Category Archives: The Music Of South India

Rag Hamsanandi




In the Carnatic system, the raga counterpart for Sohini is called Hamsanandi

Sohini is a night raga that allures listeners into its swift and sweeping phrases, often conveying emotions of sringaar, longing, and sensuousness.

Sohini belongs to Marwa Thaat, and has a scale bearing very close resemblance to both Marwa and Puriya. Its aroha is as follows: S G (shuddha) Me (tivra) D (shuddha) N (shuddha).  The avaroha proceeds to include komal Re as follows: S N (shuddha) D (shuddha) M (tivra) G (shuddha) R (komal) S. Its jati is therefore audav-shadav.

Given that it shares the same swaras as its sister ragas of Marwa and Puriya, how does Sohini differ? Firstly, it is an Uttarang Pradhan raga – a raga that is developed primarily in the higher range of the octave. The chalan, or movement, of the raga, as with many Uttarang Pradhan ragas, is paced faster and flightier. Its focal notes are Dha (vadi swarwa) and Ga (samavadi swara), another feature that sets it apart from the other ragas in the family. The emphasis on these notes results in some of the key phrases of Sohini’s development: G M D N S R S(taar), N D M G; S R S R N S N S (taar) N D N, D; N D M G, G M D M G, M G R S.

Being that Sohini is a slightly more chanchal raga, it is not sung in the vilambit context. Most bandishes in Sohini are in the madhya-laya and drut tempose, including many taranas and lighter pieces such as dadras. In the traditional repertoire, we have Panidt Vishnu Narayan Bhatkhande’s bandish, “Guru Charan sharan Kar Manuja,” in teen taal, a bhakti ras composition that describes the devotion and gratitude towards the guru.  There is also “Jaanu mein Sab Tumhari,” in Jhap taal, and the drut bandish “Dekh Bekh Man Lalchaye,” Ustad Faiyaz Khan’s “Chalo Hato Jaao More Saiyyan” is a dadra that utilizes the full emotive quality of this raga. Kumar gandharva’s bandish “ Rang na daro Shyamji” is also famous amongst listeners.

In the Carnatic system, the raga counterpart for Sohini is called Hamsanandi. It is performed often and has been used by many of the hailed composers of the tradition in their kritis.

Listen to Rag Sohini here :


Rag  Hamsanandi

A janya of the 53rd melakarta Gamanasrama, this is a panchamavarjiya raga — the raga does not have the note Pa. This is why the raga has to be handled very carefully, as accidental touching of Pa, however briefly, will bring in the shades of Poorvikalyani, another important raga in Carnatic music, which also happens to be a janya of Gamanasrama.

As the note Pa, in whichever raga it appears, is an ‘anchor’ note like mantra Sa and Tara Sa and acts as a nyasa swara it is a stabilizing factor. Hence, the absence of Pa calls for a little alertness in handling this raga.

This raga resembles raga Sohoni of Hindustani music, which is a janya of Marwa tthat.

Hamsanandi is a Shadava Shadava raga as it has six notes both in arohana and avarohana.

S R1 G3 M2 D2 N3 S
S N3 D2 M2 G3 R1 S

The swaras are Shudha Rishabham, Antara Gandharam, Prati Madhyamam, Chatushruti Dhaivatam and Kakali Nishadham.

A very pleasant raga, Hamsanandi is very suitable for light music, and bhajans  Compositions for dance also sound very attractive in this raga.

As there are not many heavy compositions in this raga, the scope for using it as a main raga in a Carnatic concert is limited.

The prayogas G M D G M G and G M D N S N D M G are very attractive and establish the identity of the raga instantly.

Other compositions in the raga are Pahi jagatjanani of Swati Tirunal in Aadi tala, Needu Mahima of Muthiah Bhagavatar also in Aadi  and the Tamil composition of Papanasam Sivan Srinivasa in Aadi.

There is another type of Hamsanandi said to be a janya of 8th Melakarta Hanumathodi, which is not very popular and rather unfamiliar. It is not heard of much.

Describing the dance of Lord Sankara in the Chitra sabha of Chidambaram, the composer describes the congregation of devas and Rishi munis witnessing the cosmic dance of Lord Siva who is adorned with garland of skulls, smeared with bhasma (holy ash) dancing away with Bhootaganas. The song uses syllables used in Bharata natya i.e. TA, TATAKKITA, TAKKA etc.

