Vid Dev

Musings of a music student


April 2018

Kuntalavarali – Ragapedia 10

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 – Ragapedia 9

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:

Until next,

Vid 🙂

Niroshta – Ragapedia 8

Niroshta is a relatively new age ragam, with a pentatonic scale. What is unique though, it doesn’t have either PA or MA as a part. How does it matter? It does because if you cannot smack your lips in between your singing for a long time, you might end up drooling.

The name of the raga roughly means “without the lips” and it follows the parent raga Sankarabharanam. Hence the scale would be:

Aarohanam – S R2 G3 D2 N3 S

Avarohanam – S N3 D2 G3 R2 S

Carnatic Compositions

Harikesanallur Muthiah Bagavathar invented Niroshta (sans P and M) and composed a song, Raja raja radhithe. The speciality of the song is, even its lyrics with no bilabial syllable in it (i.e) udhadugal ottadhu; and it has a crisp chittaswaram to add to the beauty of the composition. It is said that he composed this song when the Mysore Maharaja was unwell with swollen lips!

There is another interesting theory I read in Rasika forums, and I quote, “The word sin or papa comes from the first sound of the pa-group repeated twice. The sounds in the pa-group are called papa-pankti and avoiding these sounds is Niroshta. Avoiding papa-pankti is indicative of reminding ourselves that we are trying to avoid the papa and punya for the good of our extended self.”

Here is my attempt at singing the song.

There is a thillana in the same raga, composed and rendered by the genius TN Seshagopalan.

Use in Movies

Though there are no movie songs in Niroshta, the song Raja Raja Radhithe has been used in the Malayalam movie Ananda Bhairavi. I wonder at the Malayalam music directors who aptly place such unusual Carnatic compositions in their movies. Another such instance I quoted in my post for Andolika.

Related Ragas

When I was reading about Niroshta, I found that there is a similar raga called Banupriya with the swaras in the scale the same as Niroshta. There is a composition by Aalathoor Vijayakumar in Banupriya, called Banupriyasani. (I am writing this here, because I don’t know much about this ragam to make a separate post). The flow of the song sounds a lot like Ganamurthi.

Until next,

Vid 🙂

Natabhairavi – Ragapedia 7

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 🙂

Karnaranjani – Ragapedia 6

Karnaranjani’s (Karaharapriya janyam) unique identifier is its phrase “SRGMGP” and hence the scale is thus,

Aarohanam: S R2 G2 M1 G2 P D2 S

Avarohanam: S N2 D2 P M1 G2 R2 S

The ragam was a creation of Harikesanallur Muthiah Bagavathar, and he has aptly named it Karnaranjani which literally means “pleasant to the ears”.

Carnatic Compositions

  • Vanchathonuna by Harikesanallur Muthiah Bagavathar, the man who invented the raga itself
  • Om Namo Narayana by Ambujam Krishna
  • Deena Sharanyane by Nila Ramamurthi, daughter of Papanasam Sivan
  • Thillana by Lalgudi Jayaraman

Listen to a beautiful verse in Nachiyar Thirumozhi set in the ragam Karnaranjani (tuned by Devanathan).

Also listen to Seshagopalan singing a pasuram “Kulam Tharum” of Periyazhwar followed by Kamba Ramayanam verses in this raga, as a part of a 12 hour concert he did in January 2001 on Vaikunta Ekadesi in Ayodhya Mandapam (according to the below link). What is interesting is, even the group chanting at the end of this song is done in the raga.

Use in Movies

I was not able to find any tamizh movie song in Karnaranjani, but this Malayalam song “Harnakshi Janamoule” from the movie Kaliyachan is…

I have my own doubts about “Theertha Karai Thanile” from Thai Pongal being Karnaranjani, because it doesn’t use “SRGMGP” as clearly as the above Malayalam song.

Until next,

Vid 🙂

Saraswathi – Ragapedia 5

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 🙂

Panthuvarali – Ragapedia 4

Panthuvarali is also called Kamavardhini as per the katapaya nomenclature and called Kasi Ramakriya as per Dikshitar literature. It is the 51st of the 72 melakartha scale system.

