N Ravikiran


Compositions of
Chitravina N Ravikiran


Ravikiran is among the most inventive and prolific composers in the history of Indian culture with over 1050 compositions to his credit. He started creating music from age 2 when he discovered a new raga (Choodamani) and composed his first full piece, Karunai kondu in his own raga Samapriya at age 12. His compositions roughly include:

  • 550+ krtis, padams and javalis, devotional, folk and practice pieces (including the 108 Divya Desha and 35 Tala Sets)
  • 30+ tana/pada varnams – perhaps the maximum by a single composer
  • 40+ Tillanas – possibly the maximum by an individual composer 
  • 350+ traditional dance compositions (including minor pieces that are part of his various operas)
  • 40-50 Western symphonic, jazz and world music compositions/arrangements (the maximum by an Indian Classical composer)
  • 40-50 miscellaneous and minor creations for contemporary dance productions, TV or short Films. 

A number of his compositions have been performed by leading musicians, dancers and orchestras..  

Melodist: Ravikiran has also set to music over 1400 creations of other composers including the 1330 Tirukkurals of Tiruvalluvar, Sangam poetry, Vaishnavaite hymns of Azhwars, Tiruppuhazhs of Arunagirinathar,  of Purandara Dasa and a few contemporary composers. 

Signature: Like many traditional Carnatic composers Ravikiran signs his pieces and his signature phrase is ravi shashi. However, most of his operatic pieces will not bear this signature. There are rare instances of pieces with the word ‘Ravikiran’ incorporated in the lyrics. 



  • Is the first classical music composer to compose an entire set of 108 songs on the Divya Deshams of Vishnu
  • Is one of the select few to have composed 72 songs in each one of the 72 Melakarta Ragas.  
  • Is the only composer to have composed in each of the 35 talas of Carnatic music and the first to have composed the 72-mela ragamalika geetam.
  • Has many other unique/interesting creations such as: Pancha-raga-tala-jati-malika tillana, Pancha gati Varnam, Ashtadasha (18) Ragamalika Varnam, Dasha-Ranjani Tillana, Raga-bhasha-malika krtis, Natya-malika tillana, (for bharatanatyam, kathak and kuchipudi dance styles), Tillana in Chaturashra-Tishram and a whole piece with only descending phrases, Sada nin padame in Chakravakam.
  • Has employed interesting swaraksharas (where the word matches the solfa note) in compositions like Sariga mada nigrahamu (Hamsanandi) and Sada makhari (Abhogi).
  • Has introduced the concept of Schematic Swaraksharas in songs like Sada sadayudai (Hindolam), Sadaramutonu (Shankarabharanam), Samagana suma (Kalyani) and Sari gadamma (Keeravani).
  • Has created eulogies in honour of Buddha, Vyasa, Adi Shankara, Ramanuja, Tyagaraja, Carnatic Music Trinity, Ramana Maharshi, Swami Vivekananda, Kanchi Paramacharya, Sitar maestro Ravi Shankar, M S Subbulakshmi besides his Guru Chitravina Narasimhan and his close friend and late contemporary, Mandolin U Shrinivas.
  • Has a few rare cases of eulogies through ragas newly discovered by him such as  Narendra Modini in honour of Indian Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi and Veetavanam, in honour of the iconic Western composer, Ludwig van Beethoven. He is also one of the rare few to dedicate a new raga (Mohini) in honour of Mahatma Gandhi, besides composing a song on him.
  • Discovered several other new Indian ragas including one at age 2, which he named it Choodamani, after his mother.  He has discovered several other ragas such as Keshavapriya, Snehapriya, Katyayani, Vivahapriya, Sanjeevini, Shivamanohari, Shivanandini, Nityamangala, Ayodhyesha and Andhakarini.
  • Has set to music the entire 1330 Tirukkural verses of ancient Tamil philosopher, Tiruvalluvar in merely 16 hours in Jan 2016 besides many other creations of Azhwars, Sangam Literature, Purandara Dasa, Arunagirinathar and other classical and contemporary composers.
  • Has composed a series of songs specially intended for renditions in Weddings and auspicious occasions such as Lakshmi kalyana vaibhavam and Kolahalame.
  • Has composed Health and Wellness songs such as Anjaneya palayashumam in Sahana, Tryambakam yajamahe, inspired by the Mrtyunjaya Mantra in Deepakam, Vairi mada nashana in Dhenuka, Devi paratpari (Lalita) etc.
  • Has also composed hundreds of short (ragam-tanam) pallavis live on stage or interesting ones such as the Shata (100) Raga Malika Pallavi and numerous interesting korvais (rhythmic cadenzas) and developed original concepts like Seamless korvais
  • Ragas employed:  Ravikiran has composed major pieces in grand ragas like Shankarabharanam, Kalyani, Todi, classically evocative ragas like Yadukulakambhodhi, Sahana, Dhanyasi, Surati and Devagandhari and also in ragas such as Ranjani, Kadanakutoohalam, Bindumalini and Sindhubhairavi. 
  • Languages and style: Ravikiran has composed in five languages – Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu, Hindi and Kannada and covered a range of themes ranging from the devotional through romantic to social.  Most of Ravikiran’s compositions adhere to rules of classical Indian rhyme, but a few intentionally deviate from the conventional path. They are marked by alliteration, word play and on occasions feature raga-mudra (raga name incorporated in the lyrics). 
  • Forms: He has employed diverse forms such as varnam, krti, padam, javali, tillana, bhajans & devotionals and folk melodies (chindu). 
  • Has introduced the form Swarakrti, which features only solfa (swara) passages but with defined structure similar to krti, such as Pa da pa sa and explored meter based forms which he calls as Shiruppuhazh, in honour of Arunagirinathar, creator of Tiruppuhazh. 
  • Published works: Several of Ravikiran’s varnams have been published by Shri T K Govinda Rao in Varna Sagaram and by Shri B M Sundaram in Varna Manjari, 25 diverse compositions in Adityodayam by Savita Narasimhan and several in various online sites including  In 2009, brought out a book and a 4-volume DVD Sada Sharanam, where the composer himself teaches and renders 40 of his works.

