Music Glossary

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  • abbreviation for kural (1)
    abbreviation for kural kaikilai
  • Achalaswara
    Also known as Prakruthiswara, it means a fixed note without any variables or ornamentations. The two fixed notes in Karnātic music are Ṣhaḍja (Sa) and Panchama (Pa).
  • Adhbutha
    A particular rasa or feeling of surprise or awe in a song or rāga
  • ādhi
    a common thāla, which is cathusra jāthi tripuṭa thāla. It has 8 beats, with a chathusra laghu (beat and 3 finger counts = 4) and then two dhrutams (beat and wave times 2 = 4). It may be also performed with double the beats per cycle, giving 16 beats.
  • Ādhithya
    The 12th and last chakra, with meḷakarthās that have Ma2, Ra3, and Ga3, comprising numbers 67-72
  • ādhitya
    the 12th and last chakra, with melakartas that have M2, R3, and G3, comprising numbers 67 to 72
  • Afternoon rāga
    A rāga to be performed in the afternoon between 1pm - 4pm such as mukhāri or begaḍa.
  • Agni
    It means both Fire and the God of Fire. It is the 3rd chakra, with Ma1, Ri1 and Dha3, comprising meḷakarthās 13-18.
  • Āhatham
    A gamaka or decoration of a note which takes the form of 2 consecutive notes, such as Sa Ri Ri Ga Ga Ma Ma Pa ...
  • Ahobala
    The seventeenth century author of the treatise Sangītha Pārijātha. He was the first one to calibrate the value of swaras in terms of the lengths of stretched strings.
  • Ākāra
    Using the vowel 'aaa'... to sing rāga or a musical phrase instead of words or swaras. One may also use vowels like eee, ooo, ayyy, aii, ohhh, etc. Ākāram is usually indicated by dots, ex: kā...mā...kṣhi...
  • Akāra-Sādhhakam
    Vocal practice, employing only the sound 'aaa'. This is done as part of the voice-culture exercises and results in richness of tone, timbre, clarity and strength of the voice.
  • Akṣhara
    A single note, designating the number of notes per beat. Usually there is 1 note per beat at normal (1st) speed, but at 2nd speed, there are 4. Other gathis may use 3 or 5 akṣharas per beat. (See also swarākṣhara)
  • Akṣharakāla
    The amount of time it takes for 1 akṣhara or one swara to be performed. So PaDhaPaMaGaRiSa is 7 akṣharakālas.
  • Alaṅkāram
    (1) - meaning a beautiful arrangement of swaras, it used to be a term for gamaka in the times of Bharatha (from AḍukkuAṇi) (2) - refers to the sapthaalaṅkārams, where the students are introduced for the first time to intricate thālas (SulādhiSapthathālas) and exercises in three speeds in(...)
  • Ālāpana
    One of the forms in manodhharma sangītha wherein a beautiful picture of the rāga free of rhythm is created by the performer in different octaves, starting from slow phrases to faster phrases gradually building the climax. Phrases used while rendering are Aa, Ee, Thanna, Thadharinna etc.
  • Alārippu
    A dance style, which uses solkaṭṭu swaras - it is a beginning piece, often the first taught to dance students. It allows for expert gestures and intricate footwork coordinated in a strict manner in a fast-paced performance. Typically, the songs have no actual words, only solkaṭṭus.
  • Alpanyāsa
    A swara that is just touched and not stressed within a rāga or phrase. For example, in sāveri, Ri is only touched in some phrases
  • Alpathvam
    One of the 13 lakṣhaṇas of a rāga.
  • Alto
    The second highest voice in Western harmony.
  • Amśham
    One of the 13 characteristics (lakshaṇas) of a rāga.
  • Anāgatha
    A viṣhama graham in which the music begins after the start of the thāḷa. For EgMāJānaki – Kāmbhoji- Thyāgarāja ;Marugelara – Jayanthashri - Thyāgarāja
  • AnāhathaNādha
    Sanskrit term for the sound (Nādha) that is not heard except in the heart. Abstract sound which can be perceived by yogis and meditators. It is the opposite of ĀhathaNādha, which is the heard sound, or sound that can be perceived by human ear.
  • Ānandha
    Meaning "peace" or "ultimate happiness," this is also sometimes used in singing of thānam.
  • Āndhoḷana
    Sanskrit word for one of the ten Gamakas (ornamentations) mentioned in the text, 'Sangītha Makarandha'. It produces a specific stress and emotional quality in the note and consists of a long amplitude vibrato that bends the note in relatively quick succession but not at a speed that would make(...)
  • Antharagāndhāram
    The highest of the 3 types of Ga - Ga3. It corresponds to E natural of the Western key of C.
  • Antharamārgam
    One of the 13 lakṣhaṇas of a rāga (see mārgam).
  • Antiphony
    A system where one person sings and a chorus of voices follow. This is often used in Indian music especially with bhajans. Palanquin bearers, tribes of Africa, New Zealand, North America, and Egypt also use antiphony.
  • Anubandha
    The final and concluding section of an Ālāpanā.
  • Anubhava
  • Anudhrutham
    A type of thāḷa movement which is a single beat of the hand on the thigh. Its symbol is U. Considered a small (anu=small) dhrutham, it is equivalent to 1 akshara.
  • Anumandhrasthāyi
    The octave below the mandhrasthāyi (two octaves below the middle octave). Indicated by 2 dots below the note.
  • Anunādha
    The name given to the hushed Gāndhāra that is heard when the Mandhra string of a thambūrā is tuned to the bass tonic. This note arises from the fifth harmonic. It is also called SwayambhuGāndhāra.
  • Anupallavi
    Usually the second section of a song, after the pallavi and before the charaṇam, often of 2 lines. After this, the pallavi is repeated. Since anu means small, this is like a small pallavi. Generally it is believed that the idea which is introduced in the pallavi is elaborated more concretely(...)
  • Anuswara
    Graces or decoration of a note. The small (anu=small, atom) anuswaras bring out the beauty of arāga. These can be better described as small inflections around a swara to embellish it. The Rāga gets its identity only when swaras are sung with gamakās and their attendant anuswaras.
  • Anuvādhi
    All ragas have two pivotal Swaras, which are the Vādhi and Samvādhi notes, while the other Swaras are neither. The assonant notes in a Rāga that are neither Vādhi nor Samvādhi are called its Anuvādhi notes. They are often addressed as companion or attendant notes.
  • Anya
    Notes taken from the scale of a different rāga. Example: Ma1 in sāraṅga. Arāga may have up to three anya swaras and no more. Anya swaras are indicated by an asterisk Ma*. They are also called bhāshāngaswaras
  • Apanyāsam
    One of the 13 lakṣhaṇas of arāga.
  • Apaswara
    A note with a pitch that is poorly focused (false note), or out of tune with respect to the ideal and true pitch (off-key note). It has a jarring effect on the ears.
  • Apūrvarāgas
    Rāgas which are uncommon or rare.
  • Apūrvathāḷa
    A thāḷa that is not in the sūḷādhi saptha thāḷa system and that which uses the other aṅgas, such as guru plutha,etc.
  • Ārathi
    A song or ritual performed with a flame and/or turmeric to drive away evil spirits. Ārathi songs are usually in maṅgaḷa rāgas
  • Archika
    It refers to recitation in one fixed note. This is indicated for some passages of the RgVedha, where the entire hymn is to be recited in one note.
  • Ardhhakampitha rāga
    A rāga in which only some swaras can have kampitha gamaka, ex: kunthalavarāḷi, compared to mukthāṅga kampitha rāgas
  • Āroha
    The ascending scale of a rāga (Sa Ri Ga ...), consisting of 4, 5, 6, or 7 notes.
  • Aṣhtapadhi
    Literally "eight steps," this is a musical form, a type of sabhāgānam, also used in dance. Each has eight stanzas, plus one. The most famous is by Jayadheva and composed in devotion to Kriṣhṇa.
  • Athikruthrathamamārgam
    A thāḷa path used in krithis which has 1 swara or 1/4 māthra.
  • Athimelivu
    It is the same as anumandhrasthhāyi. (this nomenclature is used in the Dravidian or Thamizh tradition)
  • Athītha
    A viṣhamagraha in which the music starts before the beginning of the thāḷa (Also spelt as ateeta) For eg :Ninnuvinā – Poorvikalyāni – ShyāmaShāstri ; ChedebudhiMānura – Attāna - Thyāgarāja
  • Athithārasthāyi
    The octave above the thārasthāyi (two octaves above the middle octave), indicated by 2 dots above the note
  • Athivalivu
    It is the same as athithārasthāyi (this nomenclature is used in the Dravidian or Thamizh tradition)
  • Aṭṭa
    One of the sapthathāḷas, which has the form laghu, laghu, dhrutham, dhrutham with the symbol - ||00.With the varying 7 laghus, this gives seven forms. When the laghu number is not specified, it is chathuśhrajāthiaṭṭathāḷa, which is laghu(4), laghu(4), dhrutham(2), dhrutham(2), for 12 beats.
  • Aṭṭathāḷavarṇam
    A varṇam set iṇ aṭṭa thāḷa which usually has the same structures of other varṇams for example the pallavi, anupallavi and mukthāyiswara in the poorvānga or first half and the charaṇam and chittaswaras in the utharāngam. The edduppu in most starts at the ring finger. This may be due to the fact(...)
  • Āṭṭavarṇam
    Another name for a padha varṇam
  • Auḍava
    Meaning 5, this indicates rāgas which use only 5 notes instead of 7 in either the ascending or descending scale (or both), leaving out 2 notes. Mohana is an auḍava-auḍava rāga because it uses only Sa Ri Ga Pa and Dha going both up and down.
  • Auḍavam
    One of the 13 lakshaṇas of a rāga dealing with whether it is an auḍava rāga in either the ascending or descending scale.
  • Avanāddha Vādya
    Percussion Instruments covered with stretched skin, e.g. Mridangam.
  • Avaroha
    The descending scale of a rāga (Sa Ṇi Dha ...), consisting of 4, 5, 6 or 7 notes.
  • Āvarthana
    One cycle/bar of the particular rhythmic meter or thāḷa. For example, in ādhi thāḷa in madhya laya (medium tempo), one āvarthanam is 8 beats. Two āvarthanas are 16, etc.
  • baani
    bAni means mould, but refers to a particular style of playing, characteristic of a pedigree of musicians, similar to the Hindustani gharana
  • bana
    the 5th cakra, with melakartas that contain M1, R2, and G3, comprising numbers 25-30
  • bass
    the lowest voice in Western harmony
  • bhaashaanga
    refers to raagas which take swaras (anya swaras) from raagas other than the parent mElakarta. For example, saaranga takes a M1 which is not in its parent raga kalyaaNi. A raaga may take up to 3 such swaras.
