After a brief hiatus (job change, new schedule etc. ete.), here is the tenth one in the series (click here for the ninth one).

This is actually a well known, charming and beautiful raga – but this still is rare and special (at least to me!) It should be fairly easy to identify I think. If you are on the right track, there is only one answer. If you are in the right neighborhood, there are only two possible answers! If did get it right,  and before you read the ensuing analysis below, give some thought into why you were able to identify it and not be misdirected. I would be interesting in knowing your reasoning and intuition.

So here it goes.

Note: I have “masked out” the refrain line of the kalpanaswaras out with a tampura sound  to not give things away (although I think the krithi is rare). I  know it is odd – hopefully it does not affect your listening pleasure and interfere with your thought process too much!

(Audio Courtesy: Sangeethapriya)

So, can you guess the  raga and the artist?

(answer below)
Select the text below to reveal the answer and some analysis:

Artist: Smt. Suguna Purushottaman
Raga: dEvagAndhAri, with the kalpanaswaras being done for the krithi nA morAlakimpa by tyAgarAja.

Arabhi and dEvagAndhAri: It is well known  that dEvagAndhAri is very closely allied with the raga Arabhi with which it shares the same swaras, and nearly same skeletal structure – both have the official arohana/avarohana as S R2 M1 P D2 S / S N3 D2 P M1 G3 R2 S. The differences come out in the way certain swaras are given importance (or not) in one vs the other, the way they are handled, some key patterns which appear in one not the other, the use of a foreign swara in dEvagAndhAri in some prayogas. An oft quoted key difference is that dEvagAndhAri is generally identified with  a leisurely pace whereas Arabhi is not. But that obviously is not always the case as is evidenced here. However, the other differences between the ragas are displayed even in this short clip:

  • In Arabhi, the ga (G3) and ni (N3) are very weak swaras, with ni being very much dispensible as evidenced in one (the popular) version of sAdinchane which avoids it completely. In dEvagAndhAri, these two have a more prominent role. In the above, the prominent usage of ga is not at display as far as I can tell, except for the m p d p n d d p p m m g g r at 1:03 to 1:06, where ga is doubled, which is a no-no in Arabhi. On the other hand, ni (N3) is certainly used more, and in ways that either could be eschewed in Arabhi, or would be plain disallowed.
    • As as example of the first kind, the s n d usage as e.g. S n da at 0:09 could be S da.. in Arabhi, wherein it is not uncommon to omit ni even in places it could be included “legally” . That is how much a weak note ni is in Arabhi!  But this not so in devagAndhAri.  As per Prof. SRJ’s Ragas at a Glance book, the S n da.. is also a characteristic phrase of dEvagandhari.
    • As an example of the second kind, dEvagAndhAri apparently can allow ascent from ni in spite of the nominal arohana/avarohana indicating otherwise. This of course is disallowed in Arabhi.   Here you see it has n s (preceded by a higher note), which is there in the very first iteration of the sample (:00 to :03) as Sa n S R S n S n da...  Prof SRJ’s Ragas at a Glance book also mentions p m da n S, although does not give it much credence.
  • The phrase s r g s ri sa which is used here (0:42-0:43 in upper octave, and 1:17-1:18 in middle octave) is a characteristic dEvagAndhAri phrase.
  • You also see copious usages of p m da R leading up to the refrain nA morAla (where nA is S i.e. upper sa) This is a characteristic dEvagAndhAri phrase which you wont run into in Arabhi.
  • dEvagAndhAri uses the foreign swara N2 in the phrase d n* d p, which occurs here in a few places. For example. between 0.08 and 0.11 as in S n da.. R S n d n* d p m. Then at the tail end of the phrase around 0:31 – m p d n d- R S- n S n d- n* d p d R nA morAla. You also see a prominent elongated kaisiki nishadna at 0:42-0.45 S R G S Ri Sa  n d ni..* .d p. Arabhi does not allow  any foreign swaras.
  • It should be noted that at 0:41 to 0.43, you have R G Ma G R, which has an ascent from ga (again contrary  to the nominal arohana/avarohana). You have the same at 1:07 to 1:08, where we have s r g ma g r. I do not know how standard these are as I cannot find evidence of them in the few books I have. They of course sound perfectly fine and divine and apt to me ! I also do not know if this would be present in Arabhi – I would guess not.

Anyway, here is the full krithi without any irritating masking. As you can see she does an alapana as well 🙂

And also, what is rare about a popular raga? (Besides the rare krithi) I don’t think I have heard kalpanaswaras in this raga (Have you?), which allowed me to discern the unique characteristics of this raga more readily!