The intention of this blog is only to share the collections. Inadvertently if any file is under copyright, please intimate me so that it can be removed forthwith.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Kalyaani in Carnatic Music

Kalyaani is the 65th Melakarta raga, equivalent to the raganga raga Kalyan 1. In the older Venkatamakhi scheme, it was called Santha Kalyani. In the more modern scheme of Govinda, it is called Mecha Kalyani. It is a sampoorna raga and has a symmetrical arohana and avarohana using the chatusruti rishabham (r2), antara gandharam (g3), prati madhyamam (m2), chatusruti dhaivatam (d2) and kakali nishadam (n3)2. As Prof. Sambamoorthy notes, the raga "can be sung at all times, but the effect is decidedly better when sung in the evening...On account of the presence of tivra svaras in this raga, it is very useful for being sung at the commencement of concerts. The requisite musical atmosphere is soon created."3 (In Tamil, one would say kaLai kattum.)
All the swaras in the raga are raga chhaya swaras (important notes), and each of them can be adorned with gamakas. Alapanas typically start with the panchama or gandhara and commence with phrases like p m g r s r or g m p m g r s r. One also hears alapanas that commence with the upper shadja. According to Subbarama Dikshitar, the rishabha and the gandhara are jiva swaras4. However, judging by most compositions (including varnams) and other improvisational renditions, the nishada is a very prominent note too, and is often used as a nyasa swara. Thus, in practice, uttaranga sancharas dominate alapana/neraval.
Singing the raga, by omitting the shadja and/or panchama, gives Kalyani a special flavor. This can be heard in almost every recording featured. Janta (pair) swara combinations like r r g g m m d d n n and datu swara prayogas (phrases wherein intermediate notes are skipped deliberately) like n g" r" n d n r" n d m and g n d m g r are prominent. For example, the charanam of the varnam vanajakshi in ata talam (recording below) features janta swara patterns. The third chittai swara features datu swara patterns. Phrases like n d m g r and g" r" n d m g r which involve orikkai, a variety of gamaka wherein there is a momentary flick to a higher or lower tone at the end of the principal note (e.g., the former phrase is really (s")n (n)d (p)m (m)g (g)r ), also add a special flavor to the raga. Some characteristic phrases of Kalyani are:
r g r n_, d_ n_ d_ g r s n_ d_
n_ r g r s, g m p (m)g- r s
r n_ g r, p m g r s r
Typically, the rishaba is used as a nyasa swara in avarohi sancharas, as seen above. This should be contrasted with the treatement of the gandhara as a nyasa swara.
r g, s r g, n r g, g m pm g, g m p (m)g
p m g m p, p m n(d) p, p n d p, g n d p,
g n d m g r g m p, s" n d n p
At times the dhaivata is stressed as in p s" (n) d - p m g, g n d - p.
p (n)d n, p (n)d (s")n, p (n)d (r")n, n g" r" n.
The approach to the tara stayi shadja is usually through phrases such as p d n s", m p d n s", (s")n d s", g m d n s", n s" g" r" s", s" n r" s, s" n g" r" s". The gandhara is often oscillated to g(r) or (m)g. The common phrase (pm)g - (m)(g)r illustrates the different tonal variations of the gandhara. The same is true of the nishada which assumes different shades depending on its proximity to the dhaivat (e.g., p (d) n, p (n)d n) or to the tara stayi shadja (e.g., (s")n, (r")n). These can be discerned in the recordings featured below.
Kalyani is a major raga and is capable of being used in practically any kind of composition5. From the common gitam taught to beginners of Carnatic music - kamalajatala, to complicated kritis, ragam-tanam-pallavis, padams and javalis, Kalyani occupies a special place in modern Carnatic music. In a recent exhaustive compilation, Lakshman Ragde6 estimates at least 700 compositions (including various musical forms) set to the raga Kalyani. This status of Kalyani is proof of the tremendous evolution of Carnatic music during the 18th and 19th centuries. Venkatamakhi in his Caturdandi Prakasika (ca. 1620 CE) dismissed it as "Turuska" (Turkish) and considered it unsuitable for three of four musical forms that he described in his treatise - gita, thaya and prabandha. He did not specify if it was suitable for alapa7. Another scale similarly described as turuska corresponds to the raga Todi. In his doctoral dissertation, Prof. Viswanathan notes that "neither raga seems to have particularly well known in South India before the seventeenth century, which fact seems to support the likelihood of Middle-Eastern origins."8
From the above, it appears that the Kalyani scale has its origins in the North. The contours of the raga Kalyani were shaped by composers like Kshetragna (1600-1680)9, who composed over 20 padas in this raga. Remarkably, these were composed within half a century of Venkatamakhi's description, and these compositions show how borrowed scales can be adapted into an evolving musical system.

