Kalapramanam queries

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HarishankarK
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#1 Kalapramanam queries

Post by HarishankarK »

Hi
I need some clarification on Kalapramanams. Are their only three types - for. eg. -

For e.g. in Ragam Kedaragowlai I have classified the below three songs -

(Bhaamaro) Emandu Namma - Padam - Very slow
Saraguna Palimpa - Slow
Venugana lolu Ni i kanname- Medium speed
Parakela Nannu - Fast

What are the equivalent names for the speeds i have classified in sanskrit or music language?
Are there any other speeds as wells? What is the difference between Nadai and Kalapramanam??

harimau
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#2 Re: Kalapramanam queries

Post by harimau »

The normal speed many krithis are set in is madhyama kala.

The slower-paced songs are set in chowka kala.

The faster-paced (not racy -- racy has a different meaning in English :lol: ) songs are set to tvarita kala.

Most song a are set to chatusra nadai, meaning there are 4 time intervals between the beats of a tala. You can literally say ta-ka-dhi-mi between the beats and that is how the mridangist would play.

Tisra nadai uses just 3 such intervals between beats within a tala. The mridangam will go ta-ki-ta, ta-ki-ta,.....

That is a quick summary.

SrinathK
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#3 Re: Kalapramanam queries

Post by SrinathK »

HarishankarK, One point I must add here is that there are two distinct concepts -- the pace & the degree of speed -- both of which are referred to by the word kaalam (and this is a source of considerable confusion and interchangeable usage).

The degree of speed refers to the number of notes per kriya (beat) -- in this we say that we have 6 degrees of speed (although it can be extended further, what I see in practice is 7 degrees of speed), namely :

1 note per 4 beats,
1 note per 2 beats,
1 note per beat,
2 notes per beat,
4 notes per beat,
8 notes per beat
and 16 notes per beat. (In standard chatushra nadai, i.e. normal)

The tempo is a reference to the overall pace of the song -- in this also we have different terms. Although they are qualitative in nature, I have seen quite often that these terms are also used to label the degree of speed. Like I said earlier, using the same word for both concepts has created ambiguity in this matter.

Ati ati vilamba
Ati vilamba
Vilamba or chauka
Madhyama
Durita
Ati Durita

Tempo markings exist in other forms of music as well. Western classical has 20 (TWENTY!) shades of tempo. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tempo

The naDai (tamil) or gathi (sanskrit) refers to the number of swaras in a beat. From a strictly technical point of view, the naDai is measured at the degree of speed in the above list where the number of notes per beat gives you a straightforward and simple answer. Therefore in the same degree of speed,

1) Tisra nadai = 3 notes per beat
2) Chatushra nadai = 4 notes per beat
3) Khanda nadai = 5 notes per beat
4) Mishra nadai = 7 notes per beat
5) Sankeerna nadai = 9 notes per beat

The 6 degrees of speed are applicable to these 5 nadais also although this can make it rather complicated. For example, in tisra nadai, you can have the following degrees of speed :
3 notes per 8 beats,
3 notes per 4 beats,
3 notes per 2 beats,
3 notes per beat,
6 notes per beat,
12 notes per beat,
24 notes per beat (Don't try that last one at home :lol:).

You will very rarely see anything other than 3 notes per 2 beats, 3 notes per beat, 6 notes per beat being used in actual practice -- the percussion can handle the 12 notes per beat. Similarly for all the other nadais.

I have heard the work kalapramanam being used mainly in relation to how well a musician can control a steady tempo without uncontrolled dragging or speeding up.
Last edited by SrinathK on 06 Sep 2015, 23:54, edited 1 time in total.

kvchellappa
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#4 Re: Kalapramanam queries

Post by kvchellappa »

Will kalapramanam be in laya what kattai is in sruti? i.e. it is artist specific, that with which an artist has unhindered/unstressful expression of his ideas? (Sorry to ask an illiterate question in a scholarly discussion).

