Comparison between Western and Carnatic music.

January 19th, 2014 by Anjali
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The question that often comes about when discussing music is, “What is the difference amongst different types of music?” Take, for example, Western and Carnatic music. They vary in terms of reference of notes and other musical aspects. However, many of the fundamental concepts stay the same.

The notes are referred to differently in both types of music. In Carnatic music, the notes are referred to as the Sapta Swaras collectively. Individually, they are referred to as Sa (Shadjam), Ri (Rishabam), Ga (Gandharam), Ma (Madhyamam), Pa (Panchamam), Da (Dheivatham), and Ni (Nishadam) respectively. In Western music, though, they are referred to with the first seven letters of the English alphabet (A, B, C, D, E, F, and G). The concept of seven notes in essence is a common factor in both types of music though.

Furthermore, the way the notes are shown on paper differ. In Carnatic, the notes are written straight across with the first letter of the Swara, or the short form of it. For example, the notes can be written the following two ways:

S R G M P D N S

or

Sa Ri Ga Ma Pa Da Ni Sa

Western music does not use this method. Instead, it depicts the notes via staff notation. In this, the notes are shown as ovals on five lines. These five lines can represent a treble clef, which is used for notes higher in pitch, or a bass clef, which is used for notes lower in pitch. An example is:

As per this example, the treble clef is the group of five lines above, while the bass clef is the group of five lines below. The ovals portrayed are the notes. Clearly, the way the notes are shown is different between these two type of music.

These two varieties of music are unique in their own ways. All the same, they remain similar in the fundamental level of music. In conclusion, both types of music are beautiful with their individual characteristics, while both have the core concepts of music embedded within them.

Photo credit: (Staff) http://www.ace-your-audition.com/how-to-read-sheet-music.html

- by Ashraya Ananthanarayanan. Ashraya has been an Online Bharatanatyam student since 2009. Ashraya is an eight grader and author of two books Ring of Hope and Aria. She was also crowned the State Spell Bee champion in 2013. She also manages the SOHAM music newsletter of Shruthilayam Academy and has won the Veena Gayathri award for proficiency in Music. She was chosen as the winner of Prathyogitha a carnatic music competition held in PA by Judge Smt. Vidya Subramanian for her vocal talent at a tender age of seven. She was proud to be featured in one of the shows of Raagarasika. She is an ardent lover of Bharatanatyam and enjoys learning under her guru Smt. Anjali Nandan. 

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Carnatic Music in Dance

January 19th, 2014 by Anjali
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Music and dance are incomplete without each other. It is the music which adds that sparkle to the precious dance form Bharatanatyam which originated from Bharata’s Natya Shastram.

Bharatanatyam is danced to the Carnatic music. The mathematical precision of Bharatanatyam equals that of Carnatic Music measure for measure.Bharatanatyam is based on Natya Shastra, which is also a sacred book for Music as one can say that after the Samaveda this was the only text that talked about music in detail. In fact Bharata Muni has dedicated chapters 28-34 talking about music at length.

The Natyasastra clearly expresses rasa­bhava­prakriya, a yardstick used for all dance and musical dhruvas and abhinayam.The Natya shastra talks about Dhruva Ghana which were mainly songs used to enhance the entire dance drama. The term Raga was first described in the Natya Shastram along with demonstrating the usage of scales in  intervals of  2, 3 or 4 srutis. The Natya shastram classifies musical instruments into four categories, which include Tata (lutes), Sushira (flute), Ghana (cymbals), Avanadha (drums) and also speaks about the principles of usage of all classes of instruments , talas and even the Gandharva music.

Talams of the carnatic music play a vital part in the dance concert since the singer has to match the mrudangam and the dancer’s beats. Normally the talams for most of the songs sung in a dance concert tend to be Adhi talam an 8 beat talam though some of the more difficult ones would have to match beats of Ata talams and Jhumpa talams in various jathis.

Though carnatic music has an everlasting impact on this dance form the carnatic music which is sung for a dance recital varies from a pure music kutchery.

1. In any carnatic kutchery the opening is done with a Varnam where as in a dance recital Varnam comes much longer after Pushpanjali, shabdham and Alarippu.

2. The layam of the music has to match the Bhavams of the dancer on the stage unlike a pure music recital where the singer is the master/owner of the Layams and delivers it in the best way he chooses to.

