Flow | Mela practice – svara pairs

This “Flow” exercise invites learners to practice any mela (melakarta raga)
Carnatic music offers a total of 72 scales >>
About this exercise

In our present context the above exercises are meant to foster a sense of “Flow” while supplementing the Carnatic music syllabus (abhyasa ganam) attributed to 16th c. composer Purandara Dasa | More information and renditions >>

Vocalists and instrumentalists practice pairs of notes (janta svara) with the aim of increasing fluency and precision.

Janta phrases are embedded in many compositions heard in today’s concerts (notably varnam, kriti and tillana) and as part of improvised interludes (manodharma sangīta): kalpana svara and tanam as clearly heard in the following examples:

Intacalamu (varnam) – Begada – Adi

Tanam – Ghanaraga panchakam (order: Nata, Gaula, Arabhi, Sri, Varali)

Once familiar with the pattern consider practicing the first and the last melakarta ragas (mela 01 & mela 72).

Then proceed to others that are better known as “parental ragas” for their popular “offspring” (janya “derived ragas”) – notably those associated with melas 02 (Revati & Srimani), 17 (Saurashtram), 36 (Gambhiranata), 39 (Varali), 44 (Bhavani), 53 (Hamsanandi & Purvikalyani), 59 (Ranjani), 61 (Srutiranjani), or 66 (Amritavarshini).

Note: some of these mela-janya associations have been submitted to an expert commission appointed by the Music Academy Madras in view of some ambiguity or other. On similar lines, the “omission” of one or more notes from a raga’s “parental scale” may be confusing to learners as in the case of pentatonic (audava raga) Gambhiranata – today listed under mela 36 – which might as well be listed under mela 29.

“Whether the janya is the one derived from the melakarta or vice versa, the existing janaka-janya system of raga classification enhances the paramount importance of the 72 melas as technical facts defining the janyas under them.” – S. Seetha in Tanjore as a Seat of Music >>

a = middle octave (madhya sthayi)
‘sa = higher octave (tara sthayi)

Practice with basic “Sa” = G#
Download this audio file (2 MB, 2 min. mono)
Credit: eSWAR / FS-3C Sruthi petti + Tanjore Tambura
This variation invites music teachers to create their own exercises and thereby make the practice of scale practice more enjoyable for their students.
Audio | Listen to janta phrases as taught by Savithri Rajan
Savithri Rajan teaching phrases in raga Bauli (gitam)
K. Hariprasad singing the full gitam in raga Bauli
Savithri Rajan teaching phrases in raga Navaroj (gitam)
K. Hariprasad singing the full gitam in raga Navaroj

The full series is available here:
Shobhillu Saptasvara: Abhyasa gana guided by Savithri Rajan >>

Find song lyrics and information about Carnatic ragas >>

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

The above svara pattern may be sung, hummed or practiced silently with any svara variants: those you are already familiar with (e.g. raga Mayamalavagaula, mela 15, raga Dhirasankarabharanam, mela 29, raga Mecakalyani, mela 65) or any other you want to practice.

Enjoy practicing by way of gradually getting into a state of flow: deep concentration while feeling completely absorbed by an activity.