Yesterday I was listening to this "Suppose unnai" song from Sukran. It is a peppy song based on the Hamsadhwani scale. And it set me thinking why this scale is not used in many film songs. Hamsadhwani/Hansadhwani is a janya of Shankarabharanam.

Arohanam: S R2 G3 P N3 S
Avarohanam: S N3 P G3 R2 S

It is a very sweet and pleasant raga. Most of you would have heard of the famous "vathapi ganapathim baje" song set in this raga. However, this is not used much in film songs. I first heard about this raga from my mother while hearing the song "Let me see the love" from "Colonial Cousins" debut album. Film songs in recent times set in this scale are listed below. You may add more to the list.
  1. En manadhai kollai - Kalluri Vaasal
  2. Thee kurivi - Kangalal Keidhu Sei
  3. Vellai pookal - Kannathil Muttham Ittal
  4. Suppose unnai - Sukran
  5. Sriranga ranga - Mahanadhi (interludes and charanam)
  6. Thirakkadha poovukulley - En Swasa Kaatre (starting portions of charanam alone)
  7. Enna paatu - Oru naal oru kanavu
I could only list a handful. The chords for this raga are also very light-music friendly. Chords like C Major, G Major alone are sufficient for this scale. E minor chord can be used at times. Still not many songs are set in this scale. Other ragas like Mohanam are used more than this. Any thoughts?


  1. Ramesh, of course Hansdhwani is a beatiful raga. All the south Indian theory books say that it is a janya of Shankarabharana. That is a mathematical convenience and a musical folly. Hansdhwani is best perceived as a janya of Kalyani,if you carefully observe the nuances of the raga. Its time we recognise ragas as their aesthetic construction rather than a scalic representation.

  2. Thanks Aunty for the clarification. And yes, I need to learn and hear more to appreciate the aesthetic construction and nuances rather than following scalic representations. By the way I have a cassette called something like "Ragas - afternoon to midnight". It has 4 instrumentals of hindustani musicians. The first one is a flute recital by Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia and it is a very soothing one in Hansadhwani. This piece is an exploration of Vathapi ganapathim baje in hindustani style. It is one of my favorites.

  3. Ramesh,

    Not sure what you mean by Hamsadhwani not being used in many film songs. It used to be a favourite of Ilaiyaraja. He has tuned some great numbers. Offhand, I can think of "Mayile Mayile", "Iruvizhiyin vazhiye", "Ado Mega oorvalam".

    "Thogai Ilamayil" also had a predominant hamsadhwani feel, although Dha1 was used liberally.

    Absolutely concur with your statements of Hamsadhwani being a beutiful ragam. I must say I'm not crazy about the examples you've listed as being "good" Hamsadhwani examples.

    - ak

  4. Hi ak,

    Thanks for adding to the list. May be I am not aware of other songs. Infact I haven't heard Mayile Mayile and Iruvizhiyin vazhiye. Adho Mega oorvalam seems to be Vaasanthi, which is similar to Mohanam except that Dha1 is used instead of Dha2.

    Thogai ilamayil, which I missed, is a blend of Hamsadhwani and Lathangi I heard.

    Still I feel this raga is not used so much when compared to ragas like Mohanam. I personally prefer Hamsadhwani to Mohanam.

  5. Hi Ramesh, you may be right about Adho mega oorvalam. Let me check. (My ear is not good enough. I need either a guitar or keyboard to verify my initial impressions :-) ).

    See here for a write up and audio track of Mayile. This song is one of my all-time favorites. (http://www.dhool.com/sotd2/556.html)

    Iruvizhiyin is from the movie Siva. Can't find a link immediately.


    - ak.

  6. Hi ak, just now listened to the Mayile song. Nice soothing song in Hamsadhwani.

  7. This may sound late, but here goes. Add another exotic Hamsadhwani to your list, in Punjabi! Actually, this is from a completely unexpected quarter - I heard this fantastic track recently on the FM, but as usual, there was no announcement about the singer or the song. And I barely remembered a couple of words from the song. But with that, after a grueling 2 month search online and offline where I literally had to sing the song out of memory with na na na/ la la la, I finally came to know about the singer from a RJ here in Bangalore.

    Its the UK-based Punjabi singer Juggy D and erase whatever you may/ may not have heard about him/ from him so far. Just listen to 'Akheer'.

    Try it here.

    Trust me, you will not be disappointed, if you love Hansadhwani.


  8. Thanks for dropping by Karthik. For some reason, I am not able to listen to that song. I will listen and get back to you. By the way, I have seen your site long back. Nice investigation and listing.

  9. Anonymous10:22 PM

    The entire first album by Colonial cousins is superb. My favourites were Indian Rain, Krishna, and Parulanu Vedanu (It's gonna be alright). I have taken a liking to the fast paced "Let me see the love". I only realized it was Hamsadhwani when I played some of the alapana in it. Lovely stuff.

    Never imagined Vellai Pookkal could be in Hamsadhwani. Nice addition there. Sri ranga ranga naathanin was a lovely number in Hamsadhwani too.

    My all time Carnatic favourite in this ragam is Vande Anishamaham, followed closely by Vinayaka Ninnu Vina Brochutaku, and Vatapi Ganapathim Bhaje. :)

  10. vellai pookkal is in C# D# E F# G# B.how is it in Hamsadwani???

  11. I didn't try playing along the song, but based on the notes you have given, it might be in E major with the following notes which is in hamsadhwani

    E F# G# B D# E


  12. Anonymous5:44 PM

    hi good to see something on indian classical music..first of all thanks for your efforts.
    just woundering my wish is to play all the raagas on guitar i am a beginer in guitar and can play solo very well and need to know if you could provide some exact notes of all the Ragaas if possible or guide me to an appropriate resource if possible ...

    thanks a million..
    chetan fating

  13. Beta Ramesh
    Aasheesh (blessings)

    I read Great Sri Ramaswamy dikshitar (1735-1817)invented this Raga and his son Sri Muthuswamy Dikishtar has composed many devotional songs on this Raga.

    Pardon me if the information is wrong.

    And it is true Film Music Directors used this Raga very less.

    There is one famous old hindi Filmy melody composed in this raga sung melodiously by The Greats Lataji and Manna Deyji.

    Manna Dey & Lata - Jaa Tose Nahin Boloon Kanhaiya - Parivar.
    You can find this on youtube.

    You are doing a fantastic job.

    Wishing you success in all your endeavours
    Blessings to you my son

    Uncle - Uma Maheswar Nakka

  14. Dear Uncle,

    Thank you very much for your blessings and wishes. I listened to the song that you mentioned - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mrIvKoG9Zbk. Yes it seems to be in Hansdhwani. Nice song. The first line also reminds me of the classical song Vaatapi Ganapathim Bhaje.

  15. Hi Ramesh , I am a guitarist. I have not learnt classical music.We are playing u r Vathapi Ganapathim song for a function.Since i could not figure out the chords for this song,Can u please post the chords for E-Scale of this song.

  16. Hi Prashanth,

    I will just outline the chords that can be played for Hamsadhwani in E scale:

    E Major
    B Major
    G# minor

    The first 2 chords itself is sufficient. The 3rd chord could be used at a few places.

  17. As you have already heard Jaa Tose NAhin Bolun Kanhaiyaa, I would suggest that you may please also listen O Chaand Jahan Tu Jaaye form Film Shrada.
    In fact, out of sheer love for these two songs , I have assembled some more inputs on Raag Hamsadhawni on my blog amvaishnav.wordpress.com

    I have taken liberty to refer to your this blogpost also in that post of mine.