What is the Katapayadi sutra?

The Kaṭapayādi sūtra is an aid to memory or “mnemonic system”. 

Its name corresponds to a “thread” (sūtra), here provided by the initials of four sets of letters within the Sanskrit alphabet: 

Ka Ṭa Pa and Ya

A total of 33 letters are distributed among ten numbers including 0 (zero): 
K (1st) to 9 (nava = 9) + 0 = 10,  (1st) to 9 (nava = 9) + 0 = 10, P (1st) to 5 (pañca = 5) = 5, Y (1st) (aṣṭa = 8) = 8

Note:

  • each letter is associated with a particular number from 1 to nine or 0 (zero)
  • there being more letters than numbers, each number corresponds to several letters: 
    four letters (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
    three letters (6, 7, 8)
    two letters (0)  
  • not all the available letters serve as key syllables in Govindachari’s scheme of 72 mēḷakartā ragas (e.g. only “N” and “S” are used to indicate “0” and “7” respectively)1

For details please refer to the file attached below (PDF, 145 KB)

Tip
This website offers many resources for free (see menu for details): to learn more about the above mentioned composers and scholars, the places where they flourished; and about the musicians who tread in their footsteps today.

Enjoy your exploration of a wonderful music!

References
  1. The theorist and composer of the 17th-18th c. credited with establishing Vijayanagar culture at the Nāyak court of Tanjāvūr; author of a treatise titled Samgraha cūdāmani[]

Raga, Tala and Pedagogy: On the First Steps in Carnatic Music

Tips

Raga, Tala and Pedagogy: On the First Steps in Carnatic Music by Jeremy Woodruff

The system by which any music is taught is the key to what is preserved, and how, in a musical tradition. I chose to research the basics of instruction in South India,both as an entry point for some practical knowledge on the South Indian flute, and as away of examining basic tenets of karnatic music. Using advanced knowledge of a foreign music without having prior knowledge of its basic pedagogy is a bit like attempting to build a chair without a seat for one’s backside. Only by studying the basic assumptions of the music, may we identify what techniques are useful to us, or not, because only then we carefully consider for what they were originally intended. […]

All melodic instrumental training in karnatic music is focused on reproducing subtleties of vocal performance. As imitating singers was the main way that instrumentalists from the time of ‘the Trinity’ updated, preserved and greatly enriched what is now known as karnatic music, it is natural that it is considered the greatest means to accomplishment in instrumental training. Where schools mainly disagree is on how (and how far) these vocal subtleties should be imitated. […]

Gitas are the first pieces to be learned after the rigorous basic exercises outlined above. The Gita, ‘Sri Gananatha’ is the first of these Gitas to be learned by any student. Maybe it is the ‘Für Elise,’ or ‘Minuet in G’ by Bach of karnatic music. It is therefore a special case, but it can still serve well as a concrete demonstration of how gamakas of a single raga, on a single song can differ radically from teacher to teacher. The gita is given in fig 2.1 in Indian notation.

[Bold typeface added above for emphasis]

Read the full paper A Western composer’s view of early music education in Carnatic music on Academia.edu >>

Audio | What Makes Indian Music Unique – Kennedy Center Education

To listen to the educational resources shown below, click here >>

Source: Music of India, An exploration of Indian music
URL: https://www.kennedy-center.org/education/resources-for-educators/classroom-resources/media-and-interactives/media/international/music-of-india/
Date visited: 2 August 2021

Related post
“Sampradaya is like a broad river and the bani is a tributary”: Umayalpuram Sivaraman on his 75 years of performance >>

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Boggle Your Mind with Mela (BYMM) method – free mini course

Have you been looking for a fun way of memorizing the 72 melakarta names and numbers, finding them “mind bending” rather than “mind boggling” until now?

Here’s one method that may work – if you are ready to practice it for a few minutes every day; like passing time while waiting in queues or commuting, or unable to fall asleep. Silently so … such is the beauty and usefulness of the melakarta system.

STEP 1
Take today’s date (or your favorite musician’s birthday) in the format you commonly use (DD-MM or MM-DD, here we’ll use DD-MM)

12-07 for 12 July

STEP 2
Pick the corresponding mela numbers from the list available here (a special gift for all motivated learners):

There you look up the number pair for any given date, for instance:

12 = Rūpāvati R-P=21><12
07 = Sēnāvati S-N=70><07

Tip: if interested, find more explanations on page 2 to understand how the Kaṭapayādi sūtra is being applied to the names of 72 mēḷakartā rāgas (“melas”).

STEP 3
Remember how “yesterday … your troubles seemed so far away?”

11-07 for 11 July … so keep moving forward and backward after getting today’s numbers and names right, to start with.

You got it, all ready to go for days and weeks to come: because that date, too, is another day; one bound to become a memorable one with the help of the Boggle Your Mind with Mela (BYMM) method.

STEP 4
What’s next? Here are some suggestions:

  • find the actual DD-MM date in the Western calendar which corresponds to “72 October 2021”
  • or any other DD-MM date you consider booking a ticket and attend the Chennai December Season
  • if motivated to do so: memorize the entire list of 72 melas in batches of 10 (rather than 6): you’ll spot the patterns more easily
  • apply mela numbers in order to remember daily matters: birthdays, holidays or passwords – you name it
  • print the above PDF-attachment, then fold the sheet along the lines “accordeon style”: this yields a neat, visiting card size BY-MM paper-app (battery free for 24/7 use)
  • use it as a gift for fellow music lovers interested in this subject

Just one more thing as regards general well being
Although it seems unlikely you didn’t know yet: remember how good walking is for both, one’s mental and physical health? For our brains and moods … even for learning all the 72 mela ragas by heart in a stress-free manner.

So I gladly recommend listening to the following podcast episode by BBC Crowd Science:
Why is standing more tiring than walking?
https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/w3ct1pqm

So keep walking, and rather than talking, boggle your mind through mela memorization whenever you are out there – enjoy!

Ludwig Pesch on Rūpāvati-Sēnāvati Day 2021

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Why Carnatic Music Matters More Than Ever

by Ludwig Pesch

For this musicologist and author, there are good reasons to believe that Carnatic music matters, perhaps more than ever and almost anywhere in the world. So why not perform and teach it in the service of better education for all, for ecological awareness or in order to promote mutual respect in spite of all our differences? And in the process, get “invigorated and better equipped to tackle the larger issues at hand”.

Published by Shankar Ramchandran on behalf of Dhvani Ohio | Read or download the full article (PDF, 800 KB, updated 19 June 2021):

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 License

Related post: A brief introduction to Carnatic music >>

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Coming soon: the 3rd, digital and free edition: Ragadhana 2021

Both earlier editions of Ragadhana were well received in India and beyond. Being out of print for several years it is time to make it available again as a 3rd (free) edition. 

In tune with today’s needs, Ragadhana may now be read as well as browsed:

  • online with the help of any browser
  • offline via eReader (any tablet or pc)
  • in printed form (PDF download)

The present edition incorporates the 2nd, revised and enlarged edition (1993).

Carnatic music is a vast realm with room for both, adherence to tradition and creative exploration of melody in all its diversity. This observation may account for the enthusiastic feedback received received from students, teachers and composers for the earlier editions. The present updates and some additional material are intended as a way of returning their compliments.

Memorize the 72 melakarta ragas: free Anki flashcards

Download the updated set of 72 anki flashcards “Mela-Memorization-CarnaticStudent-72.apkg” here >> (version 2 December 2020)

Learn more about the 72 melakarta ragas >>

Anki flash cards
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