Carnatic Swaras

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Carnatic Swaras - the swaras of Carnatic music are equivalent to the do re mi of Western music. Basically, they are "solfa" syllables, syllables to voice the notes in succession so that they are easier to identify and pronounced, instead of a simple "aaaa" sound. Previous: History of Carnatic music Next: Intro to Raaga The swaras are said to have arisen from the Universe-pervading Sound of Om, which represents the drone notes SA and PA. The other swaras came from the 5 faces of Shiva. The story is told that RaavaNa, who was very devoted to Shiva, ripped out his guts and used them as strings to play the notes as Shiva kept time. RaavaNa kept playing, however, and threatened to shake the worlds and bring Shiva down from the heavens. In response, Shiva pressed him down to Earth with his big toe. The table below lists some more interesting information about the Carnatic swaras, which are named shadjam (sa), rishabam (ri), gaandhaaram (ga), madhyamam (ma), pancamam (pa), dhaivatam (da), and nishaadam (ni). Each is associated with an animal, a color, a God of Hindu mythology, and a particular feeling (rasa).

swara full name

Western animal

color

god

rasa

meaning of name

sa

shadjam

do

peacock light pink Brahma

veera (courage), giving birth adbhuta (to next 6 (wonder), notes) rowdra (anger) veera (courage), adbhuta morality (wonder), rowdra (anger) karuNaa (compassion) karuNaa (compassion) hasya (laughter), shringaara (love) fragrant, light middle, intermediate fifth

ri

rishabam

re

bull (nandi)

parrot green

Agni (Fire, with Seeta) Rudra (Shiva) Vishnu

ga ma

gaandhaaram mi madhyamam fa

goat crane

gold white

pa

pancamam

so

cuckoo

black

Naarada

da

dhaivatam

la

horse

yellow

bibhatsa (disgust), GaNEsha bhayanaka (fear) Surya (Sun) karuNaa (compassion)

of gods, devas sit, lie down

ni

nishaadam

ti

elephant multicolor

Based on information provided by Smt. Padma Veeraraaghavan.

Next: Intro to Raaga The melakarta raagas Previous: Swaras Next: Janya raagas The mElakartaa ragas of Carnatic music come from the 12 basic notes: sa (shadjamam), 2 types of ri (rishabam), 2 types of ga (gaandaaram), 2 types of ma (madyamam), pa (pancamam), 2 types of da (daivatam), and 2 types of ni (nishaadam), all of which are found on the typical piano or keyboard and consist of one octave. If you include further, subtler notes found in-between these notes, one each for ri, ga, da, and ni, you have 16 notes: sa (shadjamam), 3 types of ri (rishabam), 2 types of ma (madyamam), pa (pancamam), 3 types of ga (gaandaaram), 3 types of da (daivatam), and 3 types of ni (nishaadam). These are numbered and named as follows (names in parentheses are alternate designations sometimes used):

swara

sa

ri

ga G1 = shuddha (ga) G2 = saadhaaraNa (gi) G3 = antara (gu)

ma

pa

da

ni N1 = shuddha (na) N2 = kaisiki (ni) N3 = kaakali (nu) kural taram (kuta,N2) nirai taram (nita,N3)

types

R1 = shuddha (ra) R2 = S= catshruti shadjam (ri) R3 = satshruti (ru) kural tutam (kutu,R1) nirai tutam (ni-tu,R2)

D1 = shuddha M1 = (dha) shuddha D2 = P= (ma) catshruti pancamam M2 = prati (dhi) (mi) D3 = satshruti (dhu) kural uzhai (kuu,M1) ili (yi,P) nirai uzhai (ni-u,M2) kural vilari (kuvi,D1) nirai vilari (ni-vi,D2)

ancient kural Tamil (ku,S)

kural kaikilai (ku-kai,G2) nirai kaikilai (ni-kai,G3)