Kalyani in Padam:The (musical) format of the padam is suited for sangatis laden with karvais (pauses) and gamakas, rather than faster paced ornamentation such as the brika. The padam, being a forerunner of the kriti, influenced the evolution of the kriti.

Varnam: Varnam, which is yet another musical form that lays the foundation for manodharma sangeetha. Pallavi Gopala Iyer, one of the early composers of varnams and a senior contemporary of the trinity, authored this varnam the late 18th century. As mentioned earlier, Kalyani can be used with great effect as the first piece in a concert. Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar, who was largely responsible for the present concert format, used this to his advantage, and often began his performances with " Vanajaakshi" varnam. Another classic varnam in Kalyani, often taught to beginners, is vanajakshiro, in adi tala. It is said that Pandit Ratanjankar was so impressed with the varnam as a musical form that he composed a few. One such composition is ganesam vande in Yaman, which was inspired by the Kalyani varnam vanajakshiro. This varnam was composed by Ariyakudi's guru, Ramanathapuram (Poochi) Srinivasa Iyengar. A more recent varnam is Tiger Varadachariar's karunai kadalE. The pallavi and muktayi swaras are largely centered on gandhara and shadja varja prayogas.

Krithis: Kalyani as handled in kritis, all too often, one forgets that the primary aim of a kriti is to serve as a blueprint for the raga and as a vehicle for raga delineation. A popular kriti of Thyagaraja is vasudevayani from the opera Prahlada Bhakti Vijayam. Mani Iyer prefaces the kriti with an alapana. The kriti starts at the tara stayi shadja and proceeds downwards. It is instructive to note how the alapana moves from the uttaranga to the poorvanga portions in Madurai Mani Iyer's Aalapna of Kalyani.

It is not for nothing that K. V. Narayanaswamy is called "neraval" Narayanaswamy by the cognoscenti. He sings Dikshitar's bhajare re chitta and the anupallavi is taken up for neraval. Aspiring musicians would do well to note the poise and balance in this exposition.

While Kalyani is capable of leisurely elaborate treatments, as Dikshitar's composition illustrates, it also shines in fast paced songs with rhythmic flourishes - kritis in tisra nadai, talas with unusual eduppus, etc. This is exemplified in Syama Sastry's masterpieces talli ninnunera and birana vara (whose tune also has an alternate set of Sanskrit lyrics - himadri suthe). Tarangambadi Panchanada Iyer followed the same trend in the popular biranabrova ite. Thyagaraja has also exploited this potential of Kalyani through songs like rama nivadu and amma ravamma.

Raagam Taanam Pallavi: Kalyani in ragam, tanam and pallavi (RTP). Traditionally, the alapana of a raga in the RTP section proceeds in three phases. In the first, the artiste presents a quick sketch of the raga. In the second section, the poorvanga is explored and the final section is devoted to the uttaranga and the descent to the madhyama stayi. Kalyani, by virtue of its expanse is a favorite choice for RTP and there are several excellent RTP recordings.

