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Raagamalika

3:10 PM Posted by Vijayasri


Raagamalika, literally a garland of Ragas, is a very popular form of composition in Carnatic music.
These are delightful compositions, where the various segments are set to different Ragas, with a smooth and melodious flow of music during the transition from one Raga to the next. The choice of Ragas, as well as the order in which they appear in a Ragamalika, are based solely on aesthetic considerations. The main point is that a feeling of abruptness or a gap should be avoided when shifting between Ragas and the flow of music should be very smooth. Also, closely allied Ragas do not generally appear in the same composition. Ideally, consecutive Ragas should possess distinct melodic character.

In medieval period, this musical form was known as Raga Kadambakam, Kadamba being a garland of different flowers. Ragamalikas have been employed not only in strict kriti formats, but they also appear in numerous other types of compositions, including Varnams, Swarajatis, Jatiswarams, Slokas, Viruttams, Tillanas and the concluding Mangalam pieces.

Some popular examples of ragamalika krithis are 'Sri chakra Raja', 'Kurai Ondrum Illai'. The whole song is not based on one raagam, there are segments in these songs each set on a particular raaga.

Since Carnatic music system is a treasure-house of thousands of Ragas and hundreds of Talas, many composers have exploited this feature and have literally flooded the field with numerous Ragamalika compositions. The number of Ragas employed in any single piece can vary anywhere from two to seventy two, and sometimes more, the longest so far being 108!

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