Suitable for singing in the mornings, Valaji is a janya of the 16th melakarta, Chakravaham. Raag Kalavati is the Hindustani equivalent of this raga. The arohana-avarohana of Valaji is SGPDNS/SNDPGS. This is a symmetric and linear scale and the notes featured include sadja, antara gandhara, pancama, chatusruti dhaivata and kaisiki nishada. When the Valaji scale is augmented with the suddha rishabha, it yields Malayamarutham; the addition of chatusruti rishabha results in a rare and lovely raga called Janasammohini, popular in Hindustani music. When the dhaivata is eschewed from the Valaji scale, you get the raga Mahati, created by Dr. M. Balamuralikrishna.
In film music, a melange of Valaji and Janasammohini find a place in most songs; often a madhyama crosses the path. Given the similarities and subtle variations, we can group the film songs based on this raga family under one umbrella.
The classical pieces in Valaji include ‘Jalandhara’ of Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagavathar, ‘Padame Thunai’ of Papanasam Sivan, ‘Chalamu Seya’, a varnam by Lalgudi Jayaraman, and ‘Koovi Azhaithaal’ penned by the late Vaali. Contemporary compositions include Dr V.V. Srivatsa’s ‘Kartikeya Kamalekshana’. The devotional ‘Unnudaya Velondre’ sung by Seerkazhi Govindarajan is a popular piece in this raga.
In film music, some lovely pieces have been set in Valaji and allied ragas — ‘Pongum Kadalaosai’ from Meenava Nanban (music: M.S. Viswanathan; singers: Vani Jayaram and S. P. Balasubrahmanyam) is a well-crafted Valaji, though the madhyama rears it head now and then. This is evident in the phrase ‘Thennerile...Tamizhosai’ — SGSN/NSND/DNDPG/SG.
In the film Marakka Mudiyuma, T.K. Ramamurthy has used this scale beautifully and embellished it with a bit of the shatsruti rishabha (in ‘Kurai Theerumo’) to give the song sung by P. Susheela an exotic flavour. The phrase ‘Varumo’ floats at the nishada with the appropriate gamaka.
‘Thathi Sellum Muthukannan’ from Thanga Padhakkam, with music by M.S. Viswanathan is another bright Valaji composition. The very opening phrase, S,S,S NDP /P,G, establishes the raga’s identity.
‘Aeriyilae Oru Kashmir Roja’ composed by M.B. Srinivasan for Madanamaligai is an example of how the notes in Valaji are combined with others to create an attractive hybrid song. In the phrase, ‘Enadi Neeradudhu’, the sangatis point to Valaji. In ‘Idazhgalin Meedhu’ the madhyama appears while the chatusruti rishabha appears in ‘Yaar Thandathu’. The charanams are in Hamir Kalyani. K. J. Yesudas’ raga portrayal appeals and the strings section stays well within the Valaji boundaries.
‘Naan Irukka Bayam Edarkku’ from Neethiyin Marupakkam in the music direction of Ilaiyaraaja is in Valaji. The song opens with spirit, SNDP, GPDNS, and is a playful number.
The song ‘Azhagana Sandhangal’ from Adhu Antha Kaalam (Music: Chandrabose; singers: Vani Jayaram and K.J. Yesudas), is another good piece in Valaji. It commences with a swara and sahitya repartee, set to a five-beat structure.
In Apoorva Ragangal M.S. Viswanathan composed ‘Adisaya Ragam’ in Mahati. The sangati in ‘Azhagiya Ragam’ — PP NN S/ NSGGSN SSNNPPGG — is laden with janta prayogas.
‘Koi Sagar Dil Ko’ from Dil Diya Dard Liya with music by Naushad is a stunning piece in Janasammohini, sung by Mohammed Rafi. ‘Govinda Ninna Namave’ and ‘Ethanai Kodi Inbam’ of Bharathiar are also usually sung in this raga.