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Raga Nalinakanthi Part 1

4 Comments 20 February 2012

Raga Nalinakanthi Part 1

 

The next raga we will see about is a beautiful, romantic and easily one of the most pleasant ragas in carnatic music, nalinakAnthI. This raga is also a personal favorite of mine. There have been many classical compositions and quite a few semi-classical and film songs based on this raga. I have heard people sometimes say that the hindustani raga, thilak kHamOd, is an equivalent to nalinakAnthI, but well except in some parts I don’t think it is similar. I will provide a comparison between both in the next part of the article.

Ok…..the scale of nalinakAnthI is as follows, (you may play it with the keyboard in this page, basics of indian classical music)

S    G3   R2   M1   P    N3    S’ —  C   E   D   F  G   B   C’

S’   N3    P    M    G3    R2    S — C’   B   G  F   E   D   C

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.

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.

Some of the first things that one can notice is the vakra (zig-zag) nature of the ArOhanam or the ascending scale. This raga has only the major scale notes as its parent janaka/melakArtha raga is sankarAbharanam, the major scale raga. It also resembles very closely to a sister raga which comes from the same sankarAbharanam, namely kedAram. The scale of kedAram is similar to nalinakAnthI but for the first four notes of the ArOhanam. The scale of kedAram is as follows,

S    M1   G3   M1   P    N3    S’ —  C   F   E   F  G   B   C’

S’   N3    P    M    G3    R2    S — C’   B   G  F   E   D   C

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.

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.

Though the scale difference may seem very small, one can actually feel the difference when both the ragas are sung properly :-P.  I will explain in the following section on the handling of the raga how the two are different.

Handling of the raga;

For nalinakAnthI, the mood is easily set by its vakra phrase, the S G3 R2 M1. As seen earlier, the descending scale or the avarOhanam is same as kedAram. So what sets the two apart?

In kedAram, the ascending scale has no Rishabam, Ri (R). Its first four swaras are S M1 G3 M1. This  formation gives rise to the availability of a gamakA on M1, which is absent for nalinakAnthi. This can be understood better by listening to the recording below.

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One can note that in kedAram the gamaka on M1 allows the possibility of singing M1 very close to G3, whereas in nalinakAnthI, the M1 is mostly sung flat or with very little gamakA. Hear it below.

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So when we sing and want to hold the note on M1, in nalinAkanthi it is held flat while in kedAram its with the gamakA.

Next, we come to the descending scale. Well, the scale is exactly the same. But not the way it is sung. One very cool concept of how the ascending scale affects the descending scale can be seen in the case of these two ragas. The avarOhanam is sung for both the ragas below.

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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.

Note that because of the possibility in kedAram to go back to M1 from G3 ( S N3 P M1 G M3…. is a valid phrase in kedAram but not for nalinakAnthI) the descending scale M1 is sung closer to G3 with the gamakA. Still the M1 can also be sung flat whereas in nalinAkanthI M1 holds its place intact with almost no ornamentation or gamakA to it. Thus, in the avarOhanam, for kedAram, the M1 may or may not have gamakA but in nalinakAnthI its without gamakA.

So I hope you now have a basic idea as to how the handling of the ragas leads to the difference between the two ragas.

Beauty of NalinakAnthi

Well, the post being on nalinAkanthi let us focus more on it. What makes nalinakAnthi sound so charming? If you do not believe me, please listen to the following clip and you will feel a sense of freshness.

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What makes this raga sound so? Is it the skippy nature of its arohanam formation, S G3 R2 …. R2 M1 G3? Or is it because it sounds beautiful when sung at slow or fast pace? Or is it the fascinating possibility that we can portray sketches of the raga and stop it on all the swaras present in the raga, S, R2, G3, M1, P, N3 without making the rendition sound unbalanced?

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We should though note that, we can hold the note on G3, only when we traverse the ascending scale. But the .P N3 S G3 phrase seems to give such a settling feel but with a sense of longing. Well, looks like nalinakAnthi due to all the above qualities, is all beauty and grace much like its name!

Compositions in the raga

In carnatic music, Saint Thyagaraja’s famous manavinaalakinchara is easily the most famous composition in this raga. Sri GN Balasubramaniam also has set one of his popular composition nE pAdhamE gathI in this raga. I love the varnam of Sri LGJ. In cine music, the king Ilayaraja’s evergreen enthan nenjil from the film Kalaingan is the most famous song set in this raga.

Well, in the next part, we will see more on the raga from compositions point of view and also why I feel thilak khamod is not exactly an equivalent to nalinakAnthI.

 

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Your Comments

4 Comments so far

  1. Srihari says:

    Thank you for your wonderful post on Nalinakanthi. I stumbled on to your Soundcloud and blog after I was searching for Kiravani (and found your excellent and soulful Kiravani piece) on Youtube! I also belong in the Nalinakanthi fan club – it’s my favorite. I liked your description of this raga as “fresh…I think of of it as “happy” mood raga (together with Hamsadhwani and Sriranjani), as exemplified by this piece by U Srinivas

    http://www.raaga.com/player4/?id=59609

    I share your love of the flute as well..happen to be a flute player (more of a beginner, started taking lessons a few years ago), so would appreciate any tips!

    Thanks for your great work and blog, sharing your passion and knowledge for Carnatic music.

    -Srihari

  2. Deepak Subramony says:

    Listening to this raga makes me think of the lush green tropical countryside after a rain shower … with every leaf glistening with a hundred raindrops.

  3. Arun says:

    Excellent description and delineation of the subtle shadows of the Raagam! Thank you very much. It is a very “Nalina” raagam indeed.

    Please do post more such articles so that less mortal souls like us can benefit.

  4. svarna says:

    This is one among the very few articles that describe the beauty of nalinakanthi. I fell in love with this raga after listening to the piece called Taj played by ganesh-kumaresh in colours of india (http://mio.to/album/11-classical_carnatic_instrumental/12588-Colours_Of_India/#/album/11-classical_carnatic_instrumental/12588-Colours_Of_India/)
    Can I know what are the jeeva svaras of this ragam (am a violin student)?


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