The mElakartaa ragas are formed from combinations of these 16 notes, 7 in the ascending, 7 descending, giving 72 ragas. From these are derived janya ragas, which may combine different melakartas in ascending and descending scales, add or remove some notes in either scale, and have variations in the notes, mood, gamaka (shaking of the note), emotions, or other aspects of raga. These are nearly innumerable, but a select number are used in practice. All the melakartas in the table below begin with sa and end in high sa, with the order sa ri ga ma pa da ni sa. These are sampoorna ragas, containing all the notes in the ascending and descending scales. They also contain the SAME notes in both scales. They are divided into 2 groups, by the type of ma they possess. Every group of six ragas (total 12 groups) comprises one cakraa. Interestingly, the naming of the ragas has also been systematized. The first 2 letters of each raga give the number of the raga according to this table, which gives the kaTapayadi formula:

1 ka Ta

2 kha Tha

3 ga Da

4 gha Dha

5 nga Na

6 ca ta

7 cha tha

8 ja da

9 jha dha

0 nya na

pa ya

pha ra

ba la

bha va

ma sha

shha

sa

ha

Thus, a raga (see below) like ramapriya begins with ra (2) and ma (5). 25 in reverse gives the number of the melakarta, 52! The mElakarta raagaas and their swaras, divided by their ma follow. They are also separated into 12 groups of six, called cakras, and all the ragas in the cakra have the same ri, ga, and ma. You can download a copy of the melakarta chart here.

Shudda madyama M1 1 Indu Cakra 1 kanakaangi (kanakaambari) 2 ratnaangi (phEnadhyuti) 3 gaanamoorti (gaanasaamavaraaLi) 4 vanaspati (bhaanumati) 5 maanavati (manOranjani) 6 taanaroopi (tanukeerti) 2 NEtra Cakra 7 sEnaavati (sEnaagraNi) 8 hanumatODi (janatODi) 9 dhEnukaa (dhunibhinnashadjam) 10 naaTakapriyaa (naTabharaNam) 11 kOkilapriyaa (kOkilaaravam) 12 roopavati 3 Agni Cakra 13 gaayakapriyaa (geya hejjajji) 14 vakulaabharaNam (vaaTee vasantabhairavi)

Prati madyama M2 7 Rishi Cakra R1 G1 D1 37 saalagam (sowgandini) N1 R1 G1 D1 38 jalaarnavam (jaganmOhinam) N2 R1 G1 D1 39 jhaalavaraaLi (dhaalivaraaLi) N3 R1 G1 D2 40 navaneetam (nabhOmaNi) N2 R1 G1 D2 41 paavani (kumbhini) N3 R1 G1 D3 42 raghupriyaa (ravikriyaa) N3 8 Vaasu Cakra R1 G2 D1 43 ghavaambhodi (geervaaNi) N1 R1 G2 D1 44 bhaavapriya (bhavaani) N2 R1 G2 D1 shubhapantuvaraaLi 45 N3 (shivapantuvaraaLi) R1 G2 D2 46 shhadvidamaargini (stavaraajam) N2 R1 G2 D2 47 suvarnaangi (sowveeram) N3 R1 G2 D3 48 divyamaNi (jeevantikaa) N3 9 Brahma Cakra R1 G3 D1 49 dhavalaambari (dhavalaangam) N1 R1 G3 D1 50 naamanaaraayaNi (naamadEshi) N2 R1 G3 D1 kAmavardhini 51 N3 pantuvaraaLi (kaashiraamakriyaa)