3. While in a music concert, the singer can sing a composition in different talas and speeds, this cannot happen in a dance concert. The number of times even a line is repeated depends on the choreography of the dance.

It can be concluded with a sloka from the Sangeetha Shastram which clearly implies that Music and Dance are incomplete without each other:

Geetham Vadhyam Thatha Nrityam Thrayam Sangeetha Mucchyathe

Sangeetham comprises of Geetham ( songs), Vadhyam( instruments) and Natyam( Dance)

 

Ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bharata_Natyam, Sangeetham Shastram book

- by Ashraya Ananthanarayanan.  Ashraya has been an Online Bharatanatyam student since 2009. Ashraya is an eight grader and author of two books Ring of Hope and Aria. She was also crowned the State Spell Bee champion in 2013. She also manages the SOHAM music newsletter of Shruthilayam Academy and has won the Veena Gayathri award for proficiency in Music. 

She was chosen as the winner of Prathyogitha a carnatic music competition held in PA by Judge Smt. Vidya Subramanian for her vocal talent at a tender age of seven. She was proud to be featured in one of the shows of Raagarasika. She is an ardent lover of Bharatanatyam and enjoys learning under her guru Smt. Anjali Nandan. 

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History Of Bharatanatyam -Part 2

January 19th, 2014 by Anjali
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Bharatanatyam is a popular classical dance form of India. Its history goes back a long way. It originates from Tamilnadu, a location in Southern India. Many differences, however, have arisen regarding the art form, starting with simply its name.

The word “Bharatanatyam” itself was established far back in time, even before the composer Purandara Dasa’s time. This can be proven by the reference to Bharatanatyam that Shri Purandara Dasa’s makes in his works. Likewise, many other artists and scholars have hinted at the word much before recent times. Bharatanatyam has, though, been known widely with other names including Sadirattam, Dasiattam, Adal, Koothu, etc. These names have faded over the years, and the art is now commonly known as Bharatanatyam. So what does that term actually mean?

The word is broken down into two separate components: Bharata, obviously referring to Sage Bharata. The other part Natyam, however, has a little more to it than what simply meets the eye. Natyam is today understood to mean dance. But it also is used to mean drama, according to the Natyashastra, a work by none other than Sage Bharata himself. Dance is a component to the collective Natyashastra. Also included are types of drama, costumes, make-up, model work, playhouse structures, and many others.

In addition to simply using written works and performances, the beauty of dance can be seen in the statutes at temples. These sculptures are mainly depicting the Karanas, or dance postures. In Hindu temples, the presiding deity is to be offered sixteen forms of hospitality. Dance is one of these sixteen forms, and Devadasis, or servants of God, would dance at temples for this reason. One main temple containing the aforementioned sculptures is the temple of Chidambaram. This temple is located close to Pondicherry.

The art form was dissolved due to some complications. Eventually, in later years, some brave Devadasis took to the stage and revived the art form after its complete destruction with the British empire’s ruling. The families and devadasis who had preserved the art form taught it to others, thus spreading it again. Rukmini Devi is widely known as a disciple of the well-known Balasaraswati. This refined form of the art, however, has been brought to us from the Tanjore Quartet. Their names were Chinnayya, Ponnayya, Vadivelu, and Sivanandam. Many of the pieces performed today are their works.

The dance form of Bharatanatyam has been through many difficult times. However, with the strength and support of those who always carried it on, students such as myself are able to enjoy the beautiful experience of learning this art form today. With the support of further generations, this art form will be preserved and will not have to go through the difficulties it faced in reviving itself once. Despite these struggles, Bharatanatyam has become an art form enjoyed by not only Hindus, but those of many religions.

Photo credit: (Chidambaram Temple) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chidambaram

- by Ashraya Ananthanarayanan. She is a high school student from Philadelphia. Ashraya has been an Online Bharatanatyam student since 2009.

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DVD Natyarambham- Learning Adavus in Bharatanatyam

November 17th, 2013 by Anjali
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Today I am happy to announce that we are ready to release the first part of our DVD on Adavus, the basic steps in Bharatanatyam. It’s been almost a year we have been working on this. We are calling the DVD as” Natyarambham- Learning Adavus in Bharatanatyam“. The first part covers Tatta Adavu, Natta Adavu, Visharu Adavu , Tatti Metti Adavu and Teermanam Adavu. We are working on the second part too and hope to release the same soon.

