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Melakartha raga classification

The 72 melakartha ragas are classified into 12 groups, with 6 ragas in each group. The groups are numbered from 1 to 12. The melakartha raga system can be thought of as two halves with 36 ragas on each side. The first half comprising of ragas from 1 to 36, that is, groups 1 to 6 will all have m1 (sudha madhyamam). The second half comprising of ragas from 36 to 72, that is, groups 7 to 12 will all have m2 ( prathi madhyamam).

The following method is followed for fixing the ri and ga for the ragas:

 

Group 1 and 7

r1 g1

Group 2 and 8

r1 g2

Group 3 and 9

r1 g3

Group 4 and 10

r2 g2

Group 5 and 11

r2 g3

Group 6 and 12

r3 g3

 

Now lets look at fixing dha and ni for the ragas. Every group contains 6 ragas. There lets assign one d and n combination to each raga in a group. Therefore in each group, the ragas will have:

 

1st raga

d1 n1

2nd raga

d1 n2

3rd raga

d1 n3

4th raga

d2 n2

5th raga

d2 n3

6th raga

d3 n3

 

As described earlier groups 1 to 6 have m1 and group 7 to 12 have m2. Let us pick up one group from each half say 1 and 7 and look at the r,g,m,d and n combination.

 

Group1

Group7

Kanakangi

s,r1, g1, m1,p,d1,n1,S

Salakam

s,r1,g1,m2,p,d1,n1,S

Ratnangi

s,r1, g1, m1,p,d1,n2,S

Jalavarnam

s,r1,g1,m2,p,d1,n2,S

Ganamurthi

s,r1, g1, m1,p,d1,n3,S

Jhalavarali

s,r1,g1,m2,p,d1,n3,S

Vanaspathi

s,r1, g1, m1,p,d2,n2,S

Navaneetham

s,r1,g1,m2,p,d2,n2,S

Manavathi

s,r1, g1, m1,p,d2,n3,S

Pavani

s,r1,g1,m2,p,d2,n3,S

Tanarupi

s,r1, g1, m1,p,d3,n3,S

Raghupriya

s,r1,g1,m2,p,d3,n3,S

 

 

Thus using this logic all 72 melakartha ragas can be arrived at. All 72 melakartha ragas are Sampoorna ragas and will have 7 swaras in aarohanam and 7 swaras in the avarohanam. The swaras are in ascending and descending order of frequencies in aarohanam and avarohanam respectively.

 

Finding a swara:

 

Applying the logic defined above, it is easy to find the aarohana and avarohana of any melakartha raga if we know its number position. For example let’s find out the arohana and avarohana of raga number 15. Since each group consists of 6 ragas, the 15th raga is in group 3 (comprising of ragas 13 – 18) and is the third raga in that group (15 modulus 6). 15 is less than 36 and hence it will be in the first half and therefore will be associated with m1. As explained above, Group 3 will have r1 g3 and the 3rd raga in any group will have d1 n3. So, this raga no. 15 has s, r1, g3, m1, p, d1, n3 and S in the aarohanam and S n3, d1, p, m1, g3, r1 and s in the avarohanam. We have logically arrived at the aarohana and avarohana of Melakartha Raga Number 15 - MAYAMALAVAGOWLA.

 

To reinforce this logic, let’s take another raga – Melakartha raga number 51. This will be in group 9 (comprising of ragas 49 – 54) and is the third raga in that group (51 modulus 6). This raga exactly corresponds to raga no 15 (remember groups 3 and 9 are similar except for m) and since the raga is in the second half of the groups the madhyamam will be m2. Therefore , the swaras for raga number 51 are - s r1 g3 m2 p d1 n3 S /  S n3 d1 p m2 g3 r1 s. This raga is called KAMAVARDHINI – Melakartha Raga Number 51 (also known as PATHUVARALI).

 

Lets go through this logic with another pair of ragas. Let’s take for example - raga number 29. The number 29 being less than 36, this raga will be in the first half and will have m1. This raga is in group 5 (group comprising of ragas 25 – 30) and hence will have r2 g3. Since it is the 5th raga in the group (29 modulus 6) it will have d2 n3. Therefore the swaras for this raga are s r2 g3 m1 p d2 n3 S / S n3 d2 p m1 g3 r2 s. This raga is SHANKARABHARANAM (also known as DHEERASHANKARABHARANAM).

 

As seen above, the corresponding raga in the other half will be number 65 and hence will have the madhyamam changed to m2. Therefore, the swaras for raga 65 are - S r2 g3 m2 p d2 n3 S / S n3 d2 p m2 g3 r2 s and is known as KALYANI( also known as MECHAKALYANI).

 

A quicker way of remembering this will be - any two ragas with a difference of 36 will have the same swaras except for m1 being changed to m2.

 

Some more examples that correspond to this logic:

 

Raga no 3: Gaanamoorthi s r1 g1 m1 p d1 n3 S / S n3 d1 p m1 g1 r1 s

Raga no 39: Jhalavarali     s  r1 g1 m2 p d1 n3 S / S N3 D1 P M1 G1 R1 S

 

Raga no 9 : Dhenuka s r1 g2 m1 p d1 n3 S / S n3 d1 p m1 g2 r1 s

Raga no 45: Shubhapanthuvarali s r1 g2 m2 p d1 n3 S / S n3 d1 p m2 g2 r1 s

 

Raga no 20: Natabhairavi s r2 g2 m1 p d1 n2 S / S n2 d1 p m1 g2 r2 s

Raga no 56 : Shanmugapriya s r2 g2 m2 p d1 n2 S / S n2 d1 p m2 g2 r2 s




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Melakartha raga system in carnatic music