  • bhaashaanga kanDam
    the 3rd section of a raagaanga raaga lakshaNa geetam, in which the names of the bhaashaanga raagas of the melakarta in which the geetam is sung are given in the saahitya
  • bhaava
    bhaava refers to a raaga or song's general expression, a collection of mood, tone, and the gamakas, which create a unique effect. In combination with prayogas, sancaarams, and other aspects of raaga, it allows two raagas to be distinct even when they have the same swaras in their scales, ex:(...)
  • bhagutvam
    one of the 13 lakshaNas of a raaga
  • bhajan
    a devotional song, often sung in groups and in religious settings.
  • bhakti
    a rasa, or feeling, of devotion to a god portrayed in songs or raagas, usually. Most Carnatic songs have bhakti rasa.
  • bhayanaka
    a rasa, or feeling, of fear in songs or raagas, shown in raagas such as punnaagavaraaLi
  • bhu
    the 4th combination of da and ni in a cakra, with D2 and N2 or dini, representing the 4th melakarta in any cakra
  • bibatsa
    - a rasa, or feeling, of disgust in songs or raagas, shown in raagas such as aThaaNaa
  • brahma
    the 9th cakra, with melakartas having M2, R1 and G3, comprising numbers 49-54
  • briga
    a type of moorcanai gamaka, in which the aarOhana and avarOhana are combined and sung VERY fast
  • caapu
    a group of taaLas which traditionally consisted of a beat and a wave. It can be in counts of 3, 5, 7, or 9. The most common is mishra caapu (3+4=7 beats, takiTa takadimi), and khanDa caapu (2+3=5, taka takiTa) is also used occasionally. When no number is specified it is mishra caapu
  • cakra
    a grouping of the melakarta raagas into groups of six raagas. They are grouped according to which combination of ri and ga they have. Within a cakra, the first raaga has D1 and N1, the second has D1 and N2, the third has D1 and N3, the fourth has D2 and N2, the fifth has D2 and N3, and the(...)
  • caraNam
    literally meaning "foot," it is the root of the song (which is like a tree). This is the end section of a song, sung after the pallavi and anupallavi. A song may have multiple caraNas. In songs which have no anupallavi, there is often a samaashTi caraNa, which combines the two
  • caraNam swaras
    another name for citta swaras in a varnam
  • Carnatic
    pronounced kar-naa-tik, it is the South Indian form of classical music
  • catshruti
    meaning the little shruti, this is lower than satshruti but higher than shudda types of ri and da.
  • catshruti dhaivatam
    this is D2, the second of the 3 types of da. It corresponds to A natural of the Western key of C.
  • catshruti rishabam
    this is R2, the second of the 3 types of ri. It corresponds to D natural of the Western key of C.
  • catush kalai
    kalai of 4, where there are 4 swaras per kriyaa or movement
  • catusra
    refers to the number 4. catusra jaati is 4 beats in the laghu
  • cents
    a unit of relative frequency, used to show relative pitches of notes
  • chaaya
    another name for the swaroopam of a raaga, but which describes the general sound or look of a raaga (its character)
  • chaayaalaga
    raagas in which you can find the chaaya of another (one other) raaga at times, such as sowraashTram which may have the chaaya of cakravaakam, or saaranga, which may have the chaaya of kalyaaNi
  • chromatic scale
    a Western musical scale, which uses ALL the swarastaanas. It usually begins at C and has the following note sequence: C C# D D# E F F# G G# A A# B C (backwards in the descending), and would be equivalent to a scale in Carnatic that was: s r1 r2 g2 g3 m1 m2 p d1 d2 n2 n3 S
  • citra maargam
    a taaLa path which uses 8 swaras or 2 maattirais
  • citratama maargam
    a taaLa path which uses 2 swaras or 1/2 maattirai
  • citratara maargam
    a taaLa path which uses 4 swaras or 1 maattirai
  • citta pallavi
    another name for the caraNam in a varnam
  • citta swara
    a section of swaras set in taaLa sung after the anupallavi before singing the pallavi and again after the caraNam. In a varnam, many citta swaras are sung only after the caraNam, usually with the form that the 1st and 2nd take 1 aavartanam, the 3rd and 4th take 2, and the 5th take 4 (also(...)
  • comma
    a comma indicated 1/4 eDuppu or one aksharakaala. Thus if srgm becomes s,rg then sa is extended from one to two counts
  • cowka kaala
    a slow speed or kaala
  • cowka varnam
    another name for a pada varnam
  • da (1)
    abbreviation in singing, same as dhaivatam
  • da (2)
    an abbreviation for shuddha dhaivatam (D1)
  • daaTu
    a gamaka which involves jumping from one note to another, ex: sg rm gp md pn dS
  • daaTu varisai
    a series of phrases for singing and playing for early music practice, which uses daaTu (taaTu) gamaka style swara combinations, in a jumping or non regular fashion. It is also called taanDu varisai
  • daivika kOmali
    a divine Joker, who supposedly sings the kONangi Daru
  • dakshina maargam
    a taaLa path that is equal to 32 swaras or 8 maattirai, used only in pallavi
  • Damaru yati
    a type of rhythmic pattern of swaras or words resembling a Damaru, a type of drum that is narrow in the middle and wide at the ends. It is a combination of srotovaaha and gOpucca yati. ex: sndp-ndp-dp-p-dp-ndp-sndp, or srgrsrsrgm (matya taaLa)
  • dana
    the pa (2) combination, the first mela in any cakra having D1 and N1
  • dani
    the sri combination, the second mela in any cakra having D1 and N2
  • danu
    the go combination, the third mela in any cakra having D1 and N3
  • Daru
    same as Daruvu
  • Daruvu
    a particular type of musical form (sabhaa gaanam), which relates a historical or puranic incident or ancient story, expressing love or the greatness of a generous person. It is often in madhyama kaalam, with pallavi, anupallavi (not always), and more than on caraNam, with a mixture of jatis.(...)
  • dasavida gamaka
    10 forms of gamaka, listed here
  • deergha
    swaras that are often long and extended (with a comma) in a raaga, such as ri and ma in aarabi, often corresponding to the jeeva swaras
  • dEshaadi
    originally a taaLa with 3 beats and a wave, this is now performed as aadi taala which begins after 1/2 beat
  • dEsya (1)
    a raaga whose swaroopam is brought out by just aalaapanai, for example kaanaDaa, hameer kalyaaNi, hindustaani behaag
  • dEsya (2)
    raagas that were brought to South India from North India, for example paras, maanD, jhinjoTi, and shenjuruTTi
  • dhaivataantya
    raagas that range only up to the madhya staayi dhaivatam, without touching ni or the taara sa
  • dhaivatam
    the 6th note, equivalent to la of Western do re mi syllables. It occurs in 3 types: shuddha dhaivatam, catshruti dhaivatam, and satshruti dhaivatam, which correspond to G#, A, and Bb respectively in the Western key of C
  • dhruva
    one of the sapta taaLas, which has the form laghu, drutam, laghu, laghu (symbol |0||). With the 7 types of laghus, there can be 7 forms of this raaga. For example, sankeerna jaati dhruva taaLa is laghu(9), drutam(2), laghu(9), laghu(9) for a total of 28 beats
  • di
    an abbreviation for catshruti dhaivatam (D2)
  • dini
    the bhu combination, the fourth mela in any cakra having D2 and N2
  • dinu
    the ma combination, the fifth mela in any cakra having D2 and N3
  • disi
    the 10th cakra, which uses M2, R2 and G2, comprising melas 55-60
  • Divine Art
    music is often referred to by this term because it is considered linked to God
  • divya prabhandam
    a musical form, a type of sabhaa gaanam, see nalayira divya prabhandam
  • do
    in the Western do re mi system, the first note or swara, equivalent to sa
  • dOlakam
    a gamaka, same as aandOLam
  • dot
    dots are used in notation. A dot over a swara indicates it should be sung in the next higher octave (taara staayi), 2 dots indicate an even higher octave (ati taara staayi), a dot below indicates the lower octave (mandra staayi), and 2 dots below indicate the even lower octave (anu mandra(...)
  • druta laya
    a fast, quick speed or tempo
  • drutam
    a taaLa movement which includes a beat and a wave (or a beat with the palm and a beat with the back of the hand), counting for 2 beats
  • du
    an abbreviation for shatshruti dhaivatam (D3)
  • dunu
    the sha combination, the sixth (and last) mela in any cakra having D3 and N3
  • durbala
    swaras that are not good to lengthen or dwell upon in a raaga, for example ga in aarabi
  • durita kaala
    this is the 2nd speed or kaala, which can hold half the number of swaras of the same speed as in 1st kaala if the taaLa is changed. Since the taaLa is held constant within a song, when one changes from madhyama kaala to durita kaala, double the number of swaras will be sung because they are(...)
  • dwi kalai
    kalai of 2, where each kriyaa takes 2 swaras
  • dwitiya pancaka raaga
    a type of ghana raaga, including raagas such as kEdaaram, naaraayaNa gowLa, saaranga naaTTai, bowLi, and reeti gowLa
  • early morning
    ghanakaala raagas meant to be sung in the early morning before sunrise (4-6 am), such as bhoopaaLam and bowLi
  • eDuppu
    the place in a taaLa from which a song or a line or phrase from a song is begun. Songs may take sama eDuppu, starting at the beginning of the cycle, or (vishama graham) start a few swara counts (usually 2, 4, or 6) before (atita) or after (anaagata) the start of the taaLa cycle. A comma ,(...)
  • Eka
    one of the sapta taaLas with the form of a single laghu (symbol |) so that there will be seven forms by varying the laghu. For example, catusra Eka taaLa will have four beats, a single beat with the palm and then movement of the outer three fingers in one cycle. When the laghu is not(...)
