Elements of CM Rhythm for rasikas & students

Tālam & Layam related topics
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SrinathK
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#1 Elements of CM Rhythm for rasikas & students

Post by SrinathK » 21 Aug 2016, 23:55

Have you ever wondered what in the world is going on when you hear a tani or find it a most suitable time to go home :mrgreen: ? Does the word laya sound like the stuff of the esoteric, the "secrets" hidden with the musicians? Have you grown up musically without the presence of the father? (Shruthi maata, Laya pita) Have you struggled to progress in manodharma? Are you getting intimidated by the thought of rhythmic technicalities? Have you been a tortured accompanist even? Do you find it unbelievable if you were told that laya prowess is an acquired skill?

The subject of rhythm is fairly easy in fact and fully based on very simple arithmetic. I dare say that all a rasika needs to know can be picked up in 3 weeks with a metronome. A couple of thanis in different talas, pointing out the parts will do. I am just listing here what I feel should be known.

Basic Lessons for the beginner (all you need is pen and paper) :-

1) Identify musical instruments & learn to use metronome for basics :mrgreen:
2) Simple Talas and how to put them with metronome aid
3) Talangas -- Laghu, Dhrutam, Anudhrutam
5) Jaathis and how they affect talangas.
6) Chapu talas -- combined with the basic talangas, the whole recorded repertoire of CM can be followed by this point!
7) Standard Jathi patterns 3-9 counts
8) More complex talas & how to make jathi tala alankaarams.
9) Counting beats and notes in 5 nadais using jathis
10) Counting pauses & combination of jathis and pauses
11) Degrees of speed in 5 nadais using std. jathis with beat speed constant
12) Degrees of speed with beat speed variable and note speed constant
13) Talas in 5 nadais and how the metronome can help
14) 2, 4 and 8 kalais & how to put them
15) Kalai & Nadai Combination
16) Eduppus
17) Eduppus in various speeds and kalais and talas
18) Deshadi & Madhyadi & any other alternative ways of rendering talas
19) Ending patterns -- jathis, swaras, mukthayis
20) Endings for various eduppus and kalais and speeds
21) Sense of tempo
(Side note, we have 6 levels, WCM has 19 ! The metronome software itself can show you the sense of speed of these tempos)

22) Patterns of 3-9 counts & how to derive and sing in jathis (only few examples).
23) Complex talangas -- Guru, Plutam, Kakapadam in various jathis
24) Patterns of 3-9 in 5 nadais, including progressions.
25) Practice tips & ideas, integration exercises.

This is enough to tackle even the toughest pallavis. All credit to AMS Easy Methods and the results it produced with kids and adults alike, me inclusive.

Advanced (We need percussionists here)
1) Mridangam strokes (there are only a few) & strokes of other instruments
2) Parts of a tani
3) Mohras and korvais -- intro on where and how to spot them and types. Korvais are generally identical or arithmetic progressive
4) How to land on an eduppu not on samam
5) Tanis in talas with explanations
6) Explaining fireworks (slow them down with software! They are all combinations of simple patterns!)
7) How people play differently for different types of compositions

More advanced (I might need a pallavi expert here)
1) Basic idea of rubatos
2) Ragam Tanam Pallavi -- parts, arudhi, trikaalam, anulomam, vilomam, pratilomam (right?) and the pallavi tricks.
3) Complex talas -- Simhananda, etc.
4) Two talas in two hands with help of notation
5) Two talas in 2 hands -- different nadais & kalais --- I guarantee that no rhythm in any genre can frighten you now.
6) Ideas on keeping the tala on foot. I came up with my ideas after crossing the Despair Event horizon in a forgettable, unaided violin performance and having hit a wall in my practice. In my opinion, this is the final frontier of CM rhythm.
7) Talaprasthara

Optional
1) Read basic staff notation (seriously, this thing does wonders to exercise your brain cells in rhythm)

The rest is just mix and match of the above and practice. That's it.

In ~30 online videos with notation of a few minutes each, the whole thing can be covered. I don't think the total length of all this needs to be more than a couple of hours. It's enough to give the rasika the tools and teach them how to fish. Let them do the fishing...

What I have observed is that in music classes, the overwhelming majority of the time goes into repetitive practice. Remove this (as in online videos) and put the burden on the student's head, and what you need to know is actually very little. That's why even after years of learning, I still didn't know the basics part fully.

At this point their laya skills will leave others green in envy and they could figure it all out for themselves using the tools they have.

