A raga that brims with emotion and conveys longing, delicate romance and loneliness, is Chandrakauns. A raga that is close to Hindolam, Chandrakauns is well known in Hindustani music. In the Carnatic music, this raga is used in tail pieces and lighter presentation such as viruttams and bhajans. When Hindolam’s kaisiki nishada is replaced with kakali nishada it becomes Chandrakauns. The notes present in Chandrakauns are sadja, sadharana gandhara, suddha madhyama, suddha dhaivata, and kakali nishada. The arohana and avarohana are symmetrical and the key to this raga lies in the MDNS region. The emotive appeal is achieved when one lingers long enough in the nishada and then touches the sadja.
When the sadharana gandhara is replaced with the antara gandhara in Hindolam, the result is the raga Surya (also known as Sallabam). This too is an exotic raga, full of surprises. It is usually used in lighter pieces; however, these days, artistes even sing ragam-tanam-pallavis in such ragas.
There aren’t very many well-known Carnatic pieces in Chandrakauns, barring a few such as the Purandaradasa kriti ‘Kandena Govindana’. This raga is apt for astapadis and bhajans. In Surya, ‘Narahari Vesha’ is an attractive piece composed by Rukmini Ramani. These scales are very recent; hence, the paucity of traditional pieces.
In film music, Chandrakauns has been handled beautifully. The 1961 film Bhagyalakshmi features a spectacular piece composed by Viswanathan-Ramamurthy. ‘Maalai Pozhudhin Mayakkathile’ is lilting. In the phrase, ‘Manadil Irundhum Varthaigal Illai’, the nishada is well defined. In some portions of the song, the kaisiki nishada occurs as well. Ilaiyaraaja has explored this raga to its fullest. His ‘Azhagu Malar Aada’, from Vaidhehi Kaathirundhaal is wondrous. Although this piece features the kaisiki nishada, the mood and flow indicate Chandrakauns. For example, in the phrase ‘Vidai Yedhum Illadha Kelvi’, the notes GMDNSDNS are indicative of Chandrakauns.
In Kadhal Oviyam, ‘Velli Salangaigal’ is a fine piece in Chandrakauns. The glory of this raga shines through in this Ilaiyaraaja composition that incorporates the veena, flute and mridangam. The frequent phrase DNGGMGR says it all. The raga changes in the second charanam after the jathis.
In ‘Padavandthor Ragam’ from Ilamai Kolam, Ilaiyaraaja showcases both Hindolam and Chandrakauns. For example, in ‘Kalloorum Pon Velai’ the kakali nishada occurs in ascent and kaisiki nishada in descent. In Rasaiyya, the mood in the piece ‘Unnai Ninaichu Urugum’ is that of Chandrakauns, though a stealthy rishabha occurs in the charanam.
In Konji Pesalam, the maestro has created the lovely ‘Ithuvarai Naan’. This not-oft heard number sung by Tipu is raga oriented and starts with an alaap.
In ‘Naan Thedum Sevvandhi’ from Dharmapatni and ‘Nanaga Naan Illai’ from Thoongathe Thambi Thoongathe, Ilaiyaraaja brings in Chandrakauns; though the song predominantly feels like Hindolam. In Sunehre Nagin the song ‘Tu Hi Tu Hi’ composed by Kalyanji-Anandji and sung by Lata Mangeshkar is a lovely piece in Chandrakauns. Manna Dey, who recently passed away, has immortalised the Chandrakauns piece ‘Sabari Ka Phal’ from Athithee.
Film songs in Surya include ‘Isai Arasi’ from Thai Mookambigai, composed by Ilaiyaraaja and ‘Ra Ra’ from Chandramukhi, composed by Vidyasagar.