Structure of Varnams

Tālam & Layam related topics
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sbala
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#1

Post by sbala »

I'm just a beginner learning varnams. I found all the varnams I have learnt have 2 avarthanams of pallavi, anupallavi, charanam ..Is this true for all varnams or is my sample size too small? :)
Last edited by sbala on 19 Mar 2007, 21:22, edited 1 time in total.

rbharath
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#2

Post by rbharath »

most varnams have 2 avarthanams each of pallavi and anupallavi and one avarthanam of caranam. with a few svara passages after the anupallavi and after the caranam. these are called tana varnams

there is another category called the pada varnams, where the svara passages also have corresponding sahityam. so, when u render the varnam, u r suppose to sing the svaram once and then the sahityam again.

in varnams of the olden days, there was also the 4th part called the anubandam. which is a few avartanams of sahityam after the cittai svarams of the caranam.

There is an opinion amongst senior musicologist that all varnams should end in the pallavi line. The pallavi line should be sung after the anubandam, if it exists, or after the caranam after all the cittai svarams are sung.

sbala
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#3

Post by sbala »

Thanks bharath. yes, it is one avarthanam for charanam. Is the 2 avarthanam for tana varnams a rule or convention? I also heard a lecdem that tana varnams are so called as they have to be rendered like tanam singing. I heard in a lecdem that the actual name for chittaswara section is ettugada swarams and should be only called so. Another observation is the number of avarthanams of the first in the set of ettugada swarams is always one. (again, a statement from my limited sample)

rbharath
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#4

Post by rbharath »

bala, u r right about the ettugada svarams. they are called so. the caranam is usually called ettugada pallavi or cittai pallavi, however i dont know if one has to call them that way only.

the first ettugada svarams is also in most cases one avarthanam long and in vilamba kalam.

there are tana and pada varnams which have multiple ettugada pallavis with multiple ettugada svarams for each of them.

sbala
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#5

Post by sbala »

Bharath - I heard about the ettugada swarams in a speech by BM Sundaram. and he said that is the name we should use.
Last edited by sbala on 19 Mar 2007, 22:32, edited 1 time in total.

shishya
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#6

Post by shishya »

bala and bharath a few more observations based on my sample:

the ettugaDa swaras are usually in this progression:
first- low speed one avartanam
second- higher speed second avartanam
third- higher speed two avartanams to include vakra sancaras or datu varusalu
fourth- higher speed four avartanams usually having a resting point in the first avartanam

Some of the tana varnas have 4 avartanams in the muktAyi swara that follows pallavi and anupallavi (such as in hamsadhwani Adi tALa varNam).

sbala
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#7

Post by sbala »

Shishya,
I think the only pattern I'm able to see is , apart from the first one being a single avarthanam is that the next set of swarams should be >=1 avarthanam. For instance, the 4th set of swarams in the Sri raga varnam has only 2 avarthanams. Also, the set of ettugada swarams can be more than 4 in number. I'm now looking for varnams that do not conform to these patterns.

shishya
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#8

Post by shishya »

tODi tAnavarNam has 5 ettugaDa swaras with 3 and 4 swaras being of 2 avartanam duration. navarAgamAlika varNam's 2nd and 3rd ettugaDA sawaras are 2 avartanams each.

arunk
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#9

Post by arunk »

sbala wrote:I think the only pattern I'm able to see is , apart from the first one being a single avarthanam is that the next set of swarams should be >=1 avarthanam.
..
I'm now looking for varnams that do not conform to these patterns. .
:) not conforming to >= 1? wouldnt that be a varnam that ends after first set of swaras?

Perhaps you meant 1st set == 1, and 2nd set > 1? Then i know atleast one which doesnt conform to that - the (short and sweet) sAranga varnam where both 1st and 2nd set span only one avarthanam each. This varnam has only 3 sets of swarams - so real short.

shishya: i just learned the hamsadhwani one! An exquisite varnam. One really gets to appreciate these ragas in varnams (atleast from a beginner's perspective).

Arun
Last edited by arunk on 19 Mar 2007, 23:07, edited 1 time in total.

shishya
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#10

Post by shishya »

arun,

I guess that is the purpose of varNams. If you pay attention to them, they can reveal the main piDis of a ragam that will give you enough material to sing alapana fro about 5 minutes. Savor them.

sbala
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#11

Post by sbala »

I meant 2nd set onwards >=1. So Saranga still falls within the framework!

arunk
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#12

Post by arunk »

but bala my point is NOT >= 1 is < 1 i.e. 0. You are never going to find a varnam that violates that rule. I think I get what you mean and perhaps can be said better - you are looking for a varnam whose first set has > 1 avarthanams?

