The next raga we will see about is ranjanI. It is one of my favorite raga though not so favored by few of my friends :-). The name ranjani is supposed to mean ‘one who gives happiness’. The raga can give different flavors depending on its handling which we will see about in this post. It is specific to carnatic music and an equivalent scale is not found in hindustani (to my knowledge). The (popular) scale of ranjanI is as given below along with western notes with C as Sa.
Arohanam: S R2 G2 M2 D2 S’ ……. (C D D# F# A C’)
Avarohanam: S’ N3 D2 M2 G2 S ……. (C’ B A F# D# C)
but the avarohanam can also come as
S’ N3 D2 M2 G2 S R2 S .. (C’ B A F# D# C D C) [footnote]
Some of the first things one can notice are
1. The scale has only 5 notes in the arohanam and avarohanam. This hence is a pentatonic scale (having only 5 notes per octave). So this is NOT a melakartha raga or sampoorna raga about which we had seen in the cArukEsi raga post. Such a raga where the scale is not complete is called a Janya raga. We will see about this in the subsequent section.
2. The arohanam and avarohanam have one note different, ie, D2 is present in the arohanam while N3 is present in avarohanam. (Ni is absent in the former while Da is absent in the latter). This can hence be called as an asymmetric pentatonic scale.
3. An important point to be noted is that in the avarohanam, we can NOT have the phrase formation which includes G2 R2 S in that order. While descending the scale it must always come from G2 to S and never G2 to R2.*****
So when we play it with C being Sa, we get to hear the following. As always, you may please use the swf Keyboard player above to play :-).
*****And in the above point 3, I meant that the descending scale if played as C’ B A F# D# D C,
is incorrect 😮 .
We had seen before about sampoorna, melakartha ragas. Now such ragas comprise of all the seven basic swaras (Sa, Ri, Ga, Ma, Pa, Da, Ni) being present. In ranjani, we see that the arohanam does not have Pa and Ni, while in the avarohanam does not have Pa and Ri (I agree the vakra avarohanam which has Sa Ni Da Ma Ga Sa Ri Sa has Ri, but still Ri is not present in a symmetrical down flow)[footnote].
Janya means one that is derived. Janya ragas are derived from their parent melakartha-sampoorna ragas, 72 in number. Hence, keeping some basic rules of how a raga’s scale must be, innumerable janya ragas can be defined. In wikipedia, a classification of janya ragas is given here. RanjanI is derived from its parent melakarthA raga, dHarmavatI.
Back to Ranjani!
I had mentioned that ranjani can give different shades on the way it is handled. I will try to elaborate my understanding of this here. I feel that ranjani has the scope to express anger, bhakti, pity, braveness and surrender. How beautiful should a raga be to express such contrasting emotions!! I will try to play phrases from the raga which evoke the aforesaid feelings in me. Hope you also can get the same feel :-D. I have played with E as Sa. I will play the scale of the raga first before going on to try different phrases of the raga.
E F# G A# C# E as the arohanam S R2 G2 M2 D2 S’
E’ D# C# A# G E as the avarohanam S’ N3 D2 M2 G2 S
The Nishadam (N3) in this raga seems to have an amazing effect. I feel that it is the swara that forces a kArunya(sympathy or pity) feel to this raga. Also the gamakA on the gAndharAm (G2) enhances this emotion.
One of the main character of ranjani is the fact that it makes perfect sense to sing the raga with flat notes too. In carnatic music, gamakA is an important aspect. gamakA is the oscillation that is present while a particular swara is reached or handled. We had seen about this in earlier posts. Many ragas lose their beauty or essence when the gamaka’s are not handled correctly. But in ranjani, this seems not to be the case. To make things clearer, listen to the difference in the following two audio files.
Ranjani played flat
Ranjani played with gamakA
In the first one the ranjanI is played flat without the gamaka ‘ornamentation’ while the second is with the gamakas usually allowed for this raga. In the second audio, notice the oscillations present in the portions 00:07 to 00:10 on G2 and likewise subsequently later on in N3 also (00:24-00:25). One can see what I mean by ‘essence being lost’ when you consider a raga, say, dHarmavatI, which is the melakartha parent of ranjanI.
The scale of dHarmavatI is as follows
Arohanam : S R2 G2 M2 P D2 N3 S’
Avarohanam : S’ N3 D2 P M2 G2 R2 S
Dharmavathi played flat
Dharmavathi played with gamakA
When I played this raga with flat notes, we can see it had a certain feel to it but after hearing the beauty it has with gamakAs, the entire color of dHarmavatI changes right? I hope now you can relate to what I meant by the essence being lost. RanjanI is not the only raga that does not lose its beauty shorn off gamakAs. Many ragas have such a characteristic and ranjanI is one of them.
Coming to the M2, that ranjanI has, unlike dHarmavatI, when this swara is played or sung, it is flat and has no oscillation. This is because of the absence of G3 or P. Generally (though not always!!), the presence of a neighboring swara aids in the gamakA for a swara. A gamakA is like having a freedom for the swara to dance! So when a swara is dealt with gamakA’s, imagining that particular swara dancing gives a kind of nice feel, does it not? There are a couple of points which I would like to put forth here.
1. The saying, too many cooks spoil the broth, is valid in case of gamakA also. Trying to exploit this beautiful aspect by shaking all the swaras in a raga would result only in cacophony 😀
2. One might have seen that (some…or is it most?? )singers sway their hands, contort their faces and do all sorts of things just short of an acrobat, while singing. This in NO WAY aids in bringing out the beauty of a raga as far as I know :-P. As a listener though I find this visually funny and does indeed make me smile. Ha! But when such a singer is singing a beautiful cArukesi, instead of feeling our hearts being pulled with the inherent solemness of the raga, a look at him/her, the mood might in all possibility be lost :-(. Maybe that is the reason, many people tend to close their eyes when listening in concert, :-o??
Continuing on the M2, (which is called pratI madhyamA, by the way) because of the absence of gamakA and Pa, and presence of G2 in the raga, one can get a kind of restless feeling that this raga can create.
In the next part….
In the next part, we will see about some of the compositions based on ranjanI. There are not many though. Only Sri Thyagaraja Swamy has composed a song, durmArgachara, in this raga, amongst the trinity. I know of only one malayalam cinema song in this raga. We will see about all these in the next part!!! Ciao!!
The vakra avarohanam can be used to understand why certain phrases like …. R2 R2 S…..R2 S N3 D2 S…..are allowed for ranjani. A scale of a raga is supposed to be used only to understand what swaras are (generally…not always, as one would have noticed in the wikipedia link for janya ragas, about bAshAnga janya ragas, that a janya raga could take swaras not present in its parent raga also). Using the moorchanA(the arohanam and avarohanam combined is called moorchanA of a raga) one cannot determine the qualitative aspects of a raga. An example for this is sindubhairavi, regarding which I had commented in an article here in Raga Surabhi.