Video | Keeping tala with hand gestures: Adi (8 beats) & Misra chapu (7 beats)

Adi tala (8 beats) demonstrated by T.R. Sundaresan
Misra chapu tala (7 beats) performed as konnakkol by T.R. Sundaresan

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Flow | Combine exercises & vocal ranges

  • 7 notes: Any sampurna (melakarta) raga
  • 6 notes: ragas Sriranjani & Hamsanandi
  • 5 notes: raga Hamsadhvani
  • 5 notes: raga Mohana
  • 5 notes: raga Valaji
  • 5/\7 notes: ragas Bilahari & Mohana Kalyani
  • 5/\6 notes: Vasanta
  • 6 notes: raga Kuntalavarali

<< swipe >> to try another exercise
Flow | Exercises, related resources & tips >>

Tambura and sruti petti: “Sa” = G# without Pa
Tambura and sruti petti: “Sa” = G#
Tambura and sruti petti: “Sa” = G
Tambura: “Sa” = F without Pa
Tambura and sruti petti: “Sa” = F
Tambura and sruti petti: “Sa” = D
Tambura and sruti petti: “Sa” = D without Pa
Sruti petti: “Sa” = C-sharp
Sruti petti: “Sa” = C without Pa
Tambura and sruti petti: “Sa” = C
Tambura and sruti petti: “Sa” = A# (lower octave)

Credit: eSWAR / FS-3C Sruthi petti + Tanjore Tambura

Flow | Janya practice 6 notes

sa = middle octave (madhya sthayi), ‘sa = higher octave (tara sthayi)
An exercise inspired by exercises found in the standard syllabus
(abhyasa ganam) attributed to 16th c. composer Purandara Dasa >>
Concept & images © Ludwig Pesch | Feel free to share in accordance with the
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license >>

Listen to a kriti (2nd item) sung by Bhushany Kalyanaraman >>
Explore other renditions of raga Sriranjani and raga Hamsanandi on YouTube >>
Find song lyrics (composers) & translations for these and other ragas >

Listen to Uma Ramasubramaniam demonstrating the svaras (notes) for the present raga(s) on Raga Surabhi >>

Practice with basic “Sa” = G#
Note: this recording has no fifth note “Pa”
(as advised for those janya ragas wherein “Pa” will not be sung or played)
Download this audio file (2 MB, 2 min. mono)
Credit: eSWAR / FS-3C Sruthi petti + Tanjore Tambura

Become fluent with the help of svara syllables (solmisation): practice a series of exercises, each based on a set of melodic figures that lend themselves to frequent repetition (“getting into flow”) | Practice goal, choosing your vocal range & more tips >>

South Indian conventions (raga names & svara notation): karnATik.com | Guide >>

raagam: hamsAnandi
Aa: S R1 G3 M2 D2 N3 S | Av: S N3 D2 M2 G3 R1 S

raagam: shrIranjani
Aa: S R2 G2 M1 D2 N2 S | Av: S N2 D2 M1 G2 R2 S

Having but 6 notes (instead of 7), this type of raga pattern is traditionally classified as being “derived” (janya) from a melakarta raga. More specifically, text books refer to any raga limited to 6 notes as shadava raga.

The most characteristic feature in the above svara pattern is the absence of the fifth note (pa) – the very note that conveys a sense of balance in most other ragas. It may be sung, hummed or practiced silently with any sadavasadava raga you are already familiar with (e.g. Sriranjani and Hamsanandi).

Once internalized you may want to contemplate and remember the same exercise with the help of the “8 x 8 beads” pattern shared here>>

Listen to a brief excerpt of a sloka in raga Hamsanandi sung by Aruna Sairam (Padam le chant de Tanjore, Ocora, Radio France, 1999)

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Please note that the above figures lend themselves to several “Carnatic sister ragas”.

So try and follow the same exercise with the proper notes associated with these janya ragas (carefully avoiding the 5th note, pa):

  • Bhavani (derived from the 44th melakarta raga, Bhavapriya)
  • Hamsanandi (derived from the 53th melakarta raga, Gamanasrama)
  • Lalita (derived from the 15th melakarta raga, Mayamalavagaula, for some composers from the 17th melakarta raga, Suryakanta)
  • Ravicandrika (derived from the 28th melakarta raga, Harikambhoji, and in compositions distinguished by the vakra “zigzag” pattern ni-dha-‘sa heard in the ascending series)
  • Sriranjani (derived from the 22nd melakarta raga, Kharaharapriya)
  • Suddha Todi (derived from the 8th melakarta raga, Hanumatodi)

Learn more and download a free mela-pocket guide here: Boggle Your Mind with Mela (BYMM) method – free mini course >>

Flow | Colourful and creative “when life is attuned to a single tune” – Mahatma Gandhi

An exercise for raga Kuntalavarali (YouTube) >>
Practice with basic “Sa” = G#
Download this audio file (2 MB, 2 min. mono)
Credit: eSWAR / FS-3C Sruthi petti + Tanjore Tambura
The above exercise is inspired by eminent Carnatic flautist
Sikkil Mala Chandrasekhar rendering
Bhogindra Sayinam (Kuntalavarali, Khanda capu) by Svati Tirunal
Excerpt © HMV Marga 1996 cassette recording