SrinathK
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#5 Re: Kalapramanam queries

Post by SrinathK »

@kvchellapa, Sir, your analogy is absolutely correct. Kalapramanam as I have heard this word being used is the skill of maintaining a particular tempo.
Sorry to ask an illiterate question in a scholarly discussion
On the contrary it is a very legitimate question, and the concept is really not so complicated in theory.

kvchellappa
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#6 Re: Kalapramanam queries

Post by kvchellappa »

Thanks. A reply from you, Sri SrinathK, always pleases me.

SrinathK
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#7 Re: Kalapramanam queries

Post by SrinathK »

The qualitative pace of any particular composition that causes us to characterize it as vilamba or madhyama or durita can be quantified based on the average speed of the swaras being sung -- basically your notes per second or notes per minute.

Every composition has a certain base degree of speed at each section in which the majority of the phrases are situated -- in that section, there may be phrases that are faster than this, there may be phrases that are slower than this. But it is this degree of speed, combined with the speed of rendering the tala, that determines how fast the swaras in a particular part of a composition will be rendered on average. It is this quality that gives the feeling of vilamba / chauka or madhyama to a composition. In a madhyama kala composition the swaras making up it's melody will be sung faster than a chauka kala composition.

As an example, take Kamakshi (Bhairavi Swarajathi) in Mishra Chapu. It keeps a steady base tempo of 7 swaras per cycle of Mishra Chaapu all the time and you would call this as a chauka kala piece -- keeping to one degree of speed throughout from start to finish. The example of Vathapi or an Oothukaadu krithi is one that uses distinct degrees of speeds in various parts of the song to create various tempos. Speaking of which...

Another very important factor that governs the pace of the song is also the speed at which the lyrical syllables are sung. For e.g. In Vathapi, the pallavi has a lot of madhyama kala sangathis, but the very first sangati has a base degree of 2 notes per beat and the lyrics are spaced apart accordingly to this. This then forms the base tempo of the pallavi. Therefore the madhyama kala sangathis in the pallavis still have the lyrics spaced far apart, therefore they feel like the icing on the cake instead of the core, which remains in a lower gear overall. Now look at the charanam. Most of the charanam also follows this base tempo until you come to the last 2 lines of the charanam -- Karaambujapaasha beejaapuram etc.. -- immediately the base speed of the swaras doubles to 4 per beat and the lyrics become much denser -- 1 syllable per note. Now it is clearly a Madhyama kala portion.

This madhyama kala portion of the charanam (and also in the anupallavi) nevertheless "feels" even faster than the madhyama kala sangathis in the pallavi -- not because the swaras are being sung faster, but because the lyrics are denser and are being sung faster. Therefore this doesn't just feel like a fast sangathi, but an acceleration in the song itself, as the speed of the lyrics that were dictating the base tempo have doubled.

A padam has very wide spacing between the lyric syllables and the base swaras, creating a uniquely slow tempo where you can explore the raga to the point of exhaustion. Even singing short brighas or intricate raga phrases doesn't alter the "time stands still" effect of these compositions

This shows that a)different parts of a song can have clearly different tempos created by using different degrees of speed in each part and b) using different degrees of speed of swaras and lyrics can create multiple degrees of kaalam. By keeping the lyrics farther apart, you can actually make a song appear slower than it actually is from the speed of the swaras.

The other effect on the tempo has to do with the speed of the tala. By slowing or speeding this up, you can make a song go slow, you can make it feel like a walk in the park or you can set a blistering tempo that blasts it's way through -- changing the speed of the tala changes the energy level of the composition directly. In the previous examples, the tala remained at one speed only, while everything else shifted gears up and down to change the tempo. But here, the Degrees of speeds in various parts of the song do not change, but the overall beats per minute (bpm) of the tala has changed, giving rise to a different "feel". Even a change of 5% in the tala speed is substantial and can make all the difference between "controlled" and "rushed".