  • Eka kalai
    the 1st kalai where there is 1 swara for each kriyaa or movement
  • equal temperament
  • ettukaaDi pallavi
    another name for the caraNam of a varnam
  • ettukaaDi swaras
    another name for the cittai swaras of a varnam
  • evening raaga
    a ghanakaala raaga suitable for singing at the end of the day in the evening (4-7 pm), such as shhanmugapriyaa, kalyaaNi, aananda bhairavi, vasantaa, naaTTai kurinji, and poorvi kalyaaNi
  • Ezhisai
    a term for god as the incarnation of sounds, as is often considered
  • fa
    in the Western do re mi, the 4th note, equivalent to ma
  • fifth
    a jump from one note to the fifth note above it (8 half steps, inclusive). sa to pa is a perfect fifth, as is C to G
  • first speed
    the 1st kaala, usually using 1 swara per beat in musical practice. However, it may use more swaras per beat (usually 4 in concerts and for kritis), thus changing subsequent speeds (each successive number doubles the number of swaras per beat)
  • flat
    a note that is lower in pitch by a half-step, in Western music. Thus B is equal to C-flat (Cb). The opposite of sharp
  • forenoon
    raagas meant to be sung before noon, from 9am up to noon, including such raagas as asaavEri, saavEri, and dEva manOhari
  • fourth speed
    the 4th kaala, usually using 8 swaras per beat in musical practice (32 in concerts). If first kaala uses 4 swaras per beat, for example, 4th speed uses 32 in relation)
  • ga (1)
    - an abbreviation of gaandhaaram
  • ga (2)
    abbreviation for shuddha gaandhaaram (G1)
  • gaandhaaram
    the 3rd syllable, which is of 3 types, shuddha, saadhaaraNa, and antara. It corresponds to mi of the Western do re mi system.
  • gamaka
    a shake or oscillation of a note, also known as bending the pitch. It is a deliberate decoration of wavering of a note to add grace and beauty. There are over 10 types of gamaka, listed here
  • gati
    the gait, or the number of subdivisions or swaras per beat. There are 5 types: tishra, catushra, kanDa, mishra, and sankeerna. It may also take 11, 8, etc. and is formed by taking the beat and multiplying by the number (ex: aadi taaLa in catushra gati is 8 times 4 = 32 beats). Not to be(...)
  • geetam
    an abhyaasa musical form or "song" considered the simplest musical form, created by Purandara Daasa in order to introduce taaLas in combination with lyrics. Geetams have no absolutely defined divisions of pallavi, anupallavi or caraNam though these may be observed in many cases. Geetams last(...)
  • ghana pancaka raagas
    one type of ghana raaga (as opposed to dwitiya pancaka raagas), which is heavy and elaborate. It has five members: naaTTai, gowLa, aarabi, shree, and varaaLi. These 5 raagas are often used in pancaratna kritis
  • ghana raaga
    a heavy and important raaga, in which the swaroopam is brought out by taanam (ghanam) or madhyama kaalam. They can be ghana pancaka or dwitiya pancaka raagas
  • ghanakaala
    raagas meant to be sung at a particular time of day. Each raaga is associated with at least one time of day (some are sarvakaalika - any time). The times are early morning (4-6am), morning after sunrise (6-9am), forenoon (9am-12pm), midday (noon-1pm), afternoon (1-4pm), evening (4-7pm), and(...)
  • ghanam
    another term for taanam
  • gharaana
    literally "house," this is the house of the musician-teacher and his style of performing, in Hindustani music
  • gi
    abbreviation for saadhaaraNa gaandhaaram (G2)
  • gO
    part of the mela mnemonic, a word to represent the 3rd combination of danu (D1 and N3) in the 3rd melakarta in any cakra
  • gOpucca yati
    a rhythmic pattern or swaras or words meaning cow's tail (go=cow), which has a broad beginning and narrows at the end. For example: pera bhayam, abhayam, bhayam
  • graha bEdam
    the act of shifting the tonic note (sa) to another shruti (another note) in the middle of a song. It is usually done briefly to show the ability of one raaga to become another by this shift but is not done for long enough periods that the audience forgets the original raaga. Also, the gamakas(...)
  • graha swaras
    these are swaras with which a kriti in a certain raaga may begin. For saavEri, for example, a song or section of a song may begin on sa, pa, or da (rarely, ga as well)
  • graham
    same as eDuppu, it can be sama graham or vishama graham. One of the 13 lakshaNas of a raaga
  • gu
    abbreviation for antara gaandhaaram (G3)
  • guru (1)
    this is a taaLa movement which has the symbol 8 and has eight beats. It is formed by a beat of four counts and a wave of the hand for 4 counts (or by a sarpini, making a looping eight with the hand horizontally)
  • guru (2)
    a teacher of music or any other learning
  • gurukula vaasam
    the system in which students of music (or any other learning) stayed with their guru to learn, rarely in wide practice today with the advent of music schools and easy transportation
  • half-step
    in Western music, the smallest distance from one note to the next (for example, on the piano), or the distance from one swarastaana to the next. s to r1, r1 to r2, m1 to m2, etc. are all half-steps. Two half-steps are equivalent to a whole-step. Half steps in Western notes are, for example,(...)
  • hampitam
    a rarely-used gamaka which uses the sound hoom (oo as in good) repeatedly
  • harmonic minor
    in Western classical, a scale that is equal to the minor scale but that the 7th note is increase by a half-step in both the ascending scale and descending scale. This converts N2 to N3, making this scale equivalent to gowri manOhari
  • harmony
    often used in Western music and other music forms, it is the practice of singing in parts, where each person has a part (often of different pitches) and sings or plays that part. The sounds become blended together though of different pitch to give a uniform, beautiful sound. Harmony usually(...)
  • hasya
    a rasa, or feeling, of laughter in a song or raaga, seen in raagas such as mOhanam, kEdaaram, and hamsadwani
  • hecu staayi varisai
    phrases for practice singing up to the taara staayi pa
  • Hindi
    the primary language of India. Few Carnatic songs are in this language
  • Hindustaani
    the main system of Classical music performed in North India
  • ili
    an ancient Tamil term from Silappadigaaram for pancamam (abbreviated yi)
  • indu
    the 1st cakra, with melakartas that contain M1, R1, and G1, comprising melakarta numbers 1-6
  • iraical
    the opposite of isai, it is a Tamil term for sounds that are not beautiful and are disorderly
  • irangu niral
    a Tamil term for avarOha
  • iraTTai kOvai varisai
    another term for janTa varisai
  • iraTTai kural
    another term for taara sa
  • iravu paNN
    in the PaNN system, an evening raaga
  • isai
    a Tamil term for music, a system with beautiful sounds in an orderly fashion which is pleasant to hear
  • jaaru
    a gamaka which involves a slide or glide from one note to another
  • jaati
    refers to the number of beats in the laghu (a division of the laghu). It can be tishra (3), catusra (4), khaNDa (5), mishra (7), or sankeerna (9). These varieties of laghu make the sapta taaLas into 35
  • jaavali
    a musical form (sabhaa gaanam), a type of song that is usually a love story with the characters naayaki (heroine), naayaka (hero), and tOzhi (close friend) and performed as classical dance (bharatanaaTyam). The compositions are often lively in madhyama kaala, expressing love through colloquial(...)
  • jakkini Daru
    a Daruvu or song where the first part of the saahityam is full of jatis and THEN the words are given. It also contains madhyama kaala prayOgams. Sometimes apoorva taaLams like guru jhampa are used
  • janaka raaga
    same as mElakarta, opposite of janya
  • janaka raaga lakshaNa geetam
    a lakshana geetam in a melakarta raaga, which can tell about the swaras of the raaga and the janyas of the raaga in the saahitya. It was previously known as raagaana raaga lakshaNa geetam (which has 3 parts, see raagaanga raaga lakshaNa geetam)
  • janTa varisai
    a series of musical phrases for early musical practice, in which swaras are sung in pairs, ex: ss rr gg mm pp dd nn SS. Also called iraTTai kOvai varisai
  • janya
    a raaga derived from a melakarta, but which does not have the exact characteristics of the melakarta. It may be missing swaras (varja), have a crooked scale (vakra), have additional notes from another melakarta raaga (bhaashaanga), or even have some small change in the way it is performed
  • janya raaga lakshaNa geetam
    a lakshaNa geetam in a janya raaga, which tells about the swaras of the raaga and the melakarta from which the raaga is derived in the saahitya
  • jati
    a phrase used in place of swaras or words (alongside them), usually such as dheem, takita, taam, tOm, often used in tillaanaas and dance-related songs
  • jatiswaram
    a type of abhyaasa gaanam, similar to a swarajati, often called a swara-pallavi. It has no saahityam at all, but instead combines jatis. It is used often in dance. Some jatiswarams are in cowka kaalam or are raagamaalikas
  • jeeva
    swaras that are vital to a raaga (give it life). For saavEri the jeeva swaras are ri, ma, and da
  • jhampa
    one of the sapta taaLas, with the form laghu, anudrutam, drutam (symbol |U0). With the 7 varieties of laghu, it has 7 forms. For example, khaNDa jaati jhampa taaLa, which is laghu(5), anudrutam(1), drutam(2), has 8 beats.
  • just intonation
  • kaakali nishaadam
    the third ni (of 3), N3 (the note just below high Sa), which corresponds to B natural in the Western key of C.
  • kaakapaadam
    a taaLa movement of 16 beats, with a beat (4 counts), a wave upward (4 counts), a wave to the left (4 counts), and a wave to the right (4 counts). Its symbol is + and it is equivalent to 4 maattirais
  • kaala
    this refers to the speed at which a song or portion of a song (or swaras) is performed. For singing in 1st speed, there can be 1 note per beat in practice (4 notes in concerts and when singing kritis). In second speed, there are 2 notes per beat in music practice and 8 in concerts, in 3rd(...)
  • kaarvai
    a pause or sustaining of a note while performing
  • kadinava
    the first line in the katapayaadi formula, which has 9 letters ka kha ga gha nga ca cha ja jha nya
  • kaikilai
    ancient Tamil term from Silappadigaaram for gaandhaaram
  • kaisiki nishaadam
    the second ni of 3, N2, which corresponds to Bb (B flat) in the Western key of C.
  • kalai
    a fractional unit of an aksharakaala, the number of beats per movement of a taaLa, or the number of swaras per kriyaa. Thus if aadi taaLa is sung in kalai 2 in 2nd speed (kaala), it still has 4 swaras per beat but instead of eight beats there are now 16 (each movement doubled). It can be Eka(...)
  • kalpana sangeetam
  • kalpanaa swaram
    the part of a performance or song when swaras are improvised to fit the taaLa and return to the pallavi or first part of another section of the song. It is usually done at the end of a song, but may also be done in the middle. The main performer and non-percussion accompanists take turns doing(...)