15 maayamaaLava gowLa

16 cakravaakam (tOyavEgavaahini) 17 sooryakaantam (chaayaavati) 18 haaTakaambari (jayashuddhamaaLavi) 4 VEda Cakra 19 jhankaaradhwani (jhankaarabhramari) 20 naTabhairavi (naareereetigowLa) 21 keeravaaNi (keeraNaavaLi) 22 kharaharapriya (shreeraagam) 23 gowri manOhari (gowrivElaavaLi) 24 varuNapriyaa (veeravasantam) 5 Bana Cakra 25 maararanjani (sharaavati) 26 caarukEshi (tarangini) 27 sarasaangi (sowrasEnaa) 28 harikaambhOji (harikEdaaragowLa) 29 dheera shankaraabharaNam 30 naagaanandini (naagaabharaNam) 6 Rutu Cakra 31 yaagapriyaa (kalaavati) 32 raagavardhani (raagacooDaamaNi) 33 gangayabhooshhani (gangaatarangini) 34 vaagadeeshwari (bhOgachaayaa naaTTai)

R1 G3 D2 52 raamapriyaa (ramaamanOhari) N2 R1 G3 D2 53 gamanashramaa (gamakakriyaa) N3 R1 G3 D3 54 vishvaambhari (vamshavati) N3 10 Disi Cakra R2 G2 D1 55 shyaamaLaangi (shyaamaLam) N1 R2 G2 D1 56 shhanmugapriyaa (caamaram) N2 R2 G2 D1 simhEndra madhyamam 57 N3 (sumadyuti) R2 G2 D2 58 hEmaavati (dEshisimhaaravam) N2 R2 G2 D2 59 dharmaavati (dhaamavati) N3 R2 G2 D3 60 neetimati (nishhadam) N3 11 Rudra Cakra R2 G3 D1 61 kaantaamaNi (kuntaLam) N1 R2 G3 D1 62 rishhabapriyaa (ratipriyaa) N2 R2 G3 D1 63 lataangi (geetapriyaa) N3 R2 G3 D2 64 vaacaspati (bhooshaavati) N2 R2 G3 D2 65 mEcakalyaaNi (shaantakalyaaNi) N3 R2 G3 D3 66 citraambari (caturaaNgiNi) N3 12 Aaditya Cakra R3 G3 D1 67 sucaritra (santaana manjari) N1 R3 G3 D1 68 jyOtiswaroopini (jyOti raaga) N2 R3 G3 D1 69 dhaatuvardani (dhowta pancamam) N3 R3 G3 D2 70 naasikabhooshhaNi (naasaamaNi) N2 R3 G3 D2 71 kosalam (kusumaakaram)

35 shoolini (shailadEshaakshhi)

N3 36 calanaaTTai R3 G3 D3 72 rasikapriyaa (rasamanjari) N3

Next: Janya raagas Ragas beginning with: ABCDEGHIJKLMNOPRSTUVWY Janya ragas are scales derived from the melakarta ragas. Previous: Intro to Raaga Next: Identifying Raagas The melakarta ragas have 7 notes, sa ri ga ma pa da ni, in both the ascending and descending scales. Janya ragas, however, are raagas that do not necessarily have all these notes. They may be missing the notes from their "parent" melakarta, have added notes from another melakarta, have some variations in the order of the notes, or some combination of all these factors. These are divided into a few categories: upaanga or bhaashaanga varja or sampoorna vakra or non-vakra

Upaanga or bhaashaanga - This refers the using notes from the parent melakarta. Upanga raagas use only the notes from their parent melakarta (for example, aabhOgi uses only notes from melakarta 22, kharaharapriyaa). Bhaashaanga raagas, on the other hand, use what are called anya swaras, notes from a different melakarta. Thus, aahiri uses swaras from melakartas 8, 14, and 20. A raaga may use up to 3 swaras from an outside melakarta, but no more. Varja or sampoorna - Varja means that the raaga is missing some swaras. rEvati is missing a G and D, so it is an audava varja raaga. Swarantara refers to having only 4 swaras (this is rare, for example S R P N), audava refers to having 5 swaras, shaadava refers to 6 (for example, S R G M P N), and raagas with no missing swaras, having all seven S R G M P D N are sampoorna raagas. Vakra or non-vakra - Vakra means "crooked." Thus these raagas have crooked scales, with the order being changed. Raagas like kaanaDaa are often considered vakra when they have scales such as S R G M P M D N S instead of simply S R