A very good example of this would be the difference between singing a varnam as a warm up or a filler and singing it as a heavier tour de force like a Dikshitar masterpiece (Yes, now let's not start a debate on that, not in this topic, fact is that the composition form is extraordinarily versatile). This technique is actually applicable on everything from varnam to mangalam and all in between. Speaking of which, just compare GNB's 30 sec mangalams at race tempos (that is not a criticism, just the aesthetic energy level) to Brinda & Mukta's 1:30 sec renditions (oh yes, in that school, even the Managalam is a really heavy item).

Therefore the speed of swaras x speed of tala + speed of lyrics ---> overall pace of a composition

vasanthakokilam
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#8 Re: Kalapramanam queries

Post by vasanthakokilam »

The faster-paced songs are set to tvarita kala.


Thanks for using the right word 'tvarita' there. tvarita (त्वरित ) does mean quick,swift, fast '.
People most times say it as 'durita' or 'drut'. durita (दुरित ) means 'sinful, bad, wicked, difficult, evil, danger, discomfort' etc.

Srinath, you are right about the confusion of using the same word kAla to refer to both tempo and speed. In typical usage, kAlapramANA means tempo. While tempo of a song remains the same, the speed varies almost continuously in a typical composition. That is the internal laya of the song and that is what makes a song a song. Another way of stating it is that the tempo/kalapramanam is about the metronome whereas the speed is about the composition.

In western music notation this distinction is made explicit. Tempo is marked on the top of the staff notation ( either with 'allegro', 'lento' etc or BPM which is so many quarter notes per minute), Speed on the other hand is shown in the staff notation with different symbols for 1/4, 1/8, 1/32 etc notes. and by tying such symbols together. That is, tempo is outside the staff and speed is inside the staff, so to say. In CM notation, the speed is indicated by horizontal lines drawn over the swaras.

Once we understand speed as the number of sub-divisions within a beat which includes naDai/gathi as well( as explained by Harimau and Srinath at different levels of details and precision ), then one can talk about two distinct aspects of speed.

The first aspect is the normally understood concept of trikAlams ( again the confusing terminology ) where the whole section is sung at a different (but uniform) speed. That is in the domain of the performer, practice, cutcheri format etc.

The second aspect of speed is less talked about but is the most common. It is the speed variation that is inherent in every composition.. Speed can and does vary from beat to beat and that is what makes a composition a composition otherwise it will all sound uniform like a gItam (not to take away anything from gItams which serve an enormously useful purpose). That speed variation is also referred to as the inherent laya of the song.

In CM, we go to the third level using the concept of additive laya. In the simpler form which is all over the place in CM compositions, instead of going 4, 4, 4, 4, the grouping will go 6, 2, 4, 4. And in just the next line it will be 3 + 4 + 7 + silence etc. To western musicians this comes across as syncopated rhythm which in a way it is. Typically in WM, syncopation is more the exception whereas in CM, if one considers such additive rhythm as syncopation, it is the rule rather than the exception.

It is interesting to study how Thyagaraja, Syama Sastrigal and MD use such additive rhythm in vastly different manner which give rise to unique feel for their compositions.

EDIT: Srinath, it looks like our posts crossed. There is a lot of overlap in what we wrote.

SrinathK
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#9 Re: Kalapramanam queries

Post by SrinathK »

vasanthakokilam : Thanks for using the right word 'tvarita' there. tvarita (त्वरित ) does mean quick,swift, fast '.
People most times say it as 'durita' or 'drut'. durita (दुरित ) means 'sinful, bad, wicked, difficult, evil, danger, discomfort' etc.
Yikes :o. I didn't know that. You wonder as to how we ignorantly use words not knowing what we are saying. Thanks. Therefore, the tempo classifications should then be

ati ati vilamba
ati vilamba
vilamba
madhyama
tvarita
ati tvarita

Now in Western classical music, the tempo is classified into 20 levels (which can be approximated as a function of beats per minute).

