Which Raga is Raa Raa – Udaya Ravichandrika or Shuddha Dhanyasi or Srothaswini?

If you are on this page, I doubt that you haven’t heard the song Raa Raa from Rajini Kanth’s Chandramukhi… unless:

1. You’re a tamilian who has tragically rebellious ideals that prevents you from keeping track of tamil songs, and would rather entertain yourself with the latest Eminem (or its rock equivalent) track.

2. You aren’t tamilian, but got attracted to this blog entry because of all the pretty sounding (or horrible sounding, depending on what sounds pretty to you) foreign words.

or 3. By some freak accident you just never got around to watching Chandramukhi, even though you’ve heard lots about Jyothika’s spooky performance.

Well, just in case you haven’t heard the song in question, here it is:

Since I saw this little disagreement on the raga of Chandramukhi’s Raa Raa… between two yahoo group members: link

Karthikeya was saying it is Shuddha Dhanyasi, and Pankaj was saying it is a transition between Sooryaa and Hindolam…

So, I looked up what others may perhaps be offering as the diagnosed raga for this song:

Ramesh does a detailed breakdown:


“This song, from Chandramukhi, is set in F minor (4 kattai). Sudhadhanyasi in F minor is F G# A# C D# F (or) Sa Ga2 Ma1 Pa Ni2 Sa, whereas the scale of this song is F G# A# C E F (or) Sa Ga2 Ma1 Pa Ni3 Sa – Just a half note difference. This scale is the same as “Sindhiya venmani” song in a Vijayakanth film. I read somewhere that this scale is the Srothaswini raga.”

Then in the second charanam, the scale is said to shift to Hindolam…

Which means that Pankaj noticed the Hindolam aspect of the song, while Karthikeya noticed the Shuddha Dhanyasi aspect…

But where is the “Sooryaa” Raga coming from?

This sort of thing, I am finding is quite common… that two people would insist that a song is two different ragas, when infact, the song has both ragas within it. “Kannodu Kanbethelam” from Jeans is a great example. It is both Shuddha Dhanyasi and Abheri. Not one, or the other, but both.

In the end, from what Ramesh is saying Raa Raa from Chandramukhi, as far as the pallavi is concerned, is more Srothaswini Raga than it is anything else.

However, we cannot stop here. We must investigate thoroughly…

If you check the forumhub on this link, someone lists Raa Raa as “Beautiful song in Surya/sallaapam (with Hindolam for happy parts)”…

But hang on… someone named Subu interjects and explains:

“This raga is NOT surya. I think the confusion is in the interpretation of where you think the “Sa” is.

The starting of the song is actually “Ni Sa Ga”, while you seem to interpret it as “Ga Ma Dha”. I would classify this raga into the pentatonic scale “sa ga ma pa ni sa” notes of gowrimanohari as the parent scale. I am not sure if there is a known classical raga for this scale, but this raga has been used by film musicians. For instance, Ilayaraja’s “vellai nilaa irandum vellai nilaa” follows the same raga.”

Ok, but don’t stop there… keep investigating… make sure…

Looking up a review of the Chandramukhi film’s music here:

The reviewer states about Raa Raa:

“Raa — Raa’’- The song is in telugu and is probably the climax song- Don’t ask me why it is in telugu- I don’t want to spoil your fun if you haven’t seen the original. In malayalam, this song was ’’oru murai vanthu’’ based on the beautiful kuntalavarali ragam. Vidyasagar has used the rare raaga Surya.”

So, it seems that looking at the song at face value, without indepth analysis, to assume it is Surya raga may be an obvious error that can be made.

So, after all that… what raga is Raa Raa? 🙂 A difficult one, definetely.

Oh, and while we are at it… so far I have come across two sources that say that “Porkalam” from film Thenali, is Raga Kedar. However, Pankaj insists it’s Shuddha Dhanyasi…

What’s going on?

Alright.. the mystery is unraveling… refined my search this time…

Philramble Wrote:

“I was entranced by one of the nice numbers in the movie’s soundtrack – Ra Ra Sarasakku Ra Ra (not surprisingly, a thinly veiled invitation to have sex, as is common in many Indian film songs) when I first heard it, in part because the name of the song became the name of a memorably bad movie quiz. Anyway, I decided to try the song out today, since I hadn’t really given it a shot since December ‘07, when I made an earnest effort to try the song out, with my limited skills at the time. I was under the impression that it was set in Hindolam with a few anyaswaras, which are common in film music. Although this impression that it was Hindolam never left me, I began to doubt myself on it. After all, the Hindolam idea was thrust on me through a discussion forum, so someone had perhaps got the better of me because of my ignorance.

What I noticed when I played the song this time around, is that the song’s notes fit neatly into a scale I had never before explored! Courtesy Ilaiyagaram and Karnatik.com, I discovered that this scale is called Srothaswini (an audava-audava scale), and it seems to be a derivative of Gowrimanohari, at first glance. Lacking a Dhaivatam and a Rishabam, it comes close to the scheme of Shuddha Dhanyasi.”