Arun
Last edited by arunk on 19 Mar 2007, 23:48, edited 1 time in total.

sbala
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#13

Post by sbala »

Arun,
I'm sorry as I'm first a cricket fan and then a music rasika. What I meant to say was that the number of avarthanams in ettugada swarams is a non-decreasing sequence. Meaning, if the second one had 3 avarthanams, the ones from the third onwards should have >=3 avarthanams. Since the first one always has only one avarthanam, everything from the second has to be >=1. Though its a trivial case, it is just a fallout of the previous rule.

drshrikaanth
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#14

Post by drshrikaanth »

calamEla jEsEvayya in nATakuranji, Adi- does that not have 2 Avartas in the first ettugaDe swara?

arunk
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#15

Post by arunk »

ah ok. I wonder if the mathematical term is monotonically increasing (not that it matters here!).

I dont know of any varnams that would break this rule (not that i know many varnams). I get this feeling they seem to setup to build towards some sort of a climactic finish and thus the increase in duration and other factors (the kalpana swara section sometimes resemble that).

Arun

Suji Ram
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#16

Post by Suji Ram »

drshrikaanth wrote:calamEla jEsEvayya in nATakuranji, Adi- does that not have 2 Avartas in the first ettugaDe swara?
http://www.musicindiaonline.com/p/x/-qO ... As1NMvHdW/

Is this varna padavarna ? NS doesnt' sing sAhityam though.

drshrikaanth
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#17

Post by drshrikaanth »

Yes I think there is sAhitya for the swaras but these are not sung by most artistes. And yes, the first ettigaDe swara definitely has 2 Avartas.

Some other exceptions- inta calamu in bEgaDe (vINA kuppayyar or his son's) has 6 Avartas of P-AP before the ciTTeswara. There is another varNa with 5 Avratas of sAhitya but I am unable to recall which at the moment.

vanajAkShirO in kalyANi, Adi has 3 Avartas in the final ettugaDe swara. Likewise, sarasijanAbha in kAmbOdhi, aTa tALa also has 3 Avartas of swaras in the last ettugaDe swara.

There are a few varNas wiht 5 etugaDe swaras (tODi has already been mentioned. Also vanajAkSha in vEdaNDagamana, Adi)

arunk
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#18

Post by arunk »

drs do any of these break the rule bala states? i.e. for ettugaDe sets (i.e. following caranam), any one that has # of avarthas less than an earlier set? I think in vanjAkshIrO it is 1, 1, 2, 3 right? (cant remember of the top of my head and cant sing aloud where i am now :)).

Arun
Last edited by arunk on 20 Mar 2007, 00:28, edited 1 time in total.

drshrikaanth
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#19

Post by drshrikaanth »

No- the No. of Avartas in successive ettugaDe swaras never reduce in length- they always progress in one direction only and that is toward the increase. They can remain the same. i.e 1, 2 and 3 can all have 1 Avarta (ninnukOri in mOhana, Adi)while the last almost aways has even number of Avartas(2 or 4). Usually the 3rd has 2 Avartas. The second can have either 1 or 2 Avartas.

drshrikaanth
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#20

Post by drshrikaanth »

Some relevant discussion on varNas here

http://rasikas.org/forums/viewtopic.php?pid=4679#p4679

arunk
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#21

Post by arunk »

thanks drs!

Nick H
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#22

Post by Nick H »

Here's my simple question about varnams...

Why does the talam often change from 2-kalai to 1-kalai?

Is it just to confuse me and make sure I am embarrassed by being caught putting wrong talam right at the start of the concert? ;) ;) ;)

mohan
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#23

Post by mohan »

nick H wrote:Here's my simple question about varnams...

Why does the talam often change from 2-kalai to 1-kalai?

Is it just to confuse me and make sure I am embarrassed by being caught putting wrong talam right at the start of the concert? ;) ;) ;)
In practice, there is no definative rule as to how to render varnams. Some of the common options are:

a) Whole varnam rendered in one speed (usually 1-kalai)
(Lalgudi Jayaraman usually does this for his own varnams)

b) First half rendered in two speeds then second half also rendered in 2 speeds. 2-kalai all the way through
(TN Seshagopalan quite often does this)

c) First half rendered in two speeds (2-kalai) then second half rendered in only faster speed, exactly double the first speed (1-kalai).
(This is a common option for many artistes)

d) First half rendered in a slower tempo (in either 1 or 2-kalai) then second half rendered in a faster tempo (1-kalai) but not necessarily exactly double the first speed.

There are other options like rendering a varnam in two speeds plus tisram. Also, you may have heard people like L. Subramaniam render varnams in 6 speeds (usually just the first half).

I guess the point for talam-putters is to keep alert, especially during the transition to the 2nd half of the varnam.

sbala
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#24

Post by sbala »

Thanks DRS - That was very informative. A few questions.