The melakartha raga system is highly mathematical and logical. For the purpose of formulating the melakartha raga system, the great creators of our raga system redefined the 12 tone swara system into a 16 tone system, listed as under:

 sa   

 - shadjam      

 

 r1   

 -  sudha rishabham

 

 r2   

 - chatusruthi rishabham

g1

r3

- shatsruthi rishabham  

 g2

g1

- sudha gandharam

r2

g2

- sadharana gandharam

r3

g3

- andhara gandharam

 

m1

- sudha madhyamam

 

m2

- prathi madhyamam

 

pa

- panchamam

 

d1

- sudha dhaivatham

 

d2

- chathusruthi dhaivatham

n1

d3

- shatsruthi dhaivatham

n2

n1

- sudha nishadham

d2

n2

- kaisiki nishadham

d3

n3

- kakali nishadham

 

S

- Shadjam ( harmonic of the low sa )

 

 

Thus the basic 12 swaras ( top Sa excluded ) are renamed with the above names for the purpose of construction/ formulation of the 72 melakartha ragas. As mentioned above, the frequency value of r2 is the same as g1, r3 is the same as g2, d2 is the same as n1 and d3 is the same as n2.

1 2 3 concept:

The basic rule for the melakartha ragas is that all ragas will have all seven swaras in the ascent ( aarohanam) and 7 swaras in the descent ( avarohanam) in increasing order of frequency and decreasing order of frequency , respectively. Thus when r2 is used, g1 cannot be used, since its frequency value is the same. Similarly, when r3 is used, g1 and g2 cannot be used since they are smaller or equal in frequency.

To simplify this concept, take the possible combination of double digit numbers using 1, 2 and 3.

They are 1 1, 1 2, 1 3, 2 1, 2 2, 2 3, 3 1, 3 2, 3 3.

Now on this set, apply a rule that the second digit should be equal to or higher than the first digit. This will result in a combination six set combination of  1 1, 1 2, 1 3, 2 2, 2 3 and 3 3.

Now , prefix the first digit with r and the second digit with g in the six set combination, which leads us to a resultant set of -  r1 g1,  r1 g2, r1 g3, r2 g2, r2 g3 and r3 g3.

 

Applying the same rule on the six set combination with d and n, we get the following resultant set - d1 n1, d1 n2, d1 n3, d2 n2, d2 n3 and d3 n3.

The 6 combinations of r and g can be combined with the 6 combinations of d and n resulting in 36 possible combinations. For instance the first element of the r and g resultant set - r1, g1 can be combined with d and n resultant set as follows:

r1 g1 d1 n1

r1 g1 d1 n2

r1 g1 d1 n3

r1 g1 d2 n2

r1 g1 d2 n3

r1 g1 d3 n3

Thus there are 36 possible combinations between the resultant set of r and g and the resultant set of d and n. There are two variations of m namely m1 and m2. Hence each variation of m along with the 36 combinations result in the 72 melakartha ragas. In the next blog, we will analyse the classification of these melakartha ragas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




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Swara System Explained

The swaras in the ‘c scale’ from c to top C are c = sa, c# = ri1, d = ri2, d# = ga2, e = ga3, f = ma1, f # = ma2, g = pa, g# = dha1, a = dha2, a # = ni 2, b = ni 3 and SA = C. These 12 tones form an octave. The frequency difference between adjacent keys (c to c#, c # to d and so on) is a constant and is the twelfth root of 2 = 1.059446. To select a sruthi for singing/ playing an instrument , select any note as the low sa, take the  seventh note as pa and the thirteenth note as SA. This reference notes sa – pa – Sa defines the pitch/ scale selected.

The swara names are listed below

saShadjam
ri1Sudha Rishabham
ri2Chathusruthi Rishabham
ga2Sadharana Gandharam
ga3Andhara Gandharam
ma1Sudha Madhyamam
ma2Prathi Madhyamam
paPanchamam
dha1Sudha Dhaivatham
ni2Kaisiki Nishadham
ni3Kakali Nishadham

 

The swaras are marked in the keyboard below. The third white key from the left is sa, the next black key is ri1, next white key is ri2, next black key is ga2, next white key is ga3, next white key is ma1, the next black key is ma2, the next white key is pa, next black key is dha1, next white key is dha2, next black key is ni2, next white key is ni3 and the next white key is the top SA. These constitute one octave of the 12 tone system.

The sruthi mapping between Carnatic, Western and Hindusthani is given below:

 

CarnaticWesternHindustani
1kattaicsafed1
1.5 kattaic#kali1
2kattaidsafed2
2.5kattaid#kali2
3kattaiesafed3
4kattaifsafed4
4.5kattaif#kali3
5kattaigsafed5
5.5kattaig#kali4
6 kattaiasafed6
6.5kattaia#kali5
7kattaibsafed7
8kattaiCtopsafed8

 




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Swaras in Carnatic Music

The carnatic music system has seven basic notes (referred to as ‘Swaras’) namely – sa, ri, ga, ma, pa, dha and ni. The swaras r1, ga, ma, dha and ni have two variations of frequency values – namely ri1, ri2, ga2, ga3, ma1, ma2, dha1, dha2, ni2 and ni3. The notes sa and pa are called achala swaras as they do not exhibit a variation in the frequencies. The 10 variations along with sa and pa form 12 independent notes or swaras which form the 12 tone swara system in carnatic music.  The top Sa of any sruthi is double the frequency of the lower sa and is called the first harmonic. The pa is the average of the low sa and the top Sa.

The frequency difference between the adjacent notes in the 12 swaras is ‘equally tempered’ or in other words the frequency difference between adjacent notes is a constant. The value of this constant is 1.095446 which is the twelfth root of 2. 




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