Listen to a vocal rendition of
Rag Hamsanandi here :


Rag Hamsanandi is the janya ragam of 53rd Melakartha Gamanasrama and it is evening raga .
Sohini is the janya of Marwa Thaat and it is a pre-dawn raga
Hamsanandi is a shadava shadava raga ( 6 notes) in arohana and avarohan
S R1 G3 M2 D2 N3 S
S N3 D2 M2 G3 R1 S
The swaras are Shudha Rishabham, Antara Gandharam, Prati Madhyamam, Chatushruti Dhaivatam and Kakali Nishadham.
In carnatic music there are only few compositions so not much of scope for listeners. The few are Needu Mahima – Muthiah Bagavathar, Tirupathi Venkataramana- Purandara dasar, Pavana Guru-Lalitha dasar, Srinivasa Thiruvengadamudayan-Papanasam Sivan.
In cinema, there are lot of compositions (apart from Kalaiyum Neeye) and all of them are very popular.
Vedam anuvilum – salangai oli, Vaanam Niram Maarum- Dhavani Kanavugal,
O Poo Malai- Iniya Uravu Poothadhu, Raga dheebam Yetrum –Payangal Mudivadhilai, Rathiriyil Poothirukkum – Thanga Magan,
thesulavuthe then malarale in manalane mangaiyin bagyam


 A rendition of  Rag Hamsanandi-Jaladharangam-Neethu mahima on Jaltarang/Violon/Tanpura and Mridangam can be obtained here :


A raga that instantly sets off a meditative and intense mood when handled is Hamsanandi. This raga is easy to identify even for an untrained listener since it’s notes are so peculiarly aligned and its prayogas specially crafted. A fairly new raga, it is best sung in a breezy style, highlighting its frills, while paying due attention to the feeling conveyed by its plain notes.

Hamsanandi takes on sadja, suddha rishabha, antara gandhara, prati madhyama, chatusruti dhaivata, and kakali nishada. The pancama is eschewed and this chasm in the centre of the raga gives rise to the emotion of yearning and fervent appeal. A symmetric one in ascent and descent, Hamsanandi is a shadava raga (having six notes).

Swati Tirunal’s “Pahi Jagajanani” is a well-known kriti in this raga. “Needu Mahima Pogada” of Muthiah Bhagavatar, “Srinivasa” of Papanasam Sivan, and “Pavanaguru” of Lalitadasar are other interesting compositions in Hamsanandi popular on the concert platform. Sunadavinodhini is an allied raga of Hamsanandi, the difference being that the rishabha is absent in Sunadavinodini, all other notes remaining the same. “Devadi Deva” of Mysore Vasudevachar is popular in Sunadavinodini.

In film music this scale has been used rather selectively but with great impact. “Thesulavuthe” from “Manalane Mangayin Bagyam” starts off majestically in Hamsanandi and then moves on to another scale in the second charanam. A plethora of sangati-s in the pallavi at “Nenjame kaadal” set our pulse racing with Ghantasala’s smooth vocals. The Hindi version of this song “Kuhu kuhu bole koyaliya” from the film “Suvarna Sundari”, sung by Lata Mangeshkar and Rafi, is charming in its own way, the free-wheeling sangati-s and bols in “Saj sringaar rutu…” taking our breath away. This Adi Narayana Rao creation will always be a favourite of music connoisseurs.

“Ezhumalai irukka”, sung boldly by K. B. Sundarambal in the film “Thirumalai Deivam” under the music direction of Kunnakudi Vaidhyanathan, is an example of how this raga can be adapted to the silver screen, using its inherent poignancy to maximise the devotional appeal.

Many people think “Kaalaiyum neeye” of A. M.Raja from “Thaen Nilavu” is in Hamsanandi. It may be replete with lovely Hamsanandi-like phrases but is not strictly based on the raga itself. The viruttam “Enna koduppaan” from “Karnan”, with music by M.S.Viswanathan – Ramamurthy, is based in Hamsanandi and establishes the stamp of the raga within seconds. Starting in the top sadja and anchoring itself at the nishada, this little piece has a huge recall value.