  • kalpita sangeetam
    music that is written in notation or generally fixed in how it should be performed (as opposed to kalpana sangeetam). Created music instead of creative music
  • kampa vihina raaga
    a raaga with no swaras that have kampita gamakam (opposite of sarva swara gamaka vaarika raaga). Examples are katanakutoohalam and sindu raamakriyaa
  • kanam
    another name for kshanam
  • kanDam
    a section or part of a raagaanga raaga lakshaNa geetam (also see khaNDika)
  • KannaDa
    a South Indian language spoken especially in the state of KarnaaTaka. Many South Indian songs are in this language
  • KarnaaTaka
    one of the states of India, this is where the name karnaaTic or carnatic came from, because many prominent composers, such as Purandara Daasa came from this state. The word is still used to refer to the Carnatic tradition
  • karnaaTaka sampradaayam
    refers to the traditions and culture of Carnatic music
  • karpanai isai
    another term for manOdharma sangeetam, or creative music
  • karpanai swaras
    another name for kalpanaa swaram
  • kartaraagam
    - same as mElakarta
  • karuNaa
    a rasa (or feeling) of kindness and generosity in a song or raaga, found in the raagas sahaanaa, naadanaamakriyaa, and kaanaDaa
  • katapayaadi
    the formula used to determine the number of a melakarta from its name or vice versa. The first two syllables of the melakarta name are used, each representing a digit, and the number that results is reversed to give the melakarta number. It has four lines, the first line starting with ka(...)
  • kaTTai
    the pitch at which a performer performs. A kaTTai of 5, for example, is G in Western notation
  • keertana
    a sabhaa gaanam, a Carnatic song, usually of a devotional nature (vaidika gaanam). It has a saahitya to praise god or beg pardon, sometimes connected with puraanic incidents. The saahitya is more important in keertanas and it is said to have existed before the kriti. It has a pallavi, may or(...)
  • keezh staayi
  • keezh staayi varisai
  • khaNDa
    refers to 5, as in khaNDa jaati (5 beats in the laghu)
  • khaNDa caapu
    a caapu taaLa with 5 beats (2 + 3), a beat and a wave, counted as taka takiTa
  • khaNDika
    - the division of a song into sections such as pallavi, anupallavi and caraNam. Each section may be called a khaNDika
  • kOlaaTTa Daru
    a Daruvu that is a song sung during the time of dance
  • kONangi Daru
    a Daruvu that is a song supposed to be sung by a daivika kOmali (a divine Joker)
  • koodal
    one of the 4 musical forms of isai-tamil (see tEvaram)
  • kOrvai
    a rhythmic phrase of several taaLa cycles, usually having a repetition of 3 within it, which may be sung, played, or performed on a percussion instrument
  • kOvai
    an ancient Tamil term for swara
  • kOvai varisai
    another Tamil term for sarali varisai or swaraavali
  • Krishna
    an incarnation of Lord Vishnu (preserver of the universe), known as a cowherd, beautiful flautist, a great King of Dwaaraka, and for his mischief around the gopis, his many female admirers
  • kriti
    a type of sabhaa gaanam, one of the most important types of songs with broad scope for neraval, kalpanaa swaras. They have a pallavi, anupallavi and at least 1 caraNam (or may have a samaashTi caraNa) with the same or different swara patterns in the caraNas. They can be either about God or(...)
  • kriyaa
    meaning action, it is any single movement within an anga, such as a beat or a movement of a finger, or a wave. Thus a khanda jaati laghu will have 5 kriyaas
  • ku
  • ku-ta
    abbreviation for kural taram
  • ku-tu
    abbreviation for kural tutam
  • ku-u
    abbreviation for kural uzhai
  • ku-vi
    abbreviation for kural vilari
  • kural (1)
    an ancient Tamil term from Silappadigaaram for sa
  • kural (2)
    an ancient Tamil term from Silappadigaaram for notes that are of lower pitch (such as shuddha notes)
  • kural kaikilai
  • kural taram
    an ancient Tamil term from Silappadigaaram for kaisiki nishaadam
  • kural tutam
    an ancient Tamil term from Silappadigaaram for shuddha rishabam
  • kural uzhai
    an ancient Tamil term from Silappadigaaram for shuddha madhyamam
  • kural vilari
    an ancient Tamil term from Silappadigaaram for shuddha dhaivatam
  • kutcEri
    the name for any Carnatic concert
  • la
    in the Western do re mi system, the 6th note or swara, equivalent to da
  • laghu
    a taaLa movement that involves a beat and then counts on the fingers starting from the little finger and moving inward (when the counts are more than five the counts go back to the little finger). They can be tisra (1 + 2), catusra (1 + 3), khaNDa (1 + 4), mishra (1 + 6), or sankeerna (1 + 8).(...)
  • lakshaNa
    an essential characteristic of a raaga. There are 13 such lakshaNas for every raaga (see triOdasa lakshaNa)
  • lakshaNa geetam
    a type of geetam which tells about the raaga in which it is sung, as opposed to samanya geetam. They are of the type janaka raaga lakshana geetam and janya raaga lakshana geetam
  • lasya
    the female or feminine aspect of dance and music (usually associated with the goddess Paarvati). Its complement is taaNDava
  • laya
    the speed or tempo, another name for taaLa or rhythm. It has 3 forms, vilambita (slow), madhya (medium), and druta (fast) laya
  • lines
    sometimes lines are placed over swaras or words to indicate that they should be performed faster. A single line doubles the speed of the swaras, and a double line quadruples the speed of the swaras. (see also vertical line)
  • ma (1)
    an abbreviation for madhyamam
  • ma (2)
    the 5th combination in a cakra, corresponding to the 5th raaga within a cakra, which has D2 and N3 (dinu)
  • maargam
    meaning path, there are 6 ways to render taaLa correctly (the shanmaargams): dakshina, vartika and citra maargams, used only in pallavi, and citratara, citratama and aticitratama maargams used in kritis. One of the 13 lakshaNas of a raaga
  • maataa
    meaning mother. Shruti is often called the Maataa, the mother of music
  • maattirai
    - a unit for reckoning musical time. The anudrutam is 1/4 maattirai, laghu is 1 maattirai, and kaakapaadam is 4 maattirais
  • madhya laya
    medium speed or tempo
  • madhya staayi
    the middle octave (as opposed to the lower or higher ones), also known as sama mandilam. This is the octave in which most of a performance will take place. Madhya staayi swaras usually have no dots accompanying them, and are often lowercase
  • madhyaadi
    a taaLa originally composed of 3 beats and a wave, but which has become aadi taaLa that begins after 3/4 beat
  • madhyama kaala
    - the 1st speed or kaala, with 4 swaras per beat
  • madhyama shruti
    singing without the pa, so that the tambura or shruti box is set to play only sa, ma, and Sa (instead of s P S). This can be done with raagas that have no pa but which have a ma in their scales. In singing, ma is taken instead of sa as the basic note (rare)
  • madhyamaantya
    raagas that range only up to madhya staayi madhyamam, not going up to pa, da, ni or taara sa
  • madhyamam
    ma, the 4th note, equivalent to fa in the Western do re mi system. There are two types of ma, shuddha madhyamam and prati madhyamam.
  • maguDa saahitya
    words for the maguDa swara
  • maguDa swara
    swara that comes after every part of a raagamaalika, sometimes with saahitya
  • major diatonic scale
    the predominant scale used in Western music, with approximately the notes of shankaraabharaNam. It can begin at any pitch, but for example, a starting pitch (sa) that begins with the note F (shruti of 4) is F major. Thus C major, F major, D major etc. will all be in the same raaga
  • major scale
  • MalayaaLam
    a South Indian language, spoken especially in the Indian state Kerala. Some compositions are written in MalayaaLam
  • mandilam
    an ancient Tamil word from Silappadigaaram for staayi
  • mandra staayi
    - the lower octave, below the main octave (madhya staayi). It is indicated by a dot below the note (or to the right of the note here, n.)
  • mandram
    one of the 13 lakshaNas of a raaga
  • mangaLa
    a raaga suitable for singing invocations and benedictory verses (aarati, mangaLam), such as sowraashTram, shuruTTi, madyamaavati, or yadukula kaambhOji
  • mangaLam
    a song that is an invocation to the gods thanking them for a good concert and to remove the evil eye and any bad karma caused by improper singing of raagas (for example, singing a morning raaga at an evening concert, etc.). It is sung at the end of a concert
  • MaNipravaaLam
    a language that uses a combination of other languages such as Sanskrit, Tamil, Telegu, KannaDa, or other ancient languages, used almost exclusively in compositions and not in actual conversation
  • manOdharma sangeetam
    literally creative music (also kalpana sangeetam), as opposed to created (kalpita) music. It is created by the artist instantaneously on stage without precise preparation beforehand. There are 5 types of this creative, improvisational music (usually improvised during the performance, requiring(...)
  • matya
    one of the sapta taaLas, with the form laghu, drutam, laghu (symbol |0|). It can be made into 7 forms by varying the counts of the laghu. For example, tishra jaati matya taaLa will be laghu(3), drutam(2), and laghu(3), for a total of 8 beats
  • mEla
    (or mElam) abbreviation for mElakarta
  • mela mnemonic
    a useful set of phrases to remember the order of the raagas within a cakra. The combinations are pa (dana, 1), sri (dani, 2), go (danu, 3), bhu (dini, 4), ma (dinu, 5), and sha (dunu, 6). Their numbers are according to the katapayaadi formula
  • mElakarta
    a main raaga, consisting of all seven notes in order in both the descending and ascending scales. There are 72 such raagas. To qualify as a mElakarta, a raaga must have all 7 swaras ascending and descending, they must be in the regular order, they must be of the same type (swarastaana)(...)
  • melivu mandila varisai
    same as takku staayi varisai, varisais to get to the mandra staayi pa
  • melivu mandilam
    ancient Tamil for mandra staayi
  • melodic minor
    in Western music, the minor scale with the 6th and 7th notes shifted upwards by a half-step (one swarastaana) in the ascending scale only. This gives a scale with the aarOha of the mela varuNapriyaa and the avarOha of kharaharapriyaa
  • melody
    the singing of a tune, without harmony or part singing, where all voices and instruments perform the same relative pitch (a pitch or its octave)
  • mElstaayi varisai
  • men's shruti
    usually a man's shruti is at a pitch of 1 to 1 1/2 (equivalent to C or C# in Western notation)
  • mi
    in the Western do re mi system, the 3rd note, equivalent to ga
  • midday raaga
    a raaga suitable for performing in the middle of the day (around noon to 1 pm), such as madyamaavati, maNirangu, or shree raaga
  • minor scale
    the second most common scale in Western music, it is the equivalent of kharaharapriyaa raaga. It corresponds to the major scale by shift of sa downwards by 2 notes (4 swarastaanas, sa to d2), or a minor third. It is also called the Aeolian mode of the major scale
  • minor third
    in Western music, the interval between 4 notes or swarastaanas. This would be, for example, the jump from s to g2
  • mishra
    meaning 7, it is used in mishra jaati (3 + 7) in the laghu or as mishra caapu (a taaLa of 7 beats)
  • mishra caapu
    a taaLa of 7 beats, 3 plus 4, with the sound taka takiTa, formed by two quick beats (2) with the back of the hand, a pause (1) and then two slow beats (2 + 2)
  • mishritam
    using a mixture of different types of gamakas
  • mode
    a Western classical concept, in which at least one of the 7 notes of the major scale is changed (raised or lowered) to create a new scale. In this way, different scales can be formed, creating a subset of scales similar to raagas. There are many modes. The Aeolian mode of the major scale gives(...)
