Similar, yet different

T.S. Satyavathi   | Photo Credit: mail

For most of us –– with the exception of child prodigies of course –– these so-similar ragas were the bane of our lives as students of music. We often ended up confusing one for the other.

Ananya has begun a series on such ragas by well-known musicians on the last Sunday of every month. The first lecdem was by renowned vocalist and Sanskrit scholar Dr. T.S. Sathyavathi. She focused on Arabhi and Devagandhari.

Sathyavathi said the first step in differentiating a raga from its allied counterpart was to know the first raga thoroughly. If you don't have comprehensive knowledge of a raga, you can confuse it with not only an allied raga but many other ragas, even those not very close to it! She added that what generally differentiate two ragas are not so much their respective notes as their gamakas, and their respective signature sancharas (phrases). Raga swaroopas rather than raga-swaras differentiate ragas. She opined that similarities and differences between allied ragas are discovered not so much by reading music-theory books but by continual rendition of these ragas in the course of which these features are naturally revealed to the practitioner.

She explained that though both are regarded as Shankarabharanam derivatives, there have been differences in opinion about Devanagandhari's origin since it has undergone much metamorphosis and its paternity has been variously ascribed, at different points of time, to Karaharapriya, Keeravani and Mayamalavagowla. Sathyavathi largely used Thyagaraja's exquisite Telugu Pancharathna krithi “Saadhinchene” to illustrate different aspects of Arabhi. This raga has many madhyamakala krithis, she said. It is also, hence, very amenable to taanam, and exhibits “samanvayam in hrasva deergha swaras, that is strikes a balance between the elongated and short notes.” However, Devagandhari, given its gentle, reposeful character was more suited for vilambalaya compositions –– the outstanding example being Thyagaraja's “Ksheerasagara Shayana”. Anthara gandhara is the heart of Devagandhari, and certain prayogas in Ri here, are not seen in Arabhi. The enunciation of Ni-Da in Devagandhari is different from that in Suruti. She then rendered three sets of compositions each containing an Arabhi krithi followed by one in Devagandhari. She was vocally accompanied by Shilpa Shashidhar and violinist Nalina Mohan. On the mridanga was the ever-competent H.S. Sudheendra, whose percussion elicited much-deserved applause. Sathyavathi started off with “Pranavakaram” (Arabhi) an Oothukaadu composition, followed by “Sharade” (Devagandhari) by Papanasam Sivan. The next pair had Vadiraja's “Kavudemmanu” (Arabhi) followed by Thyagaraja's “Vinaraada” (Devagandhari). “Kavudemmanu”, composed by Sathyavathi herself, came in for a detailed exposition. Finally, there was Swati Tirunal's “Narasimha” (Arabhi), followed by Dikshitar's “Kshitija” (Devagandhari). The latter received detailed treatment and again Sathyavathi's perfect understanding of raga-sookshmas or detailed nuances was evident.

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Printable version | Jul 30, 2021 4:28:57 AM |

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