UNDERSTANDING KARNATIK CLASSICAL MUSIC
This Compilation Document
Shakuntala, Anindita, Tina, Abhishek, Pradipta
My Other Family Members,
All Classical Music Lovers
LATE NOBEL LAURATE RABINDRANATH TAGORE AT HIS
150TH BIRTH ANNIVERSARY YEAR
Earlier I published 2(two) compendiums-UNDERSTANDING INDIAN CLASSICAL MUSIC and MUSIC
THERAPY—in the web.Those two documents gave me inspiration and daring courage to compile
this volume on Karnatik Classical Music.This document does not need any introduction.This is itself a
self explanatory and a compilation document on Karnatik Classical Music & Tala.Many of my
friends and relatives asked me why I am compiling this document with so much of strain and pain
at this age.I am running 63(sixty three) years.I am also engaged in my Engineering Consultancy
work & that is why this work is delayed.I am collecting the materials for more than last 20 to 25 years
or may be more,I don’t remember.My personal feeling is that it may not be mandatory for anyone
of any profession,that he or she must be a renowned person or a performer of the classical music
and belong to the same community.He or she may be a good& avid
listener,learner,reader,collector&so on.He or she may understand the music in his/her own way of
learning,grasping,updating self,diligent reading,listening to great maestros etc. I took up this work
in the same light.After scruitinising a number of course study materials,I observed that the published
books cover mainly the college and university syllabus,which contain a few common
ragas,raginis& even talas& those are not always very illustrative and complete in nature.All are
lying scattered through in a number of literatures& even in the form of manuscripts.I had to search
extensively in libraries,acquaintances,websites of Indian and foreign origins.I also travelled
extensively across the length&breadth of Indian territory and met many not so famous musical
personalities.I have no hesitation to express the amount of help and inputs I received from these
gentlemen/ladies in the southern part of India & without their help and cooperation,this
compendium would have been incomplete.My sincere thanks to them.I have enlarged my
collection with the assistance from my European and American friends. Also,it is very difficult to get
hold of the renowned people in the community due to their commitments&paucity of time,to get
some of my queries answered.I could not.Everything,I had to find out of my own interest.While
carrying with the work,my personal experience is that though Indian performers are the best in the
world for Indian classical music,the research work carried out and the data& information
maintained for Indian classical music, remains far better,accessible&scientific in the foreign
countries than that in India.
Still,one question remains—Why I took up this task?
A bit of explanation and background is necessary,I feel.
I am extremely fortunate and blessed for being born in a joint family full of musical talents.Revered
Late Nikunja Behari Dutta of Baje Shibpur,Howrah,West Bengal, India,was a renowned Classical&
Tappa singer in his time.It was said that he could play all the instruments related to Indian classical
music.His name was associated with respected late Kalipada Pathak,the great Bangla tappa
singer. He was the uncle of my late father-Prabhakar Dutta.Revered Late Baroda Kanta Dutta of
our family was also a renowned Pakhwaji during his time.He was also another uncle of my
father.My grand father,revered late Manmatha Nath Dutta,was having very sweet voice and
under training with his brothers,he sang a few very good songs.He died at a very early age & my
father had to stay with his maternal uncles Boses at Jhamapukur area.There my father learnt
classical vocal as a pupil of Revered late Sachin Das Motilal.He was also in close association with
Revered late Murari Dutta and Bibhuti Dutta.But for his social and family commitments&
responsibilities,he had to join service and after about 15 years of learning classical music,he could
not take the music much forward for himself.But even at old age also, he used to sing for his own
enjoyment and for the family members only but not for earning.I am also blessed with the fact
that,one of my aunt(PISHIMA) Smt.Uttara Devi alias Uma Ghosh was a regular artist for Kirtans in the
All India Radio,Calcutta(now AKASHBANI,KOLKATA) & she was a very renowned Kirtan singer of her
time.My another aunt was a short span singer in the AIR,Calcutta-Smt.Sunanda Devi alias Aparajita
Ghosh,who could not continue for long due to commitments in the family.All the family members,
mentioned above,had the distinction of recording their songs at the PATHEPHONE
CO.,GRAMOPHONE CO.,HINDUSTAN RECORDING CO.etc.We had a few of them in our collection
but some of the records had been taken on loan by some persons but never returned back and
majority of the recordings had been spoiled by the passage of time.There were others in our family
also,who had beautiful GOD gifted voices and knowledges of classical music but did not care
much about their genius.So,for us,the kids in the family,music was not the cup of tea and we had
chosen different professions for bread earning.But,we,from our very childhood,were blessed to get
the rare opportunity to hear beautiful songs of all types,from morning to night,at our home.Even our
domestic help,sometimes in the morning, during cleaning the utensils,could sing a line or two
of”Guru Bina Kaise Guna Gabe”or”Phula Rahi Belaria”etc.At times,we used to accompany our
seniors to attend musical soirees,specially classical.This scenario has given us a deep
insight,inclination&interest in Indian Classical.Though I am not a so called performer,yet I can
identify good performances and love to hear great maestros as well as present Ustads&Pandits of
the class of music. It is my passion and a no. of good collection keep me busy in listening to them.
I tried to compile a kind of writeup,which will be easily understandable about—
HOW,WHY,WHEN,WHAT—of Indian classical music for the commoners,the theory and the science
behind it.Deliberately,the chapterisation has not been made so that this document remains a
seamless reading material for one and all.
While making this compilation,I thought that when I am compiling something,let me explore into
some more areas and I really drowned into the deep sea of unknown depth.Therefore,to cut short,I
stopped somewhere in between, where I don’t know.I could be able to gather only 7000(seven
thousand) nos Ragas. Due to paucity of time & reducing energy level,It could not be possible to
incorporate all those 7000 ragas.But,all the 7000 items are in my databank&record.When I shall get
sufficient time,I intend to put all of them in this single collection.Any body interested may contact
me,if need so arises.
I enjoyed full support from my family members all through in completing this compilation
document,adjusting with the high and lows of my temperament.
If this document serves the purpose of easy understanding of the subject for commoners and
increase the population of Indian Classical Music lovers and audience,then I shall feel greatly
accomplished.This document will be continually revised with the help of corrective suggestions
from one and all.Any discrepancy found in this document may please be intimated for which I
shall remain ever grateful to the critics and music lovers.
I am really fortunate to complete the document in the 150th birth anniversary year of the great
poet RABINDRA NATH TAGORE,without whom We can’t live and move.
This document is primarily dedicated to his memory.
Mobile No.-- 09903886778// E mail:firstname.lastname@example.org
Karnatic sangeet, (Karnatik Sangit) is the south Indian system of
music. It has a rich history and a very sophisticated theoretical
system. The performers and composers have, gained a world class
reputation by singing and playing instruments such as veena (vina),
gottuvadyam, violin, and mridangam.
Karnatic Sangeet is found in the south Indian states of Tamil Nadu,
Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Karnatica. These states are known for
their strong presentation of Dravidian culture.
RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN HINDUSTANI AND KARNATIC SANGEET
The reasons for the differentiation between North, and South
Indian music is not clear. The generally held belief is that North Indian
music evolved along different lines due to an increased exposure to
the Islamic world. This results from nearly 800 years of Islamic rule over
Unfortunately, evidence suggests that this answer is a gross over-
simplification. For instance, Kerala has an extremely large Muslim
population, but virtually no identification with north Indian music. By
the same token, the Islamic influence over Orissa was negligible, yet
the artistic forms are clearly identifiable as Hindustani. Although there
is a poor correlation between the geographical distribution of Hindus
/ Muslims and the two musical systems; there is an almost exact
correlation between the Indo-European/Dravidian cultures and the
two musical systems.
Therefore, we come to the politically uncomfortable, yet
inescapable conclusion that the differences between North and
South Indian music does not represent a differentiation caused by
Islamic influence, but instead represents a continuation of
fundamental cultural differences.
HISTORY OF KARNATIC SANGEET
We can begin our discussion of the history of Karnatic Sangeet
with Purandardas (1480-1564). He is considered to be the father of
Karnatic Sangeet. He is given credit for the codification of the
method of education, and is also credited with several thousand
Venkat Mukhi Swami (17th century) is the grand theorist of
Karnatic music. He was the one who developed the melakarta
system. This is the system for classifying south Indian rags.
Karnatic music really acquired its present form in the 18th
century. It was during this period that the "trinity" of Karnatic music,
Thyagaraja, Shamashastri, and Muthuswami Dikshitar composed their
famous compositions. In addition to our "trinity". Numerous other
musicians and composers enriched this tradition. Some notable
personalities were; Papanasam Shivan, Gopala Krishna Bharati, Swati
Tirunal, Mysore Vasudevachar, Narayan Tirtha, Uttukadu
Venkatasubbair, Arunagiri Nathar, and Annamacharya.
KARNATIC MUSIC THEORY
Karnatic music has a very highly developed theoretical system. It
is based upon a complex system of ragam (rag) and thalam (tal).
These describe the intricacies of the melodic and rhythmic forms
The melodic foundation is the ragam (rag). Ragam (rag) is
basically the scale. The seven notes of the scale are Sa Ri Ga Ma Pa
Dha and Ni. However, unlike a simple scale there are certain melodic
restrictions and obligations. Each ragam (rag) has a particular way
that it moves from note to note.
The ragams are categorised into various modes. These are
referred to as mela, and there are 72 in number. The mela are
conceptually similar to the thats of North Indian music. There is
however, a major difference. South Indian scales allow chromatic
forms that are not allowed in Hindustani sangeet. For instance it is
perfectly acceptable for the first three notes (i.e., Sa Re Ga to all be
roughly one semitone apart. It is these permissible forms which allow
there to be so many mela.
The tal (thalam) is the rhythmic foundation to the system. The
south Indian tals are defined by a system of clapping and waving,
while this is much less important in the north. North Indian musicians
define their tals by their theka.
Nomenclature is one of the biggest differences between North
and South Indian music. It is normal for a particular rag or tal to be
called one thing in the North and something totally different in the
South. It is also common for the same name to be applied to very
different rags and tals. It is theses differences in nomenclature that
have made any theoretical reconciliation difficult.
Vocal music forms the basis of South Indian music. Although there
is a rich instrumental tradition that uses vina, venu and violin, they
revolve around instrumental renditions of vocal forms.
There are a number of sections to the Karnatic performance.
Varanam is a form used to begin many south Indian performances.
The word varanam literal means a description and this section is used
to unfold the various important features of the ragam. The kritis are a
fixed compositions in the rag. They have well identified composers
and do not allow much scope for variation. However such
compositions are often preceded by alapana. The alapana offers a
way to unfold the ragam to the audience, and at the same time,
allow the artist considerable scope for improvisation. The niruval and
the kalpana swara also provide opportunities to improvise. Another
common structure is the ragam, thanam, and, pallavi
South Indian performances are based upon three major sections.
These are the pallavi anupallavi and charanam. These roughly
correspond to the sthai, antara and the abhog in Hindustani sangeet.
Karnatic music is considered by many to be one of the most
sophisticated systems of music, how it's more complex than any other
music in the world. So, what is this music?
Karnatic music is the classical form of music in the Southern part of
the country India. Indian music in general is really devotional and
started out folkish so it's all about the TUNE of the song. The language
is hard to understand because it's in one of the languages of India or
Southern India, usually Sanskrit, Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, or
Malayaalam. Since the languages are pretty different.
As for the tune, one can start learning to like it by listening. One
can hear a few songs and slowly start to recognize them, because
maybe one can hum them, or maybe he/she heard something similar
before. It may be noticed that each song has a particular kind of
tune to it - it tends to stick to the same sorts of notes. That's what is
meant by the term raaga. Karnatic uses only particular notes in a
particular song or section of a song.
The other component of a song is rhythm. People on stage and in
the audience keep beating their thighs or clapping their hands to the
rhythm - no, this is not some strange masochistic ritual or a weird way
of showing appreciation; these people are keeping time. This rhythm
or system of keeping time is called taala.
How can one keep time? Watch someone who seems to be
pretty good. Now copy their movements. You can do this softly on
your thigh or hand without inflicting horrendous pain which will make
you scream and make everyone else lose their beat! Slowly you'll start
to see a pattern arising - usually of 8 beats or 3 beats on your thigh.
Each cycle of the pattern determines what taala it is. If it's 8 beats (or
16) it's usually aadi taala, and if it's 3 (or 6), it's usually roopakam. The
trick is keeping track of the beat even during complicated parts of
There are a number of instruments in Karnatic. The main ones to
worry about are the veena, the violin, the mridangam, and the
tambura. The veena is the one that sounds like an instrument being
tuned. There are always some sounds after the strings are pulled - and
often it just "sounds Indian." Veenas are long and have a round end
and a bulb that sticks down from the other end. It's the favorite
instrument of the goddess of music, Saraswati. It's played with it
placed across the lap, like a baby.
A violin is a violin. It looks like a small bass violin, or a small cello, or
a fiddle. Basically it's brown with 4 strings and played with a long stick
called a bow. Indian musicians play the violin by sitting on the ground
cross-legged with the violin under their chin and facing down. Their
left-hand fingers move on the violin and the right hand manipulates
the bow. The violin player usually sits to the right of the main performer
if the main person is a singer. The violinist usually plays along with the
main artist and follows behind them, too.
A mridangam is a drum. It's got drum heads on both ends and is
played from the side, one hand playing each side. The performer sits
to the left of the main performer if you're looking facing the stage. This
drummer plays for the main parts of the songs and often gets a
separate time to play on his or her own.
The tambura is not in all concerts. It's a long instrument with a
round bulb at the bottom and a long stalk and 4 strings on it. The
strings are tuned to 2 different notes, and the other two are the
octave of those notes (the same note but higher). The person who
plays it just keeps plucking those strings one by one to keep the pitch
(called the shruti) steady. These days the tambura (and the tambura
player) is often replaced by a particular instrument called a shruti box.
