Structuring a Korvai in the thani

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#1  Postby sbala » 20 Mar 2007 19:22

Could someone explain how a korvai is structured? Are there set patterns? Are there differences between the different schools of playing? Is there any importance given to the talaangas in this process? Lots of questions but this is just an attempt to get some discussion going.
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#2  Postby Nick H » 20 Mar 2007 19:54

"There are two parts to a korvais: first part and second part. The first part can be any composition; the second part must be ThaDhiGhiNaThom composition"

:)

That's more or less what I wrote in my mridangam class notebook some years ago!

I don't think that any importance is given to the angas; only to the fact that the entire composition, on the third repetition, (or should that be second repetition? first time plus two repeats? ;)) must come to edipu.

The more convoluted the path there (it seems to me) the better! But, if it doesn't work as music as well as mathematics, then it isn't so nice to listen to.

I suspect that such things as ants and cows' tails will be mentioned in this conversation!
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#3  Postby sbala » 20 Mar 2007 20:39

nick H wrote:"There are two parts to a korvais: first part and second part. The first part can be any composition; the second part must be ThaDhiGhiNaThom composition"

I hope it isn't like one of those Zen Koans with deeper meanings left to the student to discover
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#4  Postby sankirnam » 20 Mar 2007 21:38

Cow's tails come up in the structure of the korvai... as far as I know, there are two types of structures, one is called "mrudanga yati", meaning starting off small, growing big in the middle, and ending small, like the surface of a mrudangam. The cow's tail is the other type of structure, meaning that it starts big, and ends small, like a cow's tail.
This is more of a theoretical subject, and can get quite complicated very quickly...
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#5  Postby mridhangam » 20 Mar 2007 21:41

Korvai can be termed as a Rhythmic Pattern or a structured pattern of rhythmic activity performed in a concert. A korvai generally contains a Poorvanga (the first portion) the Madhyanga (the middle portion - Optional) and the utharaanga (the end portion). Again the Poorvanga and others are just combination of phrases to give the korvai the total effect.

Let us start with the basics. Say if you want a korvai for Adi Tala oru Kalai one cycle there are about 32 micro counts spanning for 8 beats. We have to split the portion of 32 and the first of the will be poorvanga and the last of them will be utharaanga. we can split them in any number of ways. But generally poorvaanga has a pattern played thrice without or with kaarvais and utharaanga three times with or without kaarvais. Assume you want to make a korvai for 32 we can split poorvaanga and utharaanga which are in themselves divisible by three. Make 15 as poorvaanga the remainder is 17. 15 is of course divisible by three as a straight forward case. Whereas the 17 is not divisible by three. Hence we have a concept of Kaarvais which can be introduced in between rhythmic patterns to form a part of the pattern. Hence we have to take the previous number 16 which is not divisible by three. Hence we again take 15 which is divisible by three and then add 1 karvai each for the first and second numbers to make the total to 17.
Here is a korvai for one avarta of Adi tala:

It is only bare mathematics.

5+5+5 (Poorvaanga)
5+1(karvai)+5+(1 Karvai)+5 then will fall on samam or idam as the case may be.

Then comes the rhythmic syllable replacement for the above korvai.

thakathakita thakathakita thakathakita
thadiginathom(1) thadiginathom (1) thadiginathom (tha - will be the start point)
One 5 within the poorvaanga can be further divided into 3+(2 Karvai)+3+(2 Karvai)+3+(2 Karvai)

this is how generally a korvai is done. The shorter the total number of the korvai easier to split. Longer Korvais have longer patterns which are again divided into perceivable poorvaanga and utharaanga.

Given below is the Poorvaanga and utharaanga table for easy mathematics reference.

Poorvaanga Table: The figures going down on the left side of the table is the Kanakku we will play. The right side numbers (across) gives you the karvais for the given kanakku. The chart gives you poorvanga total which is generally played three times.

Kanakku Karvai --> 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
|
V
1 3 6 9 12 15 18 21 24 27 30 33

2 6 9 12 15 18 21 24 27 30 33 36

3 9 12 15 18 21 24 27 30 33 36 39

4 12 15 18 21 24 27 30 33 36 39 42

5 15 18 21 24 27 30 33 36 39 42 45

6 18 21 24 27 30 33 36 39 42 45 48

7 21 24 27 30 33 36 39 42 45 48 51

8 24 27 30 33 36 39 42 45 48 51 54

9 27 30 33 36 39 42 45 48 51 54 57

10 30 33 36 39 42 45 48 51 54 57 60

The calculation i have taken presuming that we have 4 syllables per beat. so if there are 2 avartanas of an adi tala there are 64 syllables possible in third speed. To give you an idea only i have taken this type of samples. we can take in madyama kala or even vilamba kala.

