Ramapriya is a sombre and prayerful raga suited for the mornings. This raga is the 52nd melakarta in the 72-melakarta scheme, and houses the notes sadja, suddha rishabha, antara gandhara, prati madhyama, pancama, chatusruti dhaivata and kaisiki nishada. It is the prati madhyama counterpart of Chakravaham raga. In the system that Muthuswamy Dikshitar followed, a raga almost identical to Ramapriya, save a few minor differences, would be Ramamanohari. Ramapriya is not often sung in the concert platform, and is often confused with Pantuvarali or Vachaspati ragas by many listeners.
Classical pieces in Ramapriya include ‘Samdehamuni’ of Thyagaraja, ‘Korina vara’ and ‘Panchapakeswara’ of Patnam Subramaniya Iyer, ‘Mathangi’ and ‘Smaramyaham Sada Rahum’ of Dikshitar, and ‘Paripahimam’ of Mysore Vasudevachar. Ramapriya is ideal for clever kalpanaswaras and compact alapanas. Sung briskly, it can give fillip to any concert. In film music, this raga is a challenge to handle since its scope is limited. Also, Ramapriya is not strikingly unique when first heard. Its contours will have to be taken in and then appreciated. It is not in the league of an Anandabhairavi or Sahana, rakti ragas that proclaim their identities with just a single phrase.
Ilaiyaraaja has composed two brilliant pieces in Ramapriya — one of them is Moghamull’s‘Kamalam Pada Kamalam’ sung by K.J. Yesudas. The song begins with a short, sweet alapana. The song begins brightly, and the phrase ‘Pada Kamalam’ brings forth the notes DSNDPNDPP. The song brims with phrases typical of the raga. The interludes, employing strings, veena, and the flute, weave a melodic fabric based on Ramapriya. Another is ‘Thom Thom Ena’ from Oorellam Un Paattu, again sung by Yesudas. The use of jathis, swaras and complex swara patterns leave one spell-bound. The phrase ‘Tiruvadi Thamarai’, with the swaras SRG,GPMGRS crowned with jathis, is a fitting finale to the pallavi.
Raga Rishabhapriya is the 62nd melakarta, the prati madhyama counterpart of raga Charukesi. This rare raga is not often handled in Carnatic music. One is reminded of M.L. Vasantakumari’s glowing rendition of Koteeswara Iyer’s ‘Gananaya Desika’, with mind-boggling kalpanaswaras and lightning brighas, in this raga. Thyagaraja’s ‘Mahima Dakkinchu’ is yet another piece that defines this raga.
In film music, Ilaiyaraaja used this raga in the song ‘Kaali Perungaya Dappa’, from Mandira Punnagai. In the line, ‘Vazhkai Enbadhum Vegam Enbadhum…’, the notes PMGRS are clearly spelt out. In another phrase ‘Vaasana Balama Thaan...’ the notes PDNDNDP establish the nishada-dhaivata positions, crucial in identifying this raga. This song is an example of how exotic scales can be used effectively to make cine music more interesting.