Larghissimo – very, very slow (24 BPM (Beats per minute in a 4/4 time) and under)
Grave – very slow (25–45 BPM)
Largo – broadly (40–60 BPM)
Lento – slowly (45–60 BPM)
Larghetto – rather broadly (60–66 BPM)
Adagio – slow and stately (literally, "at ease") (66–76 BPM)
Adagietto – slower than andante (72–76 BPM)
Andante – at a walking pace (76–108 BPM)
Andantino – slightly faster than Andante (although in some cases it can be taken to mean slightly slower than andante) (80–108 BPM)
Marcia moderato – moderately, in the manner of a march[4][5] (83–85 BPM)
Andante moderato – between andante and moderato (thus the name andante moderato) (92–112 BPM)
Moderato – moderately (108–120 BPM)
Allegretto – moderately fast (112–120 BPM)
Allegro moderato – close to but not quite allegro (116–120 BPM)
Allegro – fast, quickly, and bright (120–168 BPM) (molto allegro is slightly faster than allegro, but always in its range)
Vivace – lively and fast (168–176 BPM)
Vivacissimo – very fast and lively (172–176 BPM)
Allegrissimo or Allegro vivace – very fast (172–176 BPM)
Presto – very, very fast (168–200 BPM)
Prestissimo – even faster than Presto (200 BPM and over)

Plus they also have lots of adjectives and adverbs .... Never mind. Just read it on wikipedia.

4/4 time indicates that all this is applicable in one degree of speed (namely 4 quarter tones per beat) in what would be chatushra nadai in Carnatic music, so their basis for tempo is almost the same as ours.

harimau
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#10 Re: Kalapramanam queries

Post by harimau »

HarishankarK wrote:Hi
...........
Are there any other speeds as well?
Search YouTube for Sampagodu Vighnaraja.

There is a clipping of him singing a varnam in 6 and even 7 speeds.

Needless to say, such virtuosity has no takers in Chennai. :twisted:
Last edited by harimau on 08 Sep 2015, 07:14, edited 1 time in total.

harimau
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#11 Re: Kalapramanam queries

Post by harimau »

vasanthakokilam wrote:
The faster-paced songs are set to tvarita kala.


Thanks for using the right word 'tvarita' there. tvarita (त्वरित ) does mean quick,swift, fast '.
People most times say it as 'durita' or 'drut'. durita (दुरित ) means 'sinful, bad, wicked, difficult, evil, danger, discomfort' etc.
Durita may be the more appropriate word considering that in several instances sinful, bad, wicked, evil, dangerous crimes are committed against the kalapramanam. :lol: :evil:

This is an instance where terminological inexactitude turns out to accurately describe the real situation, inadvertent though it may be.

However, I decided to use tvarita since I didn't want to further spread an inexactitude that already has wide currency.

HarishankarK
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#12 Re: Kalapramanam queries

Post by HarishankarK »

Oh my God ! So much vishayam is there. Thanks for the explanations all, particularly SrinathK. I feel somewhat enlightened. It would be good if along with talam the nadai of the composition is also announced.

SrinathK
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#13 Re: Kalapramanam queries

Post by SrinathK »

My opinion : Without announcing the tala, nadai, the kalai and the eduppu, a recording has limited use to a serious music student.

@harimau, I have heard him on Youtube often. A varnam can in theory be played in all the following notes per beat with the nadai system we have today : 2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,12,14,16,18 - 13 speeds. :mrgreen:

harimau
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#14 Re: Kalapramanam queries

Post by harimau »

SrinathK wrote:My opinion : Without announcing the tala, nadai, the kalai and the eduppu, a recording has limited use to a serious music student.
Yet, our mridangists figure out all of the above plus the kalapramanam used by the singer within one-half to three-quarters of the first tala cycle and start playing the mridangam!

SrinathK
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#15 Re: Kalapramanam queries

Post by SrinathK »

I have understood CM follows a 3 tier superimposed structure for talas.