  • moorcanaakaaraka
    such a raagam's tonic note (sa) can be shifted to another note (such as ri, ga, ma, pa, da, or ni) to give a different raaga. For example, dhanyaasi is a moorcanaakaaraka raaga, because its ni can be taken as sa, and if its sa is taken as ri, ri taken as ga, etc. it becomes salagabhairavi (a(...)
  • moorcanai
    a gamaka that involves using the proper shaking required in the raaga that is being performed
  • morning raaga
    a raaga suitable for performing in the morning (6-9 am) after sunrise (after the early morning raagas), such as bilahari, kEdaaram, or dhanyaasi
  • mridanga yati
    - opposite of Damaru yati, this is a rhythmic pattern of swaras or words which is narrow at the ends and wide in the middle (a combination of srotovaaha and gOpucca yatis). ex: pdn-mpdn-gmpdn-mpdn-pdn
  • mudal naDai
    - one of the 4 musical forms of isai-tamil (see tEvaram)
  • mudra
    - the signature(s) a composer may use in compositions, woven into the song. It may or may not have anything to do with the composer's name. Not all composers have mudras. For example, Dikshitar's mudra is "Guruguha"
  • mudritam
    a gamaka which involves humming, as in mmmm...
  • muktaanga kampita raagas
    raagas in which all swaras can be sung with kampita gamaka, also known as sarva swara gamaka vaarika raagas. These include kalyaaNi, mOhanam, and tODi
  • muktaayi swara
    a section of swaras sung after the pallavi and anupallavi of a varnam
  • munnar baagam
    from Silappadigaaram, an ancient Tamil word for poorvaangam
  • Murugan
    also known as Lord Subramanya or Shanmuga, he is a son of Lord Shiva (destroyer of the Universe), famous for his quick quips as a young boy and for his perseverance and love for music. He emerged from the forehead (fire from the third eye) of Shiva and was raised by 6 young women Shiva(...)
  • music
    English, from the Greek word MOUSA, for Muses, music was thought to be inspired by 3 Muses. However, music is thought to originate in India because the Greek Strabo says that the famous scientist and mathematician Pythagoras learned music from Indians
  • musical force
    a force which uses breath and sound to add emphasis to a note, for example to the second note of an identical pair (ss') or to a note in a string of notes (ni in pdn'd)
  • na
    abbreviation for shuddha nishaadam (N1)
  • naabhitam
    a gamaka that involves swelling a note in volume and roundness, like a crescendo
  • Naada Brahmam
    Brahmam is god, and naadam is sound, so god is often considered the same as music
  • naadam
    Sanskrit for isai or even oli, or any sounds that are orderly, beautiful and pleasant
  • naDai
    refers to the tempo at which a song is sung, especially of how many aksharas are in a beat. Tishra naDai means that in each beat, there are 3 swaras or aksharas. Not to be confused with gati
  • nalayira divya prabhandam
    a type of sabhaa gaanam which is a collection of 4000 hymns composed by 12 Vaishnava saints (Pogai Alwar, Bhutatalwar, Peialwar, Perialwar, Tirumazhisai Alwar, Tirupanalwar, Tirumangai Alwar, TinDaradipodi Alwar, Nammalwar, Madurakavi Alwar, KulasEkara Alwar, and AaNDaaL and compiled by(...)
  • NaTaraaja
    god of dance (bharatanaaTyam), who dances the taanDavam and shakes the worlds when he dances. An incarnation of Shiva, he is said to have killed demons by dancing upon their heads
  • natural minor
    same as the minor scale
  • navagraha
    meaning 9 planets, the navagraha kritis are 9 songs, each composed on a different planet. The most famous are by Dikshitar
  • naya
    a raaga in which the swaroopam is brought out both by aalaapanai and taanam, for example tODi, bhairavi, kaambhOji, shankaraabharaNam, and kalyaaNi
  • neraval
    singing a single line or phrase from a song with varying tunes. This is usually done in the middle of a song, taking a particular phrase and expanding it, while still keeping the words split properly. It may also be performed in various raagas as a raagamaalika
  • nEtra
    the second cakra, which has 6 melakartas that contain M1, R1 and G2, numbered 7-12
  • ni (1)
    abbreviation for nishaadam
  • ni (2)
    abbreviation for kaisiki nishaadam (N2)
  • ni-kai
    abbreviation for nirai kaikilai
  • ni-ta
    abbreviation for nirai taram
  • ni-tu
    abbreviation for nirai taram
  • ni-u
    abbreviation for nirai uzhai
  • ni-vi
    abbreviation for nirai vilari
  • night raaga
    a raaga meant to be sung only at night time, from 7-10 pm. This includes raagas such as neelaambari and kEdaara gowLa
  • nirai
    refers to a higher pitch of swaras relative to one another, an ancient Tamil term from Silappadigaaram
  • nirai kaikilai
    an ancient Tamil term from Silappadigaaram for antara gaandhaaram
  • nirai taram
    an ancient Tamil term from Silappadigaaram for kaakali nishaadam
  • nirai tutam
    an ancient Tamil term from Silappadigaaram for catshruti rishabam
  • nirai uzhai
    an ancient Tamil term from Silappadigaaram for prati madhyamam
  • nirai vilari
    an ancient Tamil term from Silappadigaaram for catshruti dhaivatam
  • nishaadaantya
    raagas which range only up to the madhya staayi nishaadam, without touching the taara sa
  • nishaadam
    ni, the 7th swara, corresponding to ti of the Western do re mi system. There are three types of ni, shuddha, kaakali, and kaisiki
  • nissabda
    as opposed to sasabda, these taaLa movements make sounds (beats, for example the anudrutam). It is found in sapta taaLas
  • nonvivaaDi
    32 melakartas are not vivaaDi
  • note
    a note or "English note" is a composition usually composed in the raaga shankaraabharaNam and created with swaras (some also have saahitya). They are called such because the melody sounds very Western. In fact, some are simply Western tunes with Indian lyrics
  • notes
    in Western music, there are 7 basic notes: A B C D E F G, which can be increased by a half-step (sharp, #) or decreased by a half-step (flat, b) to give the full range of notes. A B C D E F G are the white keys on the piano, while intervening notes (A#=Bb, C#=Db, D3=Eb, F#=Gb, G#=Ab) form the(...)
  • nu
    abbreviation for kaakali nishaadam (N3)
  • nyaasa
    swaras on which a phrase in a kriti in a certain raaga may end. sa is a universal nyaasa swara for any raaga. For saavEri, for example, nyaasa swaras are ma, pa, and da
  • nyaasam
    one of the 13 lakshaNas of a raaga that describes what nyaasa swaras the raaga has
  • octave
    same as staayi, the jump or the range from one note to the same note (same pitch) but sung higher. Thus sa ri ga ma pa da ni Sa is one octave
  • oli
    Tamil word for sound
  • one-fourth eDuppu
    symbolized by a comma , it is starting a song 1/4 beat after or before the samam
  • one-half eDuppu
    symbolized by a semicolon ; it is starting a song 1/2 beat after or before the samam
  • pa (1)
    an abbreviation for pancamam
  • pa (2)
    part of the mela mnemonic, a word to represent the 1st combination of dana (D1 and N1) in the 1st melakarta in any cakra
  • paana
    a MalayaaLam poetic style written in couplets
  • pada varnam
    a varnam that has rhythmic elements like a padam, meant for classical dance. It has cowka kaala (some madhyama kaala) swaras suitable for footwork, and saahitya for abhinayam at the muktaayi swaras as well as all the caraNas. Performed in aadi taaLa, roopakam and others. Also called cowka(...)
  • padajati varnam
    a varnam which contains some jatis in it, often meant for classical dance
  • padam
    a particular type of musical form or composition (sabhaa gaanam), meant for dance, that brings out the relationship of naayaka-naayaki (hero and heroine) as well as tOzhi (close friend) to tell important truths. The words are written through the mouth of the naayaka, naayaki or tOzhi,(...)
  • padipanca
    the 3rd line in the katapayaadi formula, with 5 letters, pa pha ba bha ma
  • pagal paNN
    ancient Tamil name (in PaNN system) for morning raagas
  • pallavi (1)
    meaning sprout or bud (or leaf) in the comparison of a song with a tree, it is usually the first section of a song, which may be repeated again after the anupallavi and caraNas. It is usually short (1-2 lines)
  • pallavi (2)
    a musical form (sabhaagaanam) in which a phrase or line is taken in raagamtaanampallavi (RTP) for expounding the raaga and words, to do neraval and manOdharmasangeetam
  • pancamaantya
    raagas whose scales range only up to madhyastaayipancamam, without touching da, ni, or taarasa. It also refers to raagas such as naadataarangini, which have scales like spmrgrs - Spndpmgrs that return to the madhyastaayisa
  • pancamam
    pa, the 5th swara, used as a drone note along with sa (a perfect fifth). It has only one form like sa and unlike the other swaras. It corresponds to so in the Western do re mi system
  • pancamashruti
    the standard shruti setting in which sa is the basic note, with pa being played along with sa
  • pancaratna
    means 5 gems, referring to 5 songs set in ghanaraagas, they are 5 songs on a specific subject or deity. The most famous pancaratnakritis are by Tyaagaraaja
  • PaNN
    the forerunner of raaga, before the split of Hindustani and Carnatic raaga. It consisted of audava, shaadava and sampoorna types with bhaashaanga types as well (with anyaswaras). Formerly there were 103, with 23 used in TEvaram
  • paNNirunilam
    ancient Tamil name for swarastaana
  • paNNiruveeDu
    ancient Tamil name for swarastaana
  • perfect fifth
    see fifth
  • perfect third
    see third
  • pinnarbaagam
    ancient Tamil name from Silappadigaaram for poorvaangam
  • plutam
    a taaLa movement which has 12 beats, a beat, then a wave to the left and a wave to the right. Its symbol is ^8.