The Utaraanga chart is as follows: We have to be careful not to leave a gap after the last pattern for utharaanga whereas the symmetry of leaving equal gaps applies to each and every one of the patterns we use three times in poorvaanga, the utaraanga pattern three times takes karvais for the first two patterns only and hence a different kanakku table.

Kanakku Karvai --> 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
|
V
1 3 5 7 9 11 13 15 17 19 21 23

2 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 22 24 26

3 9 11 13 15 17 19 21 23 25 27 29

4 12 14 16 18 20 22 24 26 28 30 32

5 15 17 19 21 23 25 27 29 31 33 35

6 18 20 22 24 26 28 30 32 34 36 38

7 21 23 25 27 29 31 33 35 37 39 41

8 24 26 28 30 32 34 36 38 40 42 44

9 27 29 31 33 35 37 39 41 43 45 47

10 30 32 34 36 38 40 42 44 46 48 50

From the above you can make any number of korvais using the combinations given above for poorvaanga and utharanga.

there are basically four stages in rhythmic activity.
1) Mathematics
2) Representation
3) Presentation
4) Aesthetics

We have as the base for all the mathematics since we use it for calculation for arriving at a certain sum.

Then the mathematical calculation should be musically expressed.

for 1 - we say Tha
2-Thaka
3-Thakita
4-Thakadimi
5-Thakathakita
6-ThakitaThakita
7-ThakitaThakadimi
8-ThakadimiThakajonu
9-ThakadimiThakathakita
10-ThakatakitaThadiginathom and so on and so forth as a representative values of the bare mathematics.

Then comes the presentation aspect of these bare representations.

Take for example we can take Takatakita and make interesting patterns for all the combinations (as per tala prastara there are about 16 combinations possible for 5) by judiciously using karvais also. This is how presentation aspect matters a lot.

Aesthetic aspect of korvais come next where the interweaving of patterns and also use of left right combinations make them pleasant to listen to.

What i have explained is only the basic aspects of korvai making. Each one of the above points can be elaborated further and extended further.

Question by sbala: Are these set patterns ?

The patterns are generally taught to us in the initial stages by our Gurus and later on we will be able to develop our own thru experience and constant listening.

Question: Are there differences between the different schools of playing ?

Though this is not relevant to this thread i would like to throw light on some of the aspects here. There are two giant schools in Mridangam Playing: One is Tanjore tradition as developed and popularised by Palghat Mani Iyer and another is pudukkottai school as developed and popularised by Palani M Subramaniapillai. There are lots of interesting information about how these two became giants and those are well known to the rasikas. The playing method and accompaniment method differs if you closely watch these two giants playing in concerts. It is very difficult to explain in mere words.

Question: Any importance given to the talaangas ?

Importance is given to talaangas in the sense that we have to be careful to watch the angas so that we start off and end off properly creating a proper cycle.

Hope this is suffice for now. More later.

Mannarkoil J. Balaji
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#6  Postby arunk » 20 Mar 2007 22:12

thanks balaji sir - nice primer!

Arun
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#7  Postby Nick H » 20 Mar 2007 23:55

Wow.

Fantastic: thank you.

I do not believe that such a fine and thorough description and explanation has ever been given on-line before.

Can you give an example of a korvais with three portions, and say what distinguishes the middle portion from the first or last portions? please...
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#8  Postby Suji Ram » 21 Mar 2007 00:13

Nice expalanation. Now I see two terms Karvai and Korvai. Are they the same?

Now that I will be sitting thru mridamgam classes soon I can understand what's going on.
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#9  Postby sankirnam » 21 Mar 2007 01:49

karvai is just a gap, whereas korvai is the rhythmic pattern that Balaji sir has beautifully explained.
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#10  Postby vasanthakokilam » 21 Mar 2007 05:41

Balaji, thanks very much. That is very informative.

