Raga Hamsadhwani - Raga of the North and South

Posted on 17 April, 20223 min read

Raga Hamsadhwani is a very popular Raga played extensively in both North and South India. You may have heard the popular Kriti (lyrical composition) in Raga Hamsadhwani - Vatapi Ganapatim Bhaje, and many tunes based on the melody of this composition. This composition was created by a well known musician composer Shri Muthuswami Dikshitar. It is widely believed that Raga Hamasadhwani was created by his musician father - Shri Ramaswami Dikshitar in the 18th century.

I played brief pieces in this beautiful Raga to narrate the Story of Chandraveena, my instrument, and to compare it musically to the traditional instrument, Saraswati Veena. Do check out those recordings, if you have not seen them yet.

Here I present a extensive Raga Alapana in Raga Hamsadhwani. This consists of three parts, Alap, Jod and Jhala also known as Ragam - Tanam.

A point to note: Raga Hamsadhwani can be classified as a Janya (derivative Raga) of Melakarta Shankarabharanam (Sa Re Ga ma Pa Dha Ni) by dropping ma and Dha, or as a Janya of Mechakalyani (Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni) by dropping Ma and Dha. A detailed analysis of this Janaka - Janya (parent - derivative) relationship for Raga Hamsadhwani will be published in a future article via PureTones. Stay tuned!

Program Notes

Raga Alapana in Hamsadhwani

Raga Alapana is an improvisation and a systematic presentation of a Raga. This part has no rhythmic accompaniment. It has three parts - Alap, Jod and Jhala. This format is also known as Ragam and Tanam.

Here are some notes about the Raga.

Raga - Hamsadhwani

Scale - Sa Re Ga Pa Ni

Family - Kalyani (Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni)

Melakarta - Mechakalyani (Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni)

Prahar - 5th Prahar (6 pm - 9 pm)

Reading the scale

In Indian Classical Music, the seven notes in an octave are called Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni and then Sa comes again. Notes with a capitalised first letter are called Tivra (or sharp) notes. E.g., Ga and Ni above. Notes written fully in lower case are called Komal (or flat) notes. There are no Komal or Flat notes in this Raga. Sa and Pa are always written with a capitalized first letter.


In Indian Classical Music, Ragas are classified into Prahars (time periods of a day or night) which are said to represent the most appropriate time to perform the Raga.



Chandraveena - S Balachander


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