“Vedam anuvilum oru” from “Salangai Oli” is a masterpiece of Ilayaraja sung brilliantly by SPB. In the lines “Sangeeta nattiyame” the phrase “g, m, d, ns,” is clearly established. The complex sangatis leave us gobsmacked, and one wonders in awe as to how a single raga can convey so many emotions in so many ways.

In the film “Mella Thirandadu Kadhavu”, the classical piece “Pavanaguru” was sung by Chitra and used simply, sans frills. It was a clever exercise in establishing the raga’s prescence in an unadulterated fashionon the silver screen.

In the film “Payanangal Mudivadillai”, the song “Raga deepam” is an evergreen classic in this raga. The opening phrase “s,n n,d d,m m,g / g m d n s” bears the Hamsanandi stamp and brings forth the traditional flavour of the raga. Once again a creation of Ilayaraja, sung by SPB, this one will always be here to stay.

In the Hindustani system of music “Sohini” and “Puria” closely resemble our Carnatic Hamsanandi. “Prem jogan banke” from “Mughal-e-Azam”, with music by Naushad and sung by Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, is an outstanding example of raag Sohini


53 gamanashrama janya
Aa: S R1 G3 M2 D2 N3 S
Av: S N3 D2 M2 G3 R1 S

taaLam: aadi
Composer: Suddhaananda Bhaarati *


anda nAL ini varumO shollaDi ambala painkiLiyE


endenda vELaiyum idayat-tIrppadam vaittE
irukkirEn irukkirEn enravan kUttADum


tanjam pugundavarait-tAnguvaden hAram taLarAmal un
anbu-vaLaruvadE dhIram
anjal anjal enrE- abhayam aLittennaiyyan Ananda jyOtiyil-
tAnAkki koNDALum


53 gamanashrama janya
Aa: S R1 G3 M2 D2 N3 S
Av: S N3 D2 M2 G3 R1 S
anda nAL ini varumO
bAvayE parama gurum
nIdu mahima – HB
pAhi jagajjanani – ST
punnagai onrE – AMK
sacAmara – HB
shrInivAsa tiruvenkaTa

Hindustani:  sOhini

This rAga can be derived from gamanashrama (mela 53) by removing pa from the scale entirely. If you further remove rishabam from both ArOhaNam and avarOhanam, you get sunAdavinOdini.


I liked all the A M Raja’s song so Kalaiyum Neeye Malaium Neeye attracted me for its strong base , karvai etc. Through that song I got attracted to raga Hamsanandi. I followed this raga with similar songs in Hindustani – it is called rag Sohini.
Hamsanandi is the janya ragam of 53rd Melakartha Gamanasrama and it is evening raga .
Sohini is the janya of Marwa Thaat and it is a pre-dawn raga
Hamsanandi is a shadava shadava raga ( 6 notes) in arohana and avarohan
S R1 G3 M2 D2 N3 S
S N3 D2 M2 G3 R1 S
The swaras are Shudha Rishabham, Antara Gandharam, Prati Madhyamam, Chatushruti Dhaivatam and Kakali Nishadham.
In carnatic music there are only few compositions so not much of scope for listeners. The few are Needu Mahima – Muthiah Bagavathar, Tirupathi Venkataramana- Purandara dasar, Pavana Guru-Lalitha dasar, Srinivasa Thiruvengadamudayan-Papanasam Sivan.
In cinema, there are lot of compositions (apart from Kalaiyum Neeye) and all of them are very popular.
Vedam anuvilum – salangai oli, Vaanam Niram Maarum- Dhavani Kanavugal,
O Poo Malai- Iniya Uravu Poothadhu, Raga dheebam Yetrum –Payangal Mudivadhilai, Rathiriyil Poothirukkum – Thanga Magan,
thesulavuthe then malarale in manalane mangaiyin bagyam

There are lot of compositions in hindi cinema too, but I am giving below the two best songs I have enjoyed:-
Kuhoo kuhoo boley re koyaliya- Swarna sundaree
Prema Jogana bana key- Mughal – e- aazam

Please note also :

