Recently our friend CSR, gave us some food for thought with a lateral suggestion on Raaja's application of Madhyamavathi and how in a very unique way he keeps the melody around the later half of the Raaga..That apparently happen to be just the tip of the iceberg as I seem to realize many more such unique selection of notes in Raaja's songs.

The way the song "Mayanginane solla Thayanginane" starts as "Ri Ga Ma Pa" has intrigued me long since I listened to that song. While any self-proclaimed note identifier (like me..!!) can identify this song as a Charukesi, the very first time I tried playing this in my keyboard (Probably I was 12 then and I still clearly remember the oddity of this song), I was really confronted by the unorthodox Ri ga ma pa (and why not "sa ri ga ma"!!??).. But probably my eagerness to play the tune was dominating the curiosity then..

After all these years, when I was jamming around with this song yesterday, I noticed that, that oddity is all over the song.. There is no transition called "Sa Ri Ga Ma" in this song... whatsoever... No "Sa Ri Ga Ma.." but a lot of "Ri Ga Ma Pa..." progressions. How can one explain that...? Sitting in front of the keyboard, I had these 3 feelings..

Puzzled on the reality at hand (pun intended..!!)
A bit of unease on this unorthodox pattern....
And above all thrilled ....

And after many attempts, I am able to re-affirm with feeble confidence (!!) that, there is still no "Sa Ri Ga" but only "sa ga" or "Ri Ga" progressions in this song... In other words, If there is a note after Sa in ascending order in this song, then its always Ga while on the other hand around Ri there are no restrictions and the song appears like a normal sampoorna raagam.

As I started reverse engineering with these leads, a very beautiful Vakra Raaga was unfolding in front of me... After some careful dissection, I am thinking may be I have the answer now...

This is a new Janya Raaga based out of Charukesi and I would like to define it as following :

Aarohanam : Sa Ga3 Ri2 Ga2 Ma1 Pa Dha1 Ni2 Sa
Avarohanam: Sa Ni3 Dha1 Pa Ma1 Ga3 Ri2 Sa

This structure, seems to be explaining all the oddity. Talking about the song itself, by and large it roves around the second half of the Charukesi scale, same like his Madhyamavathi applications that I mentioned earlier.. And this pattern is not just with the melody but even the interludes.. So its a complete package and it sticks to the rule from beginning to end. There are various places which clearly announces this unique prayogams of "Sa Ga Ri" and "Sa Ga Ma" (note again: there is no "sa ri ga")..

1.) Towards the ending of prelude, Suseela announces through her haunting humming the first occurrence of many such special ones to come with the notes "Sa ga ri sa, ni.. ri.. ma.. ni.. sa..."
2.) Song starting bang on "Ri Ga Ma Pa"
3.) 1st interlude: The bell + guitar theme which comes midway (after the flute) as well as repeated to finish the interlude is: "Sa ga ga.. Ga ma ma.. Ma pa pa pa" (no "Sa Ri")
4.) the stanza melody is a beauty.. Sliding down and climbing again.. just like a bouncing ball loosing its height every time.. but where ever it climbs there is no sign of "sa ri ga" as far as one could see..
5.) The Saarangi piece in the 2nd BGM is very artistically done around "Pa" and when it abruptly falls to Sa and climbs on a ascent, it goes up with some terrific gamakas, as "Sa ga ri ma ga dha pa sa ni...."

As such, the instances of ascent around the first half of the scale is limited when compared with the descending beautiful folds that dominate the song.. but where there was a strong case for ascent, Sa Ri Ga is clearly avoided and it can only be explained with an astounding Vakra raaga as specified. On a second look, actually it looks pretty impressive scale on the lines of NalinaKandhi or Anandhabhairavi, what with a very aesthetic "Sa Ga Ri Ga Ma" fold... And now in hindsight I could see many such Raaja's Charukesis with such prayogams (such as "kaadhalin Deepam Ondru", "Uyire uyrin oliye", "sakkarakkatti" etc.. ) but none with the precision pattern as in Mayanginane..

There is an unparalleled originality and ingenuity in the way of interesting patterns when it comes to Raaja's application of Swaras .. The most common mistake that people do (including me) is that, there is an overwhelming tendency to label his songs immediately after the first hearing with the (limited) Raagas that people know.. But more often that not, its something else as was this case with Rishivani. Its a pity when you try to fit something in with what you know instead of looking at what it is... The truth is that these songs are diamonds hidden in coal. As how no two diamond is the same, his songs do not want to be associated with the existing similar "popular" diamond.. Rather they needs to be assessed with a open head for what its worth.

May be this raaga is already defined in the carnatic grammar.. But as the golden rule is that one who has the gold makes the rule :-))) - with due apologies for the lack of modesty - I would like to christen this Raaga as: "Raajakesi".

I am not claiming here that Raaja might have deliberated on this tune and invented a new Raaga.. If anything by his own definition music is spontaneous.. So this composition is just like water gushing out of the spring, along with it eroding the note Ri in between Sa and ga with or without his conscience. That's all..

Or may be its absurd (especially if you are a purist) to claim this is a new raaga with such limited application of notes that runs in a song all of 4 and half minutes... but who cares.. as far as I am concerned, I feel like a distant cousin of Columbus...

While somehow I am a bit satisfied on solving a riddle that have haunted me for longtime now, I have to remind myself that, There is still probably one feeling that always supersedes the joy of (petty) Discoverers..

The one that of the Inventor.. Wonder what he feels after every such composition.. Raaja The Raaja!

With Love

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