Thursday, January 06, 2011

Neravals and the magic of carnatic music

On the way to work today, I listened to a super RTP by Balamurali
Krishna. Not the full RTP but only the Pallavi. My CD player chose to
play the Pallavi first and then the Ragam-Talam.

By the time I reached office the Pallavi was just over. It was
amazing. I had heard this multiple times and I used to like the Tana
quite a bit. However, this time I heard the Pallavi and the Thani
without any interruptions (save the traffic) and understood the
beautiful concept of a Neraval for the first time. The violinist also
was keeping up with Neravals and that made it doubly awesome for me.

I had read before that Neravals are essentially variations of a
Pallavi but this time I could follow the changes.

Keeping the Tala and the Pallavi line, essentially the same, one can
bring in a number of variations. The artist can choose to change the
tone, the speed, the notes although keeping the Raga intact
etc..

Think of your favorite song and one line from that. How many
ways can that song be sung changing its tone, some notes and speed?
Maybe one time we can speed up a few words and stretch out the
remaining words so that the tala remains. Other times we can sing in a
different octave. Even other times, we can change a couple of notes.

A true genius like Balamurali Krishna can come up hundreds of these
variations while keeping both the Tala and Raga intact. The tune
remains the same but the variations are unbelievable.

Once one's ear is tuned to the Pallavi understanding and appreciating
the Kalpana Swara variations sung and the following Thani variations
by the Mridanga artist is easier. The whole effect is just
mesmerizing. This is the beauty of Carnatic music.
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