A rendering of Raag Sohani by Kalapini Komkali


The music of Karnatak

The southern state of Karnataka, in India, has a distinct art  and culture. The diverse linguistic and religious ethnicity that are native to state of Karnataka  combined with their long histories have contributed immensely to the varied cultural heritage of the state. Apart from Kannadigas, Karnataka is home to Tuluvas, Kodavas  and Konkanis who also consider themselves as Kannadigas. Minor populations of Tibetan Buddhists and Siddhi tribes plus a few other ethnic groups also live in Karnataka. The traditional folk arts cover the entire gamut of music, dance, drama, storytelling by itinerant troupes, etc. Yakshagana, a classical folk play, is one of the major theatrical forms of coastal Karnataka. Contemporary theatre culture in Karnataka is one of the most vibrant in India with organizations like Ninasam, Ranga Shankara and Rangayana  active on foundations laid down by the Gubbi Veeranna Nataka Company. Veeragase, Kamsale  and Dollu Kunitha are popular dance forms. Bharatanatya also enjoys wide patronage in Karnataka.

Karnataka is the only south Indian state(dravidian state)where both Hindustani and Carnatic singers flourish. North Karnataka is predominantly famous for Hindustani music and South Karnataka is well known for Carnatic music.

With the rise of Vaishnavism and the Haridasa  movement came Karnataka composers like Purandaradasa, whose Kannada language works were lucid, devotional and philosophical and hence appealing to the masses. Other haridasas of medieval times were Kanakadasa, Vyasatirtha, Jayatirtha, Sripadaraya, Vadirajatirtha etc., who composed several devara nama. One of the earliest and prominent composers in South India was the saint, and wandering bard of yore Purandara Dasa. Though historians claim Purandara Dasa composed 75,000 – 475,000 songs in Sanskrit  and Kannada,[1]  only a few hundred of them are known today.[2][3]  He was a source of inspiration to the later composers like Tyagaraja.[4]  Owing to his contribution to the Carnatic Music he is referred to as the Father of Carnatic Music (Karnataka Sangeeta Pitamaha)[3][5][6]  Purandaradasa codified and consolidated the teaching of Carnatic music by evolving several steps like sarali, jantai, thattu varisai, alankara and geetham and laid down a framework for imparting formal training in this art form.[7]  Later in the 17th and 18th centuries, the haridasa movement would once again contribute to music in Karnataka in the form of haridasas such as Vijaya Dasa, Gopaladasa, Jagannathadasa who are just a few among a vast galaxy of devotional saints.[8][9][10][11]
Hindustani[edit source | editbeta]

Karnataka has achieved a prominent place in the world of Hindustani music as well. Several of Karnataka’s Hindustani musicians have bagged the Kalidas Sanman, Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan awards. Some famous performers are Gangubai Hangal,[12] Puttaraj Gawai, Pt. Bhimsen Joshi,[13] Pt. Mallikarjun Mansur,[14] Basavaraj Rajguru,[15] Sawai Gandharva[15] and Kumar Gandharva.[16]

Yakshagana a form of dance drama is one of the major theatrical forms in coastal Karnataka. A fusion of folk and classical tradition makes Yakshagana a unique form of art which includes colourfull costumes, music, dance, singing, and most importantly dialogs composed on the fly. Award winning performers include Shambhu Hegde, Chittani Ramachandra Hegde. Yakshagana and Dollu Kunitha are two of the popular dance forms of Karnataka. Gamaka is a unique music form based on Karnakata Sangeetha.

.Please note also :सोनी-سوني/


ಅಮೃತ ವರ್ಷಿಣಿ अमृत वर्षिणी

Chitti Babu -Veena-02





Performed by Chitti Babu on Veena

This raga derives its name from the two words “Amrit” and Varshini”. It means one which showers “amrit” or the elixir of immortality.

A particular incident, which occurred in connection with this raga, may be of interest to the reader. During his visit to Ettayapuram,  a small village in Tamilnadu, the great composer Muthuswamy Dikshithar (late 18th century and early 19th century) was shocked to see people suffering owing to a draought. He looked up at the sky and sang in praise of the goddess Devi in the raga Amruthavarshini. The moment he uttered the words “salilam varshaya, varshaya” there was a heavy downpour and the place was flooded.
Then he had to appeal to the Goddess “Sthambhaya; sthambhaya” meaning, stop’ stop”
Even today musicians sing – “Amruthavarshini” raga to invoke the Rain God. The corresponding raga in Hindustani music is “Malashree”


Amruthavarshini   is the Janya raga of 66th  Melakartha Raga , Chithrambari
This raga is considered as the Raga of Rain.It is believed that Muthuswami Deekshithar sung this Raga and made rain come,in Ettayapuram, Tamil Nadu.
Not  many  compositions are available  in this Raga.

