The Chennai-based vocalist and music composer, Vijayakumar Chambath has created a new Carnatic Raga: Harshadhayini. Hailing from Chitthur in Palakkad District of the south Indian state of Kerala, Vijayakumar has more than two decades of experience in singing and is waiting for more opportunities both in terms of playback singing in the movies of Malayalam and Tamil industries as well as musical composition.
Vijayakumar has brought out many private albums to his credit. More of it later. After years’ of perseverance, in the end, Vijayakumar was able to create a unique standalone Carnatic Raga. In a free-wheeling chat with Kenath Jayashankar Menon, the singer throws more light on this new raga. Excerpts:
KJM: Can you elaborate on the new raga you have come up with and the significance of the name, Harshadhayini?
VKC: I have been doing thorough research of all 72 Melakartha Ragas and countless Janya Ragas. It was during this sojourn, I stumbled on a totally new tune and delved deep into it. With what I had come up, I did discuss it with my friend and lyricist, Dinesh Kaniyattil to discuss about the raga and the need to set in place, the Saahithya (Krithi). In fact, it was Dinesh, who is also an expatriate, living in the Middle East, who had suggested the name, Harshadhayini.
KJM: So, could you explain how you arrived at creating a new Carnatic raga, Harshadhayini?
VKC: The 72 Melakartha Ragas were formed eons of years ago. The Melakartha Ragas constitute seven swaras (Sapta Swaras). So, those ragas are well set and sort of sealed and there is no scope for forming a new raga from these ragas. Therefore, it is not possible to create either a new raga or a different raga inside the framework of these 72 Melakartha Ragas because it has reached its maximum phrases. Janya Ragas are the ones derived from the set of 72 Melakartha Ragas. These ragas are nothing but the combination and permutation of several ascending and descending notes. It is said that there are millions of such Janya Ragas. If a raga is born out of Melakartha Raga and is set in a unique and new pattern or scale, it is called the creation of a new raga. So, Harshadayini is one such creation of a new raga, which was born from the 30th Melakartha Raga: Naganandini.
It’s Ascendency (Arohanam) is like this:
N3 S R2 G3 M1 G3 M2 P , D2 N2 R2 S N3
(Kakali Nishadham, Shadjam, Chathushruthi Rishabam, Anthara Gandharam, Suddha Madhyamam, Anthara Gandharam, Prathi Madhyamam, Panchamam, Chathushruthi, Daivatham, Kaishiki Nishadam, Chathushturthi Risham, Shadjam, Kakali Nishadham).
It’s Descendency (Avarohanam) is like this:
N3 S R2 S N3 D2 P D3 N3 D3 P M1 G3 M2 R2 S N3
(Kakali Nishadham, Shadjam, Chathushruthi Rishabham, Shadjam, Kakali Nishadham, Chathushruthi Daivatham, Panchamam, Shatshruthi Daivatham, Kakali Nishadham, Shatshruthi Deivatham, Panchamam, Shudha Madhyamam, Anthara Gandharam, Prathi Madhyamam, Chathushurthi Rishabham, Shadjam, Kakali Nishadham, Prathi Madhyamam, Chathushruthi Deivatham, Kaishiki Nishadham.
These are Anyaswaras (External Swaram or Note), that is, these are the swaras which are not there in the 30th Melakartha Raga. Therefore, this is a sampoorna Vakra Raga (Swarams are said to be vakram in a rāga, if either the Ārōhanam, Avarōhanam or both, do not follow a strictly ascending or descending order. They go up and down. For instance: Two steps forward one step back. In such a rāga, these swarams should always use the same order to give the unique melody of the rāga).
So, we began creating the Kirtana/Kriti (Lyrics) in the name of Goddess Mookambika Devi. We have just completed the pallavi and the rest we are working on it. As this is a new raga and pertaining to this particular calculations, none had ever created this particular raga. You can’t find any raga remotely related to Harshadhayini in the public domain.
KJM: Also, please speak about your earlier part of training in Carnatic music?
VKC: I began learning Carnatic music at tender age itself. My father, Mathur Pattathil Parameswaran also sings well. Two of my younger brothers too sing. Initial part of my training was with the late Vaikkom Somasekharan Nair and later I honed my skills with Pallavur Gangadharan Nair. Apart from the training, more of it came from years of Sadhana (Practice), innovation, research and listening to umpteen number of ragas. Also, I learned Mridangam from my father’s nephew, MP Madhusoodhanan (Vithanassery Madhusoodhanan).
KJM: What are your achievements in the realm of music?
VKC: I have cut more than 40 musical albums in Malayalam. Another unique aspect is that I have made many of the vocalists cum music composers on their own right as singers in my albums. For instance, music maestro Sharretth. He has rendered a song in my composition that created a new record. In the song, Sangeethame Surschitha Varadaname, from the album titled: Sharathkala Sandya, none in the Malayalam music industry has ever attempted to sing breathless for 22 seconds (14 bars). The previous record is that of KJ Yesudas in the song Harimuraliravam, he has rendered non-stop for 16 seconds (11 bars). Also, other singers who have lend their voices in my albumbs include music composer M Jayachandran, Unni Menon and Gayathri Asokan. Also, I consider Sri Yesudas as my Manasa Guru and once the new raga is all set, I would love to make a presentation before him and get his blessings. I also would like to make him sing at least one song for my composition. For, I consider it as the ultimate bliss.
TIN: What are your future plans?
VC: I would like to focus more on Malayalam film industry on the aspect of musical composition, at the same time concentrate on singing in Tamil films. I am also working with Sharretth for a tough composition, hitherto never attempted by any person. Last, but not the least, is the attempt to sing 100 ragas in one go. In order to achieve that, hectic preparations are going on.