I shall experiment and let you know.
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Rsachi
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#2 Re: Elements of CM Rhythm for rasikas & students

Post by Rsachi » 22 Aug 2016, 04:13

Srinath,
Nothing can be more laudable than helping listeners come up to speed. In fact I feel many attempts have been made through lecdems in the past for this. A good one was TMK's Rasikatvam DVD series (Sanskriti).
I wish your endeavours all the best! You could use audio and video clips in the public domain to simplify the task for yourself.
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vasanthakokilam
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#3 Re: Elements of CM Rhythm for rasikas & students

Post by vasanthakokilam » 22 Aug 2016, 10:08

Srinath: Awesome. Great list. You have thought the heck through it. Congratulations. Go for it.

One suggestion based on my pet peeve. Almost all CM introduction to rhythm starts with your 2, 3 and 4. That is attractive since it provides a mathematically rigorous definition and aids in generating the 35 talas from primitives. But as we have discussed here numerous times, those internal tala anga subdivisions are not that meaningful from a musical aesthetics and prgmatic perspective. This has been covered a lot before elsewhere in this forum but the most telling part is, mridangists do not attach any significance to the talangas, all they mostly care is the cycle length. The Arudi is meaningful but that can be covered later in the middle of the course. We have also heard that tala angas come in handy for composers. Again, that can be pushed to the end.

I can totally understand why it is tempting to describe the CM rhythm using the tala anga approach but no one cares to mention that for the most part they are not that meaningful. Not that learning that model is a waste of time, it is actually a lot of fun but it gives the wrong impression about CM rhythm making the student feel that they have understood something significant about CM rhythm since it is mathematically well put together.

But what is more important from a rhythmic aesthetics point of view are the jathis, eduppus and nadais. The additive aspects of CM rhythm ( which culminates in constructing Korvai ) is the important thing but we do not need to start there but your 10 provides the foundation for it.

From your numbering scheme, they will be in the 7 to 21 area. We can pick and choose the order. One possibility is:
7) Standard Jathi patterns 3-9 counts
10) Counting pauses & combination of jathis and pauses
9) Counting beats and notes in 5 nadais using jathis
16) Eduppus
21) Sense of tempo
11) Degrees of speed in 5 nadais using std. jathis with beat speed constant
12) Degrees of speed with beat speed variable and note speed constant
17) Eduppus in various speeds and kalais and talas
13) Talas in 5 nadais and how the metronome can help
14) 2, 4 and 8 kalais & how to put them
15) Kalai & Nadai Combination
18) Deshadi & Madhyadi & any other alternative ways of rendering talas
19) Ending patterns -- jathis, swaras, mukthayis
20) Endings for various eduppus and kalais and speeds

Akellaji follows a scheme along these lines (though not exactly)

Good luck and best wishes
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SrinathK
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#4 Re: Elements of CM Rhythm for rasikas & students

Post by SrinathK » 22 Aug 2016, 10:42

VK, My goal here was only to list the topics I felt that one needed to know as a rasika or even a student to hold one's own against this mysterious thing termed laya.

Actually I haven't listed anything new except for putting the tala on my feet. It's all brilliantly covered in AMS methods, the only thing for me to do is practice.

But I thought about how it would be if I gave a graded Table of Contents to the subject of rhythmic studies in CM and I asked myself what all I needed to cover so that I could have a rock solid foundation in rhythm.

I agree with your views on talangas, but really if you come across a pallavi in say, Mishra Ata, a rasika shouldn't be turned off thinking that only a laya God can fathom that. Besides, knowing the talangas and how they work in various jathis is a very simple exercise that can be taught in minutes. If you take the 3 basic ones, in fact it is only the laghu that varies. AMS is also careful not to go in depth into talas at the beginning without first knowing how rhythm works.

I am not actually asking for laya exercises in rare talas in the beginning, it is to only know how the laghu changes with the jaathi. The first real LAYA exercises should start only after that as you pointed out. It is only in the final topic of integration exercises that we may talk about putting it all together.

I think I need to add chanda based talas there, but I do not know anything about that.

Right now looking at what all I've posting, I think I have too many ideas brimming than what I can implement. But I will take it one at a time.
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vasanthakokilam
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#5 Re: Elements of CM Rhythm for rasikas & students

Post by vasanthakokilam » 23 Aug 2016, 01:17

Srinath, exactly. Agreed. Understood what your objectives are and where you want to take it.