Famous works in Amruthavarshini

Sudhamaye sudhanidhi       – Muthayya Bhagavathar
Saraseeruvinayane              – Thyagaraja swamikal
Anandamruthakarshini       – Muthu swami deekshithar

Amruthavarshini (Kannada: ಅಮೃತ ವರ್ಷಿಣಿ, Hindi: अमृत वर्षिणी )

Amritavarshini is a rāgam in Carnatic music (musical scale of South Indian classical music). It is an audava rāgam (or owdava rāgam, meaning pentatonic scale). It is a janya rāgam (derived scale), as it does not have all the seven swaras (musical notes).

It is a common pentatonic scale of Carnatic music and is believed to produce rain. It is said that the Carnatic composer Muthuswami Dikshitar brought rain at Ettayapuram, Tamil Nadu, India by singing his composition Aanandaamrutakarshini Amruthavarshini

Amritavarshini is a rāgam that does not contain rishabham  or dhaivatam. It is a symmetric pentatonic scale (audava-audava  ragam[1][2]  in Carnatic music classification – audava meaning ‘of 5’). Its āroha- avaroha structure (ascending and descending scale) is as follows

āroha    : S G3 M2 P N3 S
avaroha : S N3 P M2 G3 S

The notes used in this scale are shadjam, antara gandharam, prati madhyamam, panchamam, kakali nishādham)

Amritavarshini is considered a janya rāgam of Chitrambari, the 66th Melakarta rāgam, though it can be derived from other melakarta rāgams, Kalyani, Gamanashrama or Vishwambari, by dropping both rishabham and dhaivatam.

There is another scale that has the same name but is less practiced in current performances. This scale is associated with the 39th melakarta Jhalavarali

Graha bhēdham

Amritavarshini’s notes when shifted using Graha bhedam, yields 1 popular pentatonic rāgam, Karnataka Shuddha Saveri. Graha bhedam is the step taken in keeping the relative note frequencies same, while shifting the shadjam to the next note in the rāgam. For more details and illustration of this concept refer Graha bhedam on Amritavarshini

Technical Notes :

From List of Carnatic Ragas

66 | chithrAmbari
amRuthavarshiNi      |66| S G3 M2 P N3 S          | S N3 P M2 G3 S

(Courtesy open source documents)



Chitti Babu Veena

Chitti Babu Veena

Chitti Babu (1936-1996)

Chitti Babu (1936-1996) was one of the most famous Veena artistes of India, who had carved his place amongst the all-time greats who played that instrument. A man who became a Legend in his own Lifetime, his name was synonymous with the instrument “Veena”, and he was and is still known in the Carnatic music world, quite simply as “Veena” Chitti Babu. While continuing with the principles of his Guru’s pioneering school – the Emani “Bani” (tradition/style), Chitti Babu, created and evolved a distinctive style and identity, entirely his own. The exquisite tonal quality and versatility that have been his magical hallmarks of his style of playing the Veena, saw him produce sounds as varied as the majestic Vedic Hymns or as delicate as the Cuckoo’s voice or even play many western-music based compositions of his own. He was known to reproduce the songs and compositions in an almost vocal like tonal quality on his Veena, and was also known to evoke deeply emotional and appreciative responses from his audiences.

His music could impress the connoisseurs and invoke the interest and curiosity of the youngsters as well, that always ensured that his concerts were a big draw in terms of audience.

His albums sold like hot cakes during his time, and still continue to do brisk business in this genre of music

He had traveled extensively across India and also to USA, Europe, Australia, Middle East and Asia Pacific and had performed to jam packed auditoriums for nearly 5 decades, transcending many barriers and taking his music and along with it, a part of India’s rich cultural heritage across the world.

Groomed in the Emani tradition, by his Guru, Emani Sankara Sastry, Chitti Babu soon created and evolved a style that was distinctly his own.

Whether it was in the nature of his plucking the strings or the varied patterns that he could evoke on the stringed instrument, he had a “unique touch” that was his hallmark, making fans instantly recognize it as his very own special gift to the world.