  • podupaNN
    ancient Tamil name (in PaNN system) for midday raagas
  • poorvaangam (1)
    the first four swaras S R G M of the octave (as opposed to uttaraangam 1)
  • poorvaangam (2)
    the combined set of pallavi, anupallavi and muktaayiswaras in a varnam
  • poorvamelakartas
    the 36 melakartas (1-36) that use shuddhamadhyamam, the shuddhamadhyamammelakartas
  • prastaaram
    - meaning spreading out, it is a splitting of an anga into all of its possible component parts. For example, catusralaghu can be split the following ways: 1. | 2. U0 + U 3. 0 + 0 4. 0 + U + U 5. U + U0 6. U + 0 + U 7. U + U + 0 8. U + U + U + U
  • pratimadhyamam
    the higher ma, M2, used in the second 36 melakartas and their janyas, which corresponds to F# of the Western key of C
  • pratimadhyamammelakartas
    the uttaramelakartas
  • pratyaavatam
    a gamaka using paired notes in succession in the descending scale ex: Snnddp pm mg gr rs, often considered one of the most important gamakas
  • pravEshikaDaru
    a Daruvu that is sung for introducing the actors and actresses of a musical play at the very beginning
  • prayOga
    a particular phrase that is characteristic of a raaga. It helps show the uniqueness of the raaga when performed and may also contain anyaswaras not present in the raaga scales
  • pushpaanjali
    literally an offering of flowers, it is a traditional dance or song that is used as an offering, invocation, and welcome to the lord (usually Ganesha), gurus/teachers, and the audience. Flowers are offered and the performers begin the concert
  • ra
    abbreviation for shuddha rishabam (R1)
  • raaga (1)
    a particular type of Indian scale, containing a defined combination of swaras (especially which is pleasant to hear). It is very similar to the Western concept of mode (see mode) - a set of notes with defined relationships with one another. For example, the Western major scale is equivalent to(...)
  • raaga gnaanam
    (pronounced raaga nyaanam) an aim of music, to know a raaga fully so that one can play or sing it and distinguish it from other raagas
  • raagaanga raaga lakshaNa geetam
    a previous name for the janaka raaga lakshaNa geetam, which had 3 parts, a sutra kanDam in which the letters of the swarastaanas are placed in order in the saahitya, an upaanga kanDam in which the names of upaanga janya raagas of the melakarta are given, and a bhaashaanga kanDam in which the(...)
  • raagam taanam pallavi
    abbreviated RTP, this is a piece in which raaga (2) is sung, followed by taanam, then singing of the pallavi or a song, followed by neraval and karpanai swaras. RTP is the only form that uses all 5 types of manOdharma sangeetam
  • raagamaalika
    literally "garland of raagas," this is a composition in which different sections are performed in different raagas. Improvisations such as neraval, taanam, and kalpana swaram may also be done in multiple raagas. It may have pallavi, anupallavi, caraNam, citta swara in the same raaga as the(...)
  • raagamaalika varnam
    a varnam in which each section (pallavi, anupallavi, muktaayi swaram, caraNam, and each of the citta swaras) is in a different raaga. They can be taana varnams or pada varnams
  • raagamudra
    the signature name or other name of a raaga, which may be given in the saahitya of a song or section of a song in that raaga
  • raagataaLamaalika
    a sabhaa gaanam musical form in which each part is in a different raaga AND a different taaLa. The saahitya gives both the raagamudra and the taaLamudra. It is a difficult composition, and the most well known is Raamaswaamy Dikshitar's 108 raagataaLamaalika
  • rakti
    rakti raagas are core raagas that are often performed and important in Carnatic music. Some rakti raagas are sahaanaa, yadukula kaambhOji, mOhanam, aananda bhairavi, shuruTTi, and reeti gowLa
  • range
    the number of swaras or octaves a singer or instrument can cover. A singer should be able to reach easily from the mandra staayi pa to the taara staayi pa, while instruments like the violin can easily be performed for 2 1/2 octaves (mandra staayi sa to taara staayi pa)
  • ranjaka prayOgas
    prayOgas or phrases that bring out the melody and beauty of a raaga
  • rasa
    a feeling or emotion portrayed by a raaga or song. Bhakti rasa (devotion), karuNaa rasa (kindness), veera rasa (braveness), and shringaara rasa (love) are the most common. Some raagas and songs have more than one rasa
  • rasika
    someone who appreciates (music), an audience member
  • re
    in the Western do re mi system, the 2nd note or swara, equivalent to ri
  • ri (1)
    an abbreviation for rishabam
  • ri (2)
    abbreviation for catshruti rishabam (R2)
  • rishabam
    ri, the second swara, which has 3 types, shuddha, catshruti, and shatshruti. It corresponds to re of the Western do re mi system
  • rishi
    the 7th cakra, containing melakartas with M1, R1, and G1, numbered 37-42
  • roopaka
    one of the sapta taaLas, which has the form drutam, laghu. With the 7 types of laghu, it has 7 forms. When no laghu is specified, it is catushra jaati roopaka taaLa, which is laghu(4), drutam(2) for six beats and often abbreviated by 2 beats of the palm of 2 beats each and a wave of the hand(...)
  • rowdra
    a rasa, or feeling, of anger portrayed in a song or raaga. Raagas such as aThaaNaa and aarabi can show anger
  • ru
    abbreviation for shatshruti rishabam (R3)
  • rudra
    the 11th cakra, containing melakartas with M2, R2, and G3, numbered 61-66
  • rutu
    the 6th cakra, containing melakartas with M1, R3, and G3, numbered 31-36
  • sa
    an abbreviation of shadjam
  • saadhaaraNa
    meaning normal, this refers to the "ordinary" version of a raaga or a swara, especially gaandhaaram
  • saadhaaraNa gaandhaaram
    the second of 3 ga's (G2), which corresponds to E-flat (D#) in the Western key of C
  • saadhaaraNa geetam
  • saahitya
    the lyrics of a song (as opposed to the notes or swaras of the tune)
  • sabhaa gaanam
    musical forms for concerts, includingvarnam (a link to abhyaasa gaanam), kritis, keertanais, tEvaram, tiruppugazh, divya prabhandam, tiruaruTpa, tirukkuraL, padam, jaavali, tillaanaa, raagamaalika, taarangam, ashTapadi, Daruvu, and pallavi
  • sama eDuppu
    beginning a song (words, swaras, etc.) at the samam, at the first beat of the taaLa, as opposed to vishama graham
  • sama graham
    same as sama eDuppu
  • sama mandilam
    another name for madhya staayi
  • sama yati
    one of the rhythmic patterns in a taaLa where all the angas are of the same magnitude (if, for example, in aadi taaLa, all angas take 4 swaras)
  • samaashTi caraNa
    a caraNa (last section of the song) combined with the anupallavi. It may have slow and faster speed sections, and is performed after the pallavi in the absence of an anupallavi
  • samam
    the first beat of the taaLa cycle (irrespective of where the song begins)
  • samanya geetam
  • sampoorna
    raagas having a full complement of swaras (sa ri ga ma pa da and ni in both ascending and descending scales) without any absent
  • sampoorna raaga
    another name for a mElakarta raaga
  • sampradaayam
    tradition or the way things have been done in the past
  • samudaaya kriti
    kritis or songs composed in a group on a particular subject or deity, such as pancaratna kritis
  • samvada Daru
    a Daruvu that is a song that brings out a discussion between two people. In Arunaacala Kavi's RaamanaaTakam, "manninnil metta arasar pOl" in kalyaaNi describes the discussion between Raama and Parasuraama
  • sancaaram
    same as sancaari
  • sancaari
    (also sancaaram) a collection of phrases and swaras that completely describe the major characteristics of a raaga, including the nuances and possible anya swaras not included in the scales. They may also refer to elaborations of a single line or phrase in the song. When used in dance, they can(...)
  • sancaari geetam
    a geetam that uses sancaaris in mandra staayi poorvaangam or taara staayi uttaraangam. Also called saadhaaraNa or samanya geetam. This type of geetam has simple lyrics
  • sangati
    a particular variation of a phrase in a kriti or song with slight or large changes in tune and gamakas. Each phrase maybe repeated with different variations or sangatis
  • sankeerna raagas
    raagas which show the chaaya of more than one other raaga, ex: aahiri, which shows the chaaya of dhanyaasi and naTabhairavi, dwijaavanti, which shows the chaaya of sahaanaa, kEdaara gowLa, and yadukula kaambhOji, and ghanTa, which shows the chaaya of dhanyaasi and punnaagavaraaLi sometimes
  • Sanskrit
    an ancient language of India, which is usually used only in songs, prayers (slokas), and scriptures. Many composers have composed in Sanskrit
  • sanyaasam
    one of the 13 lakshaNas of a raaga. Sanyaasam means asceticism
  • sapta
    meaning 7
  • sapta alankaarams
    the 7 types of taaLas, each with a different set of movements (angas) and order (see intro to taaLa). These use only 3 angas, the anudrutam (U), drutam (0), and laghu (|). They use sasabda and nissabda movements
  • sapta taaLas
  • sarali varisai
    a series of phrases that begin with the low swaras and move upwards, allowing students in the early phases of learning to match their swarastaanas and learn music. These are phrases such as, sr sr sr gm sr gm pd ns. Also known as a swaraavali
  • Saraswati
    goddess of music and learning, consort of Brahma
  • sarva kaalika raagas
    raagas that can be performed at any time of day, such as bhairavi, kaambhOji, shankaraabharaNam, and kalyaaNi
  • sarva swara gamaka vaarika raaga
    these are raagas in which any note can be oscillated, even if all notes need not be oscillated. Thus, in kalyaaNi, any note can be oscillated, but G MUST be oscillated to give the feeling of the raaga. Also known as muktaanga kampita raagas, ex: mOhanam and tODi
  • sasabda
    a taaLa movement which makes sound, found in the sapta taaLas. ex: visarjitam
  • scale of equal temperament
    the scale used in Western music, where notes are exactly equally spaced with even intervals (for example, a piano) and played with little variation. The values of notes (in shankaraabharaNam or the major scale in cents are: s 0, r 200, g 400, m 500, p 700, d 900, n 1100, S 1200
  • scale of just intonation
    the scale used in Indian classical music, where notes are not equally spaced but are slightly offset (for example, violin), performed with variations and gamakas. The values of notes (in shankaraabharaNam or the major scale in cents are: s 0, r 204, g 386, m 498, p 702, d 906, n 1088, S 1200.(...)