( Excerpts from Kalyani
V. N. Muthukumar and M. V. RamanaV. N. Muthukumar is currently at the Department of Physics, Princeton University.
M. V. Ramana is currently at the Program on Science and Global Security, Princeton University. ( )

  1. - G. N. Balasubramanian
  2. - Madurai Mani Iyer
  3. (RTP) M. L. Vasanthakumari
  4. - Karukurichi Arunachalam
  5. raavamma - S. G. Kittappa
  6. raavamma - Ramnad Krishnan
  7. a raavamma - P. Unnikrishnan
  8. Jaanaki - Nithyashree
  9. seyya - M. D. Ramanathan
  10. - Vanajakshi - Ariyakkudi
  11. - Vanajakshi - K. V. Narayanaswamy
  12. ( Padam) - Charumathi
  13. - Vidya Shankar
  14. - Madurai Mani
  15. - RTP - T. M. Thiyagarajan
  16. arindhe - Thuraiyur Rajagopala Sarma
  17. vara - D. K Pattammal & D. K. Jayaraman
  18. - G. N. B
  19. Varalichi - Maharajapuram Santhanam
  20. - Ranjani Gaayathri
  21. Ganapathey - Maharajapuram Santhanam
  22. - Maharajpuram Santhanam
  23. - T. N. Seshagopalan
  24. - Aruna Sairam
  25. RTP - P. Unnikrishnan
  26. Sakhi he - Balamuralikrishna
  27. - P. Unnikrishnan
  28. - K. J. Yesudoss
  29. - Vanjakshi - Maharajpuram Santhanam
  30. - Vanajakshi - Ranjani Gaayathri
  31. - Vanajakshi - M. S. Subbalakshmi
  32. chaala - K. J. Yesudoss
  33. - Balamuralikrishna
  34. nee - Balamuralikrishna
  35. - Maharajpuram Santhanam
  36. brova - M. S. Subbalakshmi
  37. Ganapathe - Nithyashree
  38. - Sudha Raghunathan
  39. Hari - Sudha raghunathan
  40. - Ranjani Gaayathri
  41. tharubaval - K. J. Yesudoss
  42. ninnu - Nithyashree
  43. - M. L. Vasanthakumari
  44. - Sikkil Gurucharan
  45. En - Sudha Raghunathan
  46. lochana - T. N. seshagopalan
  47. nee vaadu - T. M. Krishna
  48. - Sudha Raghunathan
  49. Ranga - M. L. Vasanthakumari
  50. - R. Ganesh
  51. maataku - G. N. B
  52. sudhe - Bombay Jayashree
  53. - T. M. Krishna
  54. - Pallaandu - Bombay Jayashree
  55. - S. Janaki
  56. - K. J. Yesudoss
  57. Sri meenalochani - Maharajapuram santhanam
  58. brovamani - Radha Jayalakshmi
  59. naa valachi - Rajkumar Bharathi
  60. allaal - Sowmya
  61. - Nithyashree
  62. chaala - Nithyashree
  63. - Udupi sri - K. J. Yesudoss
  64. irungaanum - Nithyashree
  65. - M. L. Vasanthakumari
  66. kuluke - Sikkil Gurucharan
  67. manasu - Maharajapuram Santhanam
  68. - Vanajakshi - Sowmya
  69. hrudi - Aruna Sairam
  70. allaal - Aruna Sairam
  71. en - P. Unnikrishnan
  72. en - Bombay Jayashree
  73. naadennum - Sudha Raghunathan
  74. allaal - Maharajapuram Santhanam
  75. - 1 - M. L. Vasanthakumari
  76. RTP - 2 _ Kalyaani - M. L. Vasanthakumari
  77. Vaasudevayani - Aruna Sairam

Blogger James said...

Thanks for all the Carnatic music!
August 11, 2009 6:27 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love kalyani brilliant.
Thodi would also be great.

Sir, I have a request, just like you have made these sets of ragams would it be possible to make a collection of rare varnams?

also a correction i sudha ragunathans concert you have labelled her varnam as sriranjani, it is infact ranjani varnam composition of gnb -aboruhapadame.

October 26, 2009 9:38 AM


James said...

Thanks for all the Carnatic music!

Anonymous said...

Love kalyani brilliant.
Thodi would also be great.

Sir, I have a request, just like you have made these sets of ragams would it be possible to make a collection of rare varnams?

also a correction i sudha ragunathans concert you have labelled her varnam as sriranjani, it is infact ranjani varnam composition of gnb -aboruhapadame.