While we are at this, can you shed some light on the ending Korvai of a thani which gives the unambigous signal to the other artists to pick the song back up ( the hand-off protocol, if I may ).
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#11  Postby vijay » 21 Mar 2007 11:47

Balaji sir, that was great!
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#12  Postby mridhangam » 21 Mar 2007 13:39

Thank you members. I am trying to follow the footsteps of akella garu in so far as knowledge dissemination is concerned while i am 100% sure that i can never attain the greatness achieved by him. Though i am incompetent to give out the tenets i can give you ample examples and thoughts that i have gained through years of experience.

Nick H : Korvai with three portions (poorvanga, madyanga and utharaanga)

These are again rhythmic patterns only. It has to be again mathematical combination with a with a definitive pause after every portion. As i have already explained earlier Poorvanga is a mathematical pattern with three consecutive variety after this poorvanga is over assume you have lots of space left in order to reach the samam. Assume you have about 1 1/2 avartas left after poorvaanga for a three avarta korvai. If we feel that 1 1/2 avarta would be too lengthy (1 1/2 avarta means 12 beats with 48 micro counts in third speed) then we can split that again into two portions. That is utharaanga of 48 will be split into two making them Madyanga and utharaanga. That splitting will have to follow the same rules as mentioned above (that which is divisible by three in itself). I will give below an example of this type of korvai.

Poorvanga for 1 1/2 avarta :

Dhitangitathakatharikitathaka(2 beats) thom tha(1 beat) thom kitathaka (1 beat)
Dhitangitathakatharikitathaka(2 beats) thom tha(1 beat) thom kitathakatharikita ((1 1/2 beat)
Dhitangitathakatharikitathaka(2 beats) thom tha(1 beat) thom

Madyanga and utharaanga for 48 in which the madyanga is split for 21 and utharaanga for 27.

21 is not straight 3 * 7 we can have an idea here with 3 * 6 + 3 (Karvai) inorder to mark the definitive madyanga ending.

Then the remaining 27 is straight 9 * 3.

So madyanga and utharanga can be represented thus:

Thadeekitathom thadeekitathom thadeekitathom (thaangu=3 karvai)

Tha.Dhim. Thadiginathom Tha.Dhim. Thadiginathom Tha.Dhim. Thadiginathom (Tha)

Hope this answers your query sir.

Vasanthakokilam : Ending korvai as an indication for the vocalist to start off the song.

This has been a mystery for many of the young vocalists and rasikas alike.
I will try to explain this. There is no ambiguity about it at all. It is only by listening carefully that a vocalist has to take the song. Before the end Korvai is rendered all the mridangists play a fast pattern called Farans and Mohara. Only after this Faran and Mohra (Mukra or mukda a word taken from north india i think) the last korvai is played. This Faran and Mohra are set patterns and these are generally played by all the mridangists with a few exceptions. There are different mohras for different talas and there is also another rule to form Mohras also for any tala. All the mohras will be preceeded by Farans which are nothing but Fastpaced rhythmic patterns (these patterns generally dont have any karvais all the counts are filled with syllables). These are colloquially called "Uruttai Chorkal". Cant think of a translation for Uruttai (may be some one can help). "Chorkal" are nothing but syllables in tamil. So after this Faran and Mohra only the Korvai comes and this korvai is played always three times with or without variety. Here I mean that there are korvais where first time it will be played to show the pattern second and third times will have some improvisation over the first time. So it will appear that they are playing three varieties. But actually the korvai is played three times with variety that is all. After this the song is taken. There are some aspects which are easy to demonstrate than write. I am having the same difficulty here to write them in black and white. As far as i could write here about mohra i have written. More later pls.
Thanks for the support.
J.Balaji
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#13  Postby jayaram » 21 Mar 2007 15:05

Shri Balaji - thank you for that explanation. I wonder if you can illustrate with the help of an example - the short tani of PMI in this audio clip:
http://www.badongo.com/file/2526159

Perhaps you can tell us at what point in the clip the final 3 korvais you mention above start. That would help us (or at least me) to get a bit more clarity on this point.

