• Raag Saraswati •


Arising as a ‘janya’ offshoot of the Carnatic Vachaspati (the 64th melakarta scale), Saraswati is named after the four-armed Hindu goddess of music, art, and learning – also venerated in Thailand as ‘Surasawadee’, Myanmar as ‘Thurathadi’, China as ‘Biancaitian’, and Tibet as ‘Yang-Chen-Ma’ (the word derives from ‘saras+wati’: ‘she who possesses flowing water’, associated with Harappan-era worship of a long-extinct Ghaggar-Hakra River). The raga is marked by a wide aroha jump from Re to tivra Ma (although Amjad Ali Khan often ‘compresses’ this gap via a very low Ma sruti), with Ma also used as a kan between Pa and Re – and the inclusion of komal ni notably recolouring avroh motions (e.g. DSnD; MPnD; MRnDS). Some performers may emphasise the Kalyan-ang, while others look to the raga’s original Southern roots for melodic inspiration. Also see Saraswati Kedar and Saraswati Sarang – as well as Kameshwari, a prakriti creation of Ravi Shankar.

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—Shahid Parvez (2021)—

[refrain, e.g. 4:53] S(nSn)nS R, M, P(M), RSR, S, R(SRS)nS R, M(P), P(M), RSR


• More •

Histories, melodies, mythologies, etc…

—Imagery: Saraswati Pata—

“Saraswati Pata: The painting is divided in to nine parts. In the three central panels, a temple enshrining Saraswati and her vahana (the goose) is depicted. Other panels are filled with attendants, musicians, dancers, and Jain monks. Natural pigments on cloth…” (Western India, c.1475)


• 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: Kameshwari


–Swara Geometries–

Core form: SRMPDnS
Reverse: SRgmMnS
Negative: 2-2-1-1-3-3
Imperfect: 3 (Ma, Dha, ni)
Detached: 2 (Ma, ni)
Symmetries: none
Murchanas: Kameshwari set

Quirks: ‘tivra Ma, komal ni‘ (rarest pairing)


–Global Translations–

Carnatic: Saraswati
Jazz: Lydian Dominant (no 3rd)
Pitch classes (‘fret-jumps’):

o • o • • • o o • o o • o


• Tanpura: Sa–Pa (+Re)
• Names: Saraswati, Saraswati Kalyan, Saraswatee, Sarasvati


—Ghulam Mustafa Khan (1974)—



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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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