Commenced in January 2007
Frequency: Monthly
Edition: International
Paper Count: 32451
Carnatic Music Ragas and Their Role in Music Therapy

Authors: Raghavi Janaswamy, Saraswathi K. Vasudev


Raga, as the soul and base, is a distinctive musical entity, in the music system, with unique structure on its construction of srutis (musical sounds) and application. One of the essential components of the music system is the ‘tala’ that defines the rhythm of a song. There are seven basic swaras (notes) Sa, Ri, Ga, Ma, Pa, Da and Ni in the carnatic music system that are analogous to the C, D, E, F, G, A and B of the western system. The carnatic music further builds on conscious use of microtones, gamakams (oscillation) and rendering styles. It has basic 72 ragas known as melakarta ragas, and a plethora of ragas have been developed from them with permutations and combinations of the basic swaras. Among them, some ragas derived from a same melakarta raga are distinctly different from each other and could evoke a profound difference in the raga bhava (emotion) during rendering. Although these could bear similar arohana and avarohana swaras, their quintessential differences in the gamakas usage and srutis present therein offer varied melodic feelings; variations in the intonation and stress given to certain swara phrases are the root causes. This article enlightens a group of such allied ragas (AR) from the perspectives of their schema and raga alapana (improvisation), ranjaka prayogas (signature phrases), differences in rendering tempo, gamakas and delicate srutis along with the range of sancharas (musical phrases). The intricate differences on the sruti frequencies and use of AR in composing kritis (musical compositions) toward emotive accomplishments such as mood of valor, kindness, love, humor, anger, mercy to name few, have also been explored. A brief review on the existing scientific research on the music therapy on some of the Carnatic ragas is presented. Studying and comprehending the AR, indeed, enable the music aspirants to gain a thorough knowledge on the subtle nuances among the ragas. Such knowledge helps leave a long-lasting melodic impression on the listeners and enable further research on the music therapy.

Keywords: Carnatic music, Allied rags, Raga analysis, Music therapy.

Procedia APA BibTeX Chicago EndNote Harvard JSON MLA RIS XML ISO 690 PDF Downloads 1279


[1] Y. P. Pingle, and A. Bhagwat, “Music Therapy and Data Mining Using Indian Ragas as a Supplementary Medicine,” in Int. Conf. Computing for Sustainable Global Development (indiacom), pp. 11-13, Mar. 2015.
[2] S. Prajnananda, “A History of Indian Music”, Ramakrishna Venanta Math, India, 1963.
[5] R. Fang, S. Ye, J. Huangfu, and D. P. Calimag, “Music therapy is a potential intervention for cognition of Alzheimer’s disease: A mini-review,” Transl. Neurodegener., vol. 6, pp. 1 - 8, Jan. 2017.
[6] M. Yang, H. He., M. Duan, X. Chen, X. Chang, Y. Lao, J. Li, T. Liu, C. Luo, and D. Yao. “The effects of music intervention on functional connectivity strength of the brain in Schizophrenia”, Neural Plasticity, vol. 2018, article ID 2821832, 10 pages, May 2018.
[7] A. K. Santhosh, M. Sangilirajan, N. Nizar, R. Radhamani, D. Kumar, S. Bodda, S. Diwakar, “Computational exploration of neural dynamics underlying music cures among trained and amateur subjects”, Procedia Comp. Sci., vol. 171, pp. 1839-1847, 2018.
[8] J. Satheeshkumar, S. Arumugaperumal, R. Rajesh, and C. Kesavadas, “Does brain react on Indian music? - A functional magnetic resonance imaging study”, 2008 IEEE International Joint Conference on Neural Networks (IEEE World Congress on Computational Intelligence), pp. 2696-2702, 2008.
[9] A. Tandle, N. Jog, A. Dharmadhikari, and S. Jaiswal, “Estimation of valence of emotion from musically stimulated EEG using frontal theta asymmetry”, in 2016 12th Int. Conf. on Natural Computation, Fuzzy Systems and Knowledge Discovery (ICNC-FSKD), Changsha, pp. 63-68, 2016.
[10] M. A. Rajalakshmi, “Dikshitar's music and neurodevelopment”, Int. J. Public Mental Health Neurosci., vol. 4, Dec. 2017.
[11] K. U. Kunikullaya, J. Goturu, V. Muradi, P. A. Hukkeri, R. Kunnavil, V. Doreswamy, V. S. Prakash, and N. S. Murthy, “Music versus lifestyle on the autonomic nervous system of prehypertensives and hypertensives--a randomized control trial”, Complement. Ther. Med., vol. 23, pp. 733-740, Oct. 2015.
[12] P. Bharathi, K. Jaiganesh, R. Sobana, and S. Parthasarathy, “Effect of Indian Raga Bageshri on the body temperature of cancer patients on chemotherapy”, Int. J. Cur. Sci. Res., vol. 2, pp. 243-245, 2012.
[13] T. S .Kumar, M. Muthuraman, and R. Krishnakumar, “Effect of the raga Ananda Bhairavi in post-operative pain relief management”, Indian J Surg., vol. 76, pp. 363-370, Oct. 2012.
[14] P. N. Juslin, and D. Vastfjall, “Emotional responses to music: The need to consider underlying mechanisms,” Behav. Brain Sci., vol. 31, pp. 559-621, Oct. 2008.
[15] J. Schulkin, and G. Raglan, “The evolution of music and human social capability”, Front. Neurosci., vol. 8, article 292, Sep. 2014.
[16] P. N. Juslin, and P. Laukka, “Expression, perception and induction of musical emotions: A review and a questionnaire study of everyday listening”, J. New Music Res., vol. 33, pp. 217-238, 2004.
[17] N. Steinbeis, and S. Koelsch, “Shared neural resources between music and language indicate semantic processing of musical tension resolution patterns”, Cereb. Cortex., vol. 18, pp. 1169-1178, 2007.
[18] P. N. Juslin, “What does music express? Basic emotions and beyond”, Front. Psychol., vol. 4, article 596, Sep. 2013.
[19] G. K. Koduri, and B. Indurkhya, “A behavioral study of emotions in South Indian Classical music and its implications in music recommendation systems”, in Proc. 2010 ACM workshop on Social, Adaptive and Personalized Multimedia Interaction and Access. pp. 55-60, Oct. 2010.