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Kanakangi | Melakarta 1 | Research and composition


I thought I’ll share some insights into something new I’m working on. World fusion with Carnatic music. This constitutes the research part of my recent composition “Kanakangi- The origin of Raamamaatya.”

Carnatic music has 72 Melakarta raagas divided into 6 chakras. I studied, analyzed, and then composed something very contemporary. Safe to say, never heard before? I don't know. Help me there.

Here is the track I composed:-https://youtu.be/MdcSMxmryE8 Here are some insights into the research:-

Raag: Kanakangi Melakarta 1 Chakra: Indu

Katapayadi Sankya yields

Step 1: Find the number of the Melakarta from the name     Ka-na-kangi = ka-nya = 10 = 01 (Reverse the order)

Step 2: Position of Ma     If the Melakarta number is between 1 and 36, choose M1     If the Melakarta number is between 37and 72, choose M2     Kanakangi: M1

Step 3: Position of Re, Ga, Dha, Ni     Subtract 1 from the Melakarta number 1-1=00     Divide this number by six. 00/6= 00     Quotient is 0, hence choose R1 and G1     Reminder is 0, hence choose D1 and N1 Aarohanam     : S R1 G1 M1 P D1 N1 S Avarohanam     : S N1 D1 P M1 G1 R1 S

Step 4: Westernize the findings The western equivalent of the scale is 1 b2 bb3 4 5 b6 bb7 1. Assuming the tonic to be C.

C Db Ebb F G Ab Bbb C (Or simply, C C# D F G G# A C).

When we look at the playability, there's a very bluesy feel to it because of the two chromatic phrasings we notice on C C# D and G G# A. Strong presence of tritones (a 6 semitone interval) at C# - G and D - G# makes the melodic playing rather exotic and unstable if necessary.

Mood wise, there's really various ways we can go with this. If we choose to use the chromatic phrasing, it could get very serious evoking a sense of loss and frustration. I was able to, in my view, evoke movements of extreme reflection and guilt in the first half of the main melody.

If we ignore the non-natural keys entirely, we have the Dm/F pentatonic scale. We can get as happy as happy can get with this scale. I chose to play around with a time signature of 7/8, trying to be playful and at peace.


My tonics revolve around C and F due to their interdepended dominant-subdominant relation. I’ve chosen to ignore the ‘Dm’ sentiment through this piece. Save it for later maybe? What I present to you here is only 10% of my research into this Raag from a western music viewpoint. The rest, I'm preserving for my thesis, but open to all my students to refer and use.

It was a great experience using every sort of analysis I've learnt, discovered and authored over the years to discover the marvels of this Raag. If there's something you would like to suggest/contribute/criticize, please send an email to rahulraghavan8646@gmail.com

If the theory does not interest you, just enjoy the music. Ultimately that’s what music is meant to be. I always complicate my existence. There are 72 Melakartas and god knows how many Raags. This will keep me busy for a while I guess. Take care, people.

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