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Chapter 13: Song Practice (I)

 

The last chapter discussed the mahamatra which involved only one form associated with it. With that one form, one could repeat the chant over and over again. In terms of music, this is the simplest scenario. The truth is that songs will have more than one form associated with it. In some cases, a song will contain a melody for the refrain, and a melody for the verses. Sometimes, the verses will have two melodies which will alternate themselves. A great number of combinations can exist when examining how songs are composed.

 

When discussing harmonium or any melodic musical instrument, it is important to be able to break the verses down into distinct melodic patterns. The principal melody that acts as a refrain is known as the asthayi or sthayi. Any subsequent musical patterns that follow the asthayi are known as antarā (lit. verse). Please keep in mind that asthayi describes the melodic, musical form, not the actual lyrics. For example, the song in this practice is the Gurvastakam. The song contains eight verses, which 1, 3, 5, and 7 uses the same principal melody. Thus, verses 1, 3, 5, and 7 are known as verses contains the asthayi, although lyrically, they are not refrains. In the same manner, verses 2, 4, 6, and 8 are verses that that contain the same melody (a sub-tune of the asthayi). Therefore, they are known as the antara melodies, even though lyrically, there are eight verses.

 

The song in this lesson is a Sanskrit astakam, or a set of eight verses. The format, as mentioned in the last paragraph, is that 1-3-5-and-7 contain asthayi melody and verses 2, 4, 6, and 8 bear the antara melody.

 

Here is the asthayi. Practice the asthayi with swars alone first. Then, sing the words while playing.

 

FORM A: Asthayi

X

 

 

 

0

 

 

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

 

m

m

m

G

-

R

S

 

sam

sa

ra

da

a

va

a

X

 

 

 

0

 

 

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

S

N

S

R

n

-

D

n

a

nala

li

dha

lo

o

ka

a

X

 

 

 

0

 

 

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

 

m

m

m

m

-

P

G

 

tra

na

ya

ka

a

run

ya

X

 

 

 

0

 

 

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

G

G

S

R

m

-

m

-

a

gha

na

gha

na

a

tvam

 

X

 

 

 

0

 

 

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

 

m

m

m

m

m

P

m

G

 

pra

t

sya

kal

l

ya

na

X

 

 

 

0

 

 

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

G

P

P

m

m

D

P

D

m

P

G

m

 

gu

nar

na

va

a

sya

a

X

 

 

 

0

 

 

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

R

D

D

D

P

-

m

-

 

van

de

gu

ro

oh

sri

i

X

 

 

 

0

 

 

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

G

m

S

R

m

-

m

-

ca

ra

na

ra

vin

n

dam

 

 

As your harmonium teacher might be different, there may be some variations or differences. However, the spirit of the raga (Raga Bangala) is the same. One this melody is committed to memory, play the antara.

 

FORM B: Antara

 

X

 

 

 

0

 

 

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

 

m

m

P

D

-

D

-

 

ma

ha

pra

bho

oh

ki

r

X

 

 

 

0

 

 

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

D

D

D

P

n

-

D

-

ta

na

nrt

ya

gi

i

ta

a

X

 

 

 

0

 

 

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

 

S

S

S

S

-

n

D

 

va

di

tra

ma

a

dya

a

X

 

 

 

0

 

 

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

 

D

P

m

P

D

-

P

m

 

mana

so

ra

se

e

na

a

X

 

 

 

0

 

 

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

 

D

D

D

n

-

n

D

 

ro

man

ca

ka

am

pa

sru

X

 

 

 

0

 

 

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

-

D

D

P

m

D

P

D

m

P

G

m

 

ta

ra

nga

bha

a

jo

o

X

 

 

 

0

 

 

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

R

D

D

D

P

-

m

-

o

van

de

gu

ro

oh

sri

i

X

 

 

 

0

 

 

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

G

m

S

R

m

-

m

-

ca

ra

na

ra

vin

n

dam

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Did one notice any striking resemblance with the antara and the asthayi. The last two lines sounded very similar. It is not uncommon to have the antara retain various properties of the asthayi, although very different melodic forms are acceptable with antara. Sometimes, antara portions will have a rhythmic change from the asthayi.

 

 

After completing the asthayi and the antara, what is next? This particular song is an example where the asthayi and the antara alternate.

 

It is common to sing only the first eight verses only, although occasionally the ninth verse is sung in the antara form.

 

The following is the lyrics colored out. The red indicates that the asthayi is used, while the orange indicates that the antara is used.

 

(1)

saḿsāra-dāvānala-līḍha-loka-
trāṇāya
kāruṇya-ghanāghanatvam
prāptasya kalyāṇa-guṇārṇavasya
vande guroḥ śrī-caraṇāravindam

 

(2)

mahāprabhoḥ kīrtana-nṛtya-gīta-
vāditra-mādyan-manaso rasena
romāca -kampāśru-tarańga-bhājo
vande guroḥ śrī-caraṇāravindam

 

(3)

śrī-vigrahārādhana-nitya-nānā-
śṛńgāra-tan-mandira-mārjanādau

yuktasya bhaktāḿś ca niyujato 'pi
vande guroḥ śrī-caraṇāravindam

 

(4)

catur-vidha-śrī-bhagavat-prasāda-
svādv-anna-tṛptān
hari-bhakta-sańghān
kṛtvaiva tṛptiḿ bhajataḥ sadaiva
vande guroḥ śrī-caraṇāravindam

 

(5)

śrī-rādhikā-mādhavayor apāra-
mādhurya-līlā guṇa-rūpa-nāmnām
prati-kṣaṇāsvādana-lolupasya
vande guroḥ śrī-caraṇāravindam

 

(6)

nikuja-yūno rati-keli-siddhyai
yālibhir yuktir apekṣaṇīyā
tatrāti-dākṣyād ati-vallabhasya
vande guroḥ śrī-caraṇāravindam

 

(7)

sākṣād-dharitvena samasta-śāstrair
uktas tathā bhāvyata eva sadbhiḥ
kintu prabhor yaḥ priya eva tasya
vande guroḥ śrī-caraṇāravindam

 

(8)

yasya prasādād bhagavat-prasādo
yasyāprasādān na gatiḥ kuto 'pi
dhyāyan stuvaḿs tasya yaśas tri-sandhyaḿ
vande guroḥ śrī-caraṇāravindam

 

(9)

śrīmad-guror aṣṭakam etad uccair

brāhme muhūrte paṭhati prayatnāt

yas tena vṛndāvana-nātha sākṣāt

sevaiva labhyā juṣaṇonta eva

 

Throughout the song practice portions of the website, this colored notation will be used. Generally, asthayis will be shown in red, while the other antaras are colored other colors.

 

HOW TO PRACTICE SONGS

 

The best way to study a new song is to take each line and say it out loud in terms of rhythm. Do not try to sing it yet.

 

Therefore, you would say out loud:

 

(PAUSE) saḿ sā ra dā ā vā ā ā nala lī ḍha lo o ka a

 

The PAUSE in the beginning indicates that the first beat is actually a pause. Therefore, after the rhythmic instrument, be it a mridanga, tabla, or kartal, makes it first correct strike, then one begins playing or singing.

 

The breakdown breaks the line down into its matras. For example, nala contains two syllables in its lyrics, but it fits in one matra. Likewise, many of the long vowels would take up two matras, like the syallable in dāvā two up two matras. In this manner, break each line down into its rhythmic components and then fill the swars in. It is the best practice to tackle most songs.

 

The next lessons will not give much commentary, but provide only practice for fingering and experience for songs.

 

UPDATED: June 18, 2009