laya of a keerthana

Ideas and innovations in Indian classical music
Vayoo Flute
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#26 Re: laya of a keerthana

Post by Vayoo Flute » 15 Feb 2018, 01:59

"The slowness of Hindustani is not their lyrics... it is the approach of rAga .. "

That is exactly what I am saying when I stated that the approach to compositions mirrors their approach to the alapnas.

As for the 9varnams, even Madurai Mani Iyer sang the Kalyani piece at a fast piece in his record )probably due to recording time constraints). I challenge you to show me a place where the Ghanta or Ahiri composition have been rendered at a fast pace!
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shankarank
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#27 Re: laya of a keerthana

Post by shankarank » 15 Feb 2018, 10:31

You are generally observing that some rAgAs are having a pace of their own. But then I will tell you , that may not be actually physical speed. Somewhere in his Series of lectures @ IITM, TMK delved into that , that a what is physically fast may actually feel slow. The composition. Let me stop there. First I hate the notion that we look at it as if it is something on its own. We don't know what we mean sometimes. I can only say that the composition , if it ever is a distinct entity contributed the right kind of long/short pattern to the whole of music.

So what could be a slow rAgA in one could also be a physically faster paced in another. https://youtu.be/UCW0X_V0Dqs?t=1397 .

Some rAgAs scale up and down! A somewhat faster dEvagandhari does not spell Arabhi and there is also a nAyaki varNam where it physically flows fast in ciTTa svaram.

But an Arabhi cannot be slowed down much. Unless for teaching purposes.

>> On that regard on further edit: karuNA samudra used to be sung like Arabhi ( quoting RKSK) by ARI , MVI and SSI for a while, until an IPS gnAnastar challenged SSI - so what if seniors sang like that - what happened to your mind?

Which means speed in real sense ( not physical) has a bearing on rAga svarUpa!! SSI modified it on that advice - I heard!

I would think Ahiri may be inherently slow, but in the hands of a specifically endowed musician ( by means of gift, a particular mode of training, sAdhana, felicity of sArIram) the physical speed can increase, but it will feel slow. If a musician has developed the execution skills to show the long/short alternates of the rAgA in a faster physical speed, may be it can happen.

But in terms of slow/fast close pairs - ignoring lakshana/svaroopa differences , purely on feel:

dEvagandhari - Arabhi
nAyaki - darbAr
saurAShtram/Bhairavam - sUryakAntam
vEgavAhini - cakravAham
SrI - madyamAvati

janaranjani - pURNacandrika
varALi - vijayaSrI
DhanyAsi - Suddha DhanyAsi
Mukari - Bhairavi

And I am adding:
karnAtaka kApi - karaharapriyA

Funny I ran into this: https://sriramv.wordpress.com/2008/12/3 ... mber-2008/

We have too much product differentiation in Carnatic music, still we are a bad sell. A book that critiques U.S market calls this out as the scam - using product differentiation to entice customers.

It feels like I went to a Drug store ( a legal one that is) to get Cough Syrup for the Flu season, And I get lost with so many combinations there, fever reducer, decongestant, Anti-Histamines! Couple of Brand streams tussin and Tapp , and the store brand generic version for each! For some combos I have to produce an ID, as it is part of some abuse cocktail.

Speed, it seems, it is some last issue to worry about. When rAgA situation is muddy, why do they lay their hands on layam? Mridangam is not music etc.!

அதுல கைய வைக்க வேண்டிய அவசியம் என்ன. மிருதங்கம் மியூசிக் இல்லை என்னல்லாம் சொல்லிக்கிட்டு!
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MadhavRayaprolu
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#28 Re: laya of a keerthana

Post by MadhavRayaprolu » 15 Feb 2018, 18:19

Vayoo Flute wrote:
14 Feb 2018, 04:45
Hindustani composition singing generally mirrors their approach to alapnas, starting slowly and increasing the pace. The alapna approach, to me, is too constrained and mechanical. Carnatic musicians have a lot more freedom here.
Agree, Carnatic alapana is the most free format for expressing a ragam. It is free from lyrics and rhythm, free from any rules on how the movement should be. No slow to fast, low notes to higher notes etc. As long as a phrase is aesthetically connected with the previous phrase, the artist is free to sing whatever he/she likes.

Format is one thing, trend is another. While the alapana format allows all the freedom, I feel the trend in CM is to explore ragas using more complex and faster phrases than the simpler and slower ones. There are a few mavericks that tried to turn the trend, but by and large it is on the faster side. This is not a new trend, in fact the average alapana speed may have slowed down a bit among the new generation. I just wish there are choices available for rasikas that prefer a more relaxed raga exploration.

