CARNATIC MUSIC NOTATION
Carnatic music notation is written using the solfa 'sa ri ga ma pa da ni' in textualform unlike the staff notation which is graphic. In carnatic music sa (shadjam) is thetonic. The artiste has the liberty to choose any pitch as the tonic and the note sa willthen refer to that pitch. Hence the notation does not prescribe the absolute pitchesin which the composition is to be sung.Generally the notation is used to learn a composition rather than play it by sightand some of the practices in writing notation may be attributed to this.Samples of notation inTamilandEnglishare given below.
The notation is written on one line and the lyric is written on the line below withwords of lyric aligned to their corresponding notes.To establish the rhythmic frame work ('Thaalam'), vertical lines are drawn, toseparate the 'angams' (components) of a rhythmic cycle. The commonly usedthaalams have three 'angams' - Laghu, Dhrutham and Anudhrutham. TheDhrutham is always 2 units of time and in singing the action (kriya) associated withit is a clap (or beat) and a wave (turning up the palm). The Anudhrutham is alwaysa single unit and the action is a clap (or beat). The Laghu has varying number of units indicated by the 'Jaathi' or class of the thaalam. The possible units for Laghuare 3 (thisra), 4 (chathurasra), 5 (khanda), 7 (misra) and 9 (sankeerna). The actionfor Laghu is a clap followed by counts (number of counts is one less than the total jaathi value so that clap and counts together account for the number of units of the jaathi). The order and number of the components (angams) of the thaalam are fixedby the thaalam name. Thus Thriputa thaalam has a laghu followed by 2 druthams.If it is charhurasra jathi thriputa thaalam it will have a laghu of 4 units, and 2druthams of 2 units each totaling eight units in a cycle.The symbols for the three Angams of the thaalam are:Laghu - a vertical line (or digit 1) followed by the number of units indicated by the jaathi ex. |4Dhrutham - A circle OAnudhrutham - A half circle UThese symbols are often omitted.When more than one rhythmic cycle is shown on one line double vertical lines aredrawn to separate them. In the sample below there are 3 rhythmic cycles in one line.The notation is written using the the solfa symbols 'sa ri ga ma pa da ni'(corresponding to 'doh re me fa so la te'. Normally the notes represent the middleoctave. A dot over the note indicates the higher octave and a dot below the note