Stressing on melody and Bhava (emotion) above all else, Chitti Babu aimed to touch people’s hearts through a style of playing that never failed to strike its mark.

Like other instrumentalists, he too never enjoyed the advantage of moving an audience through the power of the lyrics of the song. He had to win them over with nothing but the sheer melodious rendering of the song and raga.

He believed in playing in such a manner as to convey the true meaning and essence of the song and its Bhava (emotion).

Whether he played a composition extolling the virtues of love, compassion, tranquility, heroism, sadness, or Bhakti (Devotion), the most telling and fulfilling aspects of his performances were visible when fans used to spontaneously come and compliment/embrace him for the way in which his music touched them deeply.


Early Childhood

1936-1948 – in Pithapuram/Kakinada, AP

Chitti Babu Challapally was born on October 13th, 1936, in Kakinada, Andhra Pradesh, India, to music-loving parents, Ranga Rao Challapally and Sundaramma Challapally, who named him Hanumanlu, when he was born

Chitti Babu was his nick name at home, which came to stay eventually, after his father formally changed it to be so. He was a child prodigy who started playing Veena at the tender age of 5.

He had a providential beginning, when at that tender age, he corrected his father playing the Veena and the stunned father spontaneously decided to let go of his own practice and chose to focus on getting his son started on the Veena and nurture the child’s inherently prodigious talent.  He had his basic training very early from Shri. Pandravada Upmakaya and Shri. Eyyuni Appalacharyulu, both whom recognized the boy’s genius very early, and strongly urged Ranga Rao to encourage his son in pursuing the art.

He gave his first performance at the age of 12.

Initially named Hanumanlu Challapally
Nickname at home – Chitti Babu, and this came to stay
Later, formally changed by his father to be Chitti Babu

Started playing the Veena at age 5
Gave his first full fledged concert at the age of 12
Moved to Chennai in 1948

1948-1962 – Chennai, Tamil Nadu

In 1948, they moved to Madras (now Chennai) primarily because they got the opportunity for Chitti Babu to act in a Telugu movie “Laila- Majnu” as a child artiste. However, Chitti Babu even as a child of 12, was very focused and determined on becoming a musician, after the movie assignment. He was inspired by the original style of another renowned Veena maestro Emani Sankara Sastry (1922-1987) and was under his tutelage, learning all the nuances and honing his skills.

Like any struggling artiste of that era, it was also difficult for him to get the first major breaks as a performing artiste and more so as a teenager. So, he had a significant stint in film music from 1948-1962, when he worked in the South Indian Film Industry as a recording artiste, playing Veena for background scores in movie soundtracks under the batons of many eminent music directors of the time.

However, the burning ambition inside him to break away and establish himself as an independent, freelancing performing artiste made him declare at a very young age – “Veena is my Mission in Life”.



The Guru of Chitti Babu

Guru – “Maha Mahopadhyaya” Dr. Emani Sankara Sastry

Emani Sankara Sastry (1922-1987) was born in Draksharamam village of East Godavari district and he was the son of Emani Achuta Rama Sastry, himself a famed Vainika (Veena Artiste) of that era.
Trained in the steepest and best of traditions by his father, Emani Sankara Sastry was an open-minded experimenter, and also evolved contemporary themes, to give Veena the element of modernity that it was perhaps lacking at the time.
He graduated from Andhra University and moved to Madras (now chennai) and joined Gemini Studios as a Music director for almost a decade.
In 1959, he joined All India Radio (AIR) as producer of Music and also rose to the position of Director and composer of the National Orchestra there.
He was also a performing artiste who had toured all over India and abroad and had concert tours in Europe, USA and Asia Pacific region as well
In addition to his roles as a performing artiste, and his responsibilities in AIR, he was also an accomplished teacher, inspiring many to rise to greater heights in their pursuit of art
Chitti Babu is his most famous disciple and it was a celebrated “Guru-Shishya (Disciple)” that both cherished a lot through out their lifetimes.
Shortly before passing away in December of 1987, one of the last functions that Emani Sankara Sastry attended was in Guntur, where in he was felicitated by his most prodigious disciple Chitti Babu at a public function in his honor. It was perhaps a providential last tribute to a very accomplished life.

(Courtesy of Mr. Rangasayee (Sayee) Challapally – the eldest son of Dr. Chitti Babu)