August 2009

Here is the ninth one in the series (click here for the eighth one).

This is a rare, charming and beautiful raga. It is very rare to run into any elaboration although it supposedly had a more exalted status in the past. There are couple of reasonably popular short krithis but one composer has a large composition in it, and another one had a big varnam in it. It also has a fairly characteristic stamp and so may be easily identifiable in spite of its rarity.

I had to dig around, and ask a few well placed friends to get this one 🙂 ! Although the audio quality is poor, I think it is still a very rare and special treat.

The artist should be easily identifiable and she is probably one of the few who can pull it off. I have also heard her do an alapana in this raga in a concert that I attended a few years ago.

(Answer below)

Here is the next “product” as a result of my experimentation of taking the skeletal structure of Carnatic Ragas and adapting them  into the western rock fold. The ones that interest me most are ones like this particular one which involve intervals or combinations that are unusual in the western world – sort of like this earlier one. The idea here is to use the skeletal structure as the basis for a westernized melody and enhance it with appropriate chords.

Here take a listen:
(Note: I think this may present itself best if heard via headphones with good dynamic range, especially bass)

Can you guess the raga? If not, select the text following Answer below to reveal the answer:

malahari, a janya of mAyAmALawagowLa: S R1 M1 P D1 S / S D1 P M1 G3 R1 S. For the key of C, in western terms it is C Db F G Ab C on ascent, and C Ab G F E Db C on descent.

Compared to some of the earlier ones, this one was easier. I am not sure why. But I did have to struggle a lot initially to come up with the chord progression appropriate for a melody in this raga. Also, I started with an aim of doing something in the complex “super-brother” of this raga (a scholarly one 🙂 ) but gravitated towards this one, as I was unable to make the melody sound “less carnatic”. Or maybe I should say that some combinations of swaras/notes in that raga seemed to feel way too unusual in the western context, and I could not get the right balance I wanted.

About the Special Effects:
I used some special effects here. Obviously, yet another homage to my favorite band Pink Floyd. The start has wind, waves crashing/lapping on a sea-shore, cries of a sea gull, andd some footsteps on pebbles and rocks on a beach, which is then followed by a (somewhat ominous) church/temple bell.

Why such specific sounds and what significance you ask? I am not sure! The genesis of the piece started with me contemplating on the two note combination of those bells (da sa in this raga) – pretty much at the tempo and length of the original piece. Almost immediately my mind conjured up an imagery for it. I imagined an old, crumbling church/temple bell on an abandoned shore, with wind howling and seagulls cawing (some influence for this is certainly Echoes and One Of These Days by Pink Floyd).  I started searching for samples to use, and I found the footsteps sample (see Audio Credits below), and added it to the imagery. So someone walking up to the abandoned “temple” and ominous gonging on the bell seemed somehow as an apt start for a haunting melody in this raga (it does get loud and noisy later!)

Chord Progression: For those interested, the chord progression goes like this:

C5    Fmadd9/G   C5   C#maj7/G#  Csus4/G   C#    C

Eventually it just cycles through the  C#maj7/G, Csus4/F,   C#  and C  four times and fade.

Audio Credits: I used the following sounds from

Every thing else was generated by GarageBand – no real instruments were used for this.

Here is the eight one in the series (click here for the seventh one). Again, not exactly a rare raga, but a very delectable one. It is not very often rendered, but it is not too rare.

(Answer below)