1) The major beats - representing the talangas -- I also calculate the eduppu and the bpm at this level (and so do metronomes).
2) The minor beats - Applicable in case of 2x and above kalais. The degree of speed (notes per beat) and nadai is applicable at this level. Do not calculate the eduppu point here. It will mislead.
3) The nadai sub-beats - This 3rd layer is applicable only if other nadais are rendered. These subbeats are used to reduce any nadai to a "pseudo-chatushra nadai".

The kalapramanam works it's way backwards from the innermost layer to the outermost. If there is a problem in the deepest level, there will be problems at the top level.

If you can do it, you can sing a 2 kalai mishra nadai composition in Adi tala for e.g. using only the 1st level, putting what is otherwise an ordinary adi tala (TRS once asked the Alathoor brothers to specify a tala and nadai and eduppu and rendered it on the spot rendering only a normal tala).

The other 2 levels have been created because that is easier said than done :twisted:

MaheshS
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#16 Re: Kalapramanam queries

Post by MaheshS »


MaheshS
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#17 Re: Kalapramanam queries

Post by MaheshS »

And speaking of Vathapi, this is educational. Thanks to Srinath / harimau / VK, I learnt more !

SrinathK
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#18 Re: Kalapramanam queries

Post by SrinathK »

All experienced percussion artists are familiar with the vast majority of compositions they encounter on stage. Otherwise also they can rely on the main artiste's body language to anticipate what might come next.

Now that L Subramaniam recording -- since it's in 2 kalai, the duration of the talanga beats are twice as long so you get two more options. Hence double all the numbers I wrote down for one kalai.

Now you can play it in : 4, 5 (2.5 notes per beat not possible in 1 kalai), 6, 7, 8, 9 (4.5 notes / beat not possible in 1 kalai), 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 24, 28, 32 notes per major beat -- which gives you all the speeds he played in.

From a research point of view, it's valuable, valuable stuff - only pity is that you cannot see the tala being rendered. Palghat Mani Iyer (who plays in this recording) has stated that his father V. Lakshminarayana was a living metronome.

Musically, I know that there are some who would debate (and have told me) that this is all just technique -- fact is it takes a violinist to appreciate it fully. But this again shows you another side of varnams -- they are really good for developing instrumental & vocal technique and laya skills -- after handling a varnam like this you can play almost anything. As a violinist, there isn't something called "too much technique" -- since they have to be ready for anything the main artiste can throw at them.

vasanthakokilam
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#19 Re: Kalapramanam queries

Post by vasanthakokilam »

harimau wrote:
SrinathK wrote:My opinion : Without announcing the tala, nadai, the kalai and the eduppu, a recording has limited use to a serious music student.
Yet, our mridangists figure out all of the above plus the kalapramanam used by the singer within one-half to three-quarters of the first tala cycle and start playing the mridangam!
True, that is a lot of fun to watch. They first tap to the beat and then tap to the Nadai beat. This is the metronomic stage/playing to the beat. Second stage is playing to the internal layam of the song, the syllabic aspects, which is characteristic of CM rhythmic accompaniment.

Let us examine the minimum they need to figure out to do that for a totally unknown song. They need to figure out the Nadai and the length of each Nadai (sub) beat. With just that, they can play both the metronomic as well as the syllabic aspects for a few avarthanams quite well. A little later they need to know the thala cycle count to play the theermanam etc. Eduppu matters to aesthetically blend with the anupallavi take off point. But for the most part the song will carry them along. I have asked quite a few mridangists about how they use the anga structure and they all said that is the least significant aspect that informs their playing if at all any. The exception is the RTP where the arudi has a relationship to specific laghu and drutham. And given arudi's role as a ‘central attractor/center of gravity’, it comes into play big time. But again arudi is built into the pallavi line. They can play quite a few avarthanams knowing the Nadai, Cycle count and the Arudi. Hence, even with such a laya heavy item like the RTP, the full anga structure which defines the tala does not dictate their playing. And the anga structure does not inform how they play the thani since additive rhythm (kOrvai) that crosses over beat boundaries willy nilly dominate the source of thani aesthetics,

All this may come as a surprise since the beginner's introduction to CM rhythm is all about the anga structure of the suladi saptha tala system and how the mathematically elegant 7 tala types defined by different arrangement of laugh, drutham and anudrutham give rise to the 35 talas.

