Raga Comparison - Kalyani, Hamsadhwani and Hindol


In an earlier article, we surveyed several systems of Raga classification which have been used in Indian Classical music. While these systems have their differences, the common thread in all classification systems is the concept of a parent Raga and a derivative Raga. The parent and derivative Ragas share a common tuning system and note intervals.

In this series of articles, we select some popular Ragas, analyze their scales and examine the parent-child relationship between them.


For this article, we have selected three Ragas, namely, Kalyani, Hamsadhwani and Hindol.

Raga Kalyani is a very popular Raga which is performed all over India, in various traditions, including Hindustani and Carnatic. Raga Hamsadhwani is also equally popular all throughout India. Raga Hindol is less common overall, but is performed a bit more in North India than in South India. Note that Raga Hindol should not be confused with Raga Hindolam which is another name for Raga Malkauns.

By means of this article, we will see how these Ragas relate to each other and how they can be seen to share a common tuning system.

Reference Pitch and Basic Intervals

Before we begin, let us start with the concept of the fundamental note Sa. In Indian Classical music, all musical notes are defined based on their relationship with Sa. You can use the settings below to set the Sa to any pitch you prefer. All the demos on this page would play according to this setting.

Common Parameters


Next, it is useful to familiarize ourselves with the four basic intervals of Dviguna (octave), Pancham (fifth), Madhyam (fourth) and Gandhar (major third). You can play and check these intervals using the keyboard below (just click Start to activate and tap a key to play). Here Sa denotes the fundamental and Ga, ma, Pa and SA denote the Gandhar, Madhyam, Pancham and Dviguna respectively. Note that the notes here do not match up with today's standard 12 tone equally tempered scale.

Basic Intervals
  • Sa
  • Ga
  • ma
  • Pa
  • SA

As you can hear, Pancham, Madhyam and Gandhar are pleasant sounding intervals. For the musically inclined, they may be recognisable by ear. These are the most fundamental intervals in Indian Classical music which a trained musician is expected to recognize with a fine level of precision.

Scale for Raga Kalyani

Let us start by examining some common phrases in Raga Kalyani. Here are a few fragments of phrases which are used to construct musical phrases in Raga Kalyani.

Re Ma Ga
Ga Ma Dha Pa
Ma Dha Ni Dha Pa
Ma Ni Dha Pa
Ni Re Ga Ma Pa Re Sa

Based on these phrase fragments, we can deduce the note relationships required for the phrases to sound correct and aesthetically appealing. Using the basic intervals introduced above, we can see that:

  • Re Ma Ga would sound pleasing if (Re,Ma) is an Antara Gandhar interval. Even though the Nyasa or the resting note of the phrase is Ga, the timing and the pairing of the phrase (Re,Ma) makes it important for Re and Ma to have a consonant relationship.

  • Similarly, Ga Ma Dha Pa would sound pleasing if (Ga,Dha) is a Madhyam interval. In addition, if (Ga,Pa) and (Ma,Dha) are identical intervals, it brings symmetry to the phrase.

  • If we look at two other common phrases in Kalyani Ma Ni Dha Pa and Ma Dha Ni Dha Pa, then we can see that (Ma,Ni) being a Madhyam interval and (Pa,Ni) being an Antara Gandhara interval makes the phrase aesthetically pleasing. Again, note that even though the Nyasa or the resting note of both the phrases is Pa, in the first phrase the timing of Ma Ni and in the second phrase Ni Dha Pa with Dha Alpatva requires a consonant relationship between Ma and Ni, and Pa and Ni.

It is important to note that in addition to the phrases, it is equally important to pay attention to the timing of notes in a phrase, and the usage characteristics like Alpatva, Bahutva, Hrasva or Deergha of the notes in the phrase to determine the appropriate pairings.

Using the above analysis of the phrases, the scale for Raga Kalyani can be built using the Scale Builder tool with the following inter-note relationships.

(Sa,Pa) = I(P)
(Re,Pa) = I(m)
(Re,Ma) = I(G)
(Ga,Pa) = (Ma,Dha)
(Ma,Ni) = I(m)
(Ga,Dha) = I(m)

The above relationships result in the following scale. Click Start below to expand the scale controls. Then play each note one at a time. For each note, observe how it sounds in relation to other notes in the scale.

Scale for Raga Kalyani
  • Sa
  • Re
  • Ga
  • Ma
  • Pa
  • Dha
  • Ni
  • SA

Note : Being an artistic tradition, Indian Classical music uses both objective and subjective criteria to characterize Ragas. Bearing that in mind, there is an element of subjectivity involved in the process of selecting signature phrases in a Raga and then applying the basic intervals to those phrases to make them aesthetically appealing. However, once the inter-note relationships are fixed, the scale can be objectively and mathematically derived with microtonally accurate tuning.

Drone for Raga Kalyani

Before we compare Raga Kalyani with Raga Hamsadhwani and Raga Hindol, let us start with the drone track for Raga Kalyani. Click Start below and listen to the drone track for some time.