During the concert, one can see the main performer sing out just
random notes without words but notes like "aaa" or "naa" or "reee" -
this is also called raaga, but it's really them explaining the raaga.
Then there are times when they just sing strings of notes like sa, ri,
ga, ma, pa, da, ni. These are like do, re, mi etc. If not, just think of
them as random notes set to a specific pitch. This is to show they know
the raaga along with the beat well and to show they can get the
names of the syllables right at the same time.
Many things will tell it's nearing the end of the concert: the fact
that there are only five people in the audience, the yawns from shruti
box, the violinist trying to play and look at the main performer's watch
at the same time, and the kinds of songs that are performed. The
songs are usually light stuff. You might even see people go up to the
artists with slips of paper to tell them that they should sing such-and-
such song or else. Usually the artists pick out one or two songs from the
audience to sing. When it's all over,they sing a mangalam, which is to
thank God for the great concert (some might be thanking God it's
over, too) and finishing it all up.
Equivalent (and Near-Equivalent) Ragas in Hindustani and Karnatic Music
The hindustaani equivalent of a melaa is called a thaat. All hindustaani
ragas are classified under 10 thaats. Names in brackets are melaa names.
The thaats are as follows:
1. Kalyaan (Mecakalyaani)
2. Bilaaval (dheera shankaraabharaNam)
3. khamaaj (harikaambhoji)
4. bhairav (maayamaaLava gowLa)
5. bhairavi (todi)
6. asaavari (natabhairavi)
7. todi (shubhapantuvaraali)
8. poorvi (pantuvaraali)
9. maarvaa (gamanaashrama)
10. kaafi (kharaharapriyaa)
What follows is a table of raagaas, which are the scales in Indian music, or
the set of notes used in any given piece. First is the hindustani (north
Indian) raagaa, followed by its equivalent/near equivalent raagaa in
carnaatic music. For each raga, the thaat and the melakartaa or melaa
scales, notations of the main or raga from which the derivative or janya
raagaa is formed, are also given.
Where karnatic raagaas are separated by a slash , the first raga is aaroha
(ascending scale) and the second raga is the avaroha (descending
That Hindustani Raga Mela Karnatic Raga
1 yamankalyan 65 yamunakalyani
darbaar and naayaki are two of the many close raagas which
have the same swarastaanas (notes) but which differ subtly from one
another.So keeping such raagas straight is not an easy task even for
seasoned musicians. There are many such raagas, with the same
notes but which differ slightly. Other raagas have very different swaras
but strongly have the chaaya of another raaga. These can be hard to
separate whether one is performing or just listening to music.
Some often confused raagas:
• darbaar and naayaki
• bhairavi and maanji
• aarabi and shyaamaa
• sudda dhanyaasi and udhaya ravi candrikaa
• shree and madyamaavati
• valaci and malayamaarutam
Darbaar is separated from naayaki by the phrase g, g, r s with
emphasis on the two ga's. In naayaki, one should have only m g r s or
g r s. This makes a very subtle but important distinction that separates
the two raagas.
Bhairavi and maanji are different subtly as well, both having the
same swaras. You will find, however, that only maanji contains P M P
M P, or P G R S. These can be difficult to separate but these subtle
sancaarams will make the difference. Similarly, in huseni, the phrase P
N2 D2 N2 is characteristic.
Aarabi and shyaamaa are also very close raagas. Aarabi often
uses a nishaadam (N3) in avarOhana phrases such as S N D P, which is
never used in shyaamaa. But some compositions in aarabi are
nishaadam varja (no ni is performed), and in these, subtle phrases like
S R G S will tell you it's shyaamaa, because aarabi does not have G in
the aarOhanam. Other phrases like M D D S and D P D S are also
usually restricted to shyaamaa.
Udhaya ravi chandrikaa and sudda dhanyaasi are not always
distinguished as raagas, and indeed are considered by some to be
the same raaga. However, strictly speaking, sudda dhanyaasi's
aarohana uses S G M P N P S while the other uses S G M P N S.
Shree and madyamaavati often sound very similar. However,
shree raga contains a saadhaarana G, which when it appears is
distinct. It also contains da in the phrase S N P D N P M.
Madyamaavati is simply S R M P N S, S N P M R S. Also, the R oscillates
in madyamaavati and is usually stationary in shree.
Valaci and malayamaarutam are often confused. They have the
same scales, but they are easily distinguished because valaci does
not contain ri. Malayamaarutam includes sudda rishabam (R1) in
both the aarOhaNam and avarOhanam.
These brief notes will help you distinguish some of the easily
confused raagas, but the best training, of course, is to just listen to
compositions in these raagas to get a feel for them.
There is another, subtle, aspect of ragas: how they evoke
emotion. This is called the "rasa" or "rasam" - literally the "essence" of
There are a number of rasas corresponding to various ragas.
Below is a table of ragas that are associated with different rasas.A
single raga can evoke diverse feelings.
Rasa Meaning Ragas
adbhuta/arpuda wonder, astonishment
bhayanaka fear punaaagavaraali
bibhatsa disgust athaanaa
hasya joy/laughter kedaaram
karuNaa sorrow, anguish naadanaamakriyaa
shaanta calm, peace shyaamaa
veera courage begada
Beside these rasas, there is "bhakthi rasa," the feeling of devotion.
Many ragas invoke this, most notably the ragas used in the Vedas and
slokas, like kharaharapriyaa and revati.
Some types of songs also go with certain ragas. Lullabies typically
use ragas like neelaambari or navroj, among others. Mangalams and
finishing songs use madyamaavati.
Finally, different composers may use various ragas to evoke
emotions other than what is assigned to that raga. So, one may find a
laali in madyamaavati, a sad song in hamsadwani. The composers
define the music, so the raga itself may be adapted to the feeling
that seems to suit the song!
Each raaga actually has an appropriate time to be performed!
Here is a brief compilation of the times and some raagas
corresponding to them.
Time of day Time Ragas
Early Morning bhoopaaLam
after sunrise bilahari
Forenoon deva manohari
Midday noon-1pm manirangu
end of day naattai kurinji
4-7pm poorvi kalyaani
Sarvakaalika any time of day
The last set, the sarvakaalika raagas, are common raagas and can
be performed at any time.
Many lullabies are sung at night and are therefore composed in
neelaambari. Other songs are morning songs and composed in
Performers always conclude a concert with madyamaavati.
Though it is intended to be a midday raaga, it is said to appease the
gods and nullify any inconsistencies in singing raagas at the wrong
Rhythm, or taalam in Karnatic music consists of regular beats to which a
composition is set. Usually, each song has its own taalam, which is carried
from the first word of the song to the last.
Each taalam cycles through a number of beats, each cycle
called an aavartanam. For example, one of the most common
taalam is called aadi. In aadi taalam, 8 beats (commonly 4 swaras to
each beat) make one cycle. Thus, up to 32 swaras may comprise one
cycle, lengthened and shortened to accomodate the taalam.
