Dheerasankarabharanam

Carnatic Music
Concepts

SrutiSwaraRagaTalaMelakartaAsampurna Melakarta

Compositions

VarnamKritiGeethamSwarajatiRagam Thanam Pallavi • Thillana

Instruments

melody: Vocals • Saraswati veenaVenu • Violin • Chitra veena • NadaswaramMandolin

rhythm: MridangamGhatamMorsingKanjiraThavil

drone: TamburaShruti box

Composers

List of Carnatic composers

Dheerashankarābharanam (Sanskrit: धीरशंकराभरणम्, Telugu: ధీరశంకరాభరణం, Kannada: ಧೀರಶಂಕರಾಭರಣ, Tamil: தீரசங்கராபரணம்), commonly known as Shankarābharanam, is a rāga in Carnatic music (musical scale of South Indian classical music). It is the 29th Melakarta rāga in the 72 melakarta rāga system of Carnatic music.

It is known as Bilawal in the Hindustani music system. The Western equivalent is the major scale.[1][2] Hence this rāga is one of the most popular scales across the world, known with different names in different musical styles.

Its nature is mellifluous and smooth. This rāga offers a large scope for compositions. It is ideal for a melodious, but still laid back majestic presentation.

Contents

Structure and Lakshana

Shankarābharanam scale with shadjam at C

It is the 5th rāga in the 5th chakra Bana. The mnemonic name is Bana-Ma. The mnemonic phrase is sa ri gu ma pa dhi nu.[1] Its ārohaṇa-avarohaṇa structure is as follows (see swaras in Carnatic music for details on below notation and terms):

The notes in this scale are shadjam, chathusruthi rishabham, antara gandharam, shuddha madhyamam, panchamam, chathusruthi dhaivatham and kakali nishadham. As it is a melakarta rāga, by definition it is a sampurna rāga (has all seven notes in ascending and descending scale). It is the shuddha madhyamam equivalent of 65th melakarta rāga Kalyani.

Janya rāgas

Due to the even spacing of swaras, many janya rāgas can be derived from Shankarābharanam. It is one of the melakarta rāgas that has high number of janya rāgas (derived scales) associated with it.

Many of the janya rāgas are very popular on their own, lending themselves to elaboration, interpretation and evoking different moods. Some of them are Arabhi, Ataana, Bilahari, Devagandhari, Hamsadhvani, Kadanakutoohalam, Niroshta, Shuddha Sāveri, Purnachandrika, Janaranjani, Kedaram, Kurinji, Navroj, Sarasvati-manohari, Nagadhvani etc.

See List of janya rāgas for full list of rāgas associated with Shankarabharanam.

Compositions

Shankarābharanam has been decorated with compositions by almost all composers. A few of the compositions are listed here.

  • Edhuta nilachite, Bhakti Bhikshameeyave, "Mariyada Kaadhura", Swararagasudharasa, Sundareshwaruni, Manasusvadhinamaina and Enduku peddalavale by Thyagaraja
  • Dakshinamurthe, Sadasivam Upaasmahe, Akshayalingavibho and Shri kamalamba by Muthuswami Dikshitar
  • Pogadirelo Ranga by Purandara Dasa
  • Sarojadala netri and Devi Meenanethri by Syama Sastri
  • Chalamela (Ata tala varnam) by Swathi Thirunal maharaja
  • Alarulu Kuriyaga Adenade by Annamacharya

Muthuswami Dikshitar also has a list of 22 "nottusvara" compositions, based on Western Major Scale notes to his credit.

Related rāgas

This section covers the theoretical and scientific aspect of this rāga.

Shankarābharanam's notes when shifted using Graha bedham, yields 5 other major Melakarta rāgas, namely, Kalyani, Hanumatodi, Natabhairavi, Kharaharapriya and Harikambhoji. Graha bedham is the step taken in keeping the relative note frequencies same, while shifting the shadjam to the next note in the rāga. Refer table below for illustration of this concept.

Rāga Mela # C D E F G A B C D E F G A B C
Shankarābharanam 29 S R2 G3 M1 P D2 N3 S' R2' G3' M1' P' D2' N3' S' '
Kharaharapriya 22 S R2 G2 M1 P D2 N2 S'
Hanumatodi 08 S R1 G2 M1 P D1 N2 S'
Kalyani 65 S R2 G3 M2 P D2 N2 S'
Harikambhoji 28 S R2 G3 M1 P D2 N2 S'
Natabhairavi 20 S R2 G2 M1 P D1 N2 S'
Invalid Melakarta -- S R1 G2 M1 M2 D1 N2 S'
Shankarābharanam 29 S R2 G3 M1 P D2 N3 S'

Notes on above table

C as the base for Shankarābharanam is chosen for above illustration only for convenience, as Carnatic music does not enforce strict frequency/note structure. The shadjam (S) is fixed by the artist as per the vocal range or the instrument's base frequency. All the other swarams are relative to this shadjam, falling into a geometric progression-like frequency pattern.

The 7th graha bedham of Shankarābharanam has both madhyamams (Ma) and no panchamam (Pa) and hence will not be considered a valid melakarta (rāga having all 7 swarams and only 1 of each). This is only a classification issue with respect to melakarta scales, while this structure could be theoretically used well to create good music (probably needs an expert).

Interesting features

The swaras are regularly spaced in these ragas. Hence these six ragas give very good melody, scope for elaboration, experimentation and exploration of phrases. In practice, Natabhairavi is not elaborated extensively much. Harikambhoji is taken up for elaboration, but not as much as the rest of the 4 ragas, namely, Shankarābharanam, Todi, Kalyani and Kharaharapriya. One of these 4 rāgas is sung as the main rāga in a concert quite often.

As can be seen in the illustration, these rāgas can be played using just the white keys of a piano/ organ/ keyboard (rāga in simplified fashion).

References

  1. ^ a b Ragas in Carnatic music by Dr. S. Bhagyalekshmy, Pub. 1990, CBH Publications
  2. ^ Raganidhi by P. Subba Rao, Pub. 1964, The Music Academy of Madras

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