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Notation Overview

Adapted from Chapter 8 of 'Kṛtimaṇimālai, English Adaptation, Part III' by Padma Varadan

A new convention was adopted for the Kṛtimaṇimālai, English Adaptation, Parts I and II to represent the svara-s and the gamaka-s in notation. This section outlines the conventions followed and symbols used in marking the notation.

Traditional documentation of song notation in Tamil uses the following representation for the notes: Ṣaḍjam - ஸ (sa); Ṛṣabham - ரி (ri); Gāndharam - க (ga) ; Madhyamam - ம (ma), Pañcamam - ப (pa), Dhaivatam - த (da) and Niṣādam - நி (ni). Svara variants for Ṛṣabham, Gāndharam, Madhyamam, Pañcamam, Dhaivatam and Niṣādam are shown as:

Ṛṣabham Śuddha - ர (ra) Catuḥśruti - ரி (ri) Ṣaḍśruti - ரு (ru)
Gāndhāram Śuddha - க (ga) Sādhāraṇa - கி (gi) Antara - கு (gu)
Madhyamam Śuddha - ம (ma) Prati - மி (mi)  
Dhaivatam Śuddha - த (da) Catuḥśruti - தி (di) Ṣaḍsŕuti - து (du)
Niṣādam Śuddha - ந (na) Kaiśiki - நி (ni) Kākali - நு (nu)

The svara variants are shown in the header of the first song in a particular raga as a part of the rāga lakṣaṇam. The body of the notation does not carry the variant form of the svara.

Vowel extensions are used in the notation body for 'lengthening' of notes. For example, where ரி (ri) represents Ṛṣabham of unit length, ரு (ru) denotes Ṛṣabham of two unit lengths. Representation of notation in English often uses the upper case representation of svara symbols to denote time extensions. Thus, in some books, 'R' represents Ṛṣabham of 2 units while 'r' represents a Ṛṣabham of unit length.

In a departure from the above conventions, Kṛtimaṇimālai in English uses a single character representation to show the svara and its variants. This is made possible by the availability in the English character set the lower and upper cases of letters and the italics style (Tamil alphabet is devoid of the lower and upper cases). Further, the svara variants are carried down to each line of the notation, making the referencing of the rāga lakṣaṇam in an earlier song, redundant.

An octave is formed when the notes are arranged in succession like sa, ri, ga, ma, pa, da, ni. A note that is an octave higher has twice the vibrations per second of a reference note. Similarly, a note that is an octave lower has half the vibrations per second of a reference note. The higher octave of a svara is indicated by placing a dot above the svara; the lower, by a dot below the svara.

To view the svara representation used in the English Adaptations of Kṛtimaṇimālai, please click here: Svara Symbols.


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