Carnatic music originated in the fertile plains of the Cauvery delta
and flourished through the ages. Vaggeyakaras are the persons who
composed many songs which are rendered in its original form to date.
The Trinities of Carnatic Music, Saint Thyagaraja, Muthuswamy Dikshithar
and Syama Shastri were all born in Thiruvarur near Thanjavur and the
songs composed by them have explored & exhibited the depth and the
rich feeling in this form.
The other notable composers are Patnam Subramaniya Iyer, Papanasam Sivan, Raja Swathi Thirunal, Annamacharyar, Purandaradasar.
The subject matter of the songs mainly dealt with the various Gods and
Goddesses, extolling their lives, their virtues, reflecting the varied
moods of humans like happiness, gratitude, fear, sorrow. Though
Composers have also dealt with subjects like patriotism, natures bounty
etc., their soul and heart were to a very great extent limited to the
deities they considered prime. Music was also looked upon as a means of
attaining Moksha (Salvation).
Sa Re Ga Ma Pha Dha Nee are the seven basic notations called the
Sapthaswaras. The swaras Sa & Pa help select the sruthi/pitch of the
singer. Re (Rishaba) & Gha (Ghandaram) are of three types each, Ma
(Madhyamam) of 2 types, Dha (Dhaivatham) and Nee (Nishadham) of three
types each and when grouped together these variations (6,2,6) combined
to form the 72 main ragas, the Melakarthas. The Melakarthas are divided
as Suddha Madhyama and Prathi Madhyama ragas based on their madhyama(ma)
variations by Venkata Mahi as Venkata Mahi Chakra.
Ragas born from Melakartha Ragas are aptly termed as Janya Ragas. Janya
Ragas are classified into three categories viz., Sampoornam - seven
swaras, Shadavam - six swaras and Oudavam - 5 swaras. Janya ragas follow
the Kartha raga ie., they contain the same swaras of the original raga
in various permutations and 483 variations becomes apparent to form
34,766 Janya Ragas.
The Janya Ragas gets further subdivided as Upanga Raga, Bhasanga Raga
and Vakra Raga. Upanga Raga allows for deletions and additions of
swaras. Bhasanga Raga has swaras in addition to swaras from its original
raga and the Vakra Raga has swaras in a non-sequential order.
The Ragas either follow an ascending order, " Aarohanam" or a descending
order the "Avarohanam" and the composers took great care to adhere to
the various rules when composing a song.
The song composed are set to thala depending on the number of beats. The
thalas are divided into Thisra - three, Misra - four, Kanda - five,
Sadhusra - seven, Sankeernam - nine and the song composed fits into one
of the above. Aadhi, Rupakam and Chapu are some of the Thalas.
The confluence of the Ragas and the Thalas have from early times been
providing us with melodious patterns which when rendered with bhava
(feeling) is an experience that has to be had to be believed.
Unnai thudhikka arul tha innisayudan
Bless me, O Lord! to praise thee through Music
Music is an ocean and I am singing praises of it, but from the shore. We
are sure that maestros will join us to lead us through this ocean to
glean the richness and beauty of this timeless traditional art that
lives with us from the days of the vedas.