Again, thank you.
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#14  Postby mridhangam » 21 Mar 2007 15:38

I am also planning to upload specially prepared pieces to explain each and every aspect discussed above in a short while. Due to professional commitment i am not able to record right now .. i will do it specially for this forum shortly and upload for this purpose.
Thank you
J.B
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#15  Postby mridhangam » 21 Mar 2007 15:54

Actually in that tani Avartanam upto about 1 minute there is something called Koraippu played by PMI and another Kanjira vidwan. After one minute suddenly the Nadai changes to Tisra (You can clearly hear the Tha thom tha thom )... At 1:14 the Faran in tisra nadai starts ... at about 1:40 the Mohara in tisra Nadai starts ....at 2:14 the korvai starts and the kriti Kantiki starts after that. You would have observed that the korvai has played with variety for poorvanga. The Poorvanga spans for 11 beats and utaranga spans 5 beats. Though the kriti is in Chatusra Nadai it is upto the mridangist to play any nadai even for mohra and korvais. I have even heard mohra and korvais in Khanda Nadai for a chatusra Nadai song. But the vocalist should be aware of it and should be able to comprehend them otherwise it wont create the proper effect. Even in this recording you would have found that Madurai Somu (i think) didnt start off the song. The violin starts the song and the vocalist starts at "tiki (part of Kantiki)" only. This confusion occurs sometimes when the mridangists plays mohras in other nadais on the spot. Is it clear Mr.Jayaram ?
J.B
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#16  Postby jayaram » 21 Mar 2007 16:18

Thank you, Shri Balaji. I am slowly digesting the information. :-) I will need to listen to it couple of times to understand the points completely.

Yes, it is from a Somu kutcheri. I did notice there's a gap between violin and vocal resuming at the end of the thani. Your explanation makes it clear.

Again, thank you so much. I may come back if I have more questions.
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#17  Postby vijay » 21 Mar 2007 17:45

Looking forward to your upload and commentary, Sri Balaji!
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#18  Postby Nick H » 21 Mar 2007 20:59

Balaji, May I trouble you to read the korvais you gave in the notation I'm used to and tell me if I am interpreting it correctly, please, --- using "," for single karvais and underline for double speed....

Dhi , tan,gita thaka tharikitathaka thom , tha , thom , kita thaka
Dhi , tan,gita thaka tharikitathaka thom , tha , thom , kita thaka tharikita
Dhi , tan,gita thaka tharikitathaka thom , tha , thom ,

Thade , kitathom
thade , kitathom
thade , kitathom , , ,

Tha , Dhim , Thadiginathom
Tha , Dhim , Thadiginathom
Tha , Dhim , Thadiginathom ||Tha

==========================================================

Next question arising...

In those korvais that, after the first part, have a reducing section before the final Tha Dhi Gi Na Thom *3,

eg

... ... ...

Tha , , , Dhi , , , Ghi , , , Na , , , Thom , , ,
Tha , , Dhi , , Ghi , , Na , , Thom , ,
Tha , Dhi , Ghi , Na , Thom ,

Tha Dhi Gi Na Thom
Tha Dhi Gi Na Thom
Tha Dhi Gi Na Thom || Tha

that those reducing lines would be classified as the mid, madyanga, section?

How about those that end like

Tha , Dhi , Gi Na Thom (3 times)
Tha Dhi , Gi Na Thom (3 times)
Tha Dhi Gi Na Thom (3 times) ||tha

?
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#19  Postby ignoramus » 21 Mar 2007 21:58

is that PMI or Palghat raghu? i am a bit confused, could balaji sir give some idea?
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#20  Postby sbala » 21 Mar 2007 22:54

Jayaram and Balaji - Thanks for the upload and education!
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#21  Postby Nick H » 21 Mar 2007 23:30

Balaji-sir, you are my guruji's classmate, and hearing about Korvais from you like this is like sitting in his house again --- one of the few things that I miss about London :)
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#22  Postby vasanthakokilam » 22 Mar 2007 08:46

Balaji, thanks and looking forward to your uploads and further commentary.
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#23  Postby cmlover » 22 Mar 2007 08:59

Thank you Balaji! You have here a number of willing students. With your lucid explanations and promised audio clips we will all be able to get the basics on Laya. This is what we have been waiting for years!
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#24  Postby vasanthakokilam » 22 Mar 2007 10:03

Would the translation of "Uruttai Chorkal" be Rolling Strokes (or Rolling Rhythmic Syllables)?
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#25  Postby mridhangam » 23 Mar 2007 10:11

Nick H : that may be classified as Gopuchayati only and dont really have poorva madya and uttaraangas.
Ignoramus : It is Palghat Mani Iyer only i think.
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