Become fluent with the help of svara syllables (solmisation): practice a series of exercises, each based on a set of melodic figures that lend themselves to frequent repetition (“getting into flow”) | Practice goal, choosing your vocal range & more tips >>

South Indian conventions (raga names & svara notation): karnATik.com | Guide >>

raagam: kuntalavarALi
Aa: S M1 P D2 N2 D2 S | Av: S N2 D2 P M1 S

If a raga constitutes more than mere arrangements of notes derived from a given scale, this is due to the mood it evokes in listeners from different backgrounds. This shared experience is often explained in terms of “colour, beauty, pleasure, passion and compassion”, the very connotations of the Sanskrit root ranj from which rāga is derived.

Many scholars have probed into such associations, some shared across India and depicted in countless miniatures, carrying a specific connotation (for a given community of practitioners), or relating to regional customs.

So innovation – including new ragas and adaptations from other cultures – has been a matter of prestige for centuries, thereby confirming a common human trait: innate curiosity giving rise to open-mindedness, thereby widening the scope for self-expression and intercultural collaboration (or new patronage in response to changing economic circumstances and technological advancement).

This is the common ground for vocal and instrumental music whereby neither “side” dominates the other and instead, provides scope for playful interaction. What makes such interaction special is that more often than not, it dispenses with detailed musical scores, even rehearsal; and instead, relying on memory and swift anticipation. No doubt, these are assets worth acquiring (and maintaining) for young and old alike, being useful in many fields of knowledge, and therefore worth integrating in general education.

In the present context of “learning and teaching South Indian (Carnatic) music in unconventional ways”, we may freely explore this vast scope for creativity and lifelong learning: starting from minuscule motifs, then internalizing them and eventually appreciating the achievements of revered musicians past and present including the nuances in the way they render any given raga.

It is in this spirit that you are encouraged to “fill in the blanks” by first listening to a raga rendition of your own choice, then adapt any of the previous patterns in a manner that entices you to actually practice what attracted Mahatma Gandhi to music which he loved “though his philosophy of music was different”:

In his own words ‘Music does not proceed from the throat alone. There is music of mind, of the senses and of the heart.’ […] According to Mahatma ‘In true music there is no place for communal differences and hostility.’ Music was a great example of national integration because only there we see Hindu and Muslim musicians sitting together and partaking in musical concerts. He often said, ‘We shall consider music in a narrow sense to mean the ability to sing and play an instrument well, but, in its wider sense, true music is created only when life is attuned to a single tune and a single time beat. Music is born only where the strings of the heart are not out of tune.’

[Bold typeface added for emphasis]
Learn more from Namrata Mishra (Gandhi website)
More on the present course author’s Intercultural blog >>

I have a suspicion that perhaps there is more of music than warranted by life […] Why not the music of the walk, of the march, of every movement of ours, and of every activity?

Mahatma Gandhi in a letter to Rabindranath Tagore’s son Rathindranath
The Oxford India Gandhi: Essential Writings by Gopalkrishna Gandhi, p. 568
To create your own exercises based on any favourite raga including “pa”,
copy and fill the above table (fields marked in green)
as seen in other “Flow” exercises on this course website >>
For ragas excluding the fifth note “pa” while containing “dha”
(from a group of ragas known as pancama varja ragas), use the above table
For ragas including the fifth note “pa” while containing a “zigzag” (vakra) feature, use the above table

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Flow | Janya practice 5 & 7 notes


An exercise for ragas Mohana Kalyani and Bilahari (YouTube) >>
Practice with basic “Sa” = G#
Download this audio file (2 MB, 2 min. mono)
Credit: eSWAR / FS-3C Sruthi petti + Tanjore Tambura
The above exercise is inspired by eminent Carnatic flautist
Sikkil Mala Chandrasekhar rendering
Siddhi Vinayakam (Mohana Kalyani, Adi) by
Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagavatar
Excerpt © HMV Marga 1996 cassette recording

Become fluent with the help of svara syllables (solmisation): practice a series of exercises, each based on a set of melodic figures that lend themselves to frequent repetition (“getting into flow”) | Practice goal, choosing your vocal range & more tips >>

South Indian conventions (raga names & svara notation): karnATik.com | Guide >>

raagam: mOhanakalyANi
Aa: S R2 G3 P D2 S | Av: S N3 D2 P M2 G3 R2 S

The above exercise pattern may also be applied to
raagam: bilahari | More details: songs listed under raga Bilahari >>
Aa: S R2 G3 P D2 S | Av: S N3 D2 P M1 G3 R2 S

Listen to Uma Ramasubramaniam demonstrating the svaras (notes) for the present raga(s) on Raga Surabhi >>

Practice with basic “Sa” = G#
Note: this recording has no fifth note “Pa”
(as advised for those janya ragas wherein “Pa” will not be sung or played)
Download this audio file (2 MB, 2 min. mono)
Credit: eSWAR / FS-3C Sruthi petti + Tanjore Tambura

Information about the persons, items or topics

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