While the Nadai is the minimum thing one needs to figure out, that can be challenging if the Vocalist wants to play tough or mischievous by hiding the critical aspects that signals the Nadai in both the singing as well as by not showing the gestures. There is a story involving Palghat Mani Iyer and Kancheepuram Naina Pillai that illustrates this point (http://www.palghatmaniiyer.org/1_35_Subbudu.html )

Srinath is actually talking about a related but different challenge. Those 4 parameters, tala, nadai, the kalai and the eduppu
are very inter-related. In complete absence of any external clues, figuring all those out from just the song itself may not be possible since there are truly ambiguous cases where more than one such quadruplet can be fitted on to a song. In the thread about RTP, http://www.rasikas.org/forums/viewtopic ... ae#p288280 member classical91 makes a similar observation with respect to kaLai.

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#20 Re: Kalapramanam queries

Post by SrinathK »

It's less about the anga structure -- you can play almost anything in between. It's all about the ending on the key points.

And believe me, having worked on Beta 0.0.1 of my Song list specifically for these missing details (which I am sure is still very buggy and full of errors) and reached 1100+, I have a fair bit of an idea. :lol: (I have not covered RTPs in that -- they have multiple tala solutions.)

@vk, Even more than the percussion, please spare a thought for the violinist. :twisted: -- he needs to have almost as much rhythmic skill + the melodic ability to at least follow the artiste's line of thought.

On a side rant, reading about that PMI and Naina Pillai incident, one can write a manual on how to torture the accompanists -- don't show the nadai or kalai beats, hide the tala, don't show your accompanist the tala when it's his turn after assuring him beforehand, play something you know that your accompanists don't know (and bonus jerk points for pointing it out on stage), allow the audience to confuse them further with their (usually) below average understanding of talas, push your virtuosity beyond their limits, hide their bow till the concert is done if you think they can't play (YES! True Story :shock:) and worst of it all -- take the rhythm anywhere you want, openly do wrong and then blame your poor laya skills on the accompanists, and above all --- be a real <beep> in being envious of them, accusing them of stealing your glory and give them discriminatory treatment when they rise to your expectations or are better than your are.

Back to topic.
Last edited by SrinathK on 09 Sep 2015, 09:51, edited 1 time in total.

vasanthakokilam
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#21 Re: Kalapramanam queries

Post by vasanthakokilam »

Yep, exactly.

keerthi
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#22 Re: Kalapramanam queries

Post by keerthi »

Hi all,

Complaining about the misplaced use of duritam used to be one of my prime hobbies, till I got tired of it. I am sure there must be multiple instances of me going on about it even on rasikas.

While tvarita does mean fast, and it is tempting to see it as a phonetic antecedent of the prevalent Tamil nadu term 'duritam'; this isn't historically correct. Druta is a common sanskrit term used to mean swift or fast in non-technical contexts as well., and is the commonest term used in the texts.

The three tempi or variants of laya are given as (vi)lamba, madhya and druta in musicological/ dramaturgical as well as belles lettric literature.

A few illustrations -

Technical texts -

Natya-shAstra -

trayā layās'tu vijñeyā druta-madhya-vilambitāḥ |
chando'kṣara-padānām hi samatvam yat-prakīrtitaṃ || 31.370||


Sangita- ratnAkara -
... sa trividho mataḥ|| 44 ||

druto madhyo vilambaśca drutaśśīghratamo mataḥ|
dviguṇa-dviguṇau jñeyau tasmān'madhya-vilambitau || 5.45||


Literary attestations -

Harsha [8th century] in his Nagananda, says "vispaṣṭo druta-madhya-lambita-paricchinnas'tridhā'yaṃ layaḥ" [ in his musically charged verse 1.14; it begins vyaktirvyañjanadhātunā etc]

Damodaragupta's Kuttanimatam [8th century?] has a verse that goes "niyamita-dīpana-gamanam druta-madhya-vilambi-tāla-yutam |rasavat svaropapannam etc" [#944]

There are more examples from Harsha's courtier Banabhatta, and the Kancipuram homeboy Dandin's dasakumara-caritam [10th C], but I could neither remember nor find them.


