Raga Mayamalavagowla – A Hybrid Harmonic Approach (Notation)

This is the first post addressing the application of western harmony to a Carnatic raga. This lesson outlines a typical approach that I take in developing pentatonics and harmonies for a particular raga. The below example uses Raga Mayamalavagowla, or Raag Bhairav in Hindustani music, as the parent raga. Continue reading

Misra Chapu – Subdivision Exercise 2 (Video)

This video is a follow up to a previous lesson on Misra Chapu. This exercise uses the same subdivisions but introduces them in a different order. The rearrangement of the subdivisions is a simple concept but in practice posses challenges. This idea is applied in numerous konnakol phrases and quickly gets one to reexamine ways that any collection of rhythmic phrases can be permuted.


Misra Chapu 7 Beat Cycle – Subdivision Exercise 1 (Video)

Below is a video of Sreenath Sreenivasan demonstrating the Misra Chapu Thalum while reciting the phrase Ta Ki Ta Ta Ka Di Mi & Ta Ka Di Mi Ta Ki Ta in different subdivisions. This is a great way to lock in the Misra Chapu Thalum and get more comfortable in 7/4 time. Supporting notated content for this video can be found here.

Raga Saraswati Alap – Vocals w. Guitar Accompaniment (Video)

Below is a clip from the 2013-14 USIEF Conference in Chennai. Manasa Suresh, a fellow Fulbrighter and up and coming Carnatic vocalist from northern California, is singing an alap, or melodic introduction, on Raga Saraswati. An alap introduces a raga, typically outlining the raga in distinct portions: tonic to 5th, 5th to upper tonic, upper register, return down to tonic, below the tonic, then conclusion.

Raga Saraswati contains the 1 – 2 – #4 – 5 – 6 – 8 on the ascent and 8 – b7 – 6 – 5 – #4 – 2 – 1 on the descent. While Manasa sings her outline of the raga, my role is to support her, by mimicking as closely as possible her vocal lines. This is very characteristic of a Carnatic Alap, where the vocalist sings and the instrumentalist follows the vocal line, almost like a delay. It is quite challenging, but an incredible musical experience. Please enjoy!

Misra Chapu – The 7 Beat Cycle (Audio)

We’ve covered an 8 beat cycle with Adi Thalum; a 5 beat cycle with Kanda Chapu; and now we explore Misra Chapu, the 7 beat cycle. Misra Chapu, known in Hindustani Music as Rupak, is shown by a series of claps and waves: wave on beat 1; wave on beat 2; clap on beat 4; clap on beat 6. It’s recited as Ta Ki Ta Ta Ka Di Mi, which is a 3 + 4 division of 7 beats. Below I’ve recited Misra Chapu is a variety of subdivisions. Mastering these exercises will dramatically improve one’s comfort with 7/4 and will inspire new ways to view 7 (it’s not just 12 12 123 anymore)! A downloadable pdf of this lesson with notation is available at the bottom of the page, but try learning this by ear before checking that out.

Misra Chapu, 7/4 time, in Quarter Notes

Misra Chapu, 7/4 time, in 8th Notes

Misra Chapu, 7/4 time, in 16th Notes

Misra Chapu, 7/4 time, in Triplets

Misra Chapu, 7/4 time, in Quarter Note Triplets

Misra Chapu 7 beat cycle