  • second speed
    the 2nd kaala, usually using 2 swaras per beat when 1st speed uses only 1 (in early musical practice). However, if 1st speed uses 4 swaras per beat, for example, 2nd speed will use 8. In concerts, the 2nd speed usually uses 8 swaras per beat
  • sei
    another name for a janya raaga
  • semicolon
    a semicolon indicates the equivalent of two commas, so that it is one-half eDuppu or two additional aksharakaalas. Thus if srgm becomes s;m then sa is first one count but in the second phrase it takes 3 counts
  • sha
    an abbreviation for du-nu, the combination of D3 and N3 found in the 6th raaga of all 12 cakras (found in 12 raagas out of the 72 melakartas)
  • shaadava
    meaning 6, this refers to raagas that have only six notes in either the ascending or descending scale (or both), meaning that they are missing one swara compared to sampoorna raagas
  • shaadavam
    one of the 13 lakshaNas of a raaga, to describe whether the raaga is a shaadava raaga
  • shaanta
    a rasa, or feeling, of peace or calmness in a song or raaga. Raagas like vasantaa, shyaamaa demonstrate this rasa
  • shadangams
    the 6 angas, U (anudrutam), 0 (drutam), and | (laghu) which are used only in the sapta talas as well as 8 (guru), ^8 (plutam), and + (kaakapaadam) which are used in the 108 taaLa system
  • shadjam
    sa, the base note or tonic note, which is also a drone note (in the background). There is only one form of sa, though it is usually sung at 2 octaves only (low and high). It corresponds to do of the Western do re mi system
  • shanmaargams
    the 6 maargams (see maargam)
  • sharp
    in Western music, a note that is a half-step (one swarastaana) higher, indicated by the symbol #. Thus B# is equal to C. Opposite of flat
  • shatshruti
    the highest note of three, applicable to rishabam and dhaivatam
  • shatshruti dhaivatam
    the highest of 3 da's (D3), which corresponds to B-flat (A#) in the Western key of C
  • shatshruti rishabam
    the highest of 3 ri's (R3), which corresponds to E-flat (D#) in the Western key of C
  • shishya
    a student, one who learns (see guru)
  • Shiva
    god of destruction, whose dance shakes the heavens. Also known as NaTaraaja
  • shOdasangams
    the 16 angas formed by adding the viramam anga to the 6 existing angas
  • shringaara
    a rasa, or feeling, of romantic love or compassion in a song or raaga. Raagas such as asaavEri, bhairavi, husEni, kaanaDaa, kalyaaNi, kamaas, sahaanaa, and shuruTTi show shringaara rasa
  • shrOtovaaha yati
    a river-like rhythmic pattern of swaras or words that is narrow at one end and widens, the opposite of gOpucca yati. For example, in the phrase dn-pdn-mpdn-gmpdn-rgmpdn-srgmpdn
  • shruti (1)
    the musical pitch, especially of sa, pa, sa that is used, or the key. It can also be any particular pitch (for example, the shruti of ri in a raaga, or the shruti at which a violin's string is set). Men usually sing at a shruti of 1 to 1 1/2, while women tend to sing at shrutis of 4 1/2 to 5
  • shruti (2)
    in tune, for example "always be sure you are singing in shruti"
  • shruti bEdam
    the same as graha bEdam, but not necessarily involving only the tonic note. Shruti bEdam may also involve shift of another note in the scale of a raaga to create a different one
  • shruti box
    an electronic or mechanical device that recreates the effect of the tambura by creating the sounds of sa, pa, and sa. Usually it can be tuned or played for any pitch. Instruments such as the harmonium may also be used as shruti boxes.
  • shruti maata laya pita
    a saying, "shruti is mother, laya is father" which shows the sanctity of the union of melody and rhythm in Carnatic music
  • shuddha
    meaning pure or good, this is a term used in raaga names and also in the first (lowest) forms or rishabam, gaandhaaram, madhyamam, and dhaivatam
  • shuddha dhaivatam
    the lowest of 3 da's (D1), which corresponds to G# (A-flat) in the Western key of C
  • shuddha gaandhaaram
    the lowest of 3 ga's (G1), which corresponds to E natural in the Western key of C
  • shuddha madhyama melakartas
    the 36 lower (1-36) melakartas with M1, also known as poorva melakartas
  • shuddha madhyamam
    the lower of 2 ma's (M1), used in the first 36 melakartas, which corresponds to F natural in the Western key of C
  • shuddha raagas
    raagas in which the caaya is well brought out by playing swaras without any foreign notes (anya swaras), for example mOhanam, maayamaaLava gowLa, madyamaavati, and shree ranjani
  • shuddha rishabam
    the lowest of 3 ri's (R1), which corresponds to C# (D-flat) in the Western key of C
  • Silappadigaaram
    an ancient story in Tamil literature which describes many aspects and terms of South Indian music
  • slesha
    double-meaning or pun, sometimes used by composers to lend multiple meanings to the same line of a song
  • slOka
    a prayer or portion of a scripture used as prayer, often set to tune. It may also be sung as a raagamaalika
  • so
    the fifth note, a perfect fifth from do, in the major scale and the do re mi system in Western music
  • solkaTTu
    (also sollukaTTu) literally spoken-sounds, these are sometimes called jatis. They are sounds intended to imitate percussion, such as the sounds of the mridangam. Common sounds are tAm, ta ki Ta, tOm, dhIm, tatanu, tarikiTa, janu, and dhirana, among others. Sometimes they are combined with(...)
  • solkaTTu swara
    (see solkaTTu) singing of swaras without the swaraksharas but instead with jatis such as taam, dheem, tOm, etc., as often used in tillaanaas
  • soprano
    the highest voice in the Western system of harmony
  • spuritam
    a gamaka which uses repeated notes, in twos, for example ss rr gg mm pp dd nn SS. Musical force from the first note is given to the next note for emphasis
  • sri
    the combination da-ni, or D1 and N2, found in the 2nd of 6 raagas in all 12 cakras (12 raagas out of the 72 melakartas)
  • staayi
    the octave (range of notes from sa to higher sa) at which a composition is performed. The mandra stayi is the middle octave and taara staayi is the higher octave
  • suladi
    (from suda, an Indian word for geeta) a composition very much like the Bhagavad Gita in musical structure and arrangement. However, it is a taaLamalika, each section being in a different talas. Each section is independent by itself. As a result, the pallavi usually is not sung at the end.
  • suladi geetam
    similar to a geetam, it can be a taaLamaalika, with each kanDam or section in a different raaga or it can be sung as a devotional song. It is often taught after alankaarams in many languages
  • suladi sapta taaLas
    sapta means 7, so these are 5 times 7 = 35 taaLas, created from the 7 major taaLa types by incorporating the different possible laghus (see intro to taaLa for more information). Also known as sapta alankaarams
  • suraaga
    a good raaga, which removes the evil eye and wards off bad karma to the performers and audience for performance of raagas at other than the specified times (ex, singing a morning raaga at an evening concert), as well as for any other improper deeds during the concert. Suraagas such as(...)
  • sutra kanDam
    one of the parts of the raagaanga raaga lakshana geetam, in which the letters of the swarastaanas come in order in the saahitya of the song. For example, if the geetam were in kalyaaNi, it could have ri (R2), gu (G3), mi (M2), di (D2), and nu (N3) coming into the words in that order
  • swaagata Daru
    a Daruvu that is a song where a person speaks to himself (a soliloquy)
  • swara (1)
    a type of musical sound that is a single note, but which is not of a defined frequency. Instead, a swara defines a relative (higher or lower) position of a note. There are seven swaras, sa ri ga ma pa da ni which correspond to Western do re mi fa so la ti, respectively. sa and pa are the drone(...)
  • swara (2)
  • swara (3)
    the part of a song that defines the tune, composed of swaras (swara 1). The swaras usually have a saahitya
  • swara names
    these are 16 even though there are only 12 swarastaanas, because 4 of the swaras (the vivaaDi ones) overlap in their pitch at times with others of the 12, and thus are distinct
  • swara saahitya
    using swaras in the saahitya of a kriti in place of words
  • swara-pallavi
    same as jatiswaram
  • swaraakshara
    the use of the word sa (when singing) for the note shadjam, ri for rishabam, etc. This also applies to combinations of notes, singing nidha for N D, for example. It is sometimes used in kritis, for example "sarigama ..." so that they are in the context of the lyrics
  • swaraantara
    a raaga having only 4 swaras in either or both of the scales (ascending, descending) ex, srgpS Snmgs is a swaraantara-swaraantara raaga. A swaraantara scale is missing 3 swaras, and this is the smallest possible size of a raaga (smaller ones are very difficult to sing and are not usually pleasing)
  • swaraavali
    avali means line or order, so this is a line of swaras, a regular set of swaras, also known as a varisai such as sarali varisai or kOvai varisai
  • swarajati
    an abhyaasa musical form, which is helpful before learning varnam. It has pallavi, sometimes an anupallavi, and at least one caraNam. The themes are on bhakti, love, and courage. It is composition which usually has a pleasing melody and can be suitable for singing both in early lessons and in(...)
  • swarastaana
    the particular frequency of a swara in a given raaga. It is also the development of the seven swaras into their varieties, giving 12 swarastaanas (which have 16 names). Performers must make sure their swarastaanas are precise to ensure that the raaga is correctly elaborated
  • swaroopam
    the form or spirit of a raaga, related to the caaya
  • taaLa
    the beat set for a particular composition (a measure of time). taaLas have cycles of a defined number of beats and rarely change within a song. taaLas have specific components, which in combinations can give rise to the variety of taaLas that exist (over 108), allowing different compositions(...)
  • taaLam
    (same as taaLa) from taal and am, indicating that taaLam was played originally with the legs
  • taaLamaalika
    a type of sabhaa gaanam, a garland of taaLas, a composition in which each section is performed in a different taaLa. The taaLamudra of each taaLam is found in the saahityam of a taaLamaalika. It is also used in manOdharma sangeetam especially in pallavi. TiruvOtriyoor Tyaagaiyyar is said to(...)
  • taaLamudra
    the name or abbreviation for a taaLa. It may be expressed in words in the saahitya of a song or section of a song set in that taaLa
  • taana varnam
    a varnam, named as such for it's taanam-like rhythmic qualities. It has saahitya only for the pallavi, anupallavi and caraNam. It is practiced in 2 to 3 speeds in aadi and sometimes other taaLas, often used in beginning training but also sung in concerts
  • taanam
    the second section in a raagam taanam pallavi in which the raaga is elaborated rhythmically (traditionally without rhythmic accompaniment) using the word "aananta." Taanam may be performed as a raagamaalika as well.