Example: Aadi Taalam
For aadi taalam, first beat the palm of the hand (1), then tap the
fingers pinky (2), ring finger (3), middle finger(4). Then beat palm (5),
turn the hand over and tap or wave the back of the hand (6), palm
(7), back (8). This is one cycle. This cycle will repeat throughout the
song. Although often the number of swaras per beat will change
during a Karnatic song, the actual beat changes within a song VERY
rarely, and even then, it is a fixed change, not a slowing down or
speeding up of the beat itself. The dEshaadi taalam starts aadi
taalam after 1/2 beat, and the madhyaadi taalam starts after 3/4 of
a beat, even though these originally were written to be 3 beats and a
There are several basic movements, called angas (limbs), in Karnatic
music. 3 of these are most common: drutam, which is a beat with the
palm and then with the back of the hand (as in steps 5 & 6 or 7 & 8 of
aadi taalam), anudrutam, which is simply a beat of the hand, laghu,
which consists of a beat plus the movements of the fingers of the
hand (steps 1-4 of aadi taalam). Each of these movements of the 3
angas is called a kriyaa and usually signals the beginning of the beat.
Other movements (for 4 or more beats each) of the hand are used
Suladi Sapta Taalam System
The combination of these 3 types of movements creates different
types of taalam. If we name drutam 0, anudrutam U, and laghu 1, we
get the following major taalam combinations, which are the suladi
Laghu, Jaati, and the 35 Taalams
The number of beats used in the laghu is added to these taalams to
give the jaati. 7 jaatis of beats 3 (tishra), 4 (chatushra), 5 (khanda), 7
(mishra), 9 (sankeerna), create more variations of these so that there
are 7 types each of the seven taalams, giving 35 taalams. Thus aadi
taalam is actually catusra jaati tripuTa taalam. Other common
taalams are roopakam (chatusra jaati roopaka taalam) and mishra
caapu (tishra jaati triputa taalam).
The caapu is a beat and a wave. Thus mishra caapu is 3+4 beats
(viloma is 4+3). tishra caapu is 1+2, khanda caapu is 2+3, and
sankeerna caapu is 4+5.
In addition to the drutam, anudrutam and laghu, there are also
guru (symbol 8) which is 8 beats and formed by a beat of 4 and a
wave of the hand, plutam (symbol ^8, 12 beats) a beat and 2 waves,
and kaakapaadam (symbol +, 16 beats) a beat and wave up then to
the left then to the right (forming a + sign). These allow for even more
taalams - one taalam, called simhananaanam taalam even has 1008
The tempo of the rhythm is also important in a song. This is called the
kaalam. The same beat can be performed at half the speed simply
by counting 2 beats to every one, and it can be speeded up by
counting faster. In these cases, the number of swaras to every beat
changes. At the basic speed, if 4 swaras form one beat (1st kaalam,
madhyama), then at the slower speed there will be 8 swaras of the
same length per beat (1/2 kaalam, vilambita), at the faster speed 2
swaras per beat (2nd kaalam, durita), and at an even faster speed 1
swara per beat (3rd kaalam). Thus the performer must perform faster
to keep the same number of swaras per beat in the song as the
kaalam doubles or triples. Expert performers can also work in other
combinations where there are 5, 3 or 1 1/2 swaras per beat. The
number of swaras or subdivisions per beat is called the gati or nadai.
This is equivalent to gait (waltz would be a gait of 3). Thus our basic
aadi taalam at madhyama kaalam is in chatushra gati or chatushra
Another term is kalai, which refers to using multiple beats in one beat.
Thus 2nd kalai of aadi taalam will use 2 beats for every one beat of
the taalam. This is noticeable in the speed of the song and the length
of the aavartanam (cycle of the taalam).
In some cases, the taalam doesn't "begin" on the beginning of the first
beat (called the samam). It may begin just 1/2 beat before or after, or
1 1/2 beat after, for example. The place where a particular section of
a song (anupallavi, pallavi, or charanam) begins in the taalam is
called the graham or eduppu. When eduppus begin, for example,
3/4 beat after or before the samam, one can get an effect very
much like Western syncopation.
Percussion, Rhythm, and Taalam
The mridangam artist is an expert at keeping the taalam correctly
and will often indicate the samam of the taalam or the beginning of
a musical phrase by movement in addition to showing the sequence
of beats. Karnatic rhythm may be complicated but by practice in
keeping taalam to music correctly and understanding the underlying
principles, it can be very satisfying to appreciate the melody as well
as the rhythm of the music.
Here is a table of the major taalas used in Karnatic music. .
anga name symbol aksharakaalas movement
anudrutam U 1 beat with palm
Drutam 0 2 beat with palm + turn (wave)
druta viramam 3 (1 + 2) anudrutam + drutam
laghu |(#) 4 (or 3,5,7,9) beat + finger counts
laghu viramam 5 (1+4) anudrutam + laghu
laghu drutam 0| 6 (4+2) laghu + drutam
7 (1+2+4) anudrutam + drutam + laghu
wave to left and right or circle
guru 8 8
guru viramam 8 (1+8) anudrutam + guru
guru drutam 08 10 (8+2) guru + drutam
11 (1+2+8) anudrutam + drutam + guru
plutam |8 12 (8+4) beat + wave to sides
pluta viramam 13 (1+12) anudrutam + plutam
pluta drutam 0|8 14 (12+2) plutam + drutam
pluta druta U
15 (1+2+12) anudrutam + drutam + plutam
kaakapaadam + 16 beat plus wave up and to sides
The table of the 35 taalas is listed below. The total numbers in the
laghu are given in parenthesis, ex. chatushra jaati = |(4). Taalas are
named first by their jaati then by the taala type of the 7, as in tishra
jaati eka taalam.
taala group jaati angas aksharakaalas
1. dhruva tisra |(3) 0 |(3) |(3) 11
2. chatushra |(4) 0 |(4) |(4) 14
3. khanda |(5) 0 |(5) |(5) 17
4. mishra |(7) 0 |(7) |(7) 23
5. sankeerna |(9) 0 |(9) |(9) 29
6. matya tisra |(3) 0 |(3) 8
7. chatushra |(4) 0 |(4) 10
8. khanda |(5) 0 |(5) 12
9. mishra |(7) 0 |(7) 16
10. sankeerna |(9) 0 |(9) 20
11. roopaka tishra 0 |(3) 5
12. chatushra 0 |(4) 6
13. khanda 0 |(5) 7
14. mishra 0 |(7) 9
15. sankeerna 0 |(9) 11
16. jhampa tishra |(3) U 0 6
17. chatushra |(4) U 0 7
18. khanda |(5) U 0 8
19. mishra |(7) U 0 10
20. sankeerna |(9) U 0 12
21. tripuTa tishra |(3) 0 0 7
22. chatushra (aadi) |(4) 0 0 8
23. khanda |(5) 0 0 9
24. mishra |(7) 0 0 11
25. sankeerna |(9) 0 0 13
26. aTa tishra |(3) |(3) 0 0 10
27. chatushra |(4) |(4) 0 0 12
28. khanda |(5) |(5) 0 0 14
29. mishra |(7) |(7) 0 0 18
30. sankeerna |(9) |(9) 0 0 22
31. Eka tishra |(3) 3
32. chatushra |(4) 4
33. khanda |(5) 5
34. mishra |(7) 7
35. sankeerna |(9) 9
These are the major taalas (suladisapta taalas). Incorporating the
other angas (guru, plutam, kaakapaadam) brings us up to 108
taaLas, and even more if one includes the caapu taalas and other
Gamakas are subtle (and not-so-subtle) decorations of notes, usually
referred to as "shaking the note." They come in various forms and are
incorporated into ragas, giving each note a unique characteristic and a
delicate beauty when performed.
