Lec Dem on 22 Shrutis – Part 2

Part 1 of this post can be found here [link]


This is Part 2 of the summary of the lec dem by Smt. Vidya Shankar on 22 shrutis:



  • sadharana gAndharam is an oscillated catushruti rishabham in varALi. gAndhAram shouldn’t go above this level for this rAgam
  • A slightly higher level but still an oscillation of catushruti rishabham is seen in tODi. There are so many approaches to playing gAndhAram in tODi. We can approach gAndhAram from rishabham or from madhyamam and there are a variety of gamakams that can be employed.
  • In Anandabhairavi, when we play “G-M-P”, G reaches almost the rishabham levels as the gamakam is played on the rishabham fret. In rItigauLa, G is sharper and often comes with a janta prayOgam. The second of the two Gs in a janta prayOgam is always a bit higher than the first one.
  • A still higher G is found in hindOLam. This G is played close to M1.
  • The purest G is the antara gAndhAra. Summation of tones of a tambura is antara gAndhAram. It is a perfect note – a svayambhu swaram. You cannot shake this G in shankarAbharaNam. This G is the mahimA of shankarAbharaNam. The moment you oscillate this G, it becomes kalyANi. Similar usage of plain antara gAndhAram is seen in the kriti eLiyEnai in yadukula kAmbOji.
  • A higher level of G is seen in mErusamAna (mAyAmALavagauLa). mEru goes high and so does the G there.



  • madhyamam is sung in a sudha manner without oscillations in kuntalavarALi (kritis kalinarulaku & shara shara samarai)
  • Some ragas get a beautiful color with the use of a lower M. Ex. nIlAmbari  (kriti ambA nIlAmbari)
  • begaDa’s madhyamam is generally said to be higher than sudha madhyamam. But there are many kinds of madhyamams that are played in bEgaDa. M can be approached from P and played higher or played as sudha madhyamam also. A lower M occurs in the kriti nAdOpAsana
  • varALi has prati madhyamam – very close to pancamam. But kalyANi’s M is not played as high as varALi M.  M in any prati madhyama ragam comes from pancamam. It is played/sung very close to the pancamam
  • Children must be taught gamakams while they are being taught alankArams. We can see all kinds of shakes with the madhyamam in the shankarAbharaNam alankAram



  • suddha dhaivatam  is played as oscillation on pancamam
  • Sri Thyagaraja has created about 30 kritis in tODi and has shown different ways of handling the dhaivatam in these kritis . In Emi jEsitE – D is played very close to P. The kriti starts with P. In enduku dayarAdurA we stand at D and shake it.
  • There are so many types of D that are played in tODi. Every D is played differently. The number of shrutis that get covered are innumerable.
  • sAvEri  also uses sudha dhaivatam
  • A flatter version of chatushruti dhaivatam occurs in kAmbhOji. If we shake this, we get the D in kannaDA
  • A still more shaken D occurs in vasantA. Absence of P in this ragam implies that the D is played higher up.



  • Kaisiki nishadam is an important note called the septimal seventh. suruTTi uses it.
  • bhairavi has a lower N. We approach it from D. In fact bhairavi has many Ns. In sari evarammA, Sri Shyama Sastri lifts the N to show the higher status of ambAL. When saying nI daya jUDavamma in the next phrase, he brings N slightly down. This is just one example of how the Trinity have used swarams with lot of care in their compositions. There is a lot of emotional appeal for the swarams as is evident from their compositions
  • kAkali nishadam – In the muktAyi swaram of the Adi tALam kalyANi varnam vanajAkshi, N is held higher. In shankarAbharaNam and kurinji, N almost touches S.


Thus we can see that there is infinite number of shrutis for each note itself.


Some other points made in the lec dem and in the Q&A session post that:

  • Music and mathematics go together. There is no art without science and vice versa. It is said that the researchers aim at an aesthetic perfection in their research. Art and science go hand in hand
  • While responding to handling of notes and ragams in Hindustani and Carnatic music …… Intonation of notes itself causes differences in the two systems of music. RE and RI are different in terms of shruti. Hindustani musicians would stand at G at the same shruti for a long time in kAnaDA. We will keep shaking the G in our kAnaDA. Their approach is very different because of playing notes flatter for longer duration
  • While responding to whether a keyboard is suitable for Carnatic music …… People told the same thing about the Clarinet 50 years back what they tell today about the keyboard. The Music Academy had lot of skepticism about the use of Clarinet years back. This year’s Sangeetha Kalanidhi is a Clarinet player. (Pitch bender and fingering) techniques have helped people try to play Carnatic music on keyboard, but not with perfection. The perfection of gamakams on a veena is almost impossible to achieve in a keyboard (today). We should appreciate the effort of keyboard players if they play well. But we should also know what people would able to play on keyboard and what they wouldn’t.
  • Just as a color has many shades, a swaram has many shades/shrutis. It is a matter of experience, rather than analysis, to realize the intricacies of the shrutis. The veena is a very good instrument that helps us in this experience.


6 thoughts on “Lec Dem on 22 Shrutis – Part 2

  1. Thanks once again! Truly, a veena or a violin can help the student get a glimpse into the infinity embedded in the octave…

  2. Ram – Many thanks, can’t even follow much! such a poor i am. You have lot of patience to listen to lec-dem, take notes, comprehend, and post it here!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s