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Raga Charukesi Part-1

9 Comments 29 November 2011

Raga Charukesi Part-1

The next raga we will see is one of my very favourite, chArukEsi and thankfully for me it has the same name in both Carnatic and Hindustani ;-). It is also a sampoorna raga without vakra swaras. So, first what is a sampoorna raga? And what are vakra swaras?

Sampoorna Ragas

sampoorna in sanskrit means complete. A sampoorna raga is one where all the seven swaras are present. We had seen in a previous post that of the 12 notes available, for a raga, there must be atleast 5 swaras (and I forgot to mention that time that there should be atleast one of the fourth or fifth note, ie (Ma, Pa)). Now to clarify better I write here the 12 notes as in the SRGMPDN notation below.

.            |  G1 |  G2  |

S |  R1 |   R2 |   R3 |   G3 |   M1 |   M2 |   P  |  D1 |   D2 |  D3 |   N3 |

.                                                                                       |   N1 |  N2 |

C |  C# |   D  |   D#  |   E  |    F    |   F# |   G  |  G#  |   A  |  A#  |  B  |      are the western notes with C as Sa.



and for sampoorna raga we have 7 spaces to fill in the ascending scale (Arohanam) and descending scale (Avarohanam), indicated by _ below

_    _    _    _    _    _    _   |  _    _    _    _    _    _    _

Of these 7, for a sampoorna raga 2 swaras are automatically chosen, Sa and Pa. So we have,

S   R  G   M  P  D  N | N  D   P  M  G  R   S

Now, for the remaining R, G, M, D, N we have to fill up with atleast one Ri, Ga, Ma, Da, Ni in arohanam and avarohanam. We must also note that if we choose say R2, we cannot choose G1 as both correspond to the same frequency. With this duly considered, an example of a sampoorna raga formation would be

S R1 G3 M1 P D1 N3  | N3  D1 P M1 G3 R1 S

which is similar to our Mayamalavagowla which we last saw. (Note that I used similar, as it becomes the scale for Mayamalavagowla only when the next octave Sa’ is present!!)

Another valid sampoorna raga arrangement would be

S R2 G2 M1 P D2 N2 S’…..S’ N2 D1 P M1 G2 R2 S

which is called Bhairavi in Carnatic. Here we see that in the arohanam,  we have D2 while in the avarohanam we have D1.

Melakartha ragas

Melakartha ragas are sampoorna ragas which are symmetrical in arohanam and avarohanam ie. the notes that form the ascending scale are the same that form the descending scale as well and are linearly increasing and decreasing over the ascending and descending scales with the additional requirement that the second octave Sa’ is also included in the scale.

So, with this we have  S   _   _   _ P   _   _  || with the five boxes to be filled with (1 of 3) Ri, (1 of 3) Ga, (1 of 2) Ma, (1 of 3) Da, and (1 of 3) Ni. But since we also have,

R2 = G1,  R3 = G2,  D2 = N1,  D3 = N2, we can choose only one of (3) Ri, (2) Ga, (2) Ma, (3) Da and (2) Ni. So,

S   _   _   _   P   _   _

.    3 x  2 x 2   x 3 x 2  => 72 ragas in total.

So Sampoorna raga is a superset while melakartha ragas are a subset of the sampoorna ragas set 😀

Vakra means deformity/crooked/curve etc. A vakra raga is one where the swaras in the scale are not linearly increasing and go zig-zag. So a raga like

S R2 G3 M1 P M1 D2 N2 S’……S’ N2 D2 P M1 G3 M1 R2 G3 R2 S (Sahana…which is actually a Beaaoooootiful raga despite such a scale :-P)

is a vakra raga.

Ok after the blahblahblah theory we come back to Charukesi!!!

Back to Charukesi!!

So Charukesi is a melakartha non-vakra(called Krama meaning Order,sequence), (not to be confused with Karma) raga with the scale as

S   R2  G3  M1  P   D1  N2  S’  (C  D  E  F  G  G#  A#  C’)

S’  N2  D1   P   M1  G3  R2  S  (C’ A# G# G   F   E   D  C)

You can play it in the above keyboard swf and it will sound as

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

A raga is not the scale alone. Just like a name is not the character of a person (or to use shakespeare here, A rose by any other name would smell as sweet :-), a scale is only a reference to a raga. The essence or character of a raga is brought out by the way it is handled. The Charukesi is beautiful because it has both the major and minor touch to it.

The S  G3 P is the basic major scale chord and this is generally supposed to give a happy feel. But then comes the D1 N2 which combined with R2 or M1 generates a….well….sad feel. Combine all together and you have a feeling. Well, to put that feeling into words, imagine you are in a crowded noisy happy place with lots of people around shouting and cheering, and you are feeling lonely there. Such a canvas pops in my head when I play this raga. Evokes a sense of pithy, sympathy, lingering hope. I would even say that I get a picture of a tear filled eye, but the tears are due to sadness? or of joy? or of relief?…..well this raga brings out those questions and after listening to it, you will find yourself wishing you were close to your loved ones 😀

In carnatic music, two most famous kritis in this raga are (matla)Adamodi galade by Sri Thyagaraja Swamy and KrupayA pAlaya by Maharaja Swathi Thirunal. Here is one of my favourite recording of Sri LGJ playing Adamodi galade.(I will just let you listen to it and discuss more about the beauty of the play in the next part). The accompaniaments are his son Lalgudi GJR Krishnan, violin support, Mridangam Sri Karaikudi R Mani and Sri G Harishankar on Kanjeera.

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The following is an amazing charukesi by the Late Ustad Sultan Khan. Just brings tears!!! Super-awesome!!

In films, Vasanthamullai pOlé from the film sArangadArA, manmadhaleelaiyai from the film Haridas, petha manasu from the film Enna pettha rasa, Ahistha from the film Swades are some very popular songs.

And finally a composition of mine 🙂 with Vishal Chandrashekhar, a music director friend of mine playing the keys. (its 95% charukesi except for occasional appearance of Ni3 also along with Ni2)

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In the next part, we will discuss more on the colours created by charukesi and also on the nature of the songs set in this raga.



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Your Comments

9 Comments so far

  1. Sowmya says:

    This rendition of Adamodi Galade is just fantastic. Really nice post on Charukesi (one of my favourites too). Thanks for sharing your knowledge!

  2. N Das says:

    this is nicely documented. Thanks for the compilation.

  3. Sandra Harris says:

    El amor El Amor Brings Tears to My heart heals the soul of a broken heart El amor El amor

  4. Srinath says:

    “imagine you are in a crowded noisy happy place with lots of people around shouting and cheering, and you are feeling lonely there” – Perfectly put! Nice post about a beautiful Raga.

  5. Nataraj says:

    Thanks for great explanation of this raga. Sure it brings tears when I heard Sultan Khan. I have heared Shashank’s rendition of Charukesi. There is a YouTube vid of him and Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt that is nice. Surely a great raga!!!

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