Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Kriti Madness--the cure for curiosity!

Len Briggs

September, 12, 2012

World Music 3348

Dr. Kevin Salfen

TITLE OF KRITI—Pranamaamyaham


 praNamAmyaham - bilahari - tiSra tripuTa

P  praNamAmyaham Sree saraswateem

maNi noopurAdi vibhooshitam ||  I bow to Sri Saraswati adorned with gem-studded anklets and other ornaments. 

AP aNimAdi siddhi dAyineem

praNatArti bhanjanee niranjaneem ||  She is the bestower of mystical powers.(Anima is power of tranforming into micro form). She dispels agony of devotees. She is impassionate and serene. 

C  vara gAna kaLA nipuNam

dara hAsayutam vANeem

sura vandya bhavya charaNAm

para vAsudEva krupA purNam ||  She is perfect in the art of music. She is Vani with gentle smile. Devatas bow to her holy feet. She enjoys abundant grace of supreme Vasudeva.


1.      Composer--Mysore Vasudevachar (1865-1961)  The composer of this piece was born May 28, 1865 and passed away May 17, 1961 at the age of 96.  He is said to be a direct disciple  of Tyagaraja, and was a member of his shishya. In his earlier years he also studied music under Patnam Subramania Iyer.  He wrote more than 200 compositions, most in praise of Lord Rama.  Vasudevachar was a renowned composer of Carnatic music.

2.      Raga-Gowlai      Tala-Adi

3.      Audio Recordings-Stalwarts - Vintage Recordings of Masters - Mysore Vasudevachar(available on Amazon)…several recordings were also found on smashhits.com website

4.      Video Recordings-YouTube: “01 Shankar Narayan pranamamyaham srI Gowla Mysore vasudevAchArya”…this is the one I used as reference in my blog, however, there seem to be at least 15 other videos available on YouTube, some using flute, some saxophone, some a female soloist…

5.      Basic significance of the text--Sarasvati is the goddess of knowledge, music, arts, and science. Devatas, or the equivalent of guardian angels bow to her. Vasudeva, in Hindu history, was the father of Krishna, part of the Yadu and Vrishni dynasties. In the 4th century BC, as part an early religion called Bhagavatism, Vasudeva was worshipped as the supreme deity.

6.      Structure of raga—the full name for this raga is Mayamalavagowla. It has the same svaras both ascending and descending, that is, S R1 G3 M1 P D1 N3 S( sa, ri, ga, ma, pa, dha, ni, sa).   S, M, and P are the only constant notes, the others being some form of oscillation.  A loose fepresentation of these notes on a keyboard would appear as below:


7.      Structure of tala—The Adi tala is the most common, or one of the most common rhythm patterns used in kritis. Adi tala is a cycle of eight beats. Normally each beat will consist of four pulses. Because there is a spoken language of carnatic rhythm, we could say that Adi tala consists of 8 x 4 = 32 words. The words shown in Bold occur on the beat.


Ta Ka Di Mi Ta Ka Ju No Ta Ka Di Mi Ta Ka Ju No

Ta Ka Di Mi Ta Ka Ju No Ta Ka Di Mi Ta Ka Ju No


If you recite this, keeping time by clapping, you will be doing your first tala exercise. If you keep your clapping at the same speed, but double the speed of reciting you will see that we still have eight beats, but now 64 words.

        Ta Ka Di Mi Ta Ka Ju No Ta Ka Di Mi Ta Ka Ju No Ta Ka Di Mi Ta Ka Ju No Ta Ka Di Mi Ta Ka Ju No

               Ta Ka Di Mi Ta Ka Ju No Ta Ka Di Mi Ta Ka Ju No Ta Ka Di Mi Ta Ka Ju No Ta Ka Di Mi Ta Ka Ju No

Thus you will be discovering second speed. You can see how doubling again (Third Speed) would give 128 words, but still eight beats.


The clapping gestures that correspond to the eight beat tala are :

Clap    pinky    clap    ring    clap    middle    clap    wave    clap    wave


8.      Knowledge gained from listening to recording—It was relatively easy to find the opening sa and hang on to it for reference, because the oscillations were not too ornate and the dissonance was minimal.  The most common melodic pattern seemed to be roughly pa ma pa ma gas a, or 5 4 5 4 3 1, followed by sa and low pa sa sa.  The violin was very discreet and had few chances to play alone.  I noticed a “resting place” towards the end of the piece where the mridangum and soloist played identical rhythm patterns, which the audience responded to with applause. I found it difficult to follow the text and I wondered if improvisational words or verses had been added for the performance.

9.      Watching the video recording—It seems to have been filmed in a live television format with a live audience.  The performers were already on stage, and each had his own microphone, with the soloist taking the customary center spot. The soloist would occasionally embellish certain flowery passages with hand gestures.  The instruments used were the violin, kanjira, tanpura, and mridangam.  I estimated the adi tala being performed at third speed.  It was a lively rendition.

10.     I chose this kriti because the title intrigued me. When I saw “Pranamaamyaham” I thought of the word “prana”, which I learned in a yoga class. Prana refers to breathing and breath as the source of power and life. Even though “pranamaamyaham” means something completely different, it piqued my curiosity. Also, when I discovered the polished video performance on YouTube, I dove in to see how much I could learn.


*For this entry in the Kriti Archive, the sites for MS Word, PDF, Real Audio, MP3, and the Class Lesson would not pull up, so I did not have access to those.


Here are the citations for the websites I used:


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