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Emotional Ragas in Carnatic Music

Updated on July 5, 2018
radhikasree profile image

Radhika is a Carnatic music singer who is pursuing her studies in music. She enjoys other classical forms of art as well.

Goddess of Carnatic Music
Goddess of Carnatic Music | Source

Ragas are melodies that have a unique musical notation in Carnatic music. The relative positions of each note design the melody or raga that can import a particular emotion or exude a specific setting. The improvisation of raga by eminent Carnatic musicians is extensively praiseworthy as it can elicit the 'miracle of Carnatic music'. Here I’m listing 5 ragas that can evoke particular emotions in the listener’s mind.

1. Saveri

Showing kindness or mercy is a graceful act of those soft-minded folk. But, is it easy to melt down the rock-hearted people? It would be a Herculean task, but some ragas of Carnatic music can handle such minds very effectively when sung melodiously. One such raga is Saveri, raga of mercy. The musical notes of this raga during oscillation and ornamentation can bring out this very emotion and can shake the stubborn minds.

The song “Muruga Muruga........” is a sterling piece in which the composer asks Lord Muruga whether his heart won’t melt at the humble call. The South Indian songbird Smt. M.S.Subbulakshmi has proved this in her sonorous voice through this song.

Muruga muruga endral

2. Kamboji

There are ragas that can best express the sense of humor too. Raga Kamboji when sung in the higher octaves can convey the feel of humor explicitly. There is a Malayalam film song “Kanakasimhasanathil kayariyirikkunnavan sunakano verum sumbhano”?, the literal meaning of which is a question asking whether the man who is sitting on the golden throne is a fool. This humorous question in the first line has been very well vocalized in raga Kamboji.

This song was auditioned by Sri K.J.Yesudas and Sri P. Jayachandran for the film Arakkallan Mukkakallan.


3. Vasantha

Imagine you’re utterly disheartened with so many sorrows and with failure seeing everywhere. Won’t you expect to get a little joy or how would you react when somewhere a door opens for you? This happiness can be best rejoiced through the raga Vasantha that means spring. This raga ushers mind in festive spirits and dispenses the extreme joy of the sprouted spring.

“Sundari sundari onnorungi vaa………” is a mind-blowing song in the raga Vasantha from the Malayalam film “Aye Auto”. The singer rejoices himself in his budded love through this raga.

Sundari sundari onnorungi vaa

4. Atana

Bravery or valor need not be a trait of everyone. But at the least, one can show off that he is also brave by singing the raga Atana. This raga can evoke valor in the audience’s minds with its characteristic bold weaves.

The raga elaboration of Atana by Sri Neyveli Santhanagopalam here emits rays of bravery that can be experienced directly.

Raga Atana

5. Vrindavana Saranga

What was your feeling when you fell in love with someone? Do you remember how you reacted to it? Raga Vrindavana Saranga can best express this feeling in the lofty of spirits. This raga is borrowed from Hindustani Classical music where it is known as Brindavani Sarang. It is related with the tones of several folk songs.

The Malayalam song “Gopike nin viral” from the film “Kattathe kilikkoodu” has got a partial touch of the raga Vrindavana Saranga. In addition to the melodious performance by the gifted singer S.Janaki, the accompanying instrumental music on ‘Veena’ also adds charm to this song.

Did you feel the emotions that these ragas evoke after listening to the songs?

See results

© 2013 Radhika Sreekanth


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    • radhikasree profile imageAUTHOR

      Radhika Sreekanth 

      7 years ago from Mumbai,India

      Thanks Ruby for your kind words. It's always a pleasure to hear that you liked our culture and you're always welcome here.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      7 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I wish more people would follow you. Your culture is so interesting. Take care..Cheers...

    • radhikasree profile imageAUTHOR

      Radhika Sreekanth 

      7 years ago from Mumbai,India

      Hi Ruby,

      Yes, the last video song is mellifluous reflecting the particular emotion of the raga Vrindavana Saranga. I'm so glad that you liked Carnatic ragas....cheers!

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      7 years ago from Southern Illinois

      It is very interesting, listening to the last video, her voice sounds so much like the instrument, she is very beautiful too. Thank you for introducing me to Ragas music. Lovely!


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