Podcast: Episode 3 Abhyaasa Gaanam (part 2)

In this third episode of our podcast, we continue with the remaining part of Abhyaasaganam – Swarajatis and Varnams.

Swarajatis are a longer and sophisticated version of geethams. They include a pallavi, sometimes an anupallavi, and charanam(s). Beginning with Rara venu gopapala in ragam Bilahari, students learn 4-5 swarajatis including Shyama Shastri’s classic piece Kamakshi in ragam Bhairavi. I recommend that students listen to the rendition of the Kamakshi swarajathi sung by Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer.

After swarajatis students move on to Varnam. The varnam lesson is a turning point in the student’s education. Varnams are musical compositions with simple lyrics and swara patterns. A varnam consists of a pallavi, anupallavi, chittayi swaram, charanam and muktayi swaras. The benefit of learning varnam includes voice culture and traversing all the three octaves with ease as well as a sound knowledge of the rhythm. The varnam is sung in two speeds and is the opener in a classical concert.

There are two kinds of varnams – taana varnams which are the varnams sung by musicians in a concert and pada varnams which are the varnams sung for dance performances. Taana varnams are in both Adi and Ata talams. As I had mentioned in the earlier podcast, the primer Ganamrutha Varna Maliga brought out by A.S.Panchapakesa Iyer includes all the traditional varnams. I also believe that Viribhoni, the ata tala varnam in ragam Bhairavi is a litmus test for students. When students sing this varnam in two speeds, they begin to understand the nuances as well the depth of the raga.

Here is a rendition of Viribhoni by MS Subbalakshmi.

3 responses to “Podcast: Episode 3 Abhyaasa Gaanam (part 2)

  1. Hi Chitra and Ashokji,Great initiative!!! The Episode 3 was not audible. Very happy to understand the theory behind basic lessons. (I am learning music from Ashokji.)Thanks,Sija.

    Like

  2. Hi Chitra and Ashokji,Great initiative!!! The Episode 3 was not audible. Very happy to understand the theory behind basic lessons. (I am learning music from Ashokji.)Thanks,Sija.

    Like

  3. As above said , what we call as the basics of carnatic music which includes varisas,geetams,jatiswaras,swarajatis and varnas act as the strong basement for the future development as an expertvocalist. These basics have to be practised every day so that there lies the raaga alapana, niraval and kalpana swara. For the one who practices these basics in the rightway gets the easiness for singing the manodharma and the kritis with good bhava.
    Coming to the varnas there are so many varieties of varnas. The first two as mentioned earlier tana varnas, pada varnas, then daru varnas, ata talavarnas, ragamalika varnas and talamalika varnas. some composers have done varnas in sapta tala varieties also.
    By practising varnas in slow tempo one can develop the raga alapana in each phrase.Great composers have composed varnas giving the full fledged raga bhava, swara phrases ,range of the raga etc.
    Varnas are an important part in natya also where the artist can show her creativity.
    The practise of varnas in three tempos like first , second and tisra nadai helps in bringing control over singing.
    Anyway good job have done by chitraji by writing this.god bless u

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