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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Time = Space Series. Part 24 – Octet, Octave and the Gandharva veda (Classical Music)

Let’s start with classical music where Octaves form the fundamental constituent. There are seven svaras (Sa, Ri, Ga, Ma, Pa, Da, Ni) which is made into an octave with another Sa after Ni. So it becomes Sa, Ri, Ga, Ma, Pa, Da, Ni, Sa (Do Re Mi Fa Sol La Ti Do). The first rule of classical music is “Shruthi Mata, Layam Pita”, which means Shruthi is the mother and this corresponds to the frequency or the spatial component and Laya is the Tala component which is a function of time compared as father.

(Figure 34: 35 types of Tala. Courtesy: Wikipedia, internet)

There are 7 fundamental Talas in carnatic music and each Tala has 5 different variation based on Jathi so in all there are 35 different Talas as given in the tabulation. These Talas are measured as the “matras” the unit duration of time. There is another concept called Nadai or Gati which we will not touch upon now. But let’s look at these 35 variations and can you tell me where the most famous “Adi Tala” is in this 35? Most importantly why it is also called as “Adi Tala” – which is the primordial rhythm?

The answer is “Chatusra Jathi Triputa tala” highlighted in the table is called as “Adi Tala” and it is called so since it gave the most primordial rhythm with 8 time units. But there are couples of more cells where we can see “8” in the table and why these are not called ‘Adi Tala”?

The primordial rhythm has a pattern of 1, 3, 2 and 2 which adds to 8. Further on we will see just the variation of this Adi Tala in anything and everything. Tisra Jati matya Thala has a structure of 3, 2, 3 and Kanda Jati Jhampa Tala has a structure of 5,1,2, hence they are not classified as the primordial rhythm.

Let’s quickly touch upon the spatial variation or the frequency / pitch aspect of this divine art before we branch off to other topics. The image below gives the 16 levels of Savaras which includes tones and sub tones. The seven svaras become 22 tones based on the frequency variation / harmonics. Here 7 are fundamental svaras and 16 as given below is the most practiced variation and 22 is not popular.

(Figure 35: Svaras and frequencies)

You can note that Sa starts with 240 Hz and the last Sa is 480 Hz doubling the frequency and hence an octave. While Sa has 240 hz and 480Hz levels, the tone Pa (P) or Sol does not have any variation and this is at 360Hz. I am going to correlate the Mayan studies with Carnatic music and instead of seeing the whole spectrum from “Sa”, I am going to see this spectrum from “Pa”.

You would note that “Pa” at 360 Hz corresponds to the Harmonic osciallator constant number and the whole spectrum is almost like a Sine wave from 360Hz to 480 hz and falling down to 240 Hz with a uniform gap of 120Hz above and below. All the tones would fall within this 240Hz centered around 360 hz. So the spatial variation in carnatic music can be summed as “It originates at a value (240Hz) and varies by the same measure (240Hz) centered on the harmonic oscillator”. Since the objective is about looking at the primordial rhythm we will not touch any other aspect on this topic.

We will see how this Adi Tala is the fundamental pattern / rhythm that manifests in every other art.

As a wise man said, “Indians are the most ignorant about their rich past and scientific traditions.”

Happy reading!

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