Notes on janya rAgams

Last Updated On: 25 March, 2003

About the svara notation

Notes of caution about the svara notation used: Some rAgams do not use the exact frequency of the notes as specified in these lists. For example, the rishabham of varALi rAgam is a bit off from the regular shudhdha rishabham. Such rAgams are usually learnt from listening to the guru or experts only. A significant difference can be found if the rAgam is attempted on a discrete 12 note instrument with limited possibility of gamakas and compared to any seasoned singer's renderings.

There are many articles on the net about the 22 svaras of music, including one each in Mohan Ayyar's collection and Krishna Kunchitapadam's collection. Links to them can be found on my Music page.

Moreover, this svara notation does not take care of the other important aspects of the janya rAgams. It does not give the complete picture of the ArOHanam and avarOHanam. Some svaras in particular rAgams are stressed or elongated, which can make a big difference. For example, with current notation, both Arabhi and DhEvagAndhAri have the same ArOHanam and avarOHanam, but the stress on the different svaras in Arabhi and the elongation of svaras in DhEvagAndhAri make the difference.

The personality of a rAgam (svarUpam or bhAvam) cannot be sufficiently described by these notations. Please see Personality of a rAgam page for further views.

Association of janya rAgam to mELakarthA rAgam

The association of a janya rAgam to its mELakarthA rAgam is not an exact science. Whenever a janya rAgam has a missing svara sthAna or if it uses multiple svara's of same type (say, two nishAdhams or two gAndharams) it can be associated with more than one mELakarthA rAgam. Over the centuries many such janya rAgams have been associated to particular mELakarthA rAgams based on how close the janya rAgam resembles the mELakarthA rAgam.

For the rest of them, it is left to the whims and fancies of the public. For example, shudhDha dhanyAsi can be listed under any of HanumathOdi (8), nAtakapriyA (10), naTabhairavi (20) or karaHarapriyA (22). Many books (and this list) associate it with karaHarapriyA, while some associate it with naTabhairavi.

Moreover, janya rAgams that do not have a madhyamam, are usually associated to a similar mELakarthA rAgam which uses shudhDha madhyamam rather than its opposite mELakarthA rAgam that uses the prathi madhyamam.

Some rAgams use "anya" svaras on rare occasions. Many musicians innovate on stage and sometimes the introduction of "anya" svaras adds to the beauty and melody of the song or phrase.

To throw a spanner into an already complicated explanation above, there are rAgams for which more than one ArOHanam or avarOHanam is associated. Many books list the variations to such rAgams, including the one listed on the main music page. The teaching between schools (pArampariyams) are different.

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If you have any comments or suggestions, or if you have any changes or additions to the lists, please email me.

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