The types of gamakas are below:
aaroha - this is the ascending scale. Moving from one note ascending
to the next is a gamaka. These can also be done rapidly and in
succession, giving long runs of great beauty when executed with skill.
ex: s r g m p d n S R G M
avaroha - similarly, moving down from a higher note to the next lower
note is also a gamaka. ex: M G R S n d p m g r s
daatu - using one note as a base and jumping to others in succession.
This is great for emphasizing one note and also giving almost a
rhythmic tone to the singing. ex: sr sg sm sp sd sn sS
spuritam - these are repeated notes, in twos. In such cases, the
second note is usually stressed. ex: ss rr gg mm pp dd nn SS
kampitam - this means singing a note between two notes. For
example, ma can be sung instead as gpgpgp... giving a shake to the
aahatam - using notes in succession (ascending) but paired with the
next note. ex: sr rg gm mp pd dn ns It can also be used as gmg rgr srs
pratyaavatam - the same as aahatam but in the descending scale.
ex: Sn nd dp pm mg gr rs It can also be used as sns ndn dpd ...
tripuccam - repeated notes in threes. ex: sss rrr ggg mmm ppp ddd
aandolam - also called dOlakam, this is, for example, srsg srsm srsp
srsd srsn srsS
moorcanai - this is using the proper gamakam of the raaga. If a raga
requires the use of a particular gamaka for a certain note, this must
be performed when singing the scale or whenever the note is sung or
daatu - this is jumping of notes within a scale, skipping notes. ex: sg rm
gp md pn dS
jaaru - a glide or slide from one note to another (whether successive
or from a distant note) ex: s .... S
hampitam - a rarely used gamaka in recent years, this is the use of the
syllable "hoom" (like boom)
naabhitam - swelling a note in volume (like a crescendo)
mudritam - humming, singing with the mouth closed ex: mmmmm...
tribhinnam - performing multiple (usually 3) notes at once, as in a
chord. This is for instrumental performers only
mishritam - using a mixture of any gamakas listed above
Symbols & Transliteration - Certain symbols are used in Karnatic musical
notation. An explanation for some of these is given below. Below that, is the
transliteration scheme for many lyrics and terms.
traditional on these meaning example (based on these
symbol pages pages)
(indicated by a line over pdpmgrsn will
one line double speed
taala make it last only 4
over swaras from normal
notation) aksharakalas instead of 8
(indicated by two lines over pdpmgrsn will
double line 4 times speed of
taala make it last only 2
over swaras normal
lower case lower case madhya staayi
swara swara swara
extend note to
upper case comma after
an extra s,rg
dot over upper case taara staayi
swara swara swara
dot below dot to right of mandra staayi
swara swara swara
two dots next to ati taara staayi
over swara uppercase swara
two dots to anu mandra
right of swara staayi swara
string of dots aakaaram kaa...maa...kshee....
end of a section
vertical line vertical line of a taala or srgm pdns | sndp mgrs
end of a taala
cycle, srgm pdns sndp mgrs ||
vertical line vertical line
1/4 eduppu, one
comma comma ,srg mpdn s,,, ,,,,
semicolon or 2 1/2 eduppu, 2
semicolon ;rg m,,p
semicolon semicolon plus
3/4 eduppu, 3
plus comma or 3 ;,r g,,, mpdn s,,,
Wavy line wave below kampita Srgmpdns
over swaras swaras gamaka ~~~~~~~~
asterisk asterisk anya swara s r2 g3 m1 p m2* d2 n3 S
Dash dash phrases by srg - rgm – gmp
The transliteration scheme is below. The letter used is given first (lowercase
or uppercase is important in most cases), then the sound it makes, an
example English word for the sound, an example lyric word (in Hindi, Tamil,
Sanskrit) or term, and finally (if any) an explanation.
Letter sound English lyric Explanation
A uh bus mandra short a
A, aa aaa far maataa extended a
I ih pin nin short i
I, ee eee flee shree long e
U oogh put mudi short u
U, oo oooh moon cooda long u
E eh pet neeve, telisi short e
E ay nay, hay sute long a
ay, ey ayee weigh sey long a + y
ai, y aii kite vairi long i
O oh rock, for mrokka in between short o
O ohh road, home modi long o
ow, ou oww found, south sowkiyam ow sound
K ka kick vikrama hard k, c
Kh k-ha book-hop khanda aspirated k
G ga good, egg suragana hard g sound
Gh g-ha dog-house ghana aspirated g
C cha charm calamela ch sound
Ch ch-ha beach-house chaaya aspirated ch
J ja jay, reg jagan, vajra hard j sound
Jh j-ha hedgehog jhaala aspirated j
T ta top venkata t sound
Th t-ha anthill vitthala aspirated t
D da dog vidu d sound
Dh d-ha mad-hop vidhala aspirated d
T th thing tiru hard th sound
Th th-h bath-house mathuraa aspirated th
D dh there madana soft th
Dh dh-ha bathe-hee dharma aspirated soft th
N n now manam n sound
N ln darnit (no equivalent) vanna N, tongue back
Ng nga stringy mangala ng, back of throat
ny, gn nya banyan gnaana ny, back of throat
P p pot pin p sound
Ph p-ha uphill phal aspirated p
B b bin baala b sound
Bh b-ha clubhouse bhoota aspirated b
M m mom manam m sound
Y ya yes yaar short y sound
R r rrip para hard r
R trrr rrruffles patra harder r
Zha rlya furry (no equivalent) pazham ry, back of throat
L l lollipop lankaa l (el) sound
L rla (no equivalent) mangala l, back of throat
V v every, very veera v sound
W w, wo wish, swing swaagatam w sound
S s hiss, see saraseeruha s sound
Sh sh hush shilangi soft sh, front of mouth
shh, S shh shut shhanmuga hard sh, back of mouth
H h hard hameer h sound
Tca, tca tcha match, itch matca tcha sound
Ksha ksha rikshaw vraksha ksha sound
F f feel, if feroz f sound
Z z zoo, fizz zindagi z sound
More on Raga
The notes of Karnatic music are not usually fixed. In this sense they
are much like the do re mi fa so la ti of western music. A performer tunes
an instrument to the desired pitch (accompanists of course tune to the
main performer's pitch) or sings at whatever pitch is most comfortable.
