Raga Komal Rishabh Asavari - A new identity to an old Raga

Posted on 18 May, 20204 min read

Raga Asavari is an ancient scale. It is what we call an Audav (pentatonic) - Sampoorna (literally “complete” or heptatonic) Vakra Raga (read the notes below for more information). It used to be popular until the advent of a new creation, Raga Jaunpuri which I covered earlier.

Now Raga Jaunpuri has the same scale as Raga Asavari. Over a period of time, Raga Jaunpuri became so popular that Raga Asavari had an identity crisis! Though some people believe they are both one and the same, I tend to disagree. Nevertheless, probably as a way for Raga Asavari to establish its identity again, the second note of Raga Asavari, Tivra Rishabh was flattened to a Komal Rishabh - and hence the name Komal Rishabh Asavari.

Interestingly, there is a scale called Asaveri, a thematic variation on Saveri. This Raga has the same scale as Komal Rishabh Asavari. Note that Asavari is pronounced आसाावरी (aah-saa-vuh-ree) while Asaveri is pronounced असावेरी (uh-saa-vay-ree).

Here, I present a detailed Alap in Raga Komal Rishabh Asavari consisting of three sections - Alap, Jod and Jhala. This alap performance is accompanied by a very unique drone (Tanpura) accompaniment track. This drone track is synthesized from a project called PureTones. It has been microtonally adjusted to precisely suit the scale of the Raga. It was a different and interesting experience for me. Do try and hear the difference. If it sounds interesting to you, be sure to check out PureTones. You can also hear a synthesized signature tune of Komal Rishabh Asavari which goes along with the PureTones drone track.

Program Notes

Alap in Raga Komal Rishabh Asavari

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

Here are some notes about the Raga and the Tala.

Raga - Komal Rishabh Asavari

Scale - Sa re ga ma Pa dha ni

Family - Asavari

Melakarta - Vikrit Raga of Natabhairavi (Sa Re ga ma Pa dha ni)

Prahar - 1st and 2nd prahar (equivalent to 6 AM - 12 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., Re in Natabhairavi scale above. Notes written fully in lower case are called Komal (or flat) notes. E.g., dha and ni above. Sa and Pa are always written with a capitalized first letter.

Vikrit Raga

A vikrit raga is a derived scale from a Melakarta in which a note has been modified. In this case, Tivra Rishabh of Melakarta Natabhairavi has been flattened to Komal Rishabh, hence also the name Komal Rishabh Asavari.

Vakra Raga

Even though scales in Indian Classical music are defined by a set of ascending - descending notes, sometimes, a Raga has a zig-zag melodic approach. Such Ragas are called Vakra Ragas. The scale of Raga Komal Rishabh Asavari is generally taken as Sa re ma Pa dha SA while ascending, and SA ni dha Pa ma ga re Sa while descending.


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


Sadharani Music Works - https://www.sadharani.com

The full video recording of this performance is available at https://youtu.be/ElDf4Mxs7tA.

Snippets from this performance are available at https://youtu.be/dPahp2X5VR0.

Purchase CD quality audio of the performance from https://chandraveena.bandcamp.com/album/raga-komal-rishabh-asavari.

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