This post is the “answer” to the audio clip of Rare Treats in Carnatic Music #11 post:

I am doing this different from earlier ones, since the answer happens to be one of my favorite ragas 🙂

The raga of the piece above is husEni/usEni, a raga that is allied with bhairavi, mukhAri and Anandabhairavi. It employs the same swaras as them: S R2 G2 M1 P D2 and N2, and also employs the lower Suddhadhaivatam D1 in some descent phrases just like those other ragas. Most folks find stronger resemblance to Anandabhairavi and mukhAri compared to bhairavi.

Note: As much as I really wanted to do so, I am finding a hard time (and pressed for time as well!) locating specific audio samples for the phrases discussed below. My apologies. I do have a kalpanaswara sample at the bottom which employs all these phrases and so hopefully that provides a fuller picture!

husEni is a beautiful raga which is considered complex and difficult to handle – perhaps because it is phrase oriented (i.e. certain characteristic phrases must be employed frequently), is one of those “rakthi ragas” i.e. one which is emotive, and whose emotiveness is effectively brought out only if certain gamakas are delivered in their correct contexts and with feeling, and it is allied with other, more popular ragas. Thus one has to employ those characteristic phrases often enough to keep husEni in the mind of listeners, but not sound repetitive, and also be careful not traverse too much into the neighborhood of those other popular and mighty ragas to whom most listeners perhaps would have greater “affinity”.

husEni and Anandabhairavi (sa pa Sa)
With Anandabhairavi, husEni shares the swara phrases that involve a direct jump from sa to pa, as well as from pa to higher Sa. The phrase sa sa pa pa occurs a lot in husEni. In the above sample, the violinst uses it at the tail end of the response at about 1:01-1:02, which goes something like sa sa pa pa ni da (ni)Sa. Also, TNS’ karuNA at 1:35 is sa pa Sa. The song vinatAsuta of tyAgarAja in husEni starts s s pa.. (vi na tA..).

In husEni, srgmp is supposedly allowed (I see the notation for the Tanjore Quartette’s svarajathi use it). But it is quite rare, and instead it is very common to go from sa to pa directly. This while employed by Anandabhairavi also could be argued as more of a husEni trait in the sense that husEni’s melodic identity depends a lot on it. This is why many books quote huSeni’s ArOhana as s p m p n d n s highlighting the importance of sa pa combination. However this Arohana does not give a full picture as it implies to get to pa from below, one must jump from sa and that is certainly not the case. Even though s r g m p may be rare, the combinations s r g, r g m and r g m p are quite common, and are part of some stock and important husEni phrases (see below).

The sa pa combination in tandem is also common in Anandabhairavi – where pa da pa S, pa S ni da pa etc. are common. For example, SyamA SAStri‘s pAhi SrI girirAja sutE starts sa pa Sa (pA hi SrI…).

ri ga ma ga ri sa – husEni’s trademark
husEni has an important phrase ri ga ma ri ga sa (and variationse.g. as ri g m r g sa / ri g m r with ri elongated or r g ma g r s with ma elongated etc), which is perhaps the pivotal phrase for the raga. r g ma g r s.

Note that Anandabhairavi cannot use this phrase, and thus this can be used to tell them apart. However, this is not perhaps exclusively husEni territory as I think bhairavi can use some variations of (?). However, I would venture a guess that in bhairavi (and or maybe even kharaharapriya) one may need to be careful to avoid overuse to prevent giving too strong a whiff of husEni.

ri in husEni

Besides the previous phrase, another way to differentiate husEni from Anandabhairavi is simply on the importance of the ri swara. In husEni, ri is a extremely important swara. It is typical to elongate it, and even simply “park on it” – as in 2:21 in our sample ( kArtikEya…., where the  kE and yA… are ri). Also, in a common variation of the above stock phrase ri ga ma ri ga sa,  it is customary to add a elongated ri at the end as ri ga ma ri ga sa ri……

In Anandabhairavi, ri cannot be employed as so. It is not an important swara for that raga. In Anandabhairavi, pa and ga (particularly with a kampita gamaka ga~) are more important. Note that while the strong ri may be a clear differentiator w.r.t Anandabhairavi, it is not so with w.r.t mukhAri and bhairavi, as ri plays an important role in those ragas also.

husEni and mukhAri
Many people find a closer resemblance in husEni to mukhAri even more than Anandabhairavi or bhairavi. The similarities between husEni and mukhAri would be as follows:

