Korvai Lesson # 1 (Video)

Hi! Sorry for the hiatus. But I’m back with the first korvai lesson for naanfunctionalharmony! Korvai’s are a major part of Carnatic music and konnakol language. Think of them as miniature rhythmic compositions. They exist in two parts: the purvangam (the questions) and the utrangam (the answer). They typically start on beat 1 and end on beat 1. Check out the video below. You can find the notated supplement to this lesson here: korvai lesson #1 (notation)

Written syllables for this korvai:

Purvangam (Question)

Di thankita taka tari kita taka Din
Di thankita taka tari kita taka Din
Di thankita taka tari kita taka Din

Utrangam (Answer)
Tha thom tha din gi na thom Tham
Tha thom tha din gi na thom Tham
Tha thom tha din gi na thom Tham – say this last “Tham” third time only. Otherwise omit and loop back to the start of the Purvangam.

Di thankita taka tari kita taka = 8 beats
Din = 4 beats

Tha thom tha din gi na thom = 8 beats
Tham = 2 beats

Karnataka (Audio & Notation)

“Karnataka” is the final track from the All India Permit EP and is based entirely on the Carnatic Raga Sree. There is a Hindustani version of this raga, but the two only have the name in common. The Carnatic Sree contains 5 notes ascending, 7 notes descending and coneys a strong minor sound. The scale degrees on the way up are: 1-2-4-5-b7-8; and 8-b7-5-6-b7-5-4-2-b3-2-1 on the way down. The minor 3rd and major 6th are omitted on the ascent and must be approached from below. They must also be minimally shown, appearing almost as ghost notes.

The form of the piece is A-B-A-B-A, with the A section being a drum solo over a looped phrase and B being the melodic solo for the guitar. This is inspired by typical Hindustani tabla-soloist forms, where after a melodic introduction, the tabla players performs a small solo as an intro, then the focus shifts to the soloist, who makes his or her own statement. At the conclusion of the soloist’s improvisation, the soloist plays a statement for the tabla player to solo over. When this solos finishes, the attention again returns to the soloist and this passing of the baton continues until there is a mutual decision to end the piece.

“Karnataka” could be performed for hours, but in this case we’re clocking in at 6:34. This marks the last post of 2014. Thanks for stopping by and stay tuned for more material in 2015.


To Jodhpur (Audio & Notation)

My piece “To Jodhpur” is inspired by the Carnatic rhythmic phrase:

Takadimi Tham, Takita Tham, Taka Tham, Ta Tham

This rhythmic structure and its variations are very common in the konnakol language. The rest of piece features expanding and dminishing rhythmic statements, appearing in the melody and in harmonic progressions. Audio and a notated lead sheet are below. Feel free to download a copy of the chart at the bottom of the page.

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Camilla – Composition Inspired by Raga Gamanashrama (Audio & Notation)

Here’s a composition inspired by Carnatic raga Gamanashrama from my upcoming All India Permit EP out 11/4 on Pursuance Records. Raga Gamanashrama is a lydian scale with a flat 9, with scale degrees 1 – b2 – 3 – #4 – 5 – 6 – 7. The piece features my approach to harmonizing the notes of this raga, while developing rhythmic tension which eventually resolves towards the end of the composition. Audio and notated lead sheet for the piece are below. Feel free to download a copy of the chart at the bottom of the page.

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Tham, Thongu, Din & Din Thongu – Gaps (Notation)

This lesson introduces the very important concept of gaps or spaces in the konnakol language. Tham, Thongu, Din and Din Thongu can be added to the end of phrases to augment ideas and increase rhythmic tension. Familiarity with these phrases will also make learning advanced phrases found in Korvais simpler. Ultimately a handle on these gaps allows long chains of rhythmic ideas to flow, breath and achieve a higher sense of musicality. Audio and video elements will supplement this content and be uploaded shortly. A downloadable pdf of this lessons is available at the bottom of the page. Continue reading