Drone for Raga Kalyani

After you have spent some time and feel comfortable with the drone track, you can move to the subsequent sections. Let the drone track continue to play while you read and listen to the remainder of this article.

Note that the drone has been tuned to support the Kalyani scale derived above and to emphasize the associated note relationships.

Simple Phrases in Raga Kalyani

Here are some simple phrases to understand the scale and structure of Raga Kalyani.

Aarohi and Avarohi phrases for Raga Kalyani
Ni' Re Sa 2 Re Ma Ga Pa Ma Ni 2 Dha Pa Ma Dha Ni SA 2
SA Ni Dha Pa Ma Re Ga Ma Pa 2 Re Sa 2

Raga Hamsadhwani

Raga Hamsadhwani is a pentatonic Raga with the scale Sa Re Ga Pa Ni. Here we present it as a derivative of Raga Kalyani.

The important inter-note relationships in Raga Hamsadhwani are as follows:

(Sa,Pa) = I(P)
(Pa',Re) = I(P)
(Pa,Ni) = I(G)

If you observe closely, you can see that these relationships are already present among those listed for Raga Kalyani. So, by dropping Ma and Dha (which are Varjit or prohibited), we can arrive at the required scale with the required symmetry for Raga Hamsadhwani.

Many of the Kalyani phrases can directly be rendered in Raga Hamsadhwani just by dropping the Varjit notes. For example, the Kalyani phrase Ni Re Ga Ma Pa Re Sa can be rendered in Hamsadhwani as Ni Re Ga Pa Re Sa. It also has its own characteristic phrases such as Ga Re Ga Pa Ni Pa, Ga Re Ni' Pa' Re Sa, where the important intervals of (Pa,Ni) and (Pa',Re) are used prominently.

Note that some musicians and musicologists classify Raga Hamsadhwani under Raga Shankarabharanam. The scale of Raga Shankarabharanam is Sa Re Ga ma Pa Dha Ni. In general, Raga Hamsadhwani can be derived by dropping ma and Dha from Shankarabharanam.

However, the tuning of Raga Hamsadhwani presented here is closely linked with Raga Kalyani, but not related to Raga Shankarabharanam. Read the concluding remarks for a discussion on an alternative tuning for Raga Kalyani (which is more closely related to Raga Shankarabharanam).

Simple Phrases in Raga Hamsadhwani

Here are some simple phrases to understand the scale and structure of Raga Hamsadhwani.

Aarohi and Avarohi phrases for Raga Hamsadhwani
Ni' Re Ga Re Sa Re Ga Pa Ni 2 Pa Ni SA 2
SA Ni Pa Ga Pa Re Ga Sa Re Ga Re Sa 2

Raga Hindol

Raga Hindol is widely accepted to be related to Raga Kalyani. Indeed, it can be arrived at by dropping Re and Pa from Kalyani to yield the scale Sa Ga Ma Dha Ni.

Raga Hindol uses the symmetry (Ma,Dha) = (Dha,SA) and (Ma,Ni) = Madhyam interval. Again, if you observe closely, you can see that these relationships are already present in Raga Kalyani.

Some characteristic phrases of Raga Hindol using these Lakshanas would be Ma Ga Ma Dha SA and SA Ni Dha Ma.

Simple Phrases in Raga Hindol

Here are some simple phrases to understand the scale and structure of Raga Hindol.

Aarohi and Avarohi phrases for Raga Hindol
Sa Ni' Dha' Sa Ga Ma Dha Ma Dha SA 2
SA Ni Dha Ma Ga Ma Ga Sa 2

Concluding Remarks

In this article, we looked at Ragas Kalyani, Hamsadhwani and Hindol. We examined a few of their signature phrases and applied the basic intervals of Pancham, Madhyam and Antara Gandhar to tune the scale for making it aesthetically appealing. We found that the note relationships and symmetry required for Raga Hamsadhwani and Raga Hindol are present in Raga Kalyani. Thus, Raga Kalyani can be considered a parent Raga, while Raga Hamsadhwani and Raga Hindol can be considered as derivative Ragas. They share a common tuning system and some common Lakshanas. Therefore, they can be performed with the same drone tuning which supports the complete scale of Raga Kalyani.

A keen reader or listener would have observed that the position of Ga in the scale has not received much attention. In fact, Ga in this scale is actually not Antara Gandhar. You can compare the Ga in Basic Intervals to the Ga in Scale for Raga Kalyani and hear it for yourself. The reason for this is that we have chosen to treat (Re,Ma) and (Pa,Ni) as symmetrical intervals with both Ma and Ni being Antara Gandhars of Re and Pa respectively. An alternative tuning for the three Ragas is possible by treating (Sa,Ga) and (Pa,Ni) as symmetrical with Ga and Ni being Antara Gandhars of Sa and Pa respectively. We analyze this tuning in the next article

Category and Tags

Comparison of RagasComparison of RagasLakshyaLakshyaLakshanaLakshanaKalyaniKalyaniHamsadhwaniHamsadhwaniHindolHindolYamanYaman