I believe that ragas elicit certain emotions in you when you listen to them and each one has one emotional trait that is predominant. I am not well read when it comes to carnatic music theory, hence here is the disclaimer that whatever I write below is exclusively what I think from my experience.
For this love themed jodi posts by CBC, I thought I should write about ragas that I think are the most romantic, for various reasons. By romance, here I mean the “a feeling of excitement and mystery and happiness that might or might not be associated with love”.
The reason I chose Reethigowla is hugely influenced by its usage and identification in tamil film music.The carnatic compositions were of no help due to its religious / spiritual context. Whereas in films, right from Chinna Kannan to Azhagana Rakshasiye to Sudum Nilavu to Kangal Irandal, most of these famous romantic duets are set in this raga. Maybe the GaMaNiNiSa phrase gives that lilting beauty when sung; or that the very structure of the raga is not flat and boring but mystical and interesting.
Here is a playlist of only movie songs in Reethigowla for you.
Kaapi I believe lives up to its name. If coffee is believed to be an aphrodisiac, then the name sake might as well be one. It oozes love, and at the same time manifests in many forms – be it Bharathi’s love for Kannamma in Chinnanjiru Kiliye or the Javali (composition type generally conveying sringaara) Parulanna Maata, or the motherly love of Yashodha in Enna Thavam Seidhanai, or ARR’s Kadhal Rojave. It seems to me that, like the various types of coffees from each part of the world, the various songs in Kaapi have a unique flavor and each have to be dealt with, different from the other. You might want it black, or with milk or cream or sugar, but each type (song) has to be savored in the way it has to be.
This is my favourite raga of the three. But not many would agree with me for even adding it in the list of romantic ragas. That might even be the case; but then I learnt this song Kamaladhala Kannan in Behag. I don’t know what ESS Iyer imagined when he composed it, but that part “madhi mosam ponenadi” does something to me, every time I listen to it. The context of the phrase is thus: (I am giving the text in Tamizh as the essence seems lost when I translated it to English, sorry)
… ஒருவரும் இங்கில்லை என்று ஒருமுறை கண்ணா என்றேன்
ஓடி வந்து என்ன என்றான் ஒன்றுமில்லை என்றேன் நான்
வருந்தி இனிமேல் அழைத்திட்டாலும் வரமாட்டேன் என்று சொல்லி
வருந்த வைத்து மறைந்தார் – மதி மோசம் போனேனடி…
(knowing none is around, she calls Krishna – he appears – she gets tongue tied – hence he leaves saying don’t expect me to come next time you call – and that is when she loses her mind).
Malargal keten from OK Kanmani and Aalapanam from Gaanam are the only two movie songs I can think of in Behag and both are abstract in a way. Maybe it is that abstractness that this raga embellishes, that is lovely.
If you have a difference of opinion, or think I’m incapable of writing about this topic, or got anything else to say, do leave a comment. I’m not really a fan of bouquets, so that and brickbats are equally welcome 😉
Having read my take on romantic ragas, please also read what my team mate Divya Narasimhan of Sayuri has to say about how music inspired her to create jewellery designs. Here, she has taken the natabhairavi sounding song “Vaseegara” and interpreted it in her necklace.