  • taaNDava
    the male or masculine aspect of dance and music (usually associated with the god Shiva). Its complement is lasya
  • taanDavam
    the cosmic dance of the Universe, danced by NaTaraaja or Shiva
  • taanDu varisai
    same as daaTu varisai, so named because taanDu means to play, and one jumps during play, so these swaras jump around as if in play
  • taara sa
    the high sa above the middle sa, also called iraTTai kural or uyar kural
  • taara staayi
    the higher octave in which a composition is sung (as opposed to the mandra staayi, the middle octave), indicated by a dot above the note (or, here, as a capitalized note, as in pdnS)
  • taaram
    one of the 13 lakshaNas of a raaga, which indicates its ability to reach higher octaves
  • taarangam
    a type of sabhaa gaanam, a musical form
  • taaTu varisai
  • taay
    same as a melakarta
  • tadinava
    the second (ta) line in the katapayaadi formula, which has 9 letters, Ta Tha Da Dha Na ta tha da dha na
  • takku staayi
    also known as keezh staayi, this is the lower octave or mandra staayi
  • takku staayi varisai
    phrases (varisais) to practice in reaching the low mandra staayi pa
  • tambura
    an instrument used as a drone to set the pitch for a performance. Its (often) 4 strings are tuned to the mandra staayi pa, middle sa, middle sa, and taara sa
  • Tamil
    also tamizh, this is a language of South India, particularly the state of Tamil NaaDu. Many compositions are in Tamil, and several great poets of Tamil literature exist
  • tani aavartanam
    literally a separate taaLa cycle, which is a section of a concert when the percussion instruments perform alone, without melodic accompaniment. If more than one percussion instrument is present, they first perform long solos then come together in beat and alternate to create intricate rhythms.(...)
  • taram
    ancient Tamil term from Silappadigaaram for nishaadam Telugu - a language of South India, particularly the state of Andhra Pradesh. Composers such as Tyaagaraajaa composed primarily in this beautiful language, and so there are many compositions in Telugu
  • tenor
    in Western harmony, the 3rd highest voice, higher than bass but lower than alto
  • tEvaram
    a musical form, a type of sabha gaanam. These are a group of hymns in Tamil composed by 3 Saivite saints Appar, Sambandar (both 7th century), and Sundarar (9th century). It means a divine song, considered one of the 4 musical forms of Tamil (mudal naDai, varnam, koodal, and tiral). These songs(...)
  • third
    in Western music, the jump from one note to another 5 half-steps away (covering 5 swarastaanas). For example, C to E, or in Carnatic, s to g3. Also called a perfect third (as opposed to a minor third)
  • third speed
    3rd kaala, which typically uses 4 swaras per beat in musical practice. If the first speed uses 4 swaras per beat (as in concerts and kritis), the third speed becomes 16 swaras per beat in relation
  • three-fourths eDuppu
    symbolized by ;, it is a gap of 3/4 beat before beginning the song (or starting the song 3/4 beat before the sama)
  • ti
    a Western note in the do re mi system, the 7th and last note, equivalent to ni
  • tillaanaa
    a type of sabhaa gaanam, a musical form or composition that uses jatis (such as dheem, takiTa, taam, jham) as rhythmic phrases instead of words. It is composed to create a sense of enthusiasm and joy (the meaning of tillaanaa), and said to have originated from another composition called(...)
  • tiral
    one of the 4 musical forms of isai-tamil (see tEvaram)
  • tiruaruTpa
    a musical form, a type of sabhaa gaanam
  • tirukkuraL
    a musical form, a type of sabhaa gaanam
  • tiruppugazh
    a type of sabhaa gaanam, a musical form. One of the most famous is by Arunaagirinaatar which introduces many taaLas of the 108 taaLa system
  • tishra
    meaning 3, this is one of the jaatis for the laghu, so that the laghu is one beat with the palm and then 2 finger counts. It may also be tishra caapu (rare), which would be 1 + 3=4 beats
  • tribhinnam
    a gamaka which uses chords (simultaneously played notes, usually 3), restricted to instrumental performers such as violinists
  • triOdasa lakshaNas
    the 13 lakshaNas (essential characteristics) of a raaga. These are graham, amsam, taaram, mandram, nyaasam, apanyaasam, sanyaasam, vinyaasam, bhagutvam, alpatvam, antara maargam, shadavam, and audavam
  • tripuccam
    a gamaka which uses triples of notes, such as sss rrr ggg mmm ppp ddd nnn SSS
  • tripuTa
    one of the sapta taaLas, which has the form laghu, drutam, drutam (symbol |00). With the 7 laghu varieties, it has 7 forms. When no laghu is specified, it is catushra jaati, whcih is laghu(4), drutam(2), drutam(2), for eight beats.
  • tutam
    ancient Tamil term from Silappadigaaram for rishabam
  • upaanga
    a raaga which does not use any swaras other than those from its parent mElakarta (no anya swaras)
  • upaanga kanDam
    the 2nd section of a raagaanga raaga lakshaNa geetam, in which the names of the upaanga raagas of the melakarta in which the geetam is sung are given in the saahitya
  • upapallavi
    another name for the caraNam in a varnam
  • uttara melakartas
    the 36 melakartas (36-72) that use the higher prati madhyamam (M2), also known as prati madhyamam melakartas
  • uttara pratiuttara Daru
    a Daruvu that is a song containing a conversation between two people
  • uttaraangam (1)
    the last four swaras of the ascending scale, P D N S as a group (as opposed to poorvaangam)
  • uttaraangam (2)
    the combined set of caraNam and caraNa swaras in a varnam
  • uyar kural
    an ancient Tamil term for the taara sa
  • uzhai
    ancient Tamil term from Silappadigaaram for madhyamam
  • vaaDi
    same as nonvivaaDi, these the original 12 swarastaanas and not the 4 vivaaDi swaras
  • vaaDi mela
    the 32 perfect melakartas, which are made only from the original 12 swarastaanas and do not include the 4 vivaaDi swaras. The melas that are in this category have the numbers 8-11,14-17,20-23,26-29,44-47,50-53,56-59, and 62-65
  • vaasu
    the 8th cakra, with melakartas containing M2, R1, and G2, comprising numbers 43-48
  • vaggeyakaara
    a composer of music or lyricist
  • vaidika gaanam
    a sacred (devotional) musical form, having some aspect of bhakti (devotion), including kritis, tEvaram, divya prabhandam, tiruppugazh, tiruaruTpa, and kaavaDi cindu
  • vainika
    an artist who plays the veena instrument (see Instruments
  • vajra
    a raaga in which one or more of the 7 swaras is missing in either the ascending or descending scale. The missing swara is a vajra swara. For example, in SRGPDS, ma and ni are vajra
  • vakra
    a raaga in which the order of one or more of the 7 swaras is out of place (not in regular ascending or descending order by its frequency). The swara that is out of place is called a vakra swara. For example, in SGRGMPDPS, ga and da are vakra
  • valivu
    another term for taara staayi
  • valivu mandila varisai
    another term for hecu staayi varisai, which practices singing up to the taara staayi pa
  • varisai
    a type of abhyaasa gaanam, a regular set up of swaras in a line or order (also swaraavaLi)
  • varnam
    one of the most important pieces, often the last in the early training period of music. Varnam is the link of abhyaasa and sabhaa gaanam. It gives the important sancaarams of the raaga and is good for practice. It is a composition with given swaras set up in the following form: pallavi,(...)
  • varnanai Daru
    a Daruvu that is a song that describes an event, some natural scenery, or a person's character. In Arunaacala Kavi's RaamanaaTakam, a Daru beginning with "kalyaaNa bherigai aDitaar" in mOhanam vividly describes the marriage of Seeta
  • vartika maargam
    a taaLa path that uses 16 swaras or 4 maattirais
  • vEda
    the 4th cakra, with melakartas containing M1, R2, and G2, comprising numbers 19-24
  • veera
    a rasa, or feeling, or braveness or courage portrayed in a song or by a raaga. Raagas such as bilahari, dEvagaandhaari, hamsadwani, and bEgaDa portray courage
  • vertical line
    a vertical line usually divides sections of a phrase by parts of a taaLa, by separating the angas or sections. A double vertical line indicates the end of the phrase and of the aavartanam (taaLa cycle)
  • vilambita kaala
    a slower kaala (speed), compared to madhyama kaala, which is 1/2 kaala. In a taaLa taken slower than madhyama kaala by half, this speed uses 8 swaras where previously only 4 could fit. When the taaLa is constant, however, vilambita kaala can only accomodate 1 swara per beat when madhyama kaala(...)
  • vilambita laya
    a slow speed or tempo
  • vilari
    ancient Tamil term from Silappadigaaram for dhaivatam
  • vilOma
    a caapu taaLa which is like mishra caapu in having 7 beats but which has reversed order of 4 + 3. It is not often used
  • vilOma citta swara
    citta swara in the raagamaalika which is reversed
  • vinyaasam
    one of the 13 lakshaNas of a raaga
  • viramam
    another anga, which allows combining of 2 angas, for example U and 0 are written with U above O as below: U 0 This gives another 10 angas, for a total of 16 (the shOdasangams, from anudrutam to kaakapaadam)
  • virutam
    a type of musical form that praises a god or goddess, usually sung before a song or separately. It is very devotional and is sung without taaLam
  • visarjitam
    a wave of the hand (as in the second part of the drutam)
  • vishama graham
    the eDuppu that is NOT sama eDuppu, but can be either before or after the taaLa begins (atita or anaagata)
  • vishama yati
    a yati in which the angas can be without definite order, ex: |(4) U |(4) 0 U I(4) 0
  • vivaaDi
    meaning inimical, this refers to the unpleasantness of the swaras because two types of the same swara come close together. VivaaDi swaras are the 4 swaras other than the original 12 swarastaanas that make a total of 16 swarastaanas. These are shatsruti rishabam (R3), shuddha gaandhaaram (G1),(...)
  • vivaaDi melas
    the 40 non-vaaDi melakartas, which use at least one of the 4 vivaaDi swaras. These have the numbers 1-7,12,13,18,19,24,25,30-43,48,49,54,55,60,61,66-72. There are 8 more vivaaDi melas than vaaDi melas. These raagas must be handled with vakra prayOgas and gamakas to avoid their vivaaDi character
  • whole-step
    in Western music, two half-steps, or a jump of 2 swarastaanas, for example from C to D, D to E, F to G, G to A, A to B. In Carnatic, this would be for example from s to r2
  • women's shruti
    women usually sing at a pitch of about 4 1/2 to 5 (F# to G in Western notation)
  • yadiashTa
    the fourth (and last) line of letters in the katapayaadi formula, with 8 letters, ya ra la va sha shha sa ha
  • yati
    a rhythmic pattern of swaras, words, or beats in a taaLa. The types are: sama, gOpucca, srotovaaha, Damaru, mridanga, and vishama
  • yEru niral
    a Tamil term for aarOha
  • yi
    abbreviation for ili