Carnatic Music Theory I

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Music Theory
Year I - Carnatic Music 2009

Sri Bhakta Ramadasa Government College of Music & Dance Secunderabad

Technical Terms
Sangeetham is an Indian term for Music. A group of musical sounds, which are called swaras that give melody and pleasant feelings to the ears, is called Sangeetham. Ancient writers hold the view that vocal music, instrumental music and dance together constituted sangeetham. Later, dance was separated from the first two. Shruthi is an audible sound which can be heard distinctly. It is a musical sound which a well trained human ear is capable of distinguishing. It is the Key note or Adhara Shadjam, based on which all other Swaras are derived. Swara is a musical note which is pleasing to the ears. There are seven basic swaras, known as Saptha Swaras. They are 1. Shadjam (shortly - Sa) 2. Rishabham (Ri) 3. Ghandaram (Ga) 4. Madhyamam (Ma) 5. Panchamam (Pa) 6. Dhaivatham (Dha) 7. Nishadham (Ni) Dwadasa Swarasthanas Out of the seven swaras, Shadjam (Sa) and Panchamam (Pa) are constant. They are called Achala Swaras. The remaining five swaras admit varieties and they are called Chala Swaras. In combination, both Achala and Chala swaras yield 12 different musical notes and they are called Dwadhasa Swarasthanas. The Dwadasa Swarasthanas are 1. Shadjam......................................Sa 2. Suddha Rishabam.......................Su Ri 3. Chatusruthi Rishabam.................Cha Ri 4. Sadharana Gandharam...............Sa Ga 5. Anthara Ghandaram...................An Ga 6. Suddha Madhyamam..................Su Ma 7. Prathi Madhyamam.....................Pra Ma 8. Panchamam................................Pa 9. Suddha Dhaivatham...................Su Dha 10.Chatusruthi Dhaivatham.............Cha Dha 11.Kaisiki Nishadham......................Kai Ni 12.Kakali Nishadham.......................Ka Ni2 Arohana – Series of Swaras in the ascending order of pitch. Avarohana – Series of swaras in the descending order of pitch. Moorchana – Arohana and Avarohana together, is called Moorchana

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Sthayi – A series of swaras, beginning with Sa and ending with Ni, is called Sthayi. There are Five Sthayis. 1. Anumandra Sthayi 2. Mandra Sthayi 3. Madhya Sthayi 4. Tara Sthayi 5. Ati-Tara Sthayi

The Sthayi in which we normally sing is the madhya sthayi. The swaras following the upper Shadjam of madhya shtayi are in Tara Sthayi, and the swaras following upper shadjam of tara sthayi are in Ati-Tara Stayi. The Sthayi preceding Madhya stayi is the Madhra sthayi, and the swaras preceding the Mandhra Stayi Shadjam are in Anumandra stayi. Purvanga – The group of first four swaras of the Saptha Swaras – Sa, Ri, Ga, Ma – is known as the Purvanga. Uttharanga – The group of last three notes – Pa Dha Ni – is known as Uttharanga. Dhathu – The swara part of the musical composition is known as Dhathu. Mathu – The sahitya part of a musical composition is known as Mathu. Akshara Kala – Unit time in music is called Akshara Kala. Thrikaala – Kala is refers to the speed of the musical piece. There are Three Kalas, 1. Prathama Kala – First degree of speed. One note is sung in one Akshara Kala. 2. Dwitiya Kala – Second degree of speed, twice faster than Prathama kala. Two notes are sung in one Akshara Kala. 3. Tritiya Kala – Third degree of speed, twice faster than Dwitiya Kala. Four notes are sung in one Akshara Kala. Thourya Trikam - Vocal Music, Instrumental Music and Dance, all the three combined together is referred to as Thouryathrikam.

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Tala – Musical time or measure. Avartha – It is the completion of a tala angas or time measure. Angas, Shadangas – In order to facilitate easy and accurate method of reckoning musical time, six angas have been devised. They are known as Shadangas or six angas. They are Name of the Anga 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Laghu Drutham Anudrutam Guru Plutam Kakapadam Sign I O U 8 | 8 + Number of Aksharas 3/4/5/7/9 2 1 8 12 16...
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