This is called the kattai. Traditionally, the G above middle C is kaTTai 5, F
is 4, A is 6, etc. Most Indian instruments do need tuning for each
performance, according to the main artists' pitch - even percussion
instruments are tuned.
The notes used correspond to do re mi, but are called sa ri ga ma
pa da ni. Sa is shadjamam, the basic note that exists in all scales. It is
used as a drone note (played on a tambura), along with Pa,
pancamam, its fifth. In concerts, you will hear sa pa Sa playing in
octaves in the background to allow musicians to stay in tune. The other
notes are rishabam (ri), gaandaaram (ga), madyamam (ma), daivatam
(da), and nishaadam (ni). These notes are called swaras.
While all scales have sa, not all have the other notes. Though sa ri
ga ma pa da ni sa comprise the main vocalized notes of Karnatic
music, the actual notes (relative frequencies) that they form number 12.
There is only one sa (not counting octaves) and one pa, but there are 2
types of ma and 3 each of the other notes.
As an example, let's take sa as middle C. Pa is then G. From here on
out, the notes will be designated by first letter only. R1 is C#, R2 is D
natural, R3 is D#. Ga is overlapping, so G1 is D, G2 is D#, and G3 is E. M1
is F, M2 is F#. Similarly, D1 is G#, D2 is A, D3 is Bb, N1 is A, N2 is Bb, and N3
is B. These twelve notes are used in combination to give various scales
of ascending and descending order. Some scales (these are ragas)
take seven notes in the ascending and seven in the descending, but
others remove notes and still others vary the order of the notes.
However, because G1=R2 (D), G2=R3 (D#), N1=D2 (A), and N2=D3 (Bb),
these do not occur in the same scale successively. These combinations
give 72 main ragas and innumerable other ragas from which
compositions are composed.
Taalam and rhythm
Rhythm in Karnatic music changes for each composition. Songs are
set to a specific taalam, or beat. Each taalam comes in cycles of a
number of beats, called an aavartanam. For example, one of the most
common taalam is called aadi. In aadi taalam, 8 beats (commonly 4
swaras to each beat) make one cycle. Thus, up to 32 swaras may
comprise one cycle, lengthened and shortened to accomodate the
taalam. Taalam is kept by beating the right hand gently against the
right thigh while seated with your legs crossed ("Indian style"). For aadi
taalam, first beat the palm of the hand (1), then tap the fingers pinky
(2), ring finger (3), middle finger(4). Then beat palm (5), turn the hand
over and beat the back of the hand (6), palm (7), back (8). This is one
cycle. This cycle will repeat throughout the song. Although often the
number of swaras per beat will change during a Karnatic song, the
actual beat changes within a song VERY rarely, and even then, it is a
fixed change, not a slowing down or speeding up of the beat itself.
The concert and compositions
Compositions are composed in a fixed raga. This means that they
do not deviate from the notes in the raga. In Karnatic, there are no
"accidentals" or variations in rhythm (there are exceptions but rarely).
Each composition is set with specific notes and beats, but performers
vary widely in their presentation. Improvisation occurs in the MELODY of
the composition as well as in using the notes to expound the beauty of
As you enter the hall, you will notice the main performer(s) sitting in
the middle. The musical sound you hear first is the drone (tambura)
playing sa, pa, Sa. Accompanists like violin and veena sit to the main
performer's left (your right), and percussion instruments are usually to
your left. All performers sit on the stage without chairs or stools.
A concert (called a kuTcEri) will usually begin with a piece called a
varnam. This piece is composed with an emphasis on swaras of the
raga. It is lively and fast to get the audience's attention. Varnams also
have words, the saahityam.
After the varnam, compositions are performed called kritis or
keertanams. Most often, these compositions are religious in nature.
These stick to one raga, although a few have sections composed of
different ragas (a raagamaalika).
Many performers first begin main compositions with a section called
raagam. In this, they use aakaaram (essentially, using the vowels aa, ri,
na, ta, etc. instead of swaras or words) to slowly elaborate the notes
and flow of the raga. This begins slowly and then becomes more intense
and finally establishes a complicated exposition of the raga that shows
the performer's skill. All of this is done without any rhythmic
accompaniment. Then the melodic accompaniment (violin or veena),
expounds the raga. Experienced listeners can identify many ragas after
they hear just a few notes.
With the raga established, the song begins, sung usually only with
the saahityam. In this, the accompaniment (usually violin, sometimes
veena) performs along with the main performer and the percussion
(mridangam, and sometimes ghaTam and ganjeera). A song usually
contains 3 parts: pallavi, anupallavi, and caraNam. The pallavi is
analogous to a chorus. After the anupallavi, the pallavi is again sung,
and again after the caraNam as well. Each phrase is repeated with
Next the performer begins swaram. In this section, swaras are sung
separately (as sa ri ga, etc.) to the beat. The performer must improvise a
string of swaras in any octave according to the rules of the raga and
return to beginning of the cycle of beats smoothly, joining the swaras
with a phrase selected from the saahityam. The violin performs these
alternately with the main performer. In very long strings of swara, the
performers must calculate their notes accurately to ensure that they
stick to the raga, have no awkward pauses and lapses in the beat of
the song, and create a complex pattern of notes that an experienced
audience can follow.
The main composition of any concert will have a section at this time
for the percussion to perform separately (the tani aavartanam). The
mridangam performer alone will perform complex patterns of rhythm
and display his or her skill, and if other percussion performers are present
on stage, they too will perform, and the percussion instruments engage
in a beautiful rhythmic dialog until the main performer picks up the
melody once again.
The composition ends with the performing of the main portion of the
song. Following the main composition, the performer will play or sing
other songs with or without raga and then perform lighter songs that are
more catchy and popular. Hindustani pieces are often performed, as
well as short westernized songs and other popular pieces. Some
performers also take requests at this time.
Every concert that is the last of the day ends with a mangaLam, a
thankful prayer and conclusion to the musical event.
Other aspects and songs
In some songs, performers sing the words and then proceed to sing
the same line repeatedly in variations. This is called neraval - it may be
done in the same raga as the song or it may even travel from the main
raga to other ragas before returning. Another aspect with which
musicians expound raga and their own sense of rhythm is with taanam,
in which the word aananta is used for syllables. This may also be
performed in different ragas before returning to the raga of the
composition and has no rhythmic accompaniment.
Another type of song that is often performed (usually near the end
of a concert) is the tillaanaa. This is done to beat sounds like dheem,
takiTa, nadiru, etc. and is meant for the end of classical dance
performances. It is very rhythmic and lively with only a short saahityam
section. Other songs like love songs and lullabies may also find their way
into the end of a concert.
Music is said to have begun from the sounds of the Universe, the Om.
However, karnatik itself can be traced back to a time when there were no
distinctions among the styles of music in India.
