• Raag Shankara •


Long fabled as a favourite of Lord Shiva, Shankara (‘Auspicious‘) takes its name from a famous epithet of the deity (Rajan Parrikar: “the musical embodiment of [Shiva’s] personality, comporting with all its attributes: raudra, veera, irascible, volatile, capricious…”). A pre-midnight raga, it ascends with SGPDNS, often in vakra patterns, before adding subtle touches of shuddha Re in avroh. In Tanarang‘s similarly vivid description, “You wake up from a stupor or disturbed state of mind upon hearing Shankara, a surge of life force…Veera rasa is the best expression of this raga, with raudra roop for the tandav [destruction dance] of Lord Shankara”. Somewhat like ‘Hansadhwani + Dha’, although its character differs significantly. Also refer to an AUTRIM pitch-graph, mapping the movements of an Uday Bhawalkar rendition.

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—Purbayan Chatterjee (2019)—

[motif, e.g. 5:37] SNRS N, (N)D D(S), D(SNS), DDPGP, (D)NND/S N(DP)…


• Ragmalas •

Historic miniature paintings (learn more)

“Shankara, putra of Megha: The epithet ‘Shankara’ [‘auspicious’, ‘joy-bringing’] is usually associated with Shiva, Chief of the Storm Gods. However in this case he is represented as Vishnu, the Preserver, being praised by fellow deities, including Shiva as a five-headed, ash-covered ascetic, with tiger skin dhoti, garland of skulls, and cobra necklace – with the four-faced Brahma, elephant-headed Ganesha, and Indra, Vedic King of the Gods. Interestingly, the verse does not describe him as Vishnu, but merely mentions his appearance: his splendid garment, crown, ornaments, and lotus-like eyes…” (Mughal, c.1620)


• 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: Kesari Kalyan


–Swara Geometries–

Core form: SRGPDNS
Reverse: SrgmdnS
Negative: 3-2-2-1-2-2 (=itself)
Imperfect: 1 (Ni)
Detached: none
Symmetries: mirror (mM—NS)
Murchanas: Shankara set

Quirks: ‘self-shadowing‘ (negative form=core form) • atritonal‘ (no available tritones)


–Global Translations–

Carnatic: ~Shankaramohana
Jazz: Major/Ionian (no 5th)
Pitch classes (‘fret-jumps’):

o • o • o • • o • o • o o


• Tanpura: Sa–Pa (+Ni)
• Names: Shankara, Sankara


—Bhimsen Joshi (1993)—



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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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