Melam Names - Historical

Venkatamakhi gave description of only 18 melams in Chathurdandiprakaasika and added one as his own creation. He left it to future musicians to develop raagams for other Melams. His melams were named after the a prominent raagam having the notes described. Melam 22 (present Kharaharapriya) was named Sriraga. Melam 28(present Harikaamboodhi) was named Kambodhi. Raagams with these names are now Janyams. Surprisingly Melam 8 (present Hanumaththodi) was named Bhoopala and in the Raaga chapter it is described as omitting ma and ni!. In the appendix to Chathurdandiprakasika published by Music Academy we find 'RagaLakshana' (without this title). This part is now ascribed to Muddhuvenkatamakhi (18th century - probably a scion of Venkatamakhi) and he gives names for all 72 melams and their Janayams. In his scheme the Mela Raagams themselves may omit notes in Aaroha or Avaroha. The list starts with 'Kanakaambari' for Melam 1. These names are used by Subbarama Dheekshithar in Sangeetha Sampradaayapradarsini (1904). Sangrahachudamani of Govinda mentions the currently used names of Melams (starting with 'Kanakaangi') and the list of RagaLakshana becomes Janyams. The Melakarthas are now 'Sampoorna'. Both the lists use 'Katapayaadi Sankhya' - system by which the number could be derived from the name. Click here for an explanation of this system.

Deekshithar's krithis use the Ragalakshana nomenclature as Raagamudhra (use of raga name in the lyric) for Raagaanga raagams (ex. Chaamaram for Shanmukhapriya - krithi 'Siddhivinaayakam')

To fit into the 'katapayaadi' system, prefixes had to be added to the then existing Melakartha raagams. Kalyaani became SaanthaKalyaani in RagaLakshana and MechaKalyaani in Sangrahachoodamani. We can guess that such raagams existed before the system. Others like Shanmukhapriya (Chaamaram in Muddhuvenkatamakhi's list) were perhaps developed after the 72 melam system. In the earlier pages where you could get the notes from the Melam number the names mentioned are from the current system (Sangrahachoodamani based).

Click here to see a complete list of Melams and notes used. Moving cursor on any line will show the Melam's name.

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