A Raga’s Journey Music

The power of three

An auspicious raga that signifies the conclusion of any concert is Madhyamavati. This raga is sung to seek forgiveness for any mistakes that may have crept in during the performance. This raga is said to wash off any errors and bestow mangalam and wellness.

Madhyamavati is an audava (having five notes in the ascent and descent) raga, symmetric in arohana and avarohana. The notes in this raga include s adja, chatusruti rishabha, suddha madhyama, pancama, and kaisiki nishada. This raga is the janya of the 22nd melakarta Kharaharapriya, and is suited for elaborate handling.

Brindavanasaranga is a raga that typically has the same arohana-avarohana as Madhyamavati; in addition, it features the prayoga RGRS using the sadharana gandhara. Brindavanasaranga is sung with plain notes, jaru-s (glides) and gentle oscillations, rather than the heavy kampita gamakas that Madhyamavati is well-known for. Brindavanasaranga thrives on glides and slow inflections; it is charming and soothing. Yet another raga, Brindavani, features the kakali nishada in the ascent and kaisiki nishada in the descent. This attractive raga has its roots in North India. The Hindustani raag Madhumad Sarang can be considered close to Madhyamavati.

Popular compositions in Madhyamavati include Thyagaraja’s ‘Nadupai’, ‘Adigi Sukhamu’ and ‘Rama Katha’; Dikshitar’s ‘Dharmasamvardhani’; Shyama Sastri’s ‘Palinstu Kamakshi’ and Papanasam Sivan’s ‘Saravanabhava’ and ‘Karpagame’.

Brindavanasaranga is defined by kritis such as ‘Rangapuravihara and ‘Soundararajam’ , both by Dikshitar. ‘Kamalaptakula’ by Thyagaraja is endearing. ‘Kaliyuga Varadan’ in Brindavani is also well-loved as are the thillanas of M. Balamuralikrishna and Lalgudi Jayaraman in Brindavani.

In keeping with the devotional fervour, Yesudas’s ‘Harivarasanam’ is an exemplary piece in this raga.

In film music, most composers have created songs that are a mix of this family of three ragas — Madhyamavati, Brindavanasaranga and Brindavani.

One of the finest depictions of Madhyamavati would be ‘Arputha Leelaigalai’ from Sivagami sung by the M.K. Thyagaraja Bhagavathar. In ‘Chitparane Sivane’, the gamakas at the rishabha are characteristic of the raga.

‘Ponnondru Kanden’ from Padithal Mattum Podhuma (composers M.S. Viswanathan, T.K. Ramamurthy) is a fine piece in Brindavani, with a touch of the dhaivata at the charanam. The phrase ‘Nee Indri Naan Illai...’ (NSSRRSSNNPPMMRRS) traverses the entire scale of the raga.

K.V. Mahadevan has composed a lovely ragamalika in Tirumal Perumai — ‘Tirumal Perumaikku Nigar Edhu’ , starting off in Madhyamavati. Sung by TMS, the top sadja note is highlighted at the opening, the first phrase being SRMR,S/SNP/PPNNS.

Maragathavalliku from Anbulla Appa (composers: Shankar-Ganesh) is a well-crafted piece in Brindavani. The two nishada notes appear in the phrase ‘Kolam-Thirukolam’ (N,S, N,P,). The first nishada is kakali, the second kaisiki. The occasional dhaivata note peeps out in the charanam.

Ilaiyaraaja has handled this raga extensively, and ‘En Kalyana Vaibhogam’ by Vani Jayaram from Azhage Unnai Aradhikkiren is attractive. In the higher octaves, the rishabha is repeatedly touched. Here too, there is a touch of the dhaivata in the charanam.

Ilaiyaraaja’s ‘Solaikkuyile’ ( Ponnu Oorukku Pudusu) is a winner. The opening gamaka at the rishabha and the inflection at the nishadacarry the stamp of Madhyamavati. The composer’s ‘Thulli Thulli’ from Sipikkul Muthu starts off with an alapana exchange between SPB and S.Janaki.

In ‘Kavidhai Padu Kuyile’ ( Thendrale Ennai Thodu) Ilaiyaraaja imparts a Western fusion touch. In ‘Agaya Gangai’ ( Dharma Yuddham) he brings in exuberance, while in ‘Neethane Endan Pon Vasantham’ ( Ninaivellam Nithya) you get to see a more soothing shade of the raga.

A.R. Rahman’s ‘Thom Karuvil’ from Star and ‘Chaiyya Chaiyya from Uyire are based on this raga, with the latter digressing a bit.

In North India, it is said that Madhumad Sarang is sung during the harvest with exuberance. ‘Munni Badnaam Hui’ from Dabangg (music Sajid-Wajid) that made us dance with excitement is based on this raga.

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Printable version | Dec 8, 2021 3:38:04 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/music/the-power-of-three/article5075368.ece

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