I had many visitors to the site asking for a compilation of the youtube videos. Instead of giving them the current videos, we decided to redo all of them so that you get better value . We have reworked  all the adavus on the Blog to give you a more content and consistency. I have added a few more tips and closeups of all the leg movements. This should give a clear demonstration of the intricate footwork.

Some of the highlights and benefits of the DVD:

More content:  All the videos have been retaken and we have more details for each Adavu.

New Updated Videos: Updated all the demo videos based on my 5 plus years of teaching online. Tips and correction are given at the required places.

All steps with you always: Whether offline or online, DVD should be a great way to have all the step in one place.

Close up: We have all the footwork in close-up so that it is easy to understand and follow along.

How to use the DVD

For each Adavu, I have talked about the concept at the beginning. It moves on to showing the hand movements. The student can try doing the movements along with my explanation. Then the footwork is explained , which is also a practice along. You may pause the video after the footwork and try working on the hand and footwork until it is mastered. Then play the video again and practice along with the synchronized movements.  The steps are demonstrated in a slow or medium speed depending on the complexity of the variation. Once the student has worked on one step with video , stop/pause and practice the same for some more time before moving to the next variation.

 How to buy the DVD:

Our DVD’s are being shipped by  Kunaki.com and are currently available to countries serviced by them. We are working on providing a shipping option for India soon. If  your country is not available in the drop down list please let us know and we will make all efforts to ship the same to you.

Appreciate all your support for the site and hope this DVD helps you learning the dance form.  In turn, this helps us help you better. Please let us know your feedback and we will try and incorporate in the next part

600 DVD Boxorder-now-burst106

 

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Kapi Tillana

September 21st, 2012 by Anjali
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I have demonstrated the Kapi Tillana composed by MD is Ramanathan Pillai sung by Prince Rama Varma in Adi Talam Tisra Gati. The moment I heard him sing I could feel the steps marching in. This is an inspired choreography. A very simple Tillana that can be learnt by intermediate level students.

Thanks to Rasikas.org  for meanings. The Sahityam is in Telugu and in praise of Goddess Adi Shakti

Pallavi:

dhIm dhIm dhIm dhImta dhIranA dhiranA dhiranA

Anupallavi:

nAdhrudhIm tomdhrudhIm tana dhiranA dhiranA dhiranA
nadrutAni tomdhrutAni dhru tillAna dhru dhru tillAna dhru dhru dhru tillAna

Charanam:

pAda yugamu nammiti patita pAvani purANi nI daya kOrina nannu nalinAkSi kApADumu

nA taramA nI mahimalu natajana pAlinI pogaDa Adi shakti nIvEgadA Adi varadadAsanuta

pA dha pa ma ga mA pa ma ga ri gA ma ga ri sa rI ni ri sa ni sA ni sa ga ga sa ga ma ma
ga pa pa ni pa ma ga ri sA ri sa ri ma pa ni ri ma pa ni sa ri dhitlAm kiTatOm
dhitlAm kiTatakatOm dhitlAm kiTataka tarikiTatOm

Meaning of the Sahityam:

Oh sanctifier/purifier (purANi) of the fallen (patita), Oh consort of Siva (purANi), I have placed my faith/believed in (nammiti) [the protection offered by] your feet (pAda yagamu) [1]. Please protect (kApADumu) me (nannu), who has desired/sought (kOrina) your (nI) compassion (daya), Oh lady with lotus (naLina)-like eyes (akshi)! Is it in my (nA) capabilities (taramA) to talk about/praise (pogaDa) your (nI) greatness (mahimalu), Oh protector (pAlini) of the people (jana) who bow down (nata) to you? Aren’t (kadA/gadA) you (nIvE) the all powerful (Adi Sakti), the one that this prime/principal (Adi) disciple/servant (dAsa) of varadAcAriar (varada) bows down to/prays to (nuta)?

[1] pAda ygamu – pAda = feet, yagamu = both/two

Watch the Videos for the instruction and demonstration.

 

I did not have the song with me at first. I had to use the youtube version. I am a big Rama Varma fan, so whatever he sings I thoroughly enjoy it. I mailed Varma sir saying that I used your song and that only if you permit I shall post it on my blog. To my surprise I got a very humble reply from ‘ The Prince’.