World Music

"Ravikiran has consistently expanded on the Musical Traditions of India" -

Ravikiran is the creator of the concept, Melharmony which he first introduced to the world in Oct 2000 in a collaboration with artists of the BBC Philharmonic at the Millennium Festival in UK.  Since then, he has introduced over 100 Indian ragas to Western Classical, Jazz and Rock musicians and listeners through original melharmonic compositions. His  arrangement of the works of traditional Indian composers such as Purandara Dasa, Arunagirinathar, Tyagaraja, Oottukkadu Venkata Kavi, Muttuswami Dikshitar, Shyama Shastri, Swati Tirunal for Western Classical Symphonies, String Orchestras, Wind Bands as well as jazz & world music ensembles have enabled them to be appreciated by huge audiences of diverse cultures in major events. 


  • Is the first in the world to have composed pieces with only descending phrases in world music such as The Haunted Brook.
  • Is the first to have created an orchestral  composition traversing through the 72 principal scales (melakartas) of Carnatic, titled Climatrix Symphony. 
  • Is the first Indian to have composed Caprices for Western solo violin.
  • Has created symphonic arrangements of practice level Indian pieces (Geetams) primarily for student orchestras. 
  • Has embedded several important concepts of Indian music including korvais (melo-rhythmic cadenzas) and shruti-bhedam (modal shift of tonic) and also suggestively woven sarali, jantai and alankaras in some of his orchestral creations.  
  • Has created pieces for Western Classical, Jazz, Rock & World ensembles.

Operatic and contemporary dance creations

Ravikiran is among the most eminent composers for dance and operas today.  His total number of dance compositions (including short ones which are a part of various operas) run up to several hundreds. 

He was first commissioned to set to music the lyrics for a Kuchipudi Ramayana dance production when he was around 15.  His traditional dance operas wherein he composed the entire music and lyrics include Lakshmi Prabhavam, Savitri, Vinayaka Vaibhavam, Almighty Trinity, Ramayanam Bala Kandam, Ramayanam Yuddha Khandam, Mahabharata – Karna Shapatam, Mahabharata – Yuddha Parvam and Geetopadesham. His contemporary or multi-cultural creations include Cosmos, Translation, Pushed to the Edge and Illusion to Resolution.  His dance creations have been choreographed and presented by legends and luminaries of Indian dance including Dr Vyjayantimala Bali, Pt Birju Maharaj, Prof C V Chandrashekhar, Dr Sonal Mansingh, Dr Padma Subramaniam, Smt Vasantalakshmi & Narasimhachari, Guru Adyar Lakshmanan, Guru Rhadha, Dr Leela Samson, Kum Saswati Sen, Smt Savithri Jagannatha Rao and Guru Sanchita Bhattacharya.  

Frontline gurus and institutions from other countries who have presented his works include Dr Hema Rajagopalan, Smt Sudha Chandrashekhar, Dr Chandrabhanu, Dr Geetha Upadhyaya, Dr Lata Pada, Smt Ramya Ramnarayanan and many others from USA, Canada, Australia, UK etc.  His other dance creations include Panchakriya, Panchali Shapatam and In the Long White Moonlight. 

“Ravikiran stuck to a classical idiom coloured by inventive instrumentation.”  – The Plain Dealer, Cleveland

“Ravikiran’s compositions with strong rhythmic structures, and free form interaction with instruments is the first reason for the dancer’s expansion of the language.” – The Age, Melbourne