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

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!

Adi Thalum Displacement Exercise – Ta Ki Ta (Video)

Here’s a follow up video to the first displacement exercise we covered also in Adi Thalum, but this time displacing our phrase, Ta Ka Di Mi Ta Ka Ju Nu, by three 16th notes using the three beat phrase, Ta Ki Ta. Try learning this exercise through the video before checking out the notation, which is available to download at the bottom of the page.


Displacement Exercise in Adi Thalum – Takatakita (Video)

This video demonstrates a classic rhythmic displacement exercise in Carnatic music. In the 8 beat cycle Adi Thalum, the phrase Ta Ka Di Mi Ta Ka Ju Nu is displaced by a 16th note via the phrase Ta Ka Ta Ki Ta, a cell of five 16th notes. Watch the video and attempt to figure out the exercise. If you need help, check out the attached pdf, available to download, at the bottom of the page.


Adi Thalum – Diminutive Rhythmic Phrase Using Tha Din Gi Na Thom (Video)

Sreenath Sreenivasan performs a diminutive rhythmic phrase in the 8 beat cycle, Adi Thalum. The phrase takes the introductory rhythmic cell, Tha Din Gi Na Thom, and shows it with diminishing gaps between each Tha Din Gi Na Thom cell. A pdf. in western notation can be found at the bottom of the page. I would encourage any listeners to first learn this phrase by ear, with the recitation and clapping, then jump to the written notation.

Syllables to understand:

Ta Ka Di Mi Ta Ka Ju Nu – This can be thought of as 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

Tha Din Gi Na Thom – This is typically a 5 beat cell, but in this demonstration, gaps or beats are inserted between each syllable that lengthen the phrase.

Clapping Adi Thalum

Clap on beat 1. Press the pinky to the palm for beat two; the ring finger to the palm for beat 3; and the middle finger to the palm for beat 4. Clap on beat 5. Wave on beat 6. Clap on beat 7. Wave on beat 8.

Enjoy the video!