JAM Sessions!

CCC JAM session summary – April 2015

posted Apr 27, 2015, 8:39 AM by CCC Editor   [ updated May 5, 2015, 6:17 PM ]

Hello everyone, 
This is Geeta Shankar and I chose the topic of harmony in Carnatic Music as the CCC JAM session topic. I've always been mesmerized by the beauty and impact harmony can have on a piece. However, it is obviously implemented more often in Western music, which is another reason why I was even more curious to apply harmonic devices in Carnatic music. 

We chose the English Note by Madurai Mani Iyer to practice four-part harmony. The different vocal parts were Soprano I, Soprano II, Alto, and Tenor. The Sopranos had a shruthi range of G#-B. The altos had a shruthi range E-G. The tenors had a sruthi of D or lower. Some of the chords we implemented in our arrangement were major triads, subdominant chord, and dominant chord.

Fun Fact: A major triad can be sung as S G3 P 
A subdominant triad can be sung as P N3 R2
A dominant triad can be sung as M1 D2 S

I introduced the concept and piece by sending the participants a recording of all the four parts sung together and a notation of all the different parts. CCC's bright students were able to sing their respective parts within a matter of ten minutes of practice in their sections. 

The performance came out well for just the 2 meeting we had! Based on the success and inspiration of this piece, I am curious to see what our musical minds can create next.

Thank you,

CCC JAM session summary – March 2015

posted Mar 18, 2015, 8:34 AM by CCC Editor   [ updated Mar 18, 2015, 8:41 AM ]

My name is Shruthi Aravindan, and I was the lead presenter for the February 2015 Jam Session conducted by CCC. For this month, I wanted to talk about graha bedham, as I personally feel that graha bedham is one of the most valuable aspects of Carnatic Music. This concept is one that has embellished Carnatic Music from the very beginning, and will continue to do so for thousands and thousands of years. 

Graha bedham, in its simplest definition, is when the tonic note of a scale is shifted within a ragam to arrive at a different ragam embedded within the original ragam. This is a characteristic present in many different ragams, including many of the melakartha ragams, and many more. Personally, I have always been extremely intrigued by the concept of graha bedham, so I wanted to discuss it in the Jam Session. 

I sent out an email to all the children in CCC about the jam session, and received an overwhelming number of replies almost instantly. People from various different skill levels displayed interest in the topic, from children just beginning varnams to ones skilled in Ragam Thanam Pallavis. Many of them were familiar with the concept of graha bedham, but there were only a few that had applied knowledge of it. 

As a result, before coming to the Jam Session, I chose to prepare by using Hamsanandhi as the initial ragam. Many people are aware that the five general audava-audava ragams used for graha bedham are Hindolam, Suddha Dhanyasi, Suddha Saveri, Madhyamavathi, and Mohanam. I wanted to try and explore past those five ragams, and as a result, chose more diverse ragams to explore. 

The five ragams that I wanted to discuss through Hamsanandhi were Chandrakauns, Suddha Saveri, Sumanesa Ranjani, Sivaranjani, and Revathi. I created six different sheets of swarams for each of the six ragams, each of them consisting of five to six lines of swarams that showcased the ragam. 

During the jam session, we started off by discussing the various different ragams that people had experience doing graha bedham with, which included Kharaharapriya, Shankarabharanam, and Thodi. We discussed the five general audava-audava ragams that are used in graha bedham, and why they occurred – which was due to the omission of S and P most of the time, as we saw through multiple examples. 

We then delved into Hamsanandhi as an initial ragam, and discussed both the general five ragams and the five ragams that I had come up with. It was very interesting to see everyone discussing the ragams and why they came into play! Then, everyone split into six different groups, and each group was assigned a ragam to sing. Using the swarams I created, we practiced moving from ragam to ragam in Hamsanandhi, and eventually everyone began to understand the simple complexity of graha bedham!

When we presented this on stage, it turned out to be a great success. The graha bedham transitions from ragam to ragam kept everyone on their feet, and the February 2015 CCC Jam Session group pulled it off extremely well! 

If you are interested in watching our performance, the link is below:

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