anAgata gRaham in aTa tALA Varnam

Ideas and innovations in Indian classical music
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#1 anAgata gRaham in aTa tALA Varnam


aTa tALA varnam always begins in anAgata gRaham unlike most Adi/rUpaka or Jampa tALa varnams. Is there any peculiar reason for this?

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#2 Re: anAgata gRaham in aTa tALA Varnam

Post by narayan »

I have also wondered about this. Can't think of a reason! If the caranam line also follows this scheme, I see that most of the swarams begin on the samam (except Viriboni where it begins earlier), and if that happens, you get sixteen beats at least for the one avartanam swarams. But that doesn't seem to be a reason either!

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#3 Re: anAgata gRaham in aTa tALA Varnam

Post by ravir »

To the best of my knowledge there are no special reasons for the anagatha graham in ata tala varnas. For tana varnas,per Prof SRJ ( vide his book 'Essentials of Musicology in South Indian Music' pages 192-193, in almost all khanda jati ata tala varnas, by starting the varna on the third akshara of the tala, the composer gets a relief of halt either on the fifth akshara of the laghu or the beat of the second laghu. And this is the case of all ata tala tana varnas in general. There seems to be no other extraodinary reason.

It may not be out of place to mention here, that in the case of cauka varnas in ata tala, the starting point is normally the samam. However there seems to be exceptions such as the ata tala cauka varna of Ramsvami Dikshitar in Hindolam 'rammanave tygarajasami' where the varna commences on the second akshara of the tala, while the caranas and the ettugada svaras start off on samam.

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#4 Re: anAgata gRaham in aTa tALA Varnam

Post by keerthi »

There are several examples from the older varna-s, those contemporary to the trinity, and those older than them, where Aditala varna-s and rUpaka tala varna-s have an anAgata eduppu. There are also post-trinity composers like the Tanjore Quartette who have anagata eduppu not Ata-tAla compositions.

I surmise that in the older scheme, where the varnam was mostly the prerogative of the dancers, the singer and nattuvaNars must have marked the tempo (kAlapramANam) for the accompanists and the dancer, by tapping the first four akshara-s of the tala in silence.

We can see a similar practice now, amongst singers (especially if it is a duet or a chorus) and other performers, where they put the 'zero-th' druta to establish kAlapramANa, and then start at the eduppu of the song.

It is interesting that many of the older AtatAla varnams also have ettugada swarams with different eduppu-s. again I suspect this is because of the dance connection, and the composer/ nattuvaNars must have put in different solkattu teermanams for each swaram, with a different landing spot, to keep it exciting for the audience.

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#5 Re: anAgata gRaham in aTa tALA Varnam

Post by sr_iyer »

No hard and fast rules perhaps, but here is some post facto obervation and reasoning

The pUrvAnga and uttarAnga are somewhat unsymmetric and skewed in khaNDa jAti aTa tALa [ 10 (total laghu kriyA count) + 4 (total drutam kriyA count) distribution of kriyA/outer-beats ]

By this commonly used eDuppu or take-off point by delaying 2 outer beats (or 8 inner-counts) from samam in khaNDa jAti aTa tALa, the distribution of musical-material changes to 8 outer-beats from laghus (from eDuppu to first drutam) and 6 after the first drutam beat until the eDuppu of next Avartana.

(To make this perfectly symmetric, a 7+7 distribution could be arrived at, but the flow of music for compositions for odd counts, though not impossible, is a factor to be considered, and not a decision always favoured by non-modern composers)

To break this up 8+6 further, the distribution of musical material from eDuppu (2 kriyAs after samam of aTa tALa) is now 8 + 4 + 2, giving a caturas'ra feel and flow to the music.

[ If the music from eDuppu (wrt aTa), say the portion starting with the words viribONi, is sung using (SAY) an Adi tALa cycle (from samam of Adi), immediately followed by an caturas'ra Eka followed by a drutam, this distribution of musical material from eDuppu can be perceived throughout the first section of a typical aTa tALa varNam - of course with some elegant variations thrown in. The number of kriyAs in this 8+4+2 distribution also can be perceived to be a dyadic (divide by two) reduction in kriyA counts of 8,4 and 2 respectively]

The last '2' kriyAs aforementioned, supplied from the samam of aTa tALa to the eDuppu of aTa tALa often lend towards a lead-in phrase of 8 inner-counts. Some examples of such phrases that lead from the conclusion of first tALa Avarta to the eDuppu in the next Avartana in aTa tALa varNams are phrases ngrnsndp (viribONi), ndpmgrsr (kanakAngi, tODi), rsndnsrg (vanajAkshi, kalyANI), rgrsrnsr (maguva, nArAyaNagauLa), n,sdnpdn (calamEla, s'ankarAbharaNa) to name a few.

The above was for the pallavi, anupallavi and svara passage - all before caraNam.

Narayan has already talked of the single avartana swaras post-caraNam accounting for 64 inner-counts from start of svaram to eDuppu of caraNam. This also leads to an adi tALa feel. E. g. the 'extra' svara which is not notated in books but rendered by Sri MSG and sung by Sri MDR (albeit with some differences in their versions) is m,grsnsr (m, ...) etc in the nArAyaNagauLa varNam. Repeats the 8 unit tAm(2)-ta-ka-dhi-mi-ta-ka throughout the svara passage in this case, with the dIrgha of two inner-count-units having refrain on ma . Also maracitluNDedi (bEgaDa) has a svara pasasge sndp,dpn dpdm,grg mpmg,rsn etc. Repeats the 8 unit ta-ki-Ta-tOm(2)-ta-ki-Ta throughout the svara passage in this case. These passages have an Adi tALa feel and flow due to the count from samam of aTa to eDuppu of caraNam.

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#6 Re: anAgata gRaham in aTa tALA Varnam


Dear sr_iyer,
Thank you for the excellent explanation. The information on the hindola varanm provided by ravir is new to me. Thank you also, sir.

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#7 Re: anAgata gRaham in aTa tALA Varnam

Post by vasanthakokilam »

There was a lec-dem at the Academy on 17th Dec 2010 by Smt. Sumathi Krishnan. The topic was "Variety in Varnams". It was an excellent Lec-Dem. At the end, after the expert committee members offered their comments, I raised my hand and Dr.Pappu Venugopala Rao offered me the floor. I asked the question of this thread. Sumathi said this is a much asked question and she has not found a satisfactory answer. And she opened it up to the rest of the eminent musicians there to see if they had any thing to add. No one immediately jumped up to answer but then there was not much time left, Dr. Pappu wrapped up the session!!

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#8 Re: anAgata gRaham in aTa tALA Varnam

Post by shankarank »

I will add one more to the speculations. The number "3" is significant in carnatic music and a short phrase can have the opportunity to pause with odd feel over even. "5" might have felt longer especially in a slow pace.

A half an eduppu in Adi tAlA 2 kalai for example gets a remainder divisible by 3 : 16 -4 = 12 before the sahitya can pause even in the middle of pURvAnga after the first two aksharas.

dEsadi tAla of modern times in shorter span gives a a remainder divisible by 5. 16 - 6 = 10.

A 3/4th eduppu in 2-kaLAI gives a remainder divisible by 5 until the mid pURvanGA position ( 2 Aksharas).

After all what is Carnatic music on a time scale - it is kARvais going over kriyAS! ;)

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#9 Re: anAgata gRaham in aTa tALA Varnam

Post by shankarank »


The Arudhi landing of the first word provides a conclusive reason for this!

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