Madhyamavati – continued

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Before that let us try to work out a way how we can listen to a song, here movie song and analyse the raga which the song is based on. A tough objective, isn’t ? . The way we look at it, some people have it easy, and can directly see the patterns and recognize a raga very easily. Some others learn by going to a guru, but for a casual listener, it might take some practice and some intuitive thinking. For those with no formal education of music, then there is a really fun, good and easy way to try and learn ragas. Listen to a song and get someone to identify the raga initially for you. Learn this raga, by listening to the song and try humming along with it. Then turn off the song, and try humming along the same tune, but with variations. Some songs are already listed above. Giving it a try?

Today, let us take a look at the popular pentatonic raagams (of which the discussion now is on Madhyamavathi) that have been handled in Carnatic music and inspired several movie song sequences over the years.

As the name indicates, pentatonic ragams have a scale consisting of 5 notes in the ascent (aarohanam ) and 5 notes in the descent (avarohanam ) of the scale. These are also called AuDava – AuDava raagams, meaning 5 note – 5 note raagams. In other words, out of the usual seven possible notes, S, R, G, M, P, D and N, two notes are left out to form the scale of the raagam. Mohanam, Madhyamavati, Hindolam, Shuddha Saveri and Shuddha Dhanyasi form a family of pentatonic ragams. They are part of one pentatonic family because, each of these raagams are similar in their structure and can be derived from the other by shifting the reference of the sa note. This kind of tonic shift is called Shruti ( Pitch ) Bedam or Graha( Location ) Bedam.

The inter-relationship between these ragams can best be summarized by the following table:

Raagam Scales ( Aarohanam or Ascent )
Mohanam S R2 G3 P D2 S+ R2+ G3+ P+ D2+
Madhyamavati S R2 M1 P N2 S+ R2+ M1+ P+
Hindholam S G2 M1 D1 N2 S+ G2+ M1+
Shuddha Saveri S R2 M1 P D2 S+ R2+
Shuddha Dhanyasi S G2 M1 P N2 S+

Note that S, R, G, M, P, D, N, denotes the commonly known Sa, Ri, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha, Ni and the number suffix is the type of that particular note. The suffix “+” represents the note in the next octave.

The blank cell in the table after the S in each row represents the note in that position is not being used for that particular raagam. (However, due to space constraints – I was unable to project the note spacing correctly here).

For example, the scale ( Aarohanam ) for Madhyamavati is attained by shifting the Sa of Mohanam to its R2 position and playing the other notes in the scale successively. Similarly, when you shift the reference Sa along G3, P, D2 of Mohanam, you get the other raagams in the family, namely Hindholam, Shuddha Saveri and Shuddha Dhanyasi respectively. There are also many other raagams based on the pentatonic scale other than the ones mentioned above.

As we slide one step over from Mohanam’s AarohaNam (ascent ) by performing a tonic shift ( Graha Bedam or Shruti Bedam ), we land on the second raagam in our pentatonic family, Madhyamavati. This implies that the R2 of Mohanam is taken as the Sa of Madhyamavati. Being an Audava – Audava raagam, Madhyamavati’s AarohaNam is Sa Ri2 Ma1 Pa Ni2 Sa and the AvarohaNam (descent ) is Sa Ni2 Pa Ma1 Ri2 Sa. This raagam is unique in that it is the only raagam in this pentatonc family that is very gamakam (oscillation) oriented and it requires to be performed by accurately oscillating the Ri2 and the Ni2 notes above their respective base frequencies.

Sruti/Graha Bedham is the technique in which a new raga can be derived from the original raga, by changing the sruti (shadjam) . For example, if a singer is singing the raga mohanam (aro: S R2 G3 P D2) and he/she makes the rishabam (R2) of mohanam as the shadjam, then we get the madhyamavati raga (aro : S R2 M1 P N2 ). This is because (R2 G3 P D2 S) is equivalent to (S R2 M P N2) when R2 is assumed to be s. This is the essence of graha bedham.

There is also another theory involved. If raga B can be derived from A and raga C can be derived from B then raga C can be derived from A. That is, A*I–>B and B*J–> C implies A*K–>C for some swara K. For example, madhyamavati can be derived from mohanam (by letting R of mohanam be the S) and hindolam can be derived from madhyamavati (by letting the R of madhyamavati be the S). This implies that hindolam can be derived from mohanam — this is true. (by letting G of mohanam be the S).