Our current concepts of KaLai and kAlam are ambiguous, and do not exactly correspond to the historical idea of kalA as one of ten features of tAla [tAla-dasha-prANa]. The contemporary idea of Kalai falls half way between the historical 'laya' [roughly equal to tempo - vilamba/madhya/druta] and the expanded set of mArga-s [the older citrAvartini and dakSinA, dhruva + the later citratara, citratama and ati-citratama ].

As far as I know, in modern times, Dr Pinakapani was the first to indicate the laya of songs using this terminology in his notations.

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#23 Re: Kalapramanam queries

Post by Nick H »

vasanthakokilam wrote:All this may come as a surprise since the beginner's introduction to CM rhythm is all about the anga structure of the suladi saptha tala system and how the mathematically elegant 7 tala types defined by different arrangement of laugh, drutham and anudrutham give rise to the 35 talas.
It is a neat system with a lot of flexibility built into it, but out of thirty-five, how many do we actually see? Less than five? In fact, I'd guess that I see non-35-tala talas performed more often than the uncommon combinations in the thirty-five table. I admit that this is a relatively ill-informed statement: I'm basing it, more than anything, on seeing laghus that have a count other than 4, 3, 7, 5 or 9. I'm not saying this is common, it is not, but it happens --- whereas many of the famous thirty-five (nothing to do with Enid Blyton!) never get performed. ShrinathK, comments?

My observation of mridangists is that they often have a pretty certain idea of what will follow even during the alapana. I suppose that, for each raga, one could calculate odds on what song will come, even if phrases in the alapana haven't already given a clue. Having a knowledge of each artist and their repertoire probably reduces the odds considerably. Rhymically, even in an unknown song, the mridangist seems to [usually] have all the information they need by the third, if not even the second, beat, and certainly after half avartanam. And yes, the violinist has to face all the same challenges plus knowing or quickly learning the song itself. A violinist may have to accompany and return kalpana swara calculations for a main artist who has just as much interest and ability in rhythmic calculation as any mridangist. They might even be a top-level mridangist as well as a vocalist. I admire violinists enormously!

SrinathK
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#24 Re: Kalapramanam queries

Post by SrinathK »

@NickH, Once when I am done adding all the available compositions of Thyagaraja and Dikshitar in my song list (which might take a while) -- I will give you the stats -- but apart from the most common talas, it is sufficient to say that I have heard some of the other talas among those famous 35 in RTPs and the krithis of Dikshitar and Oothukadu Venkata Kavi. I have very rarely seen a few talas beyond this system, in lec dems and a couple of radio concerts only, and never once in any of the live concerts I have attended in 15 years (ok, not that I have heard more than a few hundred concerts, but still). In the newspaper reviews I can recall, the number of occasions when these other talas beyond these 35 cropped up could perhaps be counted with the 10 fingers I've got. That's about it.

I have only come to know about many of the other talas after seeing a mridangam website of our forum member and musician @mridhangam. I wonder if it is still around. In the meantime here's another website I found : http://www.mridangams.com/2007/09/tala- ... ranas.html

kvchellappa
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#25 Re: Kalapramanam queries

Post by kvchellappa »

In his first podcast, Sanjay talks (about 21st min.) about kalapramanam of a raga. He says SKR uses almost usual phrases, but the kalapramanam (spacing) he uses gives beauty to it. He sings in vilamba kalam though the phrases are set in madhyama kalam, he says. A nagawsara vidwan has the aid of tavil beats for setting the kalapramanam, he says. He says a raga has kalapramanam (i.e. mere alapana). Someone may throw further light on this.

classical91
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#26 Re: Kalapramanam queries

Post by classical91 »

