Significance of samam in krithis

Tālam & Layam related topics
Post Reply
MadhavRayaprolu
Posts: 50
Joined: 18 Jan 2018, 13:04
x 3
x 4

#1 Significance of samam in krithis

Post by MadhavRayaprolu » 27 Jan 2018, 07:56

I have always wondered about the aesthetics of Samam and its relation to the strongest syllables in the compositions. In Hindustani music, the strongest syllable is the samam and the next strongest one is the start of drutham (or khali as they call it). In CM this relationship seems more subtle and complex.

Let’s take some examples: in Nannu Palimpa Nadachi Vachithivo, the strongest syllable is “lim” in Palimpa. The second strongest syllable is “chi” in Vachithivo. But “lim” falls on the 3rd beat and “chi” on the 7th beat of the 8 beat cycle. This is consistent throughout the song. If you ask a tabla player to guess the samam of the song, he/she would guess it on “lim” and the talam would perfectly fit the HM aesthetics. Same is true with Meru samana dheera. Curious to hear what the aesthetic reasoning is to give so much prominence to the 3rd beat in these krithis. The other common format is when the start of the drutham (is there a word for this?) is given the strongest syllable or the rest. Eg; Intha Sowkhyamaniin Kapi, Dinamani in Harikambhoji. Does anyone have examples of other beats getting accented besides 3rd and 5th beats in aaditaalam?

Madhav
0 x

vasanthakokilam
Posts: 10916
Joined: 03 Feb 2010, 00:01
x 9
x 37

#2 Re: Significance of samam in krithis

Post by vasanthakokilam » 27 Jan 2018, 09:42

Good observation. I do not know if there is a uniform aesthetic theory that is followed by most composers but each of the Trinity have their own unique laya styles. It is quite a fascinating topic indeed.

I always guess Nannu Palimpa beginning wrongly if I just go by own intrinsic sense of strong stress etc. But once I sync myself to the right way, I catch on to the grand and majestic gait of the song. True innovation by Thyagaraja.

My own way of relating to the laya of this great song is this ( this is not anything certified by any CM authority, this is just for descriptive purposes).
Unwind the 2 kaLai to two cycles of one kaLai just for this analysis. Consider 'nanu pAlimpa' and 'naDaci vaccitivO' as two distinct sub aspects from a laya point of view.
'nannu' will start between the 1st and 2nd beat of this 1 Kalai first cycle ( sort of like other madhyadi songs with that kind of an eduppu ).
'naDaci' will start between the 2nd and 3rd beat of this 1 kalai second cycle ( sort of like other desadi songs with that kind of an eduppu ).
Similary for 'nA prANanAtha' ( the second cycle of this 1 kalai is all AkAram of vowel extension of 'thA' )

If you look at this way, the 'lim' issue you feel falls on the 5th beat of the first cycle which is a common pattern we see in CM songs. But then when you fold such a madhyadi structure and desadi structure in 1 kalai into a 2 kalai, you get this wonderful 'syncopated' feel with the full satisfaction of resolution in the Drutham of the second 2 kalai Cycle.

The syncopotation also is sort of illusory since we normally do not anticipate stronger stresses happening on 'AkArams'. But Thyagaraja 'AhAram's over the 1st and 5th beat of the first cycle ( in 2 Kalai ) and the first beat of the next cycle as well and finally providing a resolution in the 5th beat of the second cycle with 'thA' of nAthA. At last a consonant falls on that 5th beat fulfilling expectations. But having provided that, he fills the rest of the uttaranga with beautiful 'AkArams' soaked in Mohanam. Wonderful indeed.

All that together makes this song a majestic and a relaxed composition. A masterpiece indeed.

Back to my way of relating to it as a combo of Madyadhi and Desadi in One Kalai, the right way of course is 2 Kalai. In two Kalai that combo is reflected with the Purvangam and Uttarangam starting at different positions.
'Nannu' starts between the 1st sub beat and 2nd sub beat of the 1st main beat of the pUrvAngam and
'naDaci' starts between the 1st main beat and 2nd main beat of the uttarAngam

( to be precise, the uttarAngam starts between the 2nd sub beat and the 1st sub beat of the first and second main beat of the uttarAngam respectively. ( 5th and 6th beats of Adi ).....Sorry, that is a lot of convoluted words to describe a simple thing.. sometimes precision and clarity are at odds with each other )

