Saturday, October 15, 2011

Learning about Indian Music : Raga Mayamalavagowla: Part-1

Well, in the previous post we had seen some basics about classical music and I had told we will start our discussions from the next post. So here we go. For the first raga, we will take up Mayamalavagowla  as it is called in South Indian Carnatic Music or an equivalent Bhairav as it is called in the North Indian Hindustani Music. This raga is the first taught in carnatic music classes. The swaras that comprise this raga are as follows.

Sa  Ri1  Ga3  Ma1  Pa  Da1 Ni3 Sa' in the Arohanam or the ascending scale and
Sa'  Ni3  Da1  Pa  Ma1  Ga3  Ri1  Sa in the Avarohanam or the descending scale.

You can try to play this here. With C for Sa, the swaras are

Sa    -  C
Ri1   -  C#
Ga3  -  E
Ma1  - F
Pa     - G
Da1   - G#
Ni3    - B
Sa'     - C

and it would have sounded like this


Here are a few videos in classical music and film songs based on this raga.

The first is by Pt. Bhimsen Joshi. He has sung with the sruthi being set to D, i.e. the Sa that he is singing is at D. It is only a mp3 in video format.


In carnatic music, there have been numerous compositions in Mayamalavagowla. Very famous among those are Meru samAna, Tulasi dala mulache both by Saint Thyagaraja, Deva deva kalayAmithe by Swathi Thirunal. Legend has it that Sri Mudduswamy Dikshithar composed his first song in this raga, the song is sri nAthAdhi guruguho on Lord Muruga after being blessed by the lord when he was in meditation.

The following is the rendition of Deva deva KalayAmithe by Smt M S Subbulakshmi. She has sung with G as Sa.


 In film music, mayamalavagowla  has been extensively used. Some of the very famous songs in tamil have been set in this raga. Solladi abhirAmi in the film AthiparAsakthi (first stanza) , Kallellam mAnikka from the film Alayamani are some that come to my mind from the olden days. Ilayaraja Sir has given some amazing numbers in this raga. The one I have given here is one of my favourites, madhura marikozhundhu vAsam from the movie enga ooru pAttukAran. Other songs like andhi varum neram from the movie Mundhanai Mudichu, Kaadhal kavithaigal padithidum neram from the movie Gopura Vasalile are evergreen melodies.

Appreciating Mayamalavagowla and its essential phrases.

Mayamalavagowla (or  equivalently Bhairav) is a very soulful raga. When played or sung with a perfect sruthi alignment, it sounds divine. (Well for that matter most ragas would sound divine when sung perfectly pitch aligned :-)

Go to Part-2

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