Ragam Thanam Pallavi is a form of singing in Carnatic music which allows the musicians to improvise to a great extent. It is one of the most complete aspects of classical music, demonstrating the entire gamut of talents and the depth of knowledge of the musician. It incorporates raga alapana, or the improvised rendering of the raga, Tanam, the rhythmic rendering of the notes of the raga, neraval, the mathematical elaboration of the notes, Kalpanaswara, the improvised combinations of the raga notes and tani Avartanam in which the percussionist is allowed to demonstrate his skills.
Thanam is the next stage in the Ragam Tanam Pallavi. It is a medium tempo of the rendition of the raga alaapana, which follows a rhythmic pattern. Although thanam is often rendered without percussion support, the element of rhythm is more obvious in this type of improvisation. It is rendered in medium speed and just before commencing the main piece called Pallavi.
Pallavi has 2 portions to it. The first half of Pallavi is an ascending piece of notes and the first half of the Pallavi should always end at the strike of the beginning of the second half of the Talam cycle. Between the first half of the Pallavi and the second half of the Pallavi there will be a brief pause called as the Vishranthi and then the second portion of the Pallavi starts. The basic style in Pallavi rendition is to sing the Pallavi in different speeds or Nadai. In most cases the Pallavi is set to Chathushtra Nadai meaning each beat carries 4 units. So the singer will then sing the Pallavi in 3 different speeds, once with each Beat carrying one unit, then 2 units and then 4 units per beat. Once this is completed then they would sing the Pallavi in a different Nadai called Tisra Nadai meaning each beat now carries 3 units. Once these aspects are covered, the singer explores in the Kalpanaswara phase and they would start exploring different Ragas during the Kalpanaswara.
Pallavi can be sung in 2 different aspects, one called as Prathiloma and then the Anulomam. In Carnatic music the Talam is always constant and only the Swaras or the Pallavi set for the Talam can undergo Nadai bedam.
But in theory if you sing Pallavi without changing any speed but increase the Talam cycle in a geometric progression, it would be the other kind.
Pallavi are of 2 kinds
1) The entire Pallavi will be set to the same Ragam; For example
" Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Da Ni Padadha Gaanamutho teriyinchada " is a Pallvi in Natabhairavi ragam
2) Ragamalika Pallavi meaning the one line composition whose portions are sung in 2 or more ragams
Pallavi is " Mohanaangi Kalyaani Paahimaam Aananda Bhairavi "
In this Pallavi the singer would sing Mohanaangi in Mohanam ragam,
Kalyaani in Kalyani ragam and Pahimam Aananda Bhairavi in ragam Aananda Bhairavi.
The Pallavi challenges the musician's ability to improvise with complex and intricate patterns. The whole exercise is very demanding, both technically and musically, since all the artiste's musicianship is put to test.
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