Numerous other such 2 kalai songs have the purvangam and uttarangam more or less symmetrical. The breaking of that symmetry in this song gives that wonderfully different feel.
0 x

MadhavRayaprolu
Posts: 50
Joined: 18 Jan 2018, 13:04
x 3
x 4

#3 Re: Significance of samam in krithis

Post by MadhavRayaprolu » 27 Jan 2018, 11:45

Nice! It makes sense to think of nannu palimpa as twin avarthanams of 1 kaLai, each avarthanam accented on the 5th beat which is common, and the second avarthanam providing a resolution to the first. Although I think this resolution is primarily coming from melody and not laya don’t you think? Thyagaraja packs a lot of action in purvangam of each line and leaves it unsettled, and resolves it in a more soothing way in uttarangam.

Accenting the 5th beat as opposed to samam is also an interesting pattern. In HM music, or even in CM the manodharma and thani treat samam as a climactic point of the laya. Doesn’t seem so in aadi talam compositions. It seems to be more subtle and subdued, and it is the start of drutham (5th beat) that seems to get the high point.
0 x

vasanthakokilam
Posts: 10916
Joined: 03 Feb 2010, 00:01
x 9
x 37

#4 Re: Significance of samam in krithis

Post by vasanthakokilam » 28 Jan 2018, 01:46

I see what you mean about the resolution melody contributes. In 2 Kalai, that is typically how it is, the Purvangam creates the tension with packed swaras ( compression ) and the uttarangam is typically more relaxed ( the rarefaction ). Which brings focus to the second point you make which is the accent on the 5th beat. In RTP, except in some rare cases, that 5th beat ( no matter if it is aadi or kanda jathi triputa, tiara jathi triputa ) acts as the Fulcrum between the purvangam and uttarangam and gets the most significant stress, commonly referred to as Arudhi. After that there is a big relaxation, say spanning over the next drutham then picking up some speed to lead to the Purvangam again.

I can not sense the eduppu by itself as deterministically as the Arudi, so I start there and the eduppu fixes itself. In RTP, the custom is indeed that the Samam does not get the big stress. But you are right that a lot of times Thani focusses on the first beat but in the final Korvai they make sure that they naturally lead to the eduppu for the artist to take over. But I have heard someone talk about thani patterns that go from 'eduppu to eduppu' rather than from 'samam to samam'. But as a lay laya rasika, I stay in the domain of 'Arudi to Arudi'. But as we know, they are all related laya concepts.

In compositions, we do see different treatments of laya by different composers. Taking Thyagaraja as example, there are a few patterns you can see in his shorter songs.

The Desadi songs which start between the 2nd and 3rd beat is quite syncopated on the 4th beat and provides a strong emphasis on the 5th beat. It can also get a strong emphasis on the 1st beat on the wrap around before approaching the eduppu. That is probably the most common and can be seen in numerous songs. To a first level of approximation, given that uniformity, you can move the eduppu to between 8th beat and 1st beat and consider it atheetha eduppu. It makes the purvangam and uttarangam quite symmetric. By doing this, we are losing something which is the big emphasis is not on the fulcrum (5th beat). it moves to the middle of the purvangam as opposed to the middle of the avarthanam. As a second level of approximation, given again the uniformity seen, you can even consider those songs as two-beat structures with atheeta eduppu. It works in many songs because the song's fundamental laya structure is alternate strong and weak emphasis. Again, these are all just for analysis purposes and not for proper and formal kriyas for angas

For madyadi songs which starts between the 1st and 2nd beat, there are two varieties. One in which the purvangam lands relatively softly on the onset of the 5th beat, with uttarangam starting between the 5th and 6th beat. The uttarangam will also land softly on the 1st beat leading to the eduppu. The two halves are symmetric. But one can also make an asymmetric structure by providing a strong emphasis on the 5th beat. In that case the split becomes 3.5 and 4.5 . I think It has its own aesthetics. But the former symmetric structure is the more common. The symmetry is so consistent, as a first degree of approximation, you can think of them as 2 Chathusra Eka talas with Anagatha eduppu. In some songs, there is further symmetry with in purvanga and uttaranga and in those cases, one can apply a second degree of approximation and consider it as a 2 beat Strong-Weak structure with the eduppu after the strong beat.( in contrast, in the 2nd degree approximation of desadi thala, the two beat strong-weak structure, the eduppu is before the strong beat. )

