Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Raaga - A perspective

Good bye to year 2008 and wish you all a very happy new year 2009 :-)

Ever since I started to learn about Raaga, the curiousity has been growing in me to understand why certain Raaga are used for "Happy situation" and why certain Raaga are used for "Pathos". What aspect of the Raaga makes us associate the Raaga with the emotions?

I made an attempt to understand the Raaga a bit deeper. I would like to share my attempt and the results with you.

Each raaga comprises of notes and each note represents a frequency. For the purpose of this experiment, I took 9 Raagas (Melakartha) and tried to plot the frequency that each Raaga represents and this is what I observed:

Without associating with the Raaga, imagine you were shown this graph in an analytical quiz session and asked to mark the odd ones out. What would be your choices of odd ones out? I would vote on "Subhapantuvarali", "Bhavapriya" and "Simmendramadhyamam" purely based on the pattern of the graph. And indeed, they are kinda odd ones because, they are the Raagas usually used in "Pathos".

If you are not convinced with me, I did another work on it. The Swarasthanam string for the above mentioned Raagas are:

Mayamalavagowli: XX00XX0XX00X

Subhapantuvarali: XX0X00XXX00X

Keeravani: X0XX0X0XX00X

Sankarabharanam: X0X0X0XX0X0X0X

Bhavapriya: XX0X00XXX0X0

Simmendramadhyamam: X0XX00XXX00X

Kalyani: X0X0X0XX0X0X

Natabhairavi: X0XX0X0XX0X0

HariKamboji: X0X0XX0X0XX0

If you calculate the number of times "X"s come consecutively - 2 times, you can find that Bhavapriya, Subhapantuvarali and Simmendramadhyamam are the highest with the count as 3.

Also, if you calculate the number of times "X"s appear consecutively 3 times, again, only the above mentioned 3 Raagas have the count as 1 and rest all doesn't have any!!

I am sure, this observeration is not conclusive and needs more research, but, I am pretty much convinced that there is a scientific pattern associated with the Raagas and the emotions that they are associated with.


Ramesh said...


I don't agree with you. For instance, Chalanaattai has 3 continous X's but it doens't necessarily evoke pathos.

I rather noticed that Ri1 (which is the next closest to Sa) when appeared with Sa and/or Dha1 (which is the next closest to Pa) when appeared with Pa bring the sad feeling.


Emjay said...

Hi Ramesh -

I think you are right and wrong. Chalanattai has the pattern as:
X00XXX0X00XX. I agree with that part that it has 3 Xs.

But, the thing to note here is between S and R1, there is a half step and between R1 and R2, there is a half step and so on. So, in case of (say) Subhapantuvarali, XXX appears in M2, Pa, Da1. The frequency difference between each note is a half step.

Whereas, in Chalanattai, even though theoretically we get XXX in Ri3, Ga3, Ma1, I have read that the frequency difference between Ri3 and Ga3 is half step, whereas the frequency difference between Ga3 and Ma1 is a full step. Remember, there isn't any E#! Please correct me, if I am wrong.

And I agree with you that the extensive usage of Ri1 and in general vivadhi swaras do have a tendency to evoke pathos feel. May be that's why Mayamalavagowli has been used equally in Pathos as well whereas you can find very less Kalyani or Sankarabharanam for Pathos!