• Raag Malayalam •


A barely-documented morning raga created by Ali Akbar Khan sometime around the 1970s – named in honour of his mother (‘Malaya’) and father (‘Alam’: also the name of Khan’s son, born in 1982) [n.b. the Tamil-derived Dravidian language family of the same title is of a separate etymology, derived from ‘mala+alam’: ‘the land near the mountains’]. Prakriti with Charukeshi in its basic form (compare and contrast with Khan’s renditions of this raga), Malayalam also draws from Megh, Asavari, Tilang, and Kukubh Bilawal – with a relatively sparse melodic character predominantly focused on exploring the mid-scale GmPd space. Thus far, I can’t trace any recordings aside from the 1977 album by its creator, and a scratchy but powerful rendition from an Alauddin Khan memorial concert held circa 1986 (as ‘Malayalam Smurti‘). Compare to other Khansaab ragas including Chandranandan, Gaurimanjari, Prabhakali, Medhavi, and Suha Todi.

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—Ali Akbar Khan (1977)—

[refrain, e.g. 20:15] G G, n\dPmP, (G)m, (mPG)m, G, GG G\R, S n\d…


• Classifiers •

Explore hidden inter-raga connections: swara geometries, melodic features, murchana sets, ragangas, & more (also see the Full Tag List):

Swaras: -4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10+

Sapta: Audav | Shadav | Sampurna

Poorvang: SRGM | SRG | SRM | SGM

Uttarang: PDNS | PDS | PNS | DNS

Varjit: Re | Ga | Ma | Pa | Dha | Ni

Double: rR | gG | mM | dD | nN

Thaat: 10 | 32Enclosed | Inexact

Chal: All-shuddha | All-komal | Ma-tivra

Gaps: Anh. | Hemi. | 3-row | 4-row | 5-row

Symmetries: Mirror | Rotation | Palindr.

Aroha: Audav | Shadav | Sampurna

Avroh: Audav | Shadav | Sampurna

Jati: Equal | Balanced | Av.+1 | Av.+2

Samay: Morning | Aftern. | Eve. | Night

Murchana: Bhup. | Bihag | Bilaw. | Charu.

Raganga: Bhairav | Malhar | Kan. | Todi

Construction: Jod | Mishra | Oddball

Origin: Ancient | Carnatic | Modern

Dominance: Poorvang | Uttarang

Prevalence: A-list | Prachalit | Aprach.


• Prakriti: Thaat #27, Charukeshi


–Swara Geometries–

Core form: SRGmPdnS
Reverse: SRGmPdnS (=itself)
Negative: 2-2-3-3-2 (e.g. Tivrakauns)
Imperfect: 3 (Re, Ga, dha)
Detached: 2 (Ga, dha)
Symmetries: mirror (S—M)
Murchanas: Charukeshi set

Quirks: ‘palindromic‘ (same intervals forwards & backwards) • maximal‘ (swaras are optimally ‘spread out’)


–Global Translations–

Carnatic: ~Charukeshi
Jazz: Major-Minor
Pitch classes (‘fret-jumps’):

o • o • o o • o o • o • o


• Tanpura: Sa–Pa (+Ga)
• Names: Malayalam, Malayalama


—Ali Akbar Khan (1977)—



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George Howlett is a London-based musician, writer, and teacher (guitars, sitar, tabla, & santoor). Above all I seek to enthuse fellow sonic searchers, interconnecting fresh vibrations with the voices, cultures, and passions behind them. See Homepage for more, and hit me up for Lessons!

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