Thursday, December 15, 2005

Of Hindustani

The enlightening discussions by prc and aakarsh on mavericks forced me into thinking(literally!! I had stopped thinking for a while now!) about this...

Hindustani system has a definite signature for each raga, called the raagaanga, and a singer wishing to elaborate on a raga first provides the signature and then launches into in-depth analysis and experimentation on the raga ("Nee RaaNi chacchindi po!" types).

The signatures of some of the very well-known ragas are very very interesting:

ex: Yaman(Kalyani) and Bilawal(Sankarabharanam) have only a difference of madhyamam...

It seems quite obvious that their signatures have madhyamam in the starting phrases as well... but surprise surprise!!

yaman: n3 r2 g3, p--r2 s, m2 d2 n3 d2 p.

bilawal: g3 r2 g3 p, n3 d2 n3 s, d2 n2(uses both n s, n2 optional though) d2 p m1 g3.

In the above example, both m1 and m2 are not exactly necessary for fairly acquainted listeners to identify them as the respective ragas. In fact, just n3-r2-g3 is sufficient to dump a raga into the yaman catalogue.

Also, Todi (Shubhapanthuvarali) needs only 3 swaras as its signature: s-r1->g2->r1-s.
Of course, uccharana is of utmost importance.

The Hindustani system provides ample opportunity for-

1) having more than one raga with the same notes:

ex 1: Bhoopali, Deshkar, Jait Kalyan, and Audav Devgiri (never heard that one!) have same notes but since they have different raagaangas prominent, they sound differently. Since I am only an amateur, I can only guide you where to find the exact solution:

ex 2: just the intonation of the meend from p to r2 differentiates 3 ragas: Chhaaya, goud-sarang, and of course yaman:

2) creating composite ragas, called jod-ragas: Since each raga (well, most!) has its corresponding raagaanga, it is possible to interface two ragas and create a unique phrase for the composite raga borne out of the two parent-ragas. Of course it requires tremendous talent and skill to catch hold of the right parent ragas and the right sewing points-- points where shift of ragas occurs.

ex: Malhar anga is : m1 r2 p
i) malhar anga + Kaanada anga (deergha kampitha g2 m1 r2 s)= miya ki malhar (of course it also has some other ornaments such as both the n s),
ii) malhar anga + nat anga (s r2, r2 g3, g3 m1)= nat-malhar
iii)malhar anga + kedar anga (s m1, m1 p, p d->(m2)->m1, s r2 s) = kedar-malhar

There are more than 25 malhars...

Similarly, nat anga and Kedar anga are very popular and are a part of many jod-ragas.

I wonder if Carnatic music has raga-signatures, or does it leave to the performer on using the notes to create the required bhava. I just know that varnams are used to provide the basic support on what swara-phrases impart that characteristic colour to the raga.



Random Walker said...


definitely!! there are very very distinguishable signatures of raagas in carnatic. phrases are just one part of the scheme. the way "ma" is sung in shankarabharanam is different from how it is sung in hari kambhoji even though it is the same "ma" (m1). hope that answers your question.

Aakarsh said...

Good piece of information, although a good part of it went over-heard..well, thats becoz i dont have an instrument to check.

Gandaragolaka said...

well... neither do I... but I get your point. Insterested people can go to sawf and listen to Pt.Jha's lectures on each raga and then simply sing along.

I hope something like this could be contrived for carnatic ones as well. Right now, when i listen to a carnatic raga, I recognise it either from memory (like Todi, mukhari, bhairavi) or the effect it produces (a few like natakurinji, kalyani, shubhapanthuvarali) or by hard-core code-cracking and noting all swaras down (Hindolam, etc)... seems like I am missing the signature part.