Raga identification made easy!

Laya Lahiri : Welcome To Laya Lahiri

Shruthi and Laya are considered the most essential elements in any form of music. It is generally seen that rasikas, by repeated listening, begin to develop a good sense of appreciation of the kritis or raga alpanas rendered by the main artistes. However, the same cannot be said when it comes to appreciating the percussion instrumentalists. Audience do enjoy and sway their heads for the rhythmic patterns played by the percussionists but many do not know the technicalities of it. The appreciation of carnatic music would not be complete if one does not understand the key aspects of laya. Raga Surabhi is happy to lauch a new segment, Laya Lahari which is entirely dedicated to the fundamentals pertaining to laya. We propose to discuss the technical elements of laya through series of posts and audio demonstrations without going too much in to the complexities of it.

Laya Lahari features lecture demonstrations by Mridangam Exponent, Thillaisthanam Shri R. Suriyanarayanan, a senior vidwan and an artiste with more than 20 years of experience in concert platforms. Raga Surabhi is delighted to launch this exclusive laya segment, which is probably the first of its kind, with such an expert percussionist and is thankful to Shri R. Suriyanarayanan, who graciously accepted to work with us and spend several hours in recording various episodes amidst his tight concert schedule. To know more about Shri Suri and to listen to sample Laya Lahiri Mridangam Audio Clip visit the About Laya Lahiri page.

Tala, in carnatic music, is a rhythmic cycle of beats which mainly helps to maintain the tempo of any rendition. Each tala has a fixed number of beats called aksharas and each repeated cycle is called an avartanam. Tala does not have a fixed tempo and the same tala can be played at different speeds. The most commonly accepted tala system categorizes talas into seven families, each of which can incorporate one of the five jaatis, thus allowing thirty-five possible talas. These thirty-five talas when combining with five gatis become one hundred and seventy five talas. Right now, lets us just proceed further without bothering about what is meant by jaati and gati, we will talk about them a little later.

Tala is represented by a specific hand gesture and a tala is composed of various components or angaas. The important ones are described below:

Laya Lahiri section discusses the fundamentals of rhythm or laya, which forms an integral part of Carnatic music. Vidwan Thillaisthanam R. Suriyanarayanan explains the common and 'must-know' aspects of laya through his mridangam demonstrations. (Explanations in Tamil) This is by no means exhaustive but we hope this would be a good beginner's guide for rasikas to get started with percussion in Carnatic music.