Coming back to the format, while CM alapana offers the most flexibility, the freedom is a lot reduced once the laya kicks in. The first is the constant tempo that we already discussed in detail in this thread. Second is about the fact that laya is fairly prominent while rendering compositions or in the improvisations. In other words, most of the syllables, swara transitions and phrases happen precisely on the beat. There are a few times artists abandon the laya temporarily and make forays into raga (and I love it every time that happens) but by and large the laya is kept in tact. In HM, these forays are more of a norm than an exception, giving an extra dimension for exploration.

We are of course comparing two infinities here, the comparisons are only for academic purpose and doesn’t point to any big limitations in either style.
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vasanthakokilam
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#29 Re: laya of a keerthana

Post by vasanthakokilam » 15 Feb 2018, 21:31

"A Suryakantam in our system is not a Raga, it is just a laya"

How does a Mela become a laya? If you can explain that (or rephrase that ) in the broadly understood meaning of laya, that will be good.

Having said that I do see what you mean by 'you will have to accept that syllables and not notes make for music'. I take it as 'notes are necessary but not sufficient'.

If I stretch myself a bit to understand what you are saying given the context of the thread, yours is a different form of saying 'UccharaNa bEdA is raga bEdA'. Uccharanai ( intonation ) can have some rhythmic component.
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shankarank
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#30 Re: laya of a keerthana

Post by shankarank » 16 Feb 2018, 11:50

I meant: mELas like that , which are just sequences, get used to express a syllable formation. They don't have standing as a rAgA, which I think is a deeper concept.

I said in a provocative way to bring out my view that syllable formation has independent standing in Carnatic music as music. And that is more than just conforming to a rhythm!

This is especially important when musicologists claim that rAgA is the core of our music. We cannot just take unique sequences and call them unique rAgAs just because they have been given a name.

They will have to rationalize and reduce what are distinct rAgAs. Rest have to be called tunes.
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shankarank
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#31 Re: laya of a keerthana

Post by shankarank » 17 Feb 2018, 09:19

MadhavRayaprolu wrote:
15 Feb 2018, 18:19
I feel the trend in CM is to explore ragas using more complex and faster phrases than the simpler and slower ones. There are a few mavericks that tried to turn the trend, but by and large it is on the faster side.
During the faster trend of recent decades, the exquisite nature of the phrases reduced. I am not sure what you mean by complex. Technically complex , does not translate into beautifully intricate!
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Vayoo Flute
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#32 Re: laya of a keerthana

Post by Vayoo Flute » 17 Feb 2018, 22:06

A raga can be described as being somewhere between a pure scale on one end and a very fixed melody or tune on the other end. A raga that resulted from the 72 melakarta scheme that has a very minimal composition base will fall very close to the pure scale end. A raga that evolved from a single kriti or 2 (eg katanakutuhulam) falls close to the tune end. As a raga develops (more and more compositions created by highly creative composers bringing in new patterns that become popular over time), the raga shifts from the pure scale end. A highly developed raga falls somewhere in between, that is, it is neither scale nore pure tune.
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MadhavRayaprolu
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#33 Re: laya of a keerthana

Post by MadhavRayaprolu » 18 Feb 2018, 15:31

That’s an interesting way to define a raga. Although I would have the spectrum as going from the most concrete to the most abstract. Starting with the lifeless scales, then some interesting melodic materials, tunes, compositions and finally the most abstract and infinite raga at the other end. Perhaps raga itself is not abstract enough. There are ragangas which supply the melodic themes for multiple ragas. So ragas and ragangas are essentially an abstraction of related melodic material that evoke a specific feeling.

Given this spectrum, not all ragas are at the same level as people mentioned. Some stop at the scales and some barely take off from this level with limited themes. The “big” ragas are the ones that are abstracted over a wide variety of melodic material. And “strong” ragas are those whose underlying melodic material is most closely related to each other and/or produce the most characteristic feeling.

This is not super scientific of course. But it would be interesting to classify ragas along these lines and figure out which ragas have similar level of bigness or strength.

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vasanthakokilam
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#34 Re: laya of a keerthana

Post by vasanthakokilam » 18 Feb 2018, 19:40

Madhav, what you describe is the HM way, right? There is lot to learn from such a model and way of thinking about ragas. I would call them the ‘semantic’ approach.

CM has such concepts as well. But such things have fallen victims to the extraordinary brilliance, attractiveness and success of the melakarta scheme which is more a ‘syntactical’ approach. May be this is a case of too much of a good thing. Over time, such an attractive syntax based classification had that hypnotic effect on the musicologists of the south. Fortunately it did not have that big an effect on the composers and musicians. They use such a scheme for what it is.

