Identification of varnam
Varnams are considered vocal exercises in a particular raga. The patterns in a varnam are considered to be characteristic patterns of a particular raga or scale. Varnams are considered the most complex of the vocal exercises in Carnatic Music. They are designed to help develop voice culture and proper control of rhythm. Indeed, varnams are often practiced in double and triple speeds and proper rhythmic control (tala) must be kept.
Type of varnams
Tana varnams are considered pure vocal exercises, and pada varnams are generally sung to accompany South Indian classical dance (Bharatanatyam). Pada varnams generally contain much more text and lyric content than the tana varnam. The tana varnam is composed of just a few lines, and words may be extended through many notes. For example, many varnams contain the lyric “Sâmi”, meaning God, may be extended to “sa a a a a a a m i i i i i i i”… and so on.
The varnam is subdivided into several sections:
• Pallavi: the first line, sung with lyric
• Anupallavi: a sort of recapitulation, sung with lyric
• Mukthaayiswaram: sung completely with syllables — or swaras — (like sa ri ga ma pa da ni sa)
• Charanam: sung with lyric
• Charanam Swaras: sung completely with syllables.
Generally, a varnam is sung as follows:
- Muktayi Swaram
- Pallavi (in double speed)
- Repeat, then Pallavi sung in triple speed, or in original speed.
- Charanam Swara Group 1
- Charanam Swara Group 2
- Charanam Swara Group 3
- Charanam Swara Group 4
Varnams are generally sung in 2 varieties of talas, or metric systems, Adi Tala (8 beat cycle) and Ata Tala (14 beat cycle), where Ata Tala varnams are generally more complicated and advanced.
a) Purvanga – the first half consisting of three sections, namely, the pallavi, the anupallavi and the muktayi / chitta swaras.
b) Uttaranga - the second half consisting of the Charanam and the Charanaswaras.
The pallavi and anupallavi, usually consisting of two lines each, are sung consecutively, followed by the Chittaswara. One then goes back to the pallavi to render the whole Purvanga in multiple speeds before going on to the Uttaranga. The charanam has only one line with lyrics followed by four or more charana swaras. The Uttaranga can also be rendered in multiple speeds.
Identification of Padams
sometimes padams have no footwork. or can be composed without any footwork.
Identification of shabdams
In this item the dancer introduces abhinaya for the first time in the repertoire. The abhinaya composed to simple sahityam is usually separated by easy korvais.This item is usually in misra chapu taalam and the most common ones are in praise of Lord Krishna.
generally its like telling a synopsyins in the first line then giving a description in the later repetitiions. after the stanza, there is very simple footsteps. the number of stanzas can vary from 2-4 or 5. Each stanza can contain a different story of all of them put together is one single story. but essentially its about one person, one theme. usually composed in ragamalika and misrachapu tala(thakita takadhimi)
The movements here are leisurely. In the Sabdam, emotions are withheld at the beginning; thereafter, when the dancer has clarified herself, they are released in a measured and disciplined manner.