Senchuruti is a folksy raga that is bright and suited for conveying bhakthi bhava beautifully.

Senchuruti is a folksy raga that is bright and suited for conveying bhakthi bhava beautifully. It is not an easy raga to assimilate owing to the rather peculiar arohana-avarohana pattern, beginning at the lower octave nishada to the mid-octave nishada. It is hence sung in madhyama sruti — a tonal transpose of the entire scale to the madhyama such that all the notes fall within the working range of an average vocal register. It is a nishadantya raga — one that ends at the nishada.

The notes taken on by this raga, a derivative of the Harikambhoji scale, are Kaisiki Nishada, Sadja, Chatusruti Rishaba, Antara Gandhara, Suddha Madhyama, Pancama, and Chatusruti Dhaivata. Jhunjooti of Hindustani music resembles Senchuruti.

In classical music several tail-pieces (tukkadas) are based in Senchuruti, prominent among them being ‘Sakhi Prana’ — a soul-stirring Javali of Dharmapuri Subburayar, ‘Nadavindu’ (Thiruppugazh), ‘Pullaai Piravi’, ‘Maadu Meykkum Kanne’, and ‘Vishama Kara Kannan’ of Oothukadu Venkatakavi, and ‘Chidambaram Pogamal’ of Gopalakrishna Bharati. Some of the more elaborate pieces in Senchuruti include ‘Gange Maam Pahi’ of Dikshitar (Jhunjooti) and ‘Pranatharthihara’ of Mysore Vasudevachar.

In film music, this raga was used very effectively in yesteryears. A Senchuruti song that is evergreen in its musical and lyrical appeal is ‘Radhe Unakku Kopam’ from the film Chintamani, sung brilliantly by M.K. Thyagaraja Bhagavathar. Composed by Papanasam Sivan, the plethora of sangatis leave one speechless, while the opening phrase ‘S,S, S, DNSDNP’ nails the raga bhava indubitably.

One of the most well made songs in this raga regardless of genre, is ‘Bruhi Mukundethi’. M.S. Subbulakshmi was cast as Sage Narada in the film Savitri and rendered it endearingly. This song was a huge hit and the music for this film was composed by Papanasam Sivan and Kamaldas Gupta. The sangatis in ‘Krishnananda sadanandethi...’ all beginning at the gandhara and blooming into intricate patterns charm the music lover.

One of the finest examples of Senchuruti raga on the silver screen is ‘Vallalai Paadum Vaayaal’ from Sivakavi. Composed and penned by Papanasam Sivan, this song is musical genius. M.K. Thyagaraja Bhagavathar’s voice is at its pliable best in this piece, and challenging sangatis flow unfettered, like liquid gold!

Yet another M.S. Subbulakshmi favourite from the milestone film Meera is ‘Enadhu Ullame’. The notes ‘DNR SRGRS N,D, N, S’ in ‘Inba Vellame’ establish the identity of Senchuruti effectively while bringing out the essence of the devotional ecstasy that Meera experiences as she muses on Lord Krishna.

‘En Veettu Thottathil’ from the film Gentleman (music A.R. Rahman) begins in a tune very similar to ‘Nadavindu’, and slowly winds away into varied terrains in the charanam. This song is perhaps one of the very few modern numbers that may be said to have any connection with the Senchuruti of yore. Old is gold and certainly Senchuruti film songs stand testimony to this saying.

As we speak of folky tunes in classical or film music, another raga automatically pops into my head — Yadukulakambhoji. A heavily classical raga, compositions such as ‘Ethaavuna’ of Thyagaraja and Tamil pieces such as ‘Kaalai Thooki’ portray the fullness of this scale with utmost zeal. In film music, one sees the comical and lighter side of this raga well exploited. For example, the song ‘Kaasikku Pogum Sanyasi’ is a cute number in this raga composed cleverly by M.S. Viswanathan. ‘PPP MPDS’, the opening phrase, clearly establishes Yadukulakambhoji, and Seerkazhi Govindarajan’s voice adds fervour to it. Yadukulakambhoji takes on Sadja, Chatusruti Rishabha, Suddha Madhyama, Pancama, and Chatusruti Dhaivata in ascent and also uses the Kaisiki Nishada in descent in special phrases.

Ilaiyaraaja composed ‘Otthayila Ninnadhenna’, a light-hearted song with typical folk backings and Chitra’s refreshing vocals for the film Vanaja Girija. This song in raga Yadukulakambhoji makes for interesting listening.