One hypothesis I have is a lot of CM rasikas can be termed 'CM melodic rasikas'. They don't get much out of the thani because they never became laya rasika beyond the basic level. There is no shared understanding of laya of compositions just like there is on the raga side. Such a thing is limited to a clique of laya students and serious practitioners. The only shared thing we have is indeed the tala angas and the kriyas associated with them. Based on the kriyas most of us know whether the song is in Adi, Rupakam, Kanda Chapu or Misra Chapu. In fact, for all I wrote about tala angas above, I do acknowledge wholeheartedly they do have that practical use. That is indeed something. But people stop there and that is not enough for them to become a laya rasika in a deeper sense. If people become laya rasikas of krithis they will automatically become tani rasikas. I think your attempt should help people cultivate such laya appreciation.

One question that may come to people's minds is 'who is a laya rasika?/what does 'laya rasika' even mean? Here is my personal story.

Tracing my own personal evolution with CM, as with almost everyone I started off liking some songs in some famous ragas ( for me it was Mukhari and Kamas ) and then getting a bit deeper into raga identification and then the geek in me prompted me to learn the theoretical aspects. That just afforded me to feel artificially good that I know something only to realize the huge limitations of it. Then started learning CM mainly from a melodic perspective. The alankaras in various talas were just one more chore to get through before reaching the interesting songs: geetams etc. My limitations in laya hit me hard when I got to krithis. The concept of eduppus were so daunting especially on the transition from pallavi to anupallvi and pallavi to charanam etc. Again that is due to learning things by rote rather than knowing the actual 'feel' of the rhythm. If I had known that then, eduppu would have nothing to fear about. So I always felt that instead of all those alankara exercises, there should be some varisais like Eduppu Varisai and Jathi Varisai which can help students get a feel for those things. Your number 10 "Counting pauses & combination of jathis and pauses" should be codified in the alankara section as jathi varisais. Sharmaji does that at a much higher level in his method. Some easy ones can be structured with some thought ( I have some simple ideas for this for whatever they are worth, along the lines of 'I wish I was taught like this' ).

Then over the years, as a rasika, I learned to see the laya to be even more fundamental than melody, even for a rasika. May be I will flip over one more time but that is where I am. This Olympics have been great from this point of view, there were so many different laya elements in the Brazilian songs they played during the opening, closing ceremonies and in the various cultural aspects they covered during the past two weeks. During national anthems of various countries, my hobby is to keep beats to it to see what the cycle count and eduppu are( for example, the U.S. national anthem fits Atheeta eduppu Rupakam ).

I thought I will narrate my own story just as an example of my own evolution in becoming a laya rasika. Not that I have reached any himalayan heights but that is not necessary from a rasika point of view. Just learning to pay attention to different layas and appreciating them is all I consider to be the characteristic of a laya rasika.

Back to Srinath, all this is what excited me when I saw your table of contents/syllabus. Some parts of it can be absorbed by non-student rasikas which will enhance their enjoyment of CM.
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VK RAMAN
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#6 Re: Elements of CM Rhythm for rasikas & students

Post by VK RAMAN » 23 Aug 2016, 03:54

Such theories and structured explanation goes in deaf ears as far as ordinary rasikas who make extra ordinary impact on musicians. It is very boring to them and very interesting to analysts and scientists IMHO.
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Nick H
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#7 Re: Elements of CM Rhythm for rasikas & students

Post by Nick H » 23 Aug 2016, 13:03

Most rasikas can keep talam through most of the music, even the thani (which is more than I can do). They must have the necessary basic knowledge to do so, and, more importantly, they must have the consistent internal clock tick which allows them to keep time through korvais and even nadai changes.

in my experience of mridangam class, theory sessions occupy a few minutes for many lessons. This proportion is not surprising, as, if picking up any book on mridangam, one can find the same proportion: theory is got out of the way in a short first chapter. Of course, it consists of some definitions and tables, and memorising the necessary is considered as understanding.
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sureshvv
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#8 Re: Elements of CM Rhythm for rasikas & students

Post by sureshvv » 23 Aug 2016, 14:23

vasanthakokilam wrote: My limitations in laya hit me hard when I got to krithis. The concept of eduppus were so daunting especially on the transition from pallavi to anupallvi and pallavi to charanam etc.
Can you provide an example?
there should be some varisais like Eduppu Varisai and Jathi Varisai which can help students get a feel for those things.
What would these sound like as opposed to the alankaras?