These degrees of approximations of Desadi and Madyadi are at best remotely valid if there is symmetry. First degree approx is remotely valid if there is total symmetry in the avarthana between Purvanga and Uttaranga and the second degree approx is remotely valid if there is total within the purvanga and with in the uttaranga. If not, these approximation will lose important laya information content. I like to think in terms of these approximations because at the lowest level it shows that the three well known Eduppus have a simpler characerization in such strong-weak beat structure: On the samam, before the strong beat and after the strong beat. Each of them have clearly distinguishable laya aesthetics that anyone can feel and relate to ( even if they do not know the underlying reason ). But CM being a classical and scholarly art form, it does not of course stop there, there are laya super structures of various complexity built on top of that basic foundation.

A similar pattern analysis can be done for 2 Kalai songs as well.
0 x

MadhavRayaprolu
Posts: 50
Joined: 18 Jan 2018, 13:04
x 3
x 4

#5 Re: Significance of samam in krithis

Post by MadhavRayaprolu » 28 Jan 2018, 10:45

Thanks, very informative. The fulcrum analogy helps with my dilemma on why arudhi is given more prominence than samam in CM.

For deshadi, besides everything you said, there is also the underlying “thakita thakita thaka” structure going on isn’t it? Not sure if that applies to all deshadi songs, but seems to apply to the songs that come to my mind: mari vere dikkevarayya, Ora joopu. The first thakita thakita forms eduppu, and the thakita thakita in uttaranga forms the rest, and this rest provides both symmetry as well as the emphasis on arudhi.

In fact, in HM, they have an entire talam called addha taal based on this structure. I usually play this talam on my tabla machine while singing these songs and it seems to be very befitting, even if all the lines don’t strictly follow the thakita thakita pattern. Although I like to line up tabla’s samam with the arudhi since CM and HM took opposite positions with respect to what beat to stress. And place it’s samam on the “lim” of nannu palimpa. I recommend putting talam with hand this way just for kicks, and it might provide an alternative laya aesthetics.
0 x

vasanthakokilam
Posts: 10916
Joined: 03 Feb 2010, 00:01
x 9
x 37

#6 Re: Significance of samam in krithis

Post by vasanthakokilam » 29 Jan 2018, 01:50

>there is also the underlying “thakita thakita thaka” structure going on isn’t it?
Yep, I sense something like that as well.
>thakita thakita forms eduppu, and the thakita thakita in uttaranga forms the rest
Did you mean 'Thakita thaka thakita thaka in uttaranga forms the rest'? That will bring the purvanga count to 16 using 4 counts to a beat.

I see that in Bantu reeti ( starting from Rama after the first wrap around )

Ra ma is 3 + 3
Ban tu ri ti is 3 + 2 + 3 + 2

ko lu is 3 + 3
vi yya vay ya is 3 + 2 + 3 + 2
0 x

MadhavRayaprolu
Posts: 50
Joined: 18 Jan 2018, 13:04
x 3
x 4

#7 Re: Significance of samam in krithis

Post by MadhavRayaprolu » 29 Jan 2018, 03:13

I’m counting 8 beat with 4 matras per beat. So 4 of the “thakita thakita thaka”. The more obvious example for the rest is marivere dikkeverayya.
1) Ra - - ma - - Ma -
2) ri - - ve - - re -
3) di - - - - - ke -
4) va - - ray - - ya -

The Rama in #1 is eduppu, the di - - - - - is the rest. Both of them are thakita thakita. While both of these are almost symmetric, there serve slightly different purposes. The rest on #3 and standing on panchamam gives a much stronger stress marking the arudhi. The Rama in #1 gives a relatively softer stress on the samam, and doesn’t necessarily stand on a single note. Same pattern on other lines like dari daapu leni. The leni falls on a nice resting note, the higher Sa, and stands on it. Of course, there are other variations of singing these lines that don’t depict the pattern as obviously, but those seem like variations on top of the underlying groove that I described above.
0 x

vasanthakokilam
Posts: 10916
Joined: 03 Feb 2010, 00:01
x 9
x 37

#8 Re: Significance of samam in krithis

Post by vasanthakokilam » 29 Jan 2018, 09:23

Ah, yep, got it. I misunderstood ‘rest’ as ‘rest of’ /‘remaining’

Right, the saman to eduppu is thakita thakita and is symmetric with its buddy in the uttaranga.