Syntax gives structure, order and framework to semantics and as a result it can reveal some hidden semantics. The melakarta scheme had that beneficial effects as well much to the benefit of humanity. But the CM ecosystem and meta theory, in my personal opinion, overplays syntax and underplays semantics. One example where this aspect plays out in a dramatic manner is in deciding which bucket to put a raga in. Mohanam is the syntactic child of HK and semantic child of Kalyani. Possibly Hamsadhwani has such a dual parent. How did that come to be? When several parents syntactically fit, CM resorts to yet another syntax to resolve the tie: ‘go with the lowest numbered melakarta number’. A semantically oriented tie breaker possibly would have placed Mohanam under 65 rather than 28.
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MadhavRayaprolu
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#35 Re: laya of a keerthana

Post by MadhavRayaprolu » 18 Feb 2018, 20:38

I wasn’t describing the HM classification (except for the reference to raganga, which is an aside). Nor was I proposing any fundamental reclassification. I was just building on vayooflute’s spectrum line, which makes sense in terms of how ragas may have evolved. And suggesting an informal secondary classification of ragas. Like throw them all on a 2D matrix of bigness vs strength. I think it has practical benefits. A student can look at this chart to know which are the big ragas to elaborate more. A new CM rasika can look at which ones are the strongest ragas so she can begin to identify them. And so on.
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vasanthakokilam
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#36 Re: laya of a keerthana

Post by vasanthakokilam » 19 Feb 2018, 12:28

Madhav, understood.

Please elaborate on your definition of 'big ragas'. That is what led me to think in terms of grouping ragas by their semantic closeness rather than syntactic closeness.
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MadhavRayaprolu
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#37 Re: laya of a keerthana

Post by MadhavRayaprolu » 19 Feb 2018, 13:34

Vasantha Kokilam: I understand what you mean by semantic (meaning) vs syntactic (grammar) classifications. I'm partial to semantic classifications since ultimately music is about what is meaningful to us in terms of emotional responses.

Re big ragas, oddly enough, nearly every professional musician knows what this means and perhaps even have a list of big ragas. So the question is not whether "bigness" makes sense as a concept, but more about how we can define it crisply.

I'd simply define bigness as the total number of non-trivial distinct phrases that characterize a raga. So if you take Reethi Gowla, PM-GRS is a distinct phrase. We can always extend this phrase to GM, PM-GRS. Or RGM, PM-GRS. or SGRGM, PM-GRS. But these are trivial extensions of the core phrases.

I need help here, but I feel a raga like Bhairavi has a lot more defining phrases than than Reethi Gowla. However, I also feel that the phrases of Reethi Gowla have a lot more semantic closeness than those of Bhairavi. So Bhairavi is a bigger raga than Reethi Gowla although Reethi Gowla is a stronger raga than Bhairavi. And of course, some crazy melas and their derivatives are neither strong nor big.

Does this make sense?
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Vayoo Flute
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#38 Re: laya of a keerthana

Post by Vayoo Flute » 19 Feb 2018, 19:06

MR: I do like your concept of extending my one-dimensional spectrum to 2 dimensions, and perhaps even three. Clearly this area is ripe for a lot of thinking and evolution. Would make a perfect PhD thesis for a budding music student.
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vasanthakokilam
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#39 Re: laya of a keerthana

Post by vasanthakokilam » 19 Feb 2018, 21:17

MR, thanks. I get it now. Actually I mistyped, I understood the 'bigness' but I was not sure of the 'strongness'. Now I get it. May be 'Strong' is not the right word but we can worry about that later.
VF, good idea. Go for it.

Just as an aside, a heat map visual representation can be put to use if we are interested in a third dimension to be visualized. That is just one, there are plenty of such methods to choose from.

We may need a separate thread to surface this to a broader set of our members. Let us see how this thread evolves.
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MadhavRayaprolu
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#40 Re: laya of a keerthana

Post by MadhavRayaprolu » 19 Feb 2018, 22:59

VK you are right strong is not a very strong concept like bigness and it is harder to define. I was using this word to represent the strength of character. So puliodharai has a stronger character than say fried rice. It is easily identifiable, allows less experimentation, there is less debate between two cooks on what constitutes a good puliodharai, the rasikas enjoy its authenticity more than its taste, etc. A related concept is “stickiness”. Some ragas stay in our heads for a lot longer than some others. Perhaps this is a result of the strength of character. Or maybe it is a new dimension on how addictive a raga is.
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