1. In that post, you have mentioned that the anupallavi is followed by chiTTeswaras. Shouldn't it be Mukthayi Swarams?

2. You have said that the 3rd one in the ettugada swarams should not have elongated swarams. Doesn't the vasantha varnam have elongated swarams (the 3rd one starting with D)

3. Also, am I right in saying these are all conventions that describe the structure in general and not hard rules?

4. If I compose a varnam, should I adhere to any hard rules?

mohan
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#25

Post by mohan »

sbala - the structure outlined by DRS is "the general structure". Of course, there are exceptions. If you are composing a varnam, I would be recommended you follow the general structure.

An aside, for the kalyani adi tala varnam, 4th ettugada swaram, most people have three avaratanams of swaram. I have learnt 4 and have heard some artistes play 4 as well. The extra avaratanam comes before the last avaratnam and goes like this

PDND ,PDN SN,D NRSN|DNRN ,DPM|PDNN S,,,|| DNSR RG... [S, R, G are all in the upper octave]

Perhaps this was added later to conform to the common structure of varna-s.
Last edited by mohan on 20 Mar 2007, 09:01, edited 1 time in total.

Nick H
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#26

Post by Nick H »

Thank you Mohan.

Six speeds? yes... I have a CD where L. Subramaniam fills the entire CD with Hamsadvani varnam. I'm afraid even counting how many speeds are there always defeated me :(

mohan
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#27

Post by mohan »

That's true - I think I lost count/interest after the 3rd speed as well!

shishya
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#28

Post by shishya »

And then some artists sing the pallavi anupallavi and muktAyiswaram in trisra gati if the pallavi, anupallavi and muktAyiswaram are 2 avartanams each. For instance, I sing trisram for abhogi varnam evari bodhana. Again, this is not a rule but a variation.

arunk
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#29

Post by arunk »

wow! tiSra gati - that would be interesting. I vaguely remember coming across some doing tiSra gati mEl kAlam - is that true?

Me - struggling just to get the 2 speeds in catusra gati right. The quitter in me thinks often "the varnams sound so nice in slow speed - why cant we just stick to that" ;);)

Arun

shishya
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#30

Post by shishya »

Arun,

Usually one sings slower tempo trisra gati after the first speed chaturasra gati and then takes up second speed chaturasra gati after trisra gati... sort of like how artists do trisram while singing RTPs. With practice, this is fairly easy. If one were to sing trisra gati faster speed, that would require pretty good command over one's voice. I do practice it but from performance point of view, I think it would be an overkill in the beginning of the concert.

arunk
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#31

Post by arunk »

ok. Yes i would agree that it would overkill for performance but would be a very tough and good training exercise i would imagine

Suji Ram
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#32

Post by Suji Ram »

Link to L Subramanian playing ninnukOri in "n" speeds. Lost count after 8...

http://www.udbhava.com/udbhava/songs.jsp?id=527

A good nattakurinji
http://www.musicindiaonline.com/p/x/J4b ... As1NMvHdW/

ninjathegreat
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#33

Post by ninjathegreat »

Suji,

It's 16 speeds... phew! I find it difficult to do 4!!!!!

Cheers
Ninja

Nick H
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#34

Post by Nick H »

16 speeds!

We have to applaud the incredible ability to comprehend that, let alone play it.

But for how many of those speeds does he succeed in having musical beauty?

ninjathegreat
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#35

Post by ninjathegreat »

nick,

I could not make out the musical structure after the 10th speed. There seems to be such a rush to get to the next swara. It is a magical gimmickry on the senses, and a mathematical miracle, no less, but the beauty of the music is lost because of the seeming hurry.

Of course, this is just me. And I am nowhere close to a musical genius!!!!

Cheers
Ninja

sshankar_1970
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#36

Post by sshankar_1970 »

There is a LP of L Subramaniam where he plays Nattakurinji varnam in different speeds (Tisra , Khanda , Misra , Sankeerna apart from Chatusra )and does each of these in 2 kalams . At the end its all boils down to mathemeatics ... The muiscal aspect is lost at high speeds ... Carnatic music is best when it is sung at madhyamakalam ... Super fast tempo robs it of the unique microtones

ajaysimha
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#37 Re: Structure of Varnams

Post by ajaysimha »

I just wanted to know the possible ways in which pada Varnams could be sung:

Type 1:
Pallavi
Anupallavi
Chittaiswaram
charamam
Ettugadai passages as swaram only

Type2:
Pallavi
Anupallavi
Chittaiswaram
Charanam
Ettugadai passages only as Sahityas

***Regular one***
Pallavi
Anupallavi
Chittaiswaram
Charanam as sahithya
Ettugadai (swara) followed by Charanam as sahithya
Ettugadai (sahithya) followed by Charanam as sahithya

***Also I have heard In the below style***

Pallavi
Anupallavi
Chittaiswaram
Charanam as swarams
Charanam as sahithya
Ettugadai (swara) followed by Charanam as swarams
Ettugadai (sahithya) followed by Charanam as sahithya

I have heard the people call this type as swarajathi varnam (im not sure)

Could anybody clarify ???

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