Aarohanam: S R1 G3 M2 P D1 N3 S

Avarohanam: S N3 D1 P M2 G3 R1 S

Apparently Panthuvarali and Kamavardhini were not the same originally. What is now Subhapanthuvarali was called Panthuvarali or Shivapanthuvarali; what is now Kamavardhini was called Ramakriya. (Source: Sanjay’s blog) However, thanks to evolution, now Panthuvarali and Shubapanthuvarali are two different ragas.

Carnatic Compositions

  • Sambo Mahadeva, Saramegani, Aparama Bhakthi, Shobaane, Siva Siva are few of the many krithis by Thyagaraja
  • Ramanatham Bhajeham, Senapathe Palayamam by Muthuswamy Dikshitar
  • Sarasaksha Paripalayamam by Swathi Thirunal
  • Neeye Pedhai Mugam (varnam) by Papanasam Sivan
  • Enna Ganu Rama Bhajana by Bhadrachala Ramadas
  • Varuga Varuga by Balamurali Krishna

Listen to me singing Sambo Mahadeva, a Thyagaraja krithi.

Used in movies

When I was reading about movie songs based out of Panthuvarali, I observed that there are 3 or more songs in various Bala (director) movies – Piraye Piraye from Pithamagan, Om Sivoham from Naan Kadavul, Or Aayiram Yanai and Amma Endrale from Nandha. Probably because the raga fits the intense mood of his genre of movies.

This raga has been extensively used by other music directors as well. Amba Manam (a Papanasam Sivan composition in Sivakavi), Deviyai Poojai Seivai from Savithri, first part of Ezhu Swarangalukkul (in Apoorva Ragangal by MSV), Rojavai Thaalaatum /  Kanal Neer Pol (two versions with the same tune in Niniaivellam Nithya by Ilayaraja), Macha Machiniye (in Star by AR Rahman), and many other popular film songs exists in this raga.

I shall leave you with this song Deviyai Poojai Seivai from the 1941 movie Savithiri, where MS Subbalakshmi dons the character of Naradha and acts and sings the said song; enjoy listening.

Until next,

Vid 🙂

Kalyana Vasantham – Ragapedia 3

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 🙂

Andolika – Ragapedia 2

The raga Andolika is a janyam of Karaharapriya with the scale as below. It is a creation of Thyagaraja and also goes by the name Mayuradhwani.

Aarohanam – S R2 M1 P N2 S

Avarohanam – S N2 D2 M1 R2 S

Andolika vs Mayuradhvani

The raga’s evolution seems to have two possibilities, and either or both could have happened in course of time.

1) Andolika was previously called Mayuradhvani – Here is Kittappa’s rendition of “Raga Sudha Rasa” which sounds exactly like how we sing today, and the record has Mayuradhvani written on it (look at the image on the video).

2) Raga Sudha Rasa is mapped to Mayuradhvani in the Thyagaraja literature – meaning it was sung in Mayuradhvani and somehow came to be sung in Andolika in the recent past.

Karnatik has a list of janya ragas where Mayuradhvani is featured 4 times with different scales, one of it being the same as Andolika, which doesn’t really help drawing a conclusion either.

Carnatic Compositions

  • Raga Sudha Rasa by Thyagaraja
  • Sevikka Vendum Ayya by Muthuthandavar (said to have been tuned to Andolika most likely in the later part of this century; obviously the ragam wouldn’t have been in vogue in 1600s when Muthuthandavar lived.)
  • Mahishasura Mardhini (varnam) and Vajreshi Maathe by Harikesanallur Muthiah Bagavathar
  • Nee Dayaradha (varnam) by GN Balasubramaniam

Listen to a rendition of Raga Sudha Rasa, a classic krithi in the raga, below.

Also listen to the Muthiah Bagavathar varnam sung by Professor K. Venkatraman, a disciple of Nellai Krishnamurthy, who in turn learnt from Muthiah Bagavathar himself.

Use in movies

We are again talking about Raga Sudha Rasa, in this section, because I am not able to find any other movie song even vaguely influenced by it. The song features in the movie Sargam (Malayalam) / Sarigamalu (Telugu) and is sung by Yesudas and Chitra. There is a swara dialogue between Vineeth and Ramba at the end of the song that highlights phrases from the raga. Below is the link for the song from Sarigamalu.

Until next,

Vid 🙂

Ganamurthi – Ragapedia 1

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 🙂

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