So, what I gather from all this information is this…

The charanam of Raa Raa seems to be Hindolam – that hasn’t been disputed. We’ll leave the charanam asside for now.

The pallavi and beginning of Raa Raa, when people first listen to it, can easily mistake it for Soorya raga.

However, what it seems to come down to now, is that it is infact a toss-up between Srothaswini and Shuddha Dhanyasi..

Issue is though, if I understand correctly… it is not quite Shuddha Dhanyasi…

But then comes a light at the end of the tunnel… one of the replies I recieved in solving this puzzle is that the Pillai Nila Erandum Vellai Nila (an Ilaiyaraja song from film Neengal Ketavai), is raga Udaya Ravichandrika.

If you remember Subu’s interjection:

“The starting of the song is actually “Ni Sa Ga”, while you seem to interpret it as “Ga Ma Dha”. I would classify this raga into the pentatonic scale “sa ga ma pa ni sa” notes of gowrimanohari as the parent scale. I am not sure if there is a known classical raga for this scale, but this raga has been used by film musicians. For instance, Ilayaraja’s “vellai nilaa irandum vellai nilaa” follows the same raga.”

Then suddenly on the Philramble website, I notice a response that clears everything up (or creates a bigger hole):

“It is interesting to note that Udayaravichandrika (which I have known to be another name for Shuddha Dhanyasi) was another name for Srothaswini in the Dikshitar system.”

Hmm. So Udayaravichandrika – allegedly Raa Raa’s raga, is actually another name for Shuddha Dhanyasi… which is also another name for Srothaswini…

philramble says:

“I guess this is another instance of the dissonance that various schools of carnatic music have sometimes exhibited… a little like the debate between what are Karnataka Devagandhari and Abheri.”

Which makes me curious… what exactly can they debate about where it was meant to be impeccable mathematics?

Arun replied to Phil,

“This raga (S G2 M1 P N3 S/S N3 P M1 G2 S ) is actually called udayaravichandrika per the dikshitar school and as you note, he has a composition in it. It also occurs in historical carnatic texts. Of course that name “udayaravichandrika” was also used for suddhadhanyasi in the tyagaraja school, and that sort of stuck more that people in carnatic music have almost forgotten the dikshitar’s composition and the raga – it is pretty much unheard of in the carnatic concert circles.”

In the end, the clearest answer came from Arun here:

“I think this has been discussed (more than once) elsewhere. This raga is actually called udayaravichandrika per diskhitar scheme (and early books). He has a composition in it (SrI guruguha mUrtE) – it has the raga mudra in it. Both the raga and this composition are rare in cm circles.

Of course you add on top that udayaravichandrika is also used for suddhadhanyasi per tyagaraja school and thus perhaps contributing to the eclipse of it. Although as Dr. V.V. Srivatsa ( see http://www.carnatica.net/newsletter/dha … letter.htm towards the end), apparently govindacharya whose scheme tyagaraja followed treated udayaravichandrika and suddhadhanyasi as distinct and separate. Thus the confusion about the name w.r.t tyagaraja compositions probably rose later.

This raga obviously was renamed as srotaswini by someone who wasnt aware of the original name, its documentation in history, and the dikshitar composition.

Ilayaraja likes this raga a lot. Besides the above one, the more famous song is O vasantha raja from nIngaL kETTavai. I think he also uses a shade of it in the song pADum vAnambADi (nAn pADum pADal) – albeit for part of the song, and possibly with ri thrown on descent . There is another vani jayaram song which I cant recall now.

You even have people [claiming] now that Ilayaraja discovered this raga – but to be honest this raga is almost never heard in carnatic circles. It is a forgotten one in cm that has more exposure on the film side.”

Now compare Raa Raa to two songs from the Srothaswini raga:

Film – Poonthotta Kavalkaran – Song: Sindiya Venmani.

Film – Neengal Kaettavai – Song: O Vasantha Raja.

~ by revolutionwithin on April 5, 2009.

5 Responses to “Which Raga is Raa Raa – Udaya Ravichandrika or Shuddha Dhanyasi or Srothaswini?”

  1. Hey, thanks for consolidating discussions from various sources including my blog. This helped give perspective to that discussion and discover what the raga really is.

  2. Excellent explanation by Mr.Vajrakrishna. Reaaly thanx a lot.

    Could you please tell me what is that Raaga of “Theerka Sumangali Vazhgave” from the film TheerkaSungali?

    Thanks in Advance,
    Ramani N

  3. I landed up on your blog while I was trying to google if there was any difference between shuddha dhanyasi and udayaravichandrika because a kriti in udayaravichandrika ‘Palinchu meenakshi’ rendered by Madurai Shri GS Mani (Composer: ??? Raja Bogi) that I was listening to sounded distinctly different from all other popular kritis we listen to in shuddha dhanyasi (it is available on sangeethamshare). So it is indeed different..!

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