I really want to become a laya rasika from being just a lay rasika :)
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Nick H
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#9 Re: Elements of CM Rhythm for rasikas & students

Post by Nick H » 23 Aug 2016, 15:21

Don't be too modest: I know your credentials as a laya rasika! They are good!
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SrinathK
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#10 Re: Elements of CM Rhythm for rasikas & students

Post by SrinathK » 23 Aug 2016, 16:40

Here's an easy one from AMS :
KTtk | KTtk | KTtk | tdgn |
t-KTt | k-KTt | k-KTt | k-tdg |
nt-KT | tk-KT |tk-KT |tk-td |
gnt- K |Ttk - K |Ttk- t |dgnt ||T (Chatushra Ekam)

Add a 5 count pattern on the last beat of Chatushra ekam to shift the eduppu forward by 1/4th of a beat.

A harder one would be to replace kTtk with k,T,t,k (1/2 speed) or even k,,, T,,, t,,, tdgn | (etc...)

One may replace that 5 beat with a 3 beat to do the exact opposite, move the eduppu back.

You may even start from a 1/4 eduppu or 3/4 eduppu directly if you can count pauses (to count a pause, count like this -- (t)-KTt |k-KTt |k.... or (tkt)-K | Ttk-K | Ttk ....) and want it to be challenging of the bat.

You could do this with any jathi alankaras in the 7 talas, but ultimately it's only a logical extension of the same concept.

You may do this in any nadai with the same logic. In tisram, use a 4 beat pattern to shift the eduppu forward. In khandam, use a 6 beat. In sankeernam, use 2x 5 beats. But I am really getting too ahead of myself saying this....
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vasanthakokilam
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#11 Re: Elements of CM Rhythm for rasikas & students

Post by vasanthakokilam » 23 Aug 2016, 22:35

sureshvv wrote:
vasanthakokilam wrote: My limitations in laya hit me hard when I got to krithis. The concept of eduppus were so daunting especially on the transition from pallavi to anupallvi and pallavi to charanam etc.
Can you provide an example?
Remember we are talking about my limitations, so it may not be a big deal for most others. Numerous Tyagaraja krithis have some non saman eduppu and so all those krithis can act as examples.

My problem with, say, Nirvadi Sugata which is so much fun to play, is the pallavi starts on samam. The anupallavi and charanam are anagatha eduppu (variation 1, see below ). Now I play the pallavi lines a few times and wait the for the 8 beat adi to wrap around. The starting point is between the 1st and 2nd beat. If someone learns it by rote or by the usual method ( start after 'ta ka' ), one will be a nervous wreck that you would miss that precise point. If you miss it, what do you do? Wait for the whole cycle then? That will be awkward.

Now, once the student gets the laya feel, they will realize that eduppu is not external but it is in the song itself and they will go with that feel and not be nervous about it. And even if one misses that starting point, you can make small adjustments and go on. It is just like how when you learn to bike first, you may follow the instructions quite literally and fall quite often but after a while the body will start making those minute adjustments and keep you steady and move you along. That is what happens with laya as well once one learns focus on the laya that is part of the song
there should be some varisais like Eduppu Varisai and Jathi Varisai which can help students get a feel for those things.
What would these sound like as opposed to the alankaras?
Srinath has provided the comprehensive answer above.

(Srinath, what do the '-'s signify in that notation. Just separators or pauses?)

At an even more primitive level, let us consider two avarthanams of a two beat tala.
=====
Samam eduppu will be
SRGM|PDNS|| - first avarthanam
SNDP|MGRS|| - second avarthanam
=====
('-' silence)
anagatha eduppu (variation 1 ) - voiced swara/jathi starts after the start of the first tala beat
--GM|PDNS|| - first avarthanam
SNDP|MGRS|| - second avarthanam
=====
anagatha eduppu (variation 2 ) - voiced swara/jathi starts after the start of the second tala beat
----|--NS|| - first avarthanam
SNDP|MGRS|| - second avarthanam
=====
These two provide for two separate laya feel though both are anagathams. Variation 1 is similar to the feel created by Madyathi krithis where as variation 2 is similar to the feel created by Desadi krithis ( approximately )

The reason they produce the different laya aesthetics is due to the fundamental fact that the first beat and second beat are different in their nature. In variation 1, the first beat beginning one encounters is the second beat and in variation 2, the first beat beginning one encounters is the first beat. In other words, given that the two beats differ in stress/emphasis/vallinam/whatever the approach to them feels different and hence variation 1 and 2 are different from a layanubhava ( laya aesthetics )

In other words, it is the approach/attack to the beat boundary ( 1st beat vs 2nd beat ) that primarily contributes to the differences in laya aesthetics. And secondarily, how much time is there before you reach that beat boundary adds to the aesthetics. (e.g if you start after 1 sub-count, you have 3 more sub-counts before you reach the next beat boundary, after 2 sub-counts, you have 2 sub-counts before the beat boundary, after 3 sub-counts, you have 1 sub-count before the beat boundary and so on ).

