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Ragam Tanam Pallavi [1]is a form of singing in Carnatic music which allows the musicians to improvise to a great extent. It is one of the most complete aspects of Indian classical music, demonstrating the entire gamut of talents and the depth of knowledge of the musician. It incorporates raga alapana, tanam, niraval, and kalpanaswara. In more elaborate ragam tanam pallavis, a tani avartanam[2] may follow.


Main article: Raga Alapana

"Ragam" in the context of "Ragam Tanam Pallavi" refers to ragam alapana - the first component. In this form of pure melodic improvisation, the musician starts with a refrain to create the mood of raga and lays a foundation for composition to follow. Each Ragam tanam pallavi has at least one raga associated with it.

Tanam [3][edit]

Main article: Tanam

Tanam is one of the most important forms of improvisation, and is integral to ragam, tanam and pallavi.[4] It is the second component of this composite form of improvisation. Originally developed for the veena, it consists of expanding the raga with syllables like ta, nam, tom, aa, nom, na, etc. Tanam is a rhythmic version of the raga alapana. Although tanam is often rendered without percussion support, the element of rhythm is more obvious in this type of improvisation. It is rendered in medium speed and just before commencing the third component of this composite form of improvisation; the pallavi.


Main article: Pallavi

The word Pallavi is derived from the three syllables Pa - Pada (words), La - Laya (rhythm) and Vi - Vinyasam (variations). Pallavi is the equivalent of a refrain in Western music. The Pallavi is usually a one-line composition set to a single cycle of tala. The tala could range from the simple to the complex and there may also be different gatis being employed.

Pallavi has 2 portions to it. The first half of Pallavi is an ascending piece of notes and the first half of the Pallavi should always end at the strike of the beginning of the second half of the Talam cycle, called the Ardhi. Between the first half of the Pallavi and the second half of the Pallavi there will be a brief pause called as the Vishranthi and then the second portion of the Pallavi starts. Executing niraval for a pallavi is unique, as, unlike in a kriti, the artist is not allowed to change the locations of each syllable in the sahityam, as this lessens the innate beauty of the pallavi. The basic style in Pallavi rendition is to sing the Pallavi in different speeds or Nadai. In most cases the Pallavi is set to Chatushtra Nadai meaning each beat carries 4 units. So the singer will then sing the Pallavi in 3 different speeds, once with each Beat carrying one unit, then 2 units and then 4 units per beat. Once this is completed then they would sing the Pallavi in a different Nadai called Tisra Nadai meaning each beat now carries 3 units. Once these aspects are covered, the singer explores in the Kalpanaswara phase and they would start exploring different Ragas during the Kalpanaswara.

Pallavi can be sung in 2 different aspects, one called as Pratiloma and then the Anulomam. In Carnatic music the Talam is always constant and only the Swaras or the Pallavi set for the Talam can undergo Nadai bhedam.

In theory if you sing Pallavi without changing any speed but increase the Talam cycle in a geometric progression, it would be the other kind.

The Pallavi challenges the musician's ability to improvise with complex and intricate patterns. The whole exercise is very demanding, both technically and musically, since all the artiste's musicianship is put to test.

Contemporary Ragam Thanam Pallavi[edit]

Today, most concerts by prominent carnatic vocalists include a ragam thanam pallavi (RTP). Sometimes it is simply restricted to an alapana of one ragam, followed by thanam, pallavi and finishing with kalpana swaras in the same ragam. However, it is much more common today artist to render their alapana, thanam and pallavi in ragam 1, start the kalpanaswaram in ragam 1 and then move on and sing only the kalpanaswaras and the pallavi in two to three other ragams (usually no more than 5 or 6 ragams in total). While the artist might spend 35-40 minutes on the ragam 1, he or she will only devote about 4-5 minutes to each subsequent ragam. RTP requires not only experience but formidable amount of planning. First and foremost is the sequence of the ragams-- while the audience may not expect a logical order, the critics surely will. Secondly, since this part of the concert is likely to last anywhere between 40 and 60 minutes, the performer must pick their ragams very carefully. Last but not least, the accompanying violinist should be able to render each of these ragams as well.

