Bharatnatyam exponent and musicologist Vidya Bhavani Suresh describes Raga Karnataka Suddha Saveri as one of the rare ragas in Carnatic music. In her book ‘50 Rare Ragas of Carnatic Music- Ragas Down The Memory Lane,’ she has included this raga as “uniquely soulful and haunting that creates a mood of stillness and tranquility.”
In this video, acclaimed saraswati veena exponent Jayanthi Kumaresh captures the enchanting soul of this raga in a brief but profound alapana and tanam on her unamplified veena. Within the first few strokes, Kumaresh underscores the wistful bearings of the raga against its radiant hues with the deep, baritone and rounded alto tones of her instrument. Contrasting the harmonies against each other, she sets the phrases, transcending gently to the tanam that is laid out on a linear pulse in groovy rhythmic clusters.
In contrast to this version, Jayanthi Kumaresh’s gently electrified veena, which she uses in live concerts on stage, produces a strikingly guitaristic tone, igniting Carnatic classical melodies with sweeping bends.
She started playing aged three, and learned under her mother Lalgudi Rajalakshmi, before leaving home aged 13 to study with her aunt Padmavathy Ananthagopalan. She also received instruction from her great-uncle, violinist Lalgudi Jayaraman, and noted veenai S Balachander. A few years later she became one of the youngest artists to receive an All India Radio ‘A’ grading, earned a doctorate in veena history, and founded the Indian National Orchestra, uniting musicians from India’s classical traditions in a large ensemble. On recent recordings she has experimented with recording seven layers of veena on top of each other, and continues to write for dance and film.
Raga Karnataka Suddha Saveri is known a Suddha Saveri in the Muthuswamy Dikshitar school. However, both the ragas use different notes and bear different emotional colours. It is a symmetric raga that omits gandhara or nisadha. Its arohana and avarohana are as follows:
S R₁ M₁ P D₁ Ṡ
Ṡ D₁ P M₁ R₁ S
This raga uses shadja, shuddha rishabha, shuddha madhyama, panchama and shuddha dhaivatha in the scale. It is derived from Kanakangi, the 1st Melakarta raga, although, by dropping gandhara and nisadha, it can be derived from 8 other melakarta ragas.
Jayanthi Kumaresh (veena)
Alapana and Tanam in Raga Karnataka Suddha Saveri
Filmed and recorded live in Bangalore, India.