writing there is solace for loss, balm for pain, encouragement for overcoming challenges, the celebration of joys and successes, reverence for nature and humanity, as well as a deep, ineffable relationship with the forces of the Divine, however one conceives of it. (This affinity is more easily understandable: my grandfather, an award-warning professor of literature probably had Tagore songs and poems eddying in his bloodstream, and he passed this on to my mother, and to a far lesser degree, to me.)

When you start to unpack Rabindranath Tagore’s musical – as opposed to lyrical – influences, however, something emerges that makes my urban taste for folk seem a lot less strange. On the one hand, there are the incredibly westernised ‘Purano shei diner kotha‘ – bearing more than a passing resemblance to Auld Lang Syne – or ‘Kotobaro bhebechhinu‘ – designed for piano accompaniment. But the other side of the coin contains pure classical notations of a complexity that puts off most but the most intrepid and skilled vocalists – E Ki Labonye Purno Praan would be a good example – but also beautifully sympathetic renderings and reworkings of traditional folk music from all across undivided Bengal.

The Tagore family were zamindars (landholders) in Shilaidaha in modern-day Bangladesh, and especially in his early writing life, the long journeys there and back from Kolkata, as well as the time spent in his Zamindari allowed Tagore plenty of exposure to both the natural elements he wrote about so eloquently his whole life, but also the folk music that was around him everywhere. With the help of Gagan Harkara on his estate, he began the work of collecting the scattered, oral gems left behind by Lalan Fakir, one of the most legendary peripatetic folk poet singers.

Tagore’s efforts also led people to rediscover the Sylheti folk poet Hason Raja – it would be absolutely fair, to the breadth of imagination and thought of both parties, despite their different languages, to compare him to the great Sufi poet Kabir – but also brought the music of the fisher folk and peripatetic tribal communities into the mainstream. It is not uncommon, to this day, to find Tagore’s folk-based songs being performed at folk music festivals and celebrations, and these days, being ‘digitally remastered’ to the accompaniment of electric guitars and zippy chords.

Since, even today, no self-respecting Bengali family would find itself without a complete set of Tagore’s works, my taste for folk music – to which my introduction was through Tagore himself – doesn’t seem so outlandish any more.

The song I want to leave you with is ‘Amar praaner manush achhe praane‘, whose beautiful lines remind us of why we talk about ‘folk wisdom’ – knowledge and realisations that never quite go out of date.”

Until next,

Vid 🙂

Saketharaman – interesting and rare

Five years ago, I attended my first Abhishek Raghuram concert as a TMK concert at the same time, different venue, was overflowing with rasikas. Yesterday (27th Dec) the same happened as tickets sold out for AR, and thus I ended up at the concert of Saketharaman, a disciple of Lalgudi Jayaraman. He was accompanied by Mysore Nagaraj on the violin, Bengaluru Praveen on the Mridangam and Guru Prasanna on the kanjira.

I don’t believe in blindly listing all the songs performed, hence I directly move to highlight the best parts of the concert. I would call Muthuswamy Dikshithar’s Arthanareeswaram the sub-main song of the concert, even though there were other songs with equal improvisation(manodharma). It is set in the raga Kumudhakriya (a child of Pantuvarali raga), and Saketharaman performed crisp neraval – swaram to the madhyama kalam.

The other best part of the concert was pulling off a weird concept as Ragam Thanam Pallavi. If someone takes two polar opposite ragas such as Vasantha and Behag and sing a Pallavi in misra (7) jathi triputa thalam, that has similar lyrics for Lord Siva in Vasantha and Lord Vishnu in Behag, that alone requires an applause.

lolanai, gana lolanai (sama / venu) gana lolanai, (haranai / hariyai) sadha ninaindhidu

That was the pallavi lyrics for you; read before the slash for the uttaranga and after the slash or the purvanga. The pallavi was also presented in ragamalika where ragas such as Sama (sama gana lolanai) and Patdheep were well chosen and handled.

What could have been different

Sharavana Bhava in Pasupathipriya (Harikesanallur Muthiah Bagavathar) was unintelligibly fast. Uyyalaluga Vaiyya’s (Thyagaraja) aalapana in Neelambari was also hurried than what you would expect as the raga’s comfort.

What I liked

The choice of songs at the start of the concert were from rare composers like Aanayya (Intha Paraka in Mayamalava Gowlai) and Pallavi Sesha Iyer (Palimparavathe in Arabhi). The korvais at the end of kalpana swarams by Saketharaman embellished the Lalgudi style. The fillers / arudhi played by Bangalore Praveen for each song was bang on.

Until next,

Vid 🙂

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