  • Both employ ni da ma a lot (where da can be either D1 or D2). In husEni, pa ni da ma is very common (da being D2 most of the time).
  • They employ “somewhat similar” phrases a lot,  which can confuse a casual listener to seem like the same –  that someone may think a husEni melody sounds like mukhAri.
    • For example, in ascent in both you would find pa ni da, although in husEni one would go pa ni da ni Sa, but in mukhAri it would be pa ni da Sa i.e. da sa and not da ni sa.
    • Also even in the previously discussed husEni stock phrase ri ga ma ga ri sa, while it  is disallowed in mukhAri where one cannot ascend from ga, it will employ ri ma ga ri sa, which I guess is close enough for a casual observer to find similarity (?).

husEni’s use of D1
I am not 100% sure about the rules involving husEni use of D1, but it seems similar to Anandabhairavi.

  • It can occur perhaps more often as pa da* pa (note that pdp in husEni can be D1 or D2)
  • It ni da* ma. This is similar to mukhAri – and in both the da can be D1 or D2.
  • It can also pa da ma pa – this can occur in Anandabhairavi (as well as rItigowLa) also

But the use of D1 is perhaps where mukhAri and bhairavi differ a lot from husEni. Both bhairavi and mukhAri use D1 a lot (bhairavi even more than mukhAri). In those ragas, D1 can feature as  as ni da pa, sa ni da pa etc., and in its ni can take a kampita gamaka that has D1 tinge (like bhairavi) – like ni~~ d1 pa.  I think in general husEni does not employ these but I have heard some interpretations of husEni where it does employ more bhairaviesque phrases thus making the differentiation more fuzzy 🙂

Here is a kalpanaswara example, where you can see ample use of ri ga ma pa, pa ni da ma , pa ni da ni sa, and ri ga ma ri ga sa. You also see use of another lengthy stock phrase Sa ni sa pa da pa ma pa ma ga ri sa:

(do you know the artist? The info I have says PKM)
Audio Courtesy: Sangeethapriya


9 Responses to “(H)usEni”

  1. Pramod Says:

    Oh Arun I thought it was NRK 😦

    1. Anonymous Says:

      Great analysis and some great points (simple to understand) from Keerthi.

      BTW PKM means Pudukode Krishna Moorthy?
      Then I have heard him sing kind of (h)useni as sub main

  2. Shrikaanth K. Murthy Says:

    Hi Arun

    SRG & SRGM do occur in husEni. You can find several usages in the compositions notated in the SSP. Just because artistes do not sing it in AlApane or swaraprastAra does not delegitimize this usage. The current version people sing of husEni is generally a simplified and “catchier” one with limited usage of phrases. Sounds beautiful but at the cost of the “heaviness” and “classicism” of the rAga. A careful observation of MD’s SrI kALahastISa will show this clearly. The same applies to Shahana too. You can most certainly produce a beautiful bhAva of Shahana in SRGMP and with the characteistic gamaka on RShabha.

    With regards to the “PDM” phrase in mukhAri. The dhaivata here HAS to be caturaSruti only and this is the characteristic deifference between bhairavi and mukhAri. PDPM will have Suddhadhaivata alright but skipping the pancama in descent automatically changes the dhaivata to the higher variety.

    On a general note, the RShabha in husEni is rendered sharp and steady (characteristic caturaSruti), while the gamaka on the gAndhAra tends to be subdued. Note that gAndhAra can be oscillated to some extent as can be seen in compositions. Elongated RShabha and pancama immediately bring the rAgabhAva.

    I would actually say husEni and mAnji are much closer than some of the other allied rAgas. mAnji also has a sharp and steady RShabha. In fact a simplistic way of saying would be that mAnji is like a slowed down version of husEni.

  3. Shrikaanth K. Murthy Says:

    Here is another sample of neraval in the rAga- by TNS of course (Courtesy:

    And there are beautiful kShEtrayya padas in the rAga which also you can find in the site.

  4. anon Says:

    i have an unrelated question. as a beginning carnatic student how does one “read” off the swaras by listening to the sahityam. of course sa pa sa is probably easy…and one can of course make out whether it is sadarana gandharam or anthara gandharam but….even so, just listening to a piece i find it hard to notate it…..are there some helpful pointers for this.

  5. Kulkarni Says:

    (and pressed for time as well!) locating specific audio samples

    let me know if this helps

    Arun: Thanks coolji 🙂 – it certainly did help!

  6. oruaann Says:

    amazing analysis –
    Is sunson meaning – Sun’s son? Diwakara Tanuja?

  7. Anonymous Says:


  8. […] song is set in raga Huseni and is in rupaka talam (six-beat cycle). Here’s a rendition by the wonderful Rama Varma, […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s