rAga mAlika, literally a garland of rAgas, is a very popular form of composition in Carnatic music. These are delightful compositions, where the various segments are set to different rAgas, with a smooth and melodious flow of music during the transition from one rAga to the next. The choice of rAgas, as well as the order in which they appear in a rAga mAlika, are based solely on aesthetic considerations. The main point is that a feeling of abruptness or a gap should be avoided when shifting between rAgas and the flow of music should be very smooth. Also, closely allied rAgas do not generally appear in the same composition. Ideally, consecutive rAgas should possess distinct melodic character.
In medieval period, this musical form was known as rAga kadambakam, kadamba being a garland of different flowers. rAga mAlikas have been employed not only in strict kriti formats, but they also appear in numerous other types of compositions, including Varnams, Swarajatis, Jatiswarams, Slokas, Viruttams, Tillanas and the concluding Mangalam pieces.
Listen to compositions in rAga mAlika rendered by Dhanya Subramanian on this site:
vandE mAtaram – Subramanya Bharathi
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