Among the first music forms were the recitation of scriptures, including the
Vedas (especially Sama Veda), which were originally performed with only
three notes (ni, sa, ri), and later in 7 notes (400BC), in the raga
kharaharapriya. The Vedas also described musical instruments.
From 300-100BC, the Upanishads mention the notes and instruments,
including the veena. The Ramayana and Mahabharata (around 40BC) also
In the second century, Bharatha's Natyasastra described dance, but also
music, in great detail. He described ragas (jaatis), swaras, varnams, tala,
and other aspects of music (see Glossary). It was also at this time that the
Tamil Silappadikkaram described folk songs and ragas, including the Tamil
paNNs, the octave, and the shifting of the sa to create new ragas. The
Tolkappiam also expanded on this emerging form of Karnatic music.
In the sixth century, the Brihaddesi first used the word "raga," and mentioned
some popular ones. Caves at Pudukottai in Tamil nadu describe more ragas
in the seventh century, and the Thevaarams and Divya Prabhandams at this
time also described several panns.
In the 12th century, Jayadeva's Gita Govinda inspired music and dance in
his Ashtapadis, each in a different raga.
Until the 13th century, classical music was similar or common across India.
With the arrival of Moghul influences, Hindustani music and Karnatic music
split into the two forms, the former incorporating the new influences and the
latter retaining the original form. The Sangita Ratnakara described swaras,
ragas, talas, instruments, and gamakas, and this work first used the word
"Karnatic," but it wasn't until the 1300s that Karnatic music and Hindustani
were clearly distinguished. Sangeeta Sara was also written in the 1300s, and
first classified ragas as melas and janya ragas.
In the 15th century, Arunagirinathar wrote his famous Tiruppugazh in Tamil.
At this time, Annamacharya first described the musical form known as the
kriti, which had a pallavi, anupallavi, and caraNam, and Purandara Dasa
also wrote the varisais for musical exercise and geetams which are still used
to teach beginners. In the 16th century, Swaramela Kalanidhi described a
further elaboration of melakarthas, ragas, and playing techniques for the
In the 17th century, Venkatamakhi created his 72 melakartha raga system,
which used the katapayadi scheme. The Sangeeta Saramrita and Sangraha
Choodamani were written in the 18th century. This was the century of the
Trinity also: Syama Sastry, Tyaagaraaja, and Dikshitar were born.
It wasn't until the 19th century that systematic notations were developed,
written in Sangeeta Sampradaya Pradarsini and Sangeeta Chandrikai.
Some were even written at this time in Western staff notation. Swati Tirunal
composed during this time, Papanasam Shivan was born, and others like
Gopalakrishna Bharathi, Patnam Subramanya Iyer also composed music.
In the 20th century, Karnatic music came into its modern form. It was then
that sabhas were formed, concerts were performed for the public (and not
just kings and nobles). Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar also created a system of
concert format which most musicians use today.
In the 21st century, Karnatic music continues to develop, with schools and
concerts and organizations around the world.
The swaras are said to have arisen from the Universe-pervading
Sound of Om, which represents the drone notes SA and PA. The other
swaras came from the 5 faces of Shiva. The story is told that RaavaNa,
who was very devoted to Shiva, ripped out his guts and used them as
strings to play the notes as Shiva kept time. RaavaNa kept playing,
however, and threatened to shake the worlds and bring Shiva down
from the heavens. In response, Shiva pressed him down to Earth with
his big toe.
The table below lists some more interesting information about the
Karnatic swaras, which are named shadjam (sa), rishabam (ri),
gaandhaaram (ga), madhyamam (ma), pancamam (pa),
dhaivatam (da), and nishaadam (ni). Each is associated with an
animal, a color, a God of Hindu mythology, and a particular feeling
Swara full name Western animal color god rasa
Sa shadjam do peacock light pink Brahma (to next 6
bull parrot (Fire, adbhuta
Ri rishabam re morality
(nandi) green with (wonder),
Rudra karuNaa fragrant,
Ga gaandhaaram mi goat gold
(Shiva) (compassion) light
Ma madhyamam fa crane white Vishnu intermediat
Pa pancamam so cuckoo black Naarada fifth
(disgust), of gods,
Da dhaivatam la horse yellow GaNEsha
Ni nishaadam ti elephant multicolor sit, lie down
The Melakarta raagas
The melakartaa ragas of Karnatic music come from the 12 basic notes: sa
(shadjamam), 2 types of ri (rishabham), 2 types of ga (gaandhaaram), 2 types of ma
(madhyamam), pa (panchamam), 2 types of da (dhaivatam), and 2 types of ni
(nishaadam), all of which are found on the typical piano or keyboard and consist of
one octave. If included further, subtler notes found in-between these notes, one
each for ri, ga, da, and ni, you have 16 notes: sa (shadjamam), 3 types of ri
(rishabham), 2 types of ma (madhyamam), pa (panchamam), 3 types of ga
(gaandhaaram), 3 types of da (dhaivatam), and 3 types of ni (nishaadam). These
are numbered and named as follows (names in parentheses are alternate
designations sometimes used):
Swara sa ri ga ma pa da ni
R1 = D1 = N1 =
shuddha G1 = shuddha shuddha
(ra) shuddha (ga) (dha) (na)
R2 = G2 = D2 = N2 =
S= (ma) P=
Types catshruti saadhaaraNa catshruti kaisiki
shadjam M2 = pancamam
(ri) (gi) (dhi) (ni)
R3 = G3 = antara D3 = N3 =
satshruti (gu) satshruti kaakali
(ru) (dhu) (nu)
kural kaikilai vilari (ku- (ku-
ancient kural (ku-kai,G2) vi,D1) ta,N2)
tu,R1) u,M1) ili (yi,P)
Tamil (ku,S) nirai kaikilai nirai nirai
(ni-kai,G3) vilari (ni- taram
The melakartaa ragas are formed from combinations of these 16 notes, 7+1
in the ascending, 7+1 descending, giving 72 ragas. From these are derived
janya ragas, which may combine different melakartas in ascending and
descending scales, add or remove some notes in either scale, and have
variations in the notes, mood, gamaka (shaking of the note), emotions, or other
aspects of raga. These are nearly innumerable, but a select number are used in
All the melakartas in the table below begin with sa and end in high sa, with
the order sa ri ga ma pa da ni sa. These are sampoorna ragas, containing all
the notes in the ascending and descending scales. They also contain the SAME
notes in both scales. They are divided into 2 groups, by the type of ma they
possess. Every group of six ragas (total 12 groups) comprises one chakraa.
Interestingly, the naming of the ragas has also been systematized. The first 2
letters of each raga give the number of the raga according to this table, which
gives the katapayadi formula:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0
ka kha ga gha nga ca cha ja jha nya
Ta Tha Da Dha Na ta tha da dha na
pa pha ba bha ma
ya ra la va sha shha sa ha
Thus, a raga (see below) like ramapriya begins with ra (2) and ma (5). 25 in
reverse gives the number of the melakarta, 52!
The melakarta raagaas and their swaras, divided by their ma follow. They
are also separated into 12 groups of six, called chakras, and all the ragas in the
cakra have the same ri, ga, and ma.