SKR's raga singing style was something quite unique - he used to bring out different shades to a raagam using the 'zoom-in-zoom-out' effect. He would sing a phrase in vilamba kaalam, then immediately repeat the same in durita kaalam, creating a magnifying effect. E.g: Listen to the hindolam raga from near the 1.41.00 mark in https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rcn60gqOvAA

As for the kaalapramanam of a raagam, it is much less defined, but definitely applicable. Ragas like arabhi, mohanam, hindolam, madhyamavathi, etc. are ragas which have a lot of fast phrases. Of course, fast phrases do not exclusively constitute these ragas, but they form a highlight. The reasoning for this can be obtained by looking at the basic raaga swaroopam - these ragas are quite straightforward, with lesser jaarus and gamakkhas, and more brighas and akaara-based prayogas. So they are some ragas where speed can be increased without loosing raga bhavam. On the other hand, ragas, like sahana, nayaki, shree, anandabhairavi, maanji, ahiri, etc. are jaaru and gamakkha-heavy. Thus, these ragas have a comparatively slower kaala pramanam to bring out the raga swaroopam effectively. An increase in speed may hinder the raga bhavam.

Sampoorna ragas (not necessarily all) have more flexibility - they can have fast akaara-based phrases as well as slower gamakha-based phrases. So they are ideally sung in the 'rendu-kattan' kaala pramaanam, starting with slower phrases and moving on to faster phrases at a later stage in the raga exposition. The best example of kaalapramanam control during raga rendition would be DKJ. He gave equal importance to slow phrases, and fast bright-based phrases.

The mood of a ragam also tends to play a role in the kaalapramanam, so ultimately goes back to the singer's kalpana dharma. If someone were singing a very moody Shubhapanthuvarali, they would probably adopt slower phrases, and few fast phrases. Kalyani is one ragam which has an amazing flexibility of kaalapramanam, but personally, singing a slow-medium paced kalyani with a varjya highlight is an absolutely soulful experience - and 'soulful' is generally never associated with fast speed!

Of course, fast phrases are sung in most raagas. That does not make a raagam inherently tvaritam. Ultimately, I suppose it's a combination of the mood of the raagam, and the types of prayogas which make the raga swaroopam, that define a raga's kaala pramanam. I wouldn't say it's a straightforward concept - a bit more abstract, but definitely there!

SrinathK
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#27 Re: Kalapramanam queries

Post by SrinathK »

@kvchellapa, Yes, there is definitely a concept of pacing that is crucial in an alapana. This is established in the opening phrases itself. I need to show examples of alapanas of various singers to show you how they are able to sing an alapana at different pacing. In fact, it's not unlike a tennis match. The musician sets the pace and the energy level as well as the "game plan" as to how the raga is going to be explored on that day. This game plan is adhered to for the whole of the alapana. The alapana may decelerate in long kaarvai phrases and accelerate in brighas, but it will always keep returning to this pace and that energy level. Abrupt departures from this pace or a wild swings in the pace is a clear sign that a musician's imagination isn't getting into a rhythm on that day.

Kalapramanam therefore is the ability to maintain an even pace, both in tala bound and tala unbound music.

Nick H
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#28 Re: Kalapramanam queries

Post by Nick H »

SrinathK wrote: I have very rarely seen a few talas beyond this system, in lec dems and a couple of radio concerts only, and never once in any of the live concerts I have attended in 15 years ...
The only one I am aware of having seen is Simhanandana. I suppose that, because of its sheer enormity and complexity, it gets taken on as a demo piece. Live on stage? I think I have seen it just once. My very bad memory is now unsure of the artist --- but it might have been K Gayathri. I recall seeing a TV presentation on youtube, of a pallavi in this tala, by her teacher Suguna Purushotaman. Last time I looked for it I could not find it --- but with your greater experience, It wouldn't surprise me if you know of it.

When it comes to obscure/difficult talas for pallavis, it seems to me that, increasingly, the rhythm cycle is made up by the artist themselves as part of the composition process.

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