Cover

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Title Page, Copyright

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pp. iii-iv

Contents

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pp. v-v

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Acknowledgements

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pp. vii-vii

This project would never have been possible without the efforts of T. Ranganathan and T. Viswanathan, who dedicated their careers to teaching Karnatak music in the United States. Their profundity as artists and teachers has been a lifelong source of inspiration to me. I am also grateful to my predecessor at Wesleyan, Ramnad V. Raghavan, for his support and continuing friendship. I wrote this book during a sabbatical semester from Wesleyan University, for whose support ...

Introduction

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pp. 1-12

PART I. TIŚRA JĀTI ĒKA TĀLA

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1. Lessons, First Series

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pp. 15-20

Solkaṭṭu works by combining spoken rhythmic syllables into phrases and synchronizing these phrases with a stable tāḷa. Once the phrases and tāḷa are synchronized, a large repertoire of processes can be applied to the phrases: they may be sped up or slowed down, or expanded, contracted, or otherwise altered. The internal pulse grouping of beats in the tāḷa may also temporarily change to accommodate these processes. This series of lessons introduces some basic phrases and a simple ...

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2. Lessons, Second Series

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pp. 21-24

This series of lessons combines some of the phrases from the first series into longer phrases and arranges these into a rudimentary rhythmic composition that follows the course of a typical Karnatak drumming idea. Begin by using the first two variations of the original three-note phrase, ta ka • and ta • ka. In this and following sections, the asterisk (*) is used as a multiplication sign. ...

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3. Mōrā Series 1

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pp. 25-30

Here is the composition so far, including the first mōrā. In the interest of space, the notation in the text from this point on will use subscript numbers instead of dots to indicate rests. Thus tām ₅ will take the place of tām • • • • and [tām ₂] will take the place of [tām •]. The accompanying tāḷa notations will continue to use dashes. ...

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4. Mōrā Series 2

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pp. 31-36

Again, this is a motivic series; the mōrās are designed to be performed in succession. This series proceeds by expanding the gaps in the successive mōrās, leaving the statement at the one-pulse (ta). The gaps increase from two pulses, [tām₂], to four, [tām₄], to six, [tām₆], to eight, [tām₈], and finally to ten [tām₁₀]. This means that each successive mōrā’s duration will increase by four pulses. The treatment of stage V must change to suit the new expansion. In the previous series we ...

PART II. EXERCISE MŌRĀS

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5. Four Exercise Mōrās

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pp. 39-46

The exercise mōrās in this section are designed to develop rhythmic confidence in dealing with what we may call offbeat accents. The shapes of the phrases, combined with the mōrā form, result in accents that seem to fall in unexpected places. With practice, however, the placement of these accents will be revealed as quite logical, and the beauty generated by this logical metric tension will shine through. Through practicing these mōrās, the once-challenging quarters of cycles made up ...

PART III. ĀDI TĀLA LESSONS

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6. Ādi Tāla Mōrā Series 1

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pp. 49-57

The opening section of our tani develops a mōrā series that includes variations, exceptions to rules that have been given so far, and examples of compound mōrās. This series of mōrās is based on ta din din na, the fundamental ādi tāḷa sarvalaghu pattern. This four-syllable pattern is very similar in sound and effect to the tabla pattern used for tīntāl, Hindustani music’s most common meter. But there are important differences between Hindustani and Karnatak time-flow ...

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7. A Composition by Palani Sri M. Subramania Pillai (1908–1962)

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pp. 58-60

This section introduces a rhythmic composition. This is not a composition in the European sense, in that it was never transmitted in writing. Still, the notion of composition raises the issue of attribution. If we call it a composition, who composed it? Much of the material South Indian drummers play is in the public domain, but there are some pieces of rhythmic material that can be attributed to one person or another. What constitutes a composition? In many ...

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8. A Kōrvai with Its Setup

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pp. 61-65

This section introduces another type of design, called kōrvai. The kōrvai form is more elaborate than the mōrā and more sparingly used. It is almost always pre-composed and designed to fit a particular tāḷa setting. The kōrvai seldom occurs in tasteful accompaniment, whereas small mōrās may be used as seasoning throughout a song. Its most frequent use is in the tani āvartanam, where it marks important structural points. Every tani must contain at least one kōrvai, at its end, but most tanis contain ...

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9. Tiśra Nadai, Sarvalaghu and Kōrvai

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pp. 66-69

It is customary to perform a section of a tani entirely in a pulse grouping (naḍai) that contrasts with the grouping in which the solo began. Any kaṇakku designs, along with the sarvalaghu figures used to set them up, will reflect this contrasting pulse grouping. Because the original setting for our tani is ādi tāḷa at four pulses per beat (caturaśra naḍai), or thirty-two per cycle, we will do a brief section in tiśra naḍai, meaning that patterns and designs will move at three, six, or twelve syllables per ...

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10. Miśra Koraippu

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pp. 70-75

A tani āvartanam may be performed by a solo artist or by a group of musicians. Since this material is designed for a group, we may make use of a device called koraippu, which means “to reduce.” This falls under the heading of kaṇakku but has a more improvisatory character than the mōrās and kōrvais we have seen to this point. Koraippu is a section in which performers trade phrases in progressively smaller groups until everyone is playing together. Jazz ...

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11. Ending Section

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pp. 76-78

As the previous section pointed out, songs in Karnatak music are open-ended in structure. The tani is not bound by anything more than the tāḷa; it is therefore necessary for the drummer or drummers to signal the ensemble that the tani is nearing its end. There are three parts to the ending section, all performed in unison: the preparation; the big (periya) mōrā; and a final kōrvai. The first of these, preparation, is characterized by patterns called paran, which are more densely articulated than ...

Conclusion

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12. Putting It All Together

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pp. 81-86

For most people working with this book, the most rewarding thing to do with all of the material will be to perform it. You can design any number of performance pieces using the sarvalaghus, mōrās, kōrvais, koraippu, and ending section to suit your own situation. The accompanying video includes three such pieces, for one, two, and four players, respectively. Each of these uses some material from the lessons and leaves out other material. Deciding what to include or leave out depends on ...

Notation

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pp. 87-150