Shudda madhyama M1 Prati madhyama M2
1 Indu Chakra 7 Rishi Chakra
1 kanakaangi (kanakaambari) 37 saalagam (sowgandini)
2 ratnaangi (phenadhyuti) 38 jalaarnavam (jaganmohinam)
gaanamoorti R1 G1
3 39 jhaalavaraaLi (dhaalivaraali)
(gaanasaamavaraali) D1 N3
4 vanaspati (bhaanumati) 40 navaneetam (nabhomani)
5 maanavati (manoranjani) 41 paavani (kumbhini)
6 taanaroopi (tanukeerti) 42 raghupriyaa (ravikriyaa)
2 netra Chakra 8 Vaasu Chakra
7 senaavati (senaagrani) 43 ghavaambhodi (geervaani)
8 hanumatodi (janatodi) 44 bhaavapriya (bhavaani)
R1 G2 shubhapantuvaraali
9 dhenukaa (dhunibhinnashadjam) 45
D1 N3 (shivapantuvaraali)
R1 G2 shhadvidamaargini
10 naatakapriyaa (natabharaNam) 46
D2 N2 (stavaraajam)
28 harikaambhoji (harikedaaragowla) 64 vaachaspati (bhooshaavati)
R2 G3 mecakalyaani
29 dheera shankaraabharaNam 65
D2 N3 (shaantakalyaani)
naagaanandini R2 G3
30 66 chitraambari (caturaangini)
(naagaabharanam) D3 N3
6 Rutu Chakra 12 Aaditya Chakra
31 yaagapriyaa (kalaavati) 67 sucharitra (santaana manjari)
raagavardhani R3 G3
32 68 jyotiswaroopini (jyOti raaga)
(raagacoodaamani) D1 N2
gangayabhooshhani R3 G3 dhaatuvardani (dhowta
(gangaatarangini) D1 N3 pancamam)
vaagadeeshwari (bhogachaayaa R3 G3 naasikabhooshhani
naattai) D2 N2 (naasaamani)
35 shoolini (shailadeshaakshhi) 71 kosalam (kusumaakaram)
36 chalanaattai 72 rasikapriyaa (rasamanjari)
Janya ragas are scales derived from the melakarta ragas.
The melakarta ragas have 7 notes, sa ri ga ma pa da ni, in both the
ascending and descending scales. Janya ragas, however, are raagas that
do not necessarily have all these notes. They may be missing the notes from
their "parent" melakarta, have added notes from another melakarta, have
some variations in the order of the notes, or some combination of all these
factors. These are divided into a few categories:
• upaanga or bhaashaanga
• varja or sampoorna
• vakra or non-vakra
Upaanga or bhaashaanga - This refers the using notes from the
parent melakarta. Upanga raagas use only the notes from their parent
melakarta (for example, aabhogi uses only notes from melakarta 22,
kharaharapriyaa). Bhaashaanga raagas, on the other hand, use what
are called anya swaras, notes from a different melakarta. Thus, aahiri
uses swaras from melakartas 8, 14, and 20. A raaga may use up to 3
swaras from an outside melakarta, but no more.
Varja or sampoorna - Varja means that the raaga is missing some
swaras. revati is missing a G and D, so it is an audava varja raaga.
Swarantara refers to having only 4 swaras (this is rare, for example S R P
N), audava refers to having 5 swaras, shaadava refers to 6 (for example,
S R G M P N), and raagas with no missing swaras, having all seven S R G
M P D N are sampoorna raagas.
Vakra or non-vakra - Vakra means "crooked." Thus these raagas
have crooked scales, with the order being changed. Raagas like
kaanadaa are often considered vakra when they have scales such as S
R G M P M D N S instead of simply S R G M P D N S, which is non-vakra
(even though it is sampoorna, having all the swaras).
Combinations - Raagas may also have combinations of the above,
so raagas such as aahiri again are sampoorna (have all the swaras) but
are vakra (S R S G ...) and bhaashaanga (with anya swaras). In addition
to these nuances, raagas can also have changes in the stressing of
notes and the decorations (gamakas) they are given to give rise to an
even wider variety of raagas. These changes can give rise to hundreds
of thousands of raagas based simply on the 72 melakarta raagas.
N.B.:So,far 7000(SEVEN THOUSAND) ragas have been identified in
the Karnatik Music form and with utmost pain and my own effort, I
could be able to collect the scales(SARGAM) of all the 7000( seven
thousand) ragas.All those are kept properly in my databank.Due to
paucity of time and energy,the same could not be incorporated in
this compendium.However,if any person is interested in any particular
raga,he may like to approach me through my
email(email@example.com) and I shall be pleased to inform him
the required information.
A few "starter" ragas to identify Karnatik form:
4. bhairavi (easy to confuse with todi)
A few names of stalwarts of Karnatik music are appended below :-
Balamurali Krishna has reigned at the forefront of South Indian music for
the past five decades.
Damal Krishnaswamy Pattammal (b.1919), popularly known as DKP, is
one of the finest classical Karnatic vocalists of India.
Madurai Mani Iyer
Madurai Mani Iyer (1912-1968) was born into a family of musicians,
deeply interested in classical music. His paternal uncle
Maharajapuram Vishwanatha Iyer
Maharajapuram Vishwanatha Iyer (1896-1970) was a renowned vocalist
of the Karnatic music who was known for his magnificent
M.L.Vasanthakumari (1928-1990), popularly referred to as MLV was a
vidushi of outstanding merit. She was great in all aspects of Karnatic
music and was endowed with a melodious voice.
Born in the temple town of Madurai on September 16, 1916, to veena
player Shanmugavadivu, M S Subbulakshmi, popularly known as 'MS' to
her admirers, is a legendary Karnatic vocalist.
Muthuswamy Dikshitar (1775-1835) was the famous composer of
Karnatic music who wrote his songs primarily in Sanskrit.
Mysore Vasudevachariar (1865-1961) was a renowed vocalist of the
Karnatic music who has composed nearly 200 kritis in Sanskrit and
Papanasam Sivan (1890-1973) was a highly acclaimed vocalist of the
Karnatic music renowned for his spiritual compositions.
Purandara Dasa (1480-1564) is considered as 'the Father of Karnatic
Sri Semmangudi R. Srinivasa Iyer
Srinivasa Iyer (b.1908) is hailed as the Sangita Pitamaha of the Karnatic
music. He has been singing for 72 years and has left his own deep
impression on the Karnatic music
Subbarama Dikshitar (1839-1906) was an immediate scion and
successor of the great composer Sri Muttuswami Dikshitar
Shyam Sastri (1762-1827) was a Tamil-speaking Brahmin known as
auttara vadama. His actual name was Venkata Subrahmanya but he
was affectionately called Syama Sastri.
Thyagaraja (1767-1847) is hailed as 'the King of Karnatic Music'.
Doreswamy Iyengar (b.1920) was a shining star in the galaxy of famous
vainikas of Mysore.