As the Margazhi season continues to be painted by hues and shades of various ragas and talas at their festive best, here are quick snippets on the colorful ‘ragamalika’.
*The word ragamalika means ‘a garland of ragas’, are compositions where different segments of the same song are set to different ragas.
*Ragamalikas were known as ‘raga kadambam-s’ in the medieval period, with the word ‘kadambam’ in Sanskrit referring to a potpourri.
*They have been employed in a variety of compositions such as kritis, varnams, swarajatis, mangalams and so forth.
*A talamalika is the rhythmic counterpart of the ragamalika, where different sections of a song are set to different beats or talas. In a ‘ragatalamalika’, both the raga and tala change from section to section in a seamless manner.
*Ramaswami Dikshitar, a renowned 18th century composer, was known as the ‘Ragamalika Chakravarti’. He composed multiple ragamalikas in Telugu, with raga mudras or the name of the raga skillfully woven into every raga segment. He also composed the ‘ashtottara shata raga tala malika’, the longest known ragamalika with 108 ragas and 108 talas.
*Several other composers including Muttuswami Dikshitar, Swati Tirunal and Mahavaidyanatha Iyer composed beautiful ragamalikas.
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