He said “ I am extremely happy to see that you picked this, out of the hundreds of videos by various people available on youtube. Please feel welcome to use it in whatever way you like. Many people I know, seem to have made some sort of arrangement by which they can take everything with them when they die…..be it knowledge, wealth or power. As I still haven’t figured out how to do this, I have absolutely no problem sharing whatever I know in whatever way I can :-)

I am extremely thankful for his support and encouragement. For all those who need the song, follow the link below to buy it. http://www.amazon.com/Omkaaraakaarini/dp/B005NTY7KM

 

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Tillana.

September 21st, 2012 by Anjali
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Tillana is a brisk and a lively number performed towards the end of a concert. Usually a carnatic vocal or a Bharatanatyam concert culminates with a Tillana. The lyrics contain sollus like Dheem Nadir Dheem or Dheem Ta na Di tIllana .  Most of  the Tillana’s include the word ‘Tillana’ in the lyrics. It is predominantly a rhythmic composition. Tillana usually has jatis as a part of the composition and few lines of Sahityam in the charanam followed by Muktams ( Patterns of swarams) or  Sollus. Tillana consists of a Pallavi, Anupallavi, Sahityam and Cittaswaram. The composers enjoy the freedom to add the Sahityam based on the presiding deity of the composer or their Ishta devataa (beloved god).  Origin of Tillana can be traced to the Tarana of Hindustani music. Tillana’s were composed in the late 17th and 18th century by Tanjaore quartets, Ootthukkadu Venkata Kavi and Maharaja Swathi Thirunal and many such vidwans. Melattur Veerabhadrayyah is said to be the earliest composer of Tillana’s in the 17th century. The Modern day composers like Late Shri Papanasam shivam, Shri  Lalgudi Jayraman and Shri Balamurali Krishna have also composed exciting Tillanas for Dance.

Following Tillanas have been worked for you. Please click the active link below.

Kapi Tillana composed by MD Ramanathan Pillai

Dhanasri Tillana

Desh Tillana

 

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Palli hand gesture

July 23rd, 2012 by Anjali
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Palli is done by holding Mayura hasta and then crossing middle finger over the index finger. The viniyoga shloka say: “Pallyarthe Viniyujyate”, which means it is used to it is used to represent a Hut.

Palli Hasta

 

 

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Jatiswaram part 3

December 23rd, 2011 by Anjali
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In previous posts, jatiswaram part 1 and part 2, we talked about the structure of Jatiswaram, Pallavi and charanam.  ” Da” Charanam was demonstrated in the previous posts.

The following videos demonstrate the Charanams “Ni” and “Sa”.

 

1. Ni piece

 

2. Sa Piece.

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Mallari

October 20th, 2011 by Anjali
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In carnatic music Mallari is associated to Nadaswaram instrument, the Mangala vadyam (auspicious instrument).  Redention of Mallari is an important part of Nagaswaram repertoire. Nagaswaram music is a part of every day temple ritual. During deepaaradhana’s and temple processions Mallari is played with this instrument along with Tavil. The common ragas in which Mallari’s are presented are Gambheera nattai, Nattai, gowla, and Arabhi.

Following links have detailed information on types Mallari’s :

http://www.carnatica.net/sangeet/nagaswaram-art.htm

http://ramsabode.wordpress.com/2010/02/10/lec-dem-mallari-and-its-special-features/

The following video demonstrates the  Mallari in Ragam Nattai and Talam Adi. Thanks to my friends on Rasikas.org and Jaya Akka (daughter of Swami Malai Rajaratnam Pillai) who helped me identify this ragam and also shared an interesting fact. She said that the  song was composed by her legendary father Shri Swamimalai Rajaratnam Pillai as Pushpanjali for his students.

 

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Jatiswaram part 2

August 12th, 2011 by Anjali
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The following videos demonstrates the 4th Korvai and the Charanam ‘Dha’.  For all the repeations of the Pallavi (Starting lines or thematic line of the song that is often repeated severel times), steps are done in accordance with the  swarams. The second video shows the first Charanam ‘da,,, ni da pa da’. They sound different from the Pallavi ( Sa,,,ni da pa ga ) that was being sung so far.  Charanam means “foot” in Sanskrit. Hence Charanams are end portions of a song. There can be one or more charanams to a song. Every charanam is followed by the Pallavi

4th Korvai:

Charanam ‘Dha”

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