Rhythmic Syllables: Introduction, Analysis and Conceptual Approach in Carnatic Music of South India

Mannarkoil J Balaji

 Sastra University, Tanjore

Volume 7, Number 3, 2015 I Full Text PDF


This article explores the rhythmic alphabet of the Carnatic System along-with its analysis, concepts and its applications. A concept-based application has lesser chances of failures during a performance and offers immense scope for impromptu improvisations which form a major part of South Indian percussion artistry.

Keywords: Carnatic Music, Rhythmic Syllables, South India, Classical Music


Carnatic Music is one of the foremost and ancient Musical systems of South India and it falls under the category of Classical Arts. It is unique in its form and content. Melody and Rhythm form the basis of many music systems of the world. As the language of Raga has swaras, the Language of rhythm has varied rhythmic syllables. By permuting these seven swaras innumerable ragas emerge and are still emerging. Likewise with the available rhythmic syllables, innumerable combinations can be formed as the process is continuous and the system is dynamic. In Carnatic Rhythm there are 14 basic syllables and by adding vowels they become 52 syllables (Annexure 1) in total.

The process

The foundation for a rhythmic metre is number of beats which needs to be expressed in rhythmic language which may fill up entire cycle or parts thereof. Hence, In other words, rhythmic syllables encompass mathematical principles.

Music is a creative art form. Creativity is a process by which an artiste is able to bring out such combinations out of the existing concepts and practices that stand out as unique and new. It is a cognitive process that produces new ideas or transforms old ideas into updated concepts. This process does not overlook or replace the existing practices, but enhances them by giving a different and unheard-of dimensions to it. When the creativity is defined, a logical process of sequence is obtained which eases the pedagogical path.

Creative Models

Of the various Creative Models, Wallis’ model gives the following steps which is closer to this author’s rhythm creation model:

  • Preparation
  • Incubation
  • Illumination
  • Verification

With specific reference to Carnatic rhythm the following logic can be applied…Full Text PDF

“Popart”: the ‘Global’ Avatar of Bollywood

Prateek, Ramjas College, New Delhi, India


Since its inception, the concept of “popart” – the interaction of popular cinema and art cinema – has been heralded as one of the most important contributions to Indian film scholarship. Drawing upon insights from Dev Benegal’s English, August, which is supposedly the first and the best example of “popart” film, I shall try to track down the genesis of ‘popart’ cinema and show how and why “popart” has become India’s countershot to world cinema. The first part of the article addresses the rise of Indian cinema through the process of imitation of its western counterpart either in terms of themes borrowed from Western mainstream cinema or cinematic techniques imitated from the “auteurs” of New Wave cinema. The second part of the article argues how a new art form popularly known as “popart” could become an Indian success story.

The Therapeutic Value of Indian Classical, Folk and Innovative Dance Forms

Arpita Chatterjee, Barasat College, West Bengal State University, India

Dance provides an active, non-competitive form of exercise that has potential positive effects for physical health as well as mental and emotional wellbeing. Dance therapy is based on the idea that body and mind are co-relational. The therapeutic approaches with various forms of Indian dances are a new entrant to dance literature. Ayurveda held dance as a power of healing (therapy) and inner awareness (psychology). Indian philosophy also supports the facts of Sangeet (song, dance and music) for benefit of human health physically as well as mentally. The powerful dance form of Bhangra (Punjab), Karagam (Tamilnadu), Chou, Rayabese, Dhali (West Bengal) gives good health and strength. The fast footwork of Kathak dance helps to release anger and tension. Manipuri dancers make rounded movements and avoid any jerks, sharp edges or straight lines. It gives them undulating and soft appearance, proper body control and peace of mind. All these body movements, body balancing, expression, muscle movement, muscle constriction and relaxation have a strong effect on therapeutic movements. In India today the dance therapists are conscious about this matter and in therapeutic sessions they actually improvise different dance movements according to the need.

Tipu Sultan and the Politics of Representation in Three 19th Century English novels

Ayusman Chakraborty, Jadavpur University, India

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Tipu Sultan was the ruler of the native state of Mysore. His fierce opposition to British rule in India earned him unrivalled notoriety in England. Colonial writings usually portray him as a cruel tyrant who tortured Indians and Englishmen alike. This article studies the representation of Tipu Sultan in three nineteenth century English novels – The Surgeon’s Daughter by Sir Walter Scott, Tippoo Sultaun: A Tale of the Mysore Wars by Captain Meadows Taylor, and The Tiger of Mysore by G. A. Henty . In these works, Tipu is painted in an extremely unfavourable light. Arguing that the politics of imperialism influences such representations, this article tries to show how the depiction of Tipu as a monstrous villain served to justify British rule in India. These novels seem to suggest that the British deserve credit for rescuing Indians from such egregious villain. The article also focuses on politicization of Tipu’s dead body. Colonial art and literature constantly return to the scene where Tipu’s body is discovered by his enemies. This article argues that colonial imagination converts Tipu’s corpse to a ‘grisly trophy’ which becomes a sign of British triumph over Oriental despotism.

Two Cosmopolitan Friends: Tagore and Cousins

Utpal Mitra,Visva-Bharati, Santiniketan, India

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The word cosmopolitanism has different connotations. According to the philosophical cosmopolitans, who are also designated as Moral Universalists, there does not exist any boundary between nations, states and cultures, as they believe all human beings to be fellow citizens and compatriots. This article attempts to address the cosmopolitan ideas of Rabindranath Tagore and James H. Cousins. Moving beyond the parochial notion of nationalism, both Tagore and Cousins adopted the notion of universalism that assimilates all cultures, races and religions under the broader category of Humanism.