Atheetha Eduppu

----|--RS||
SRGM|PDNS|| - first avarthanam
SNDP|MGRS|| - second avarthanam

As you can see, in this simple two beat tala, atheeta eduppu is not aesthetically different from anagata eduppu (Variation 2). But in talas with more than two beats, it does provide for a different aesthetics
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Nick H
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#12 Re: Elements of CM Rhythm for rasikas & students

Post by Nick H » 23 Aug 2016, 23:06

Srinath, first, please explain your notation!

I learned to write it as, eg tha , dhi gi na thom being six aksharas; underline for second-speed, double-underline for third. The underline we can do here, but not the double.

Can you please explain you upper/lower-case notation...

Thanks!
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SrinathK
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#13 Re: Elements of CM Rhythm for rasikas & students

Post by SrinathK » 23 Aug 2016, 23:12

Separators.

To really extend a note, I only use commas, like so : KTtk t, - KTtk t, is 2x 6 counts.

So anyway as per my TOC, the simple regular talas are : Eka, Adi, Roopaka (3 beats)

The Simpler Chapu talas will be :
Tisra, -- tt,| tt, |tt,
Chatusra, t,tt|t,tt|t,tt
Khanda -- t,tt, |t,tt, |t,tt
Mishra -- tt,t,t,|tt,t,t,

Note that no one calls Chatushra Chapu as such, but my frustration at repeatedly seeing just "chapu" for the tala label when it could be any of the above has led to that.

Sankeerna Chapu is just a bit more complex -- tt,t,t,t, | tt,t,t,t,

I use Fine Metronome (specifically version 3.5) as I can edit the subbeats into nadai / kalai patterns (I can do even without that feature though). But it works only on PC.

K = ki
T = Ta
t = ta
k = ka
d = dhi
g = gi
n = na
t = thom. But you can use ta instead. It works. AMS uses these.
m = mi
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shankarank
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#14 Re: Elements of CM Rhythm for rasikas & students

Post by shankarank » 26 Aug 2016, 07:30

vasanthakokilam wrote: Nirvadi Sugata ....The anupallavi and charanam are ateetha eduppu (variation 1, see below ).
I think you may have ateetha and anagata exchanged. ateetha is where the song starts before samam.

See http://www.rasikas.org/forums/viewtopic.php?t=888
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vasanthakokilam
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#15 Re: Elements of CM Rhythm for rasikas & students

Post by vasanthakokilam » 26 Aug 2016, 08:41

Oops, you are right, shankarank. I fixed it in my post(s) above now. Thanks.
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#16 Re: Elements of CM Rhythm for rasikas & students

Post by shankarank » 26 Aug 2016, 08:50

One of the ways to feel layam is to do tAlam for many years to the music of Vidwans like Alathur, MDR, TNS, KVN etc. Instrumental cannot go off track too much - but obviously LGJ does justice.

The Dikshitar 1975 bi-Centenary concert of KVN ( Esp. Angarakam - all over again!!) - where you can see KVN and UKS feel that during pauses and transitions from phrase to phrase - is a must listen. I say this because you may or may not like other Vidwans/concerts - this one concert you will have to like :)

http://www.sangeethamshare.org/murthy/K ... -Bhairavi/
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SrinathK
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#17 Re: Elements of CM Rhythm for rasikas & students

Post by SrinathK » 26 Aug 2016, 17:25

Now that you said it, I think we should have one topic for aesthetics and how various musicians had their own styles and touches.
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vasanthakokilam
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#18 Re: Elements of CM Rhythm for rasikas & students

Post by vasanthakokilam » 29 Aug 2016, 10:03

As Srinath says we can discuss the laya aesthetics in its own thread and leave the more technical aspects to this thread We can discuss lay aesthetics in a manner that is approachable by a wider cross section of CM rasikas.

One such example topic for such a thread is 'Nadai and Rasa'. I attended the 'Nayika - Nayaki' program choreographed by Madurai R. Muralidharan.( side bar: they are touring the U.S. if you happen to catch it, please attend, it is great, I enjoyed it a lot ).
To depict valor/bravery in one of his compositions, it was set in Khanda Nadai and it worked very well. So Nadai can be put to good use for rasa purposes. I recalled how a khanda nadai based background beat was used to good effect in a western movie to bring about some suspense/anticipation of something dramatic.

(Once we agree to create a separate thread, we can move this and other posts there )
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