Tuesday, February 23, 2010

An Attempt to Understand Raagas in Carnatic Music

(This blog post is written by Vidhyashankar, MBA student at W.P. Carey School of Business in Arizona State University. With no formal training in carnatic music, he writes about how he learned about the different ragas in particular and carnatic music in general.)

Raagas form the essence of Carnatic music and refers to melodic modes used in Indian classical music. It was around the age of 7 when my grandma taught this song “Bho Shambo Shiva Shambo Swayambho”. I had no clue about that ragam (Revathi Ragam) but if you hear this song,

it will be like shiva’s rudhra thandav. Later I observed that several Shiva songs are based out of that raga. If you want to make a film connection to it, then take your “Padayappa” DVD. Fast forward it to the place where Ramya Krishnan dances in anger in front of Lord Natraja in the rain, where every pillar looks like Rajinikanth and Soundarya. The music behind is Revathi raga. (Once again the Thandav aspect).

The most famous raga off late in Tamil cinema is Reetigowla. Probably the raga has so much charm that several romantic numbers are based on it. “Azhagana Rakshashiye- Mudhalavan”, “Theenda Theendai – Thuluvatho Elamai”, “Sudum Nilavu- Thambi",“Kangal Irandal – Subramanianapuram”.

Of my personal experiences, one of the most incredible experiences was raga Kathanakuthuhalam. I was in my eleventh standard and this was when I heard the song “Raghuvamsa Sudha” that was sung in Kathanakuthuhalam. I told my sister, whenever I hear this song, I get so much energized and pumped up (I never understood the meaning of the song). Only a few weeks back I read in Google that this raga is sung in the kings court to energize and motivate people before they go to war. Movie songs – “Namathu Nagaram Thaan” in movie “Calcutta”. I have heard from people that “Kandukonden Kandukoden song” has touches of this raga.

Personally my favorite raagam has been Desh. I know favoritism is limiting but its from what I know. Desh rag songs "Thumbam Nergayil". I am not sure about any movie song in this raga but we all know "Bhaje Sargam" that use to come frequently in Doordarshan

However, several of us have no introduction to Carnatic Music or Raagas. I used to always think carnatic music was not the brightest of things (Apologies to all the Experts of Carnatic Music). However, I later realized that there has been tremendous science behind ragas. Just like any other sciences in our Indian system, it is been given in a subtle way to people who are dedicated and have the openness to accept it.

I have not had a formal training in music and neither had taken a book to read about ragas. It is just through observing the patterns and at various intervals of time I had contacts with ragas which helped me learn a drop from the ocean. I am sure formal training with dedication and involvement would help us learn the width and the depth of this science “Carnatic Music”.

To be continued....

An Attempt to Understand Raagas in Carnatic Music-Part II

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6 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As you said its just a drop in the Ocean, yes there are so many things from are ancient culture that we have let go just because we couldnt understand the sutle TRUTH's behind them.

February 23, 2010 6:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would like to read your comments on Kapi and sankarabharanam ragas - I think lots of songs are based on these raga.

February 25, 2010 3:26 AM  
Blogger arvind said...

omg,shanky.... wat a blog!!
learn more abt u!
keep blogging like this!

February 26, 2010 12:19 AM  
Blogger UmaRam said...

Your blog made an interesting read! Please continue the good work.
BTW, do take time to visit our carnatic music website, www.ragasurabhi.com, primarily launched with the idea of making the raga identification process more user-friendly! Please do post your comments and feedback or send your mails to ragasurabhi@ragasurabhi.com

Thanks.

February 27, 2010 8:25 AM  
Blogger jhanvi said...

raja's brilliant composition chinnakannan azhaikiran by the legend BMK sir is also in reethi gowlai.. He has just used the Arohanam of the raaga for the lines chinna kanna azhaikiran" Amazing!!! i got to know this info from one of the music related programs that i recently watched!! I am also not sure if the song RAma KAneVimira from the telugu movie Swathi muthyam is in the same raagam.. Sounds very much Reethi to me though!

February 28, 2010 7:15 AM  
Blogger RajenderVallapureddy said...

Dear Vidhya,

Please take time to visit www.guruswara.com

For anyone learning carnatic music online, guruswara has come up with a online training tool for carnatic music.

GuruSwara is the first of its kind online Carnatic music solution for vocal excellence that has been developed to revolutionise and transform Carnatic music practicing methodology.

GuruSwara will enable the Gurus' to give assignments and track students' progress.

Students can practice and assess their performance in accordance with the parameters like Sruti, Laya, Bhavam, Swaram, and Gamakam.

If you find this tool interesting, please let anyone know, who is interested in learning carnatic music, but do not have access to physical resources due to non-availability of gurus or vicinity problem. Guruswara can be handy to them.

Regards,
Rajender

March 02, 2012 12:50 PM  

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