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The Ragas of Karnatic Music

Item Code: NAL143
Author: N.S. Ramachandran
Publisher: The Trinity Music Book Publishers, Chennai
Language: English
Edition: 2003
Pages: 240
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 9.5 inch x 6.0 inch
Weight 330 gm
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Book Description
About the Author

Sri N S Ramachandran thus comes of a family distinguished in the field of Carnatic Music. At the young age of 31, Prof. Ramachandran wrote the book, Ragas of Carnatic Music, a monumentally work showing considerable research and erudition. Sir C V Raman, the eminent scientist and Noble laureate, praised him for the commendable research work in Carnatic Music. This book is available in all the major libraries of the world.

After having served as the Station Director of All India Radio (AIR) in several stations, he became the Chief Producer of Carnatic Music in the Directorate General of All India Radio, New Delhi. Later, he was also appointed as the Dean of the faculty of music in Delhi University.

During his stint in AIR, Trichy, he directed several Music Dramas which won great acclaim from the public like Nowka Charitram, Kaveri River and Laila Majnu. He also was deputed by the Union Government under the Colombo plan, to study the working of the Radio Ceylon, and advise the Ceylon Government on the planning and organisation of the Tamil programs on Ceylon Radio. He brought out revolutionary changes in the Ceylon Broadcasting system, dividing commercial broadcasts and general broadcasts separately. The local Celonese people applauded and admired his work, and the Ceylonese Government also thanked him for his expertise and valuable contribution.

He was a leading Vina vidwan who gave many concerts in AIR. He was affectionately called ganalola (one who lovers music), by music lovers of Tamilnadu. His admires included great vainikas like Vina S Balachander and Karaikudi Sambasiva lyer. As a musicologist and composer, he composed more than 200 songs in 3 languages, namely, Tamil, Telugu and Sanskrit. These were rendered by top-notch musicians like Dr. M L Vasanthakumari, M S Subbulakshmi, Maharajapuram Santanam, Semmagudi Srinivasa lyer etc. They have also been brought out in book format, in a volume called Sangeeta Pushpanjali and was acclaimed as one of the best works by musicologists, musicians and critics. The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam has adopted his Abhogi Kriti Sri Mahaganapate (Khanda Chapu), played by Namagiripettai Krishnan, during the temple’s Garuda vahana Utsavam Bhavani.

Awarda and honours sought N S Ramachandran. The Tamilnadu Government recognized his achievement awarded him the prestigious State Award, Kalaimamani in 1971. His name, along with his grandfather’s has been included in America’s popular who is who. Similarly, the sahitya Academy and Sangeet Natak Academy have released a who is who, including the names of N S Ramachandran and his grandfather along with other illustrious musicians of India.



It has been my aim in the course of this treatise to investigate the evolution and the structure of Ragas, comprised in the system of Karnatic Music, and I am proud of the privilege of having worked under Vidvan M.R.Ry. K. Varadachari Avl., one of the veteran musicians of South India, and former Lecturer in Indian Music, University of Madras. The Ragas constitute the fundamental factor which determines the character of Indian Music. It may be said that our system of Music was moulded in the past mainly in relation to the laws governing the concept of the Raga, and its future may be very largely guided by this influence.

Though the Raga is so well known in practice, its theoretical aspects seem to have been only vaguely understood, and in many cases current ideas concerning them appear to be rather confused, partly owing to the string of differences of opinion and partly to insufficient acquaintance with the available literature on the subject. The need for a close stud of the Ragas and what they stand for is therefore evident, and this work is an attempt to consider the Raga in relation to its historical background and its place in current practice, in the light of the wealth of literature preserved in palm leaves and printed books.

The historical approach to the subject needs no apology, since this sets the theme in its proper perspective for study; besides, by this means, one is enabled to unearth many ideas which have long remained forgotten but which have great practical value even today. So far as the practical aspects are concerned, the two most striking problems which call for attention at present and which have given rise to a good deal of controversy are the sancara rages in each raga. In considering these questions, I have tried to base my conclusions after a careful scrutiny of the views of the various schools of thought, and by observing how and why they differ or agree. And in the case of srutis, I have tried to make use of methods of exact measurement as far as possible. Owing to various considerations, my treatment of the subject had to be very brief but I have taken care not to omit any data or detail which might be necessary for a proper understanding of the problems discussed.

I am under a heavy debt of gratitude to the authorities of the University of Madras who kindly encouraged me, first by awarding a scholarship to work on this subject and subsequently by undertaking to publish my thesis under their auspices. I take this opportunity to express my grateful thanks to them.

I am deeply grateful to Dr. T.R. Chintamani, M.A., Ph.D., Senior Lecturer in Sanskrit, University of Madras, for the invaluable help he has rendered by correcting the proofs and taking charge of the publication through all its stages. My thanks are also due to the Madras Law Journal Press for the attractive get-up of the book.




Chapter I Introduction  1
Chapter II Srutis and Svaras  12
Chapter III The Classification of Ragas  52
Chapter IV The Structure and The Alapa of Ragas  63
Chapter V Gamakas and The Embellishment of Song  111
Chapter VI The Meaning of Ragas  159
Chapter VII The Analysis of Ragas  162


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