As I wrote earlier yesterday, Madhyamavati is the janya (child) raagam of the 22nd Melakartha (parent) raagam Karaharapriya. It is said to be a Suraagam – an auspicious raagam or Shubhakaram – that which brings goodness. Performing the raagam is said to ward off sins (doshams) caused by singing other raagams at inappropriate times. It is well suited to be rendered in virutthams, raagamaalikaas and shlokams usually performed close to the end of the concert. Arunachala Kavi has employed this raagam for many songs in his RamanaTakam. This raagam is capable of portraying Bhakti and KaruNa rasam. Madhyamavati aalaapanai is traditionally performed after the concluding number called the Mangalam (auspicious) number – Pavamaana Sudutu Pattu in Saurashtram raagam. Hindustani raagams Madhyamaadi or Madhyamaditi Sarang of the Kafi thaat have the same scale as Madhyamavati and hence form able counterparts. Madhyamavati is suitable to be performed in the late evenings.Carnatic music composers have zestfully fancied utilizing Madhyamavati in their compositions probably due to its natural ability to lend a propitious aura to their devotional lyrics.

Popular Carnatic compositions include:

Palinthsu kamakshi pavani (Shyama Shastri),
Venkatesha Ninnu, Alakalalla lADaga, Nadupai Balikeru, Ramakatha Sudha (Thyagaraja),
Dharmasamvardhini, Pannaga Shayana Padmanabha (Muthuswami Dikshitar),
Karpagame KaN Paaraai, SharavaNabhava Guhane (Papanasam Sivan),
Shankari Shri Rajarajeshwari, AaDaadu Asangaadu Vaa (Ootthukadu Venkata Subbaiyer),
Parthasarathi Nannu (Ramanathapuram Shrinivasa Iyengar ),
Vandaan Vandaan Bharatan (Arunachala Kavi),
Saarasamukha Sarasijanaabha, Shri Padmanabha Kalayitum (Swati Tirunal),
Nannu brova raada, Raamabhiraama (Mysore Vasudevachar),
Shri Parameshwara, Shrimad Tripura Sundari (Mutthaiah Bhagavatar),
the ever popular Bhagyada Lakshmi Baaramma (Purandaradasar) to name a few.

The aesthetic elegance of Madhyamavati has apparently fascinated film music directors from all over India, especially the ones in the south. Particularly in the 60s and 70s the popular tamil movie songs tuned in Madhyamavati :-

Pon Ondru Kanden (Paditthaal mattum podhuma, 1962, Viswanathan-Ramamurthy), Aagaaya Pandalile (Pon Oonjal, 70s), MutthukkaLo KaNgaL (Nenjirukkum Varai, 1967, MSV) are still unforgettable.

Ilayaraja seems to have been so mesmerized by this raagam that he has atleast a couple of dozen songs tuned in Madhyamavati. Significant ones in his compositions are En Kalyana Vaibhogam (Azhage Unnai Aaraadhikkiren, 1979), Nee Daane Endan Pon Vasantham (Ninaivellam Nithya, 1982), Aagaaya Gangai (Dharma yuddham, 1979), Thaazham Poove (Kai Kodukkum Kai, mid 80s), Aananda Ten Sindum (MaN Vaasanai, 80s), Malargalil aadum (Kalyana Raman 1979) , Thulli Thulli (Chippikkul Muthu, 80s), Solai Kuyile (Ponnu Oorukku Pudusu, 80s), Kavidai Paadu Kuyile (Thendrale Ennai thodu, 1985, partially Brindavana Saaranga) and Nila Kayudu (Sakalakalaa vallavan, 1982, partially SriRaagam).

There are indeed several compositions influenced by Madhyamavati, in Kannada, Telugu, Malayalam films and even Punjabi Bhangda. Perhaps the auspicious, joyous and peaceful nature of Madhyamavati makes it such a sought-after raagam in the field of music.

Let us also try to discuss Madhyamavati (of 22 Mela Kartha) and it’s equivalent Hindustani Ragas:

Hindustani Raga That

Chanchaldas Malhar 10
Madhumad Sarang 10
Madhyamadi Sarang 10

There are some more interesting information on this auspicious raga:

Madhyamavati is one of the select twenty eight Ragas in which there is at least one composition by each member of the Trinity. The distribution of the total twenty two is as follows:

Tyagaraja – 15, Dikshitar – 4, Shyama Shastri – 3

The composition suited for rendition at the conduct of “Nalangu” (Nalangu is a tradition that dates back to times when marriages used to occur at a younger age) is: “Nagumomu Galavari” by Tyagaraja.

The composition that link Devi, Madhyamavati and Tyagaraja is “Vinayakuni Valenu”.

The Mangala-Kriti in Raga Madhyamavati, specifically composed as a Mangala Kriti is “Kamakshi Lokasakshini” by Shyama Shastri.

Too much of theory and history, so let us enjoy some great Madhyamavati songs.