Carnatic Music and Meaning

We initiated exploring what music is and now lets continue to understand some of the basic terms in Music and their meaning.

Dwadasa Swara Sthanas:

As discussed here ,sa,re,ga,ma,pa,da,ni are called Saptaswaras.These swaras excluding sa and pa (shadjamam and panchamam) in turn have 2 more swaras each as detailed in Shruthi.


Singing or playing swaras in an ascending order with any swara as reference is called Aarohana.

Example : sa,re,ga,ma


Singing or playing swaras in descending order with any swara as reference is called Avarohana.

Example : Sa,ni,da,pa


Tone of swara is Sthayi,divided as below:
  1. Madrasthayi 
  2. Madhyasthayi
  3. tharasthayi
  4. anumandrasthayi
  5. athitharasthayi

When number of beats in a particular tala is followed from start to end in one cycle,it is said one aavarthamu is completed.

Example : tisra jathi triputa talam
 Laghuvu-1 drutam-1 drutsm-1
  s  r   g      |       s   r     |       g   m  ||


Swara aavarthamu in a Raga is called Dhathuvu .

Example m p | d S S R ||          (sri gananadha geetham)


Sahithya of above music is called Mathuvu.

Example : Sri gananadha

Prathama,dwithiya,tritiya Kalam (first,second,third speeds) :

    1. Prathama kalam(first speed)  : Singing one swara for one beat ,ex: sa
    2. Dwitiya kalam(second speed) : Singing two swaras for one beat , ex: sa re
    3. thritiya kalam(third speed)     : Singing four swaras for one beat , ex: sa re ga ma

Tala shows the rhythm or pace of Musical writings.

Ta - Tandavam (Lord Siva)
La - Lasyam       (Power)


Divisions of Tala is Talangamu
Talangamu also represents the gap between letters or swaras.They are-

  1. Anudrutham - represented as U ( 1 beat )
  2. Drutham - represented as o ( 2 beats )
  3. Laghuvu - represented as I ( 4 beats for chatusrajathi laghuvu)
Sapta Tala:

Druva Tala IOII
Matya Tala IOI
Rupaka Tala OI
Jhampa Tala IUO
Triputa Tala IOO
Ata Tala IIOO
Eka Tala I

Pancha Jathi:

'Jathi' is represented by number of 'letters of laghuvu'.
  1. Chathusra jathi - I4
  2. Tisra jathi - I3
  3. Misra jathi - I7
  4. Khanda jathi - I5
  5. Sankeerna jathi - I9