More often than not, the main ragam chosen for RTP will be a popular one- if not, the artist will invariably announce the name of the ragam after the raga alapana portion. Alternately, the artist may include the name of the ragam in the words used in the Pallavi. In other words, artists often use the RTP portion of the concert to introduce their audience to ragams that are rarely sung. A good example is a recent rendition by Ranjani-Gayathri where they used the Pallavi phrase "Ranjani Kanchadala Lochani Brovavamma Thalli Niranjani" -- their RTP was set to the ragam Ranjani. About 30 minutes into the RTP, when they started switching ragams, they switched to Sriranjani, Janaranjani, Sivaranjani, Manoranjani and Sumanesha Ranjani. Since the audience are likely to be unfamiliar with some of these ragams, they changed their Pallavi phrase at the end of each of these 4-5 minute renderings- for instance, they finished Janaranjini rendition with "Ranjani Kanchadala Lochani Brovavamma Thalli Janaranjani". A musically literate audience often appreciate this approach, since this gives them 4-5 minutes to guess the ragam before the artist gives them the answer.

A more delectable variation to the theme is to use two ragams to sing the RTP. In this case, the artist switches back and forth between two ragams throughout the RTP making it much more challenging than the conventional RTP - the importance of picking compatible ragams cannot be understated. Recent RTPs that come to mind are Amrithavarshini/ Anandabhairavi by Sangeetha Swaminathan, Mohanam/Ranjani by Ranjani-Gayathri, Bhairavi/Sindhu Bhairavi by T.N.Seshagopalan and Mohanam/Kalyanavasantham by Bombay Jayashri.

Finishing a Ragam Thanam Pallavi[edit]

As stated in the previous section a contemporary RTP is rarely ever restricted to just one ragam. Despite the fact that towards the end of the RTP, the artist has switched from the ragam (i.e. ragam 1) that he or she originally started the RTP in, it is quite common for the artist to go back to ragam 1 to finish. More experienced artists will sing the kalpanaswaras of all the ragams that they rendered one after the other at the end of the RTP.


External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ragam_Thanam_Pallavi — Please support Wikipedia.
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41 news items

The Hindu

The Hindu
Thu, 04 Jun 2015 03:35:16 -0700

Over 99 per cent (by his own estimates) of Sanjay's recitals feature a Ragam Thanam Pallavi (RTP) – a rare phenomenon now, except at The Music Academy during the Season (where it is a requirement), or in dedicated pallavi programmes. His motivation lay ...
The Hindu
Thu, 04 Jun 2015 17:33:58 -0700

Over 99 per cent (by his own estimates) of Sanjay's recitals feature a Ragam Thanam Pallavi (RTP) – a rare phenomenon now, except at The Music Academy during the Season (where it is a requirement), or in dedicated pallavi programmes. His motivation lay ...

Indo American News

Indo American News
Fri, 27 Mar 2015 08:33:45 -0700

The Ragam Thanam Pallavi (an improvisation segment where the artistes show their mastery over the raga and delineate the raga with spontaneous ornamentation) was an engaging odyssey through a number of ragas—Mohanam (Bhoopali), Subha Pantuvarali ...

The New Indian Express

The New Indian Express
Sun, 04 Jan 2015 16:33:45 -0800

This song on goddess Kamakshi with exacting neraval and swaras (at Anatha Rakshaki Sri Kamakshi) was followed up with Ragam-Thanam-Pallavi in Raga Dharmavathi. Taking up Darisanam Kidaikumo Nataraja with the eduppu (6 units after the last veechu) and ...

The Hindu

The Hindu
Thu, 27 Nov 2014 05:30:00 -0800

The racy and tricky chittaswaras in 'Saravanabhava' in raga Pashupathipriya were rendered well. His unhurried alaapana of Kharaharapriya charmed one and all. Papanasam Sivan's composition 'Senthil Andavan' in Roopaka tala was sung at a leisurely pace ...

The Hindu

The Hindu
Sat, 04 Oct 2014 12:46:57 -0700

At the Music Academy, his permutations and combinations during his 'Ragam Thanam Pallavi' could leave the audience and some accompanists gasping. The diamonds on his fingers would twinkle as they flew along the tiny fingerboard of the mandolin ...

The Hindu

The Hindu
Thu, 09 Oct 2014 04:15:00 -0700

Shreya's fingering dexterity, especially in the raga alapana, and her clear bowing technique came to the fore in her exposition of ragas Anandabhairavi and Kalyani. Her kirtana playing was crisp with emphasis on sahitya aspect. Her happy co-ordination ...

The Hindu

The Hindu
Thu, 14 Aug 2014 04:37:30 -0700

Gifted with a powerful voice and an impressive repertoire, Sambagadu Vignaraja rendered 'Anandanadamaduvar' (Poorvikalyani), 'Dandamu Bettedanura' (Balahamsa) and 'Telisirama' (Poorvichandrika) in addition to several other numbers. Finally he embarked ...

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