New raga named after Thyagaraja

Classical musician and composer Mahesh Mahadev’s ‘raga tribute’ to the saint poet

March 03, 2023 12:16 pm | Updated 12:16 pm IST

Classical musicians Priyadarshini and Mahesh Mahadev at the release of ‘Sri Tyagaraja’ raga

Classical musicians Priyadarshini and Mahesh Mahadev at the release of ‘Sri Tyagaraja’ raga | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Classical and film music composer Mahesh Mahadev created a new raga in Indian classical music and named it ‘Sri Tyagaraja’, to mark the 176th Thyagaraja Aradhana. The notation and audio of this musical work were released at the saint poet’s Samadhi in Thiruvaiyaru recently.  

Film and classical singer Priyadarshini rendered the piece by handling subtle gamakas at the gandhara, nishada, taken with a deep inflection from the panchama which is the hallmark of Sri Tyagaraja raga.

Sri Tyagaraja raga is a janya rāga (derived scale) from the 59th melakarta scale Dharmavathi and contains subtle glides and gamakas that suit the bhakti and karuna rasas. It is an asymmetric rāga that does not contain dhaivatham. It is a pentatonic hexatonic scale (audava-shadava raga in Carnatic music classification - audava meaning ‘of 5’, shadava meaning ‘of 6’ ). The arohana and avarohana of this raga are SG2M2PN3Ṡ and ṠN3PM2G2R2S (the notes used in this ascending scale are shadjam, sadharana gandharam, prati madhyamam, panchamam, kakali nishadham with chathusruthi rishabham included in the descending scale).

Saint’s inspiration

Mahesh Mahadev, who has created many classical ragas, feels it is a blessing from the saint when he got a spark to create ‘Sri Tyagaraja’ in salutation to the great saint. He says, “The whole process of the raga creation, the composition, writing of the lyrics, its notation and rendition took place in just three days.” 

Any raga is firmly established by a composition or a song. Otherwise, the shape and the flow of the raga cannot be evolved. Mahesh Mahadev has written and composed a Carnatic kriti in Sanskrit ‘Sri Ramachandram Bhajami’ in this new raga which is set to Adi talam. The kriti is in praise of Lord Sri Rama and has the raga name embedded in it.  

Priyadarshini says, “I had a huge responsibility to deliver the kriti with justice as it is the first composition in this raga, there is no reference since the raga itself is a newborn baby.”

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