Do you also see the remaining portions in each half as
3 2 3 2 ?
0 x

MadhavRayaprolu
Posts: 50
Joined: 18 Jan 2018, 13:04
x 3
x 4

#9 Re: Significance of samam in krithis

Post by MadhavRayaprolu » 29 Jan 2018, 11:42

No, I see it as (2), 3 3 2. The 2 in the parenthesis belongs to the “thaka” of the previous grouping. Please check the matras I gave above for each of the 4 “thakita thakita thaka” groups.

Bantu reethi is the same way. I guess I sing it differently from you. Ban=2, tu=3, ree=3, thi=2.

What I’m interested in though is not the differences in singing styles or differences in compositions. I’m interested in the underlying groove, upon which deshadi compositions are built upon. This groove is what I’m suspecting as 4 “thakita thakita thaka” structures in the cycle with the usual samam and arudhi stresses.

In pretty much any genre, there is a groove for the rhythm. This is what the audience instinctively responds to, dance to it, clap, sway, tap feet or whatever. Upon this groove, the singers/composers build melodies, sometimes reinforcing the groove, other times free wheeling around it. In CM, finding this groove can be hard. Partly because of the complexity of music and partly also because of our tradition of putting talam which, while it helps in comprehending the complex rhythms intellectually, I wonder if it also diminishes our appreciation of the groove instinctively.
0 x

vasanthakokilam
Posts: 10916
Joined: 03 Feb 2010, 00:01
x 9
x 37

#10 Re: Significance of samam in krithis

Post by vasanthakokilam » 29 Jan 2018, 22:15

Ok, I actually like the (2) 3 3 2 rather than what I perceived( 3 2 3 2 ) since it provides for the 3 3 2 symmetry through out. I will listen to a few more songs at leisure to observe that.

Yes, the ‘groove’. Though it is not talked about much in CM, as you rightly observe, it is there and it is orthogonal to the thala. This came up in a mini and fleeting discussion with our forumite Suresh at a concert recently when I mentioned that Thyagaraja has used some standard rhythmic templates for quite a few of his songs. That underlying aspect is a constant while the melody and lyrics vary. This is definitely seen in the Deshadi krithis.

Mridangists have an intuitive feel for such patterns ( or through straight learning ) and play to it rather than playing to the thala. ( normally referred to as ‘pAttukku vAsikkiradu’ - playing to the song, while it should be ‘playing to the rhythmic template/groove’)

In a prior discussion on this topic a few years back it was observed by Uday Shankar that those common patterns for deshadi and madhyadi come from Bhajans where they will actually keep to that laya structure using the ‘Chapla Kattai’. And the traditional way of keeping taken for these talas are not the Adi way but that is more reflective of the template.

What is the groove for Madhyadi?
0 x

MadhavRayaprolu
Posts: 50
Joined: 18 Jan 2018, 13:04
x 3
x 4

#11 Re: Significance of samam in krithis

Post by MadhavRayaprolu » 30 Jan 2018, 07:26

I don’t think madhyadi represents a particular groove. When I think about a few samples they are all over.

As an aside, in HM, what they consider as “taal” is actually a specific groove or a rhythmic template as you say. If you ask a typical HM student what is teental they say it is “Dha dhin dhin dha...”. Just like it is not obvious to a typical CM student that there are specific grooves within a broader umbrella of a talam, it is not obvious to a typical HM student/rasika that there are more abstract structures behind the very specific grooves that they call taals. It took me quite a while to sort this out in my head. Of course the percussionists in both styles learn the abstract and specific rhythmic structures as you pointed out.
0 x

sureshvv
Posts: 5089
Joined: 05 Jul 2007, 18:17
x 118
x 361

#12 Re: Significance of samam in krithis

Post by sureshvv » 30 Jan 2018, 10:09

MadhavRayaprolu wrote:
29 Jan 2018, 11:42
partly also because of our tradition of putting talam which, while it helps in comprehending the complex rhythms intellectually, I wonder if it also diminishes our appreciation of the groove instinctively.
+1. The exercise of changing tala while singing pallavis/varnams without changing the "groove" seems pointless and wrong headed.
0 x

Post Reply