Raga Chayanat


This week’s expert Classical Singer Runki Goswami chose Raga Chayanat for today and she had this to say about it, “Every raga in Hindustani music depicts a particular or a variety of emotional experiences. Raga Chayanat is a very popular raga with an ability to change human moods and overpower the environment. Chayanat originated from the now obscure raga family Nat (special emphasis on the t) but retains its individuality by having Chaya in it. This raga is known to bring out the emotive prowess in human beings, mostly for joy and romance. Apart from the singing style of both Chaya and Nat where voice modulations are required in Pa and Re; other distinguishing features include variations in the usage of tivra Ma and shades of Bilawal and Bihag in its overall appeal and feel. When all of this comes together, it’s called Chayanat.”

History: Scriptures say that five main melodies were derived from the union of Shiva and Shakti (female energy for Lord Shiva) The ones originated from Shiva are called ragas and the ones from Shakti – Raginis – wives of Ragas. Nat family of melodies is classified as ragas. Moreover, Sangita Makaranda of Narada has a mention of two systems – the first system where major melodies are eight in number and minor melodies twenty-four totaling to thirty-two. The main melodies are Bhupali, Bhairava, Malava, Padamanjari, Sri Raga, Nata, Vangala and Vasanta, three minor melodies are ascribed to each. So, in any case, Nat is a core raga that has the ability to impact the human emotions to a great extent.

Classical Singer Runki Goswami

Nuances: It is believed that a performance of any raga at a wrong time and wrong occasion could bring disaster. Ancient musicians and theorists demarcated twenty-four hours of the day and night into eight zones or praharas – each prahara consisting of three hours. The first prahara begins at 6 AM., the time of sunrise in India. Chayanat is supposed to be sung at night – 9 PM to 12 AM. As it is usual for all Nat family ragas, Chhayanat’s poorvanga leads with a prominent Re and Ma. The uttaranga is very typical of the Chaya ang and takes off with pancham as in Pa Dha Pa Pa Sa or Pa Pa Sa. This raga has an interesting combination of shudh and tivra ma. Tivra ma is only used in combinations like Dha Ma Pa, Pa Dha Ma Pa or Ma Pa Dha Pa. Aroha is Sa Re Re Ga ma Pa Pa Dha Pa Pa Sa and avaroha is Sa Ni Dha Pa ma Ga ma Re Sa.

Raga Chayanat in Bollywood: We asked her if anything is removed or added when a Bollywood song is based on this raga. Her reply was, “Not really. Voice modulations can be incorporated based on the temperament.”

She selected these songs that represent Raga Chayanat in Bollywood:

Ek chatur naar karke singar… Padosan (1968)

Chanda re ja re ja re… Ziddi (1948)

Hum bekhudi mein tumko pukare chale gaye… Kala Pani (1958)

Rangrez apne hi rang mein… Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (2013)

Mujhse naraz ho toh… Papa Kehte Hain (1996)

Dekho jaadu bhare more nain… Aasman (1952)

Sharabi sharabi ye sawan ka mausam… Noor Jahan (1967)

Tere naina talash kare… Talash (1969)

Runki’s Take: You might see various opinions about the Thaat of the raga. Some say it’s Kalyan, some Bilawal. Majorly, it’s believed to be Thaat Kalyan because of the usage of tivra Ma.


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