Discussion in 'Carnatic Music of South India' started by twarak, Jun 20, 2005.

  1. twarak

    twarak New Member

    This is my attempt to explain gamakas
    Dsiclaimer: I am not an expert by any means.. This is just an interpretation of the gamakas i heard from carnatic instrumentalists.

    Gamaka-1 Slide
    Slide is simple concept, but the timing of the slide can change the feel of the gamaka. Say you are sliding for one beat from Sa to Ni. You can slide through the cycle of one beat such that the start you at Sa and in the end of the beat you are at Ni.


    Let me illustrate using time plot by dividing a beat in to 4 parts
    | |indicates a quarter and -- indicates slide

    |Sa-|-----|-----|- Ni | (here we stay at sa only at the start of first quarter and slide all the duration of the slide ultimately reaching Ni at the end of the last quarter)
    |Sa-|Sa|Sa |-- Ni |(here we stay at sa only up to the start of third quarter and slide all the duration of the slide ultimately reaching Ni at the end of the last quarter)

    |Sa-|-----|-Ni| Ni |here we stay at sa only up to the start of third quarter and slide all the duration of the slide ultimately reaching Ni at the end of the lthird quarter and continue to stay at Ni up the end)


    Gamaka-2 (Continuous slide up/down between two notes)
    One may apply the gama-1 concept. However, one can flutter between the two notes.

    Gamaka 3-Progressive slide up or down
    This can be used for sliding from high Sa to the lower Sa. For example Sankarabharanam

    Instead of playing Sa-Ni-dha-Pa-Ma-ga-ri-sa, You can play as

    Sa- (Sa-ni-S-ni)- (nI-DA-NI-DA)-(Da-Pa-Da)-Pa-(Pa-Ma-ga-Ma-ga)-(ga-ri-ga-ri)- sa

    Bold font notes-means you have to pick at the corresponding note. This progressive slide requires economical use of your fingers. when doing a progressive slide down (higher Sa to lowerr sa) start from first finger and at every pick, change your finger all the way to little finger (first-middle-ring-little)

    When doing a progressive slide from Lower sa to higher Sa (slifing up the fret) start from little finger or what ever is convenient all the way to index finger

    Gamaka-4 (a small shake)

    Say you are playing Ga at the third fret.One may view the the third fret as a box that is enclosed the two metal bars. Just quickly move slide from the top of thefret box to the bottom of the fret box, while staying in Ga

    Gamaka-5 (Braking slide)

    Say you want to slide from wESTERN NOTE A TO G to F.The way we do it is quickly slide from A to F#,F# TO G, G to F. The FIRST TWO SLIDES OCCUR AS A PAIR FOLLOWED BY THE THIRD SLIDE. Note that you pick only once at the start of the process.
    This gamakam feels as if you are sliding from A to F but, suddenly applied your breaks at G (Had a cup of cofee) andf eventuall proceeded to F.

    Gamaka-6 (Pulloffs)
    You guys know this

    Gamaka-7 (Hammerons)

    Gamaka-8 (Trill)
    A comdination of pulloffs and hammeron

    Gamaka-9 (sliding with minimal picking)

    When one does not pick, the guitar sound decays. this can adda certain beauty to your carnatic song.On combining it with slides, it can sound awesome. For example, try the following by picking only at the start...

    Sankazrabharanam (C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C)

    Pick at C AND THEN DO THIS:

    try different combinations

    Hopefully, i am making some sense. this is very difficult to explain.
    I shall comeback with more gamakas in the future. Please share your knowledge with the gamakas that you use...

    All the experts, please add your valuable knowledge and share your styles of gamakas

    Happy 'Gamaking'

    golisoda likes this.
  2. arunrx

    arunrx Banned

    Good work naveen.. A beginner may find difficult to do gamakams, fingers should be fast and flexibile. But I wonder why no one has replied to this thread.
    No one followed this thread?

    REPS to you dude!
  3. twarak

    twarak New Member

    wow.. thanks arun...
  4. golisoda

    golisoda Comfortably Numb

    I somehow missed this thread. And I was looking all over for something very similar to this on the net. I appreciate if you can associate gamakas with ragas. by this I mean to say take a raga and explain what gamakas it has. I guess this is a lot of work but atleast a few. I appreciate your work and help so you get my reps.
  5. twarak

    twarak New Member

    Hi golisoda...
    Like your profile name... anyway..
    You can never really associate specific gamakas with a ragam. although one tends to play some specicif patterns of notes for bringing out the flavor of the ragam... Gamakas are very much context based.. and you need to use themin a way that you can get that specific bhavam out.... However, there ae some general rules that i like to follow... even though they may not be strictly used by everyone...

    1. Maintaining the continuity of the ragam while giving gamakas (this is the case mostly). For example you are playing shankarabharanam.. and currently you are at Ma and you want to to go to Ri.. most of the time, to maintain the structure of the ragam, you should use a gamaka such as a slide such that you go through Ga to Re). You cannot play Ma and then go to Re from Sa. that generally tends to be wrong..

    2.Gamakas should not given such that the continuity of the ragam is broken. For example...Let us take nalinakanti (aROHANA:S G3 R2 M1 P N3 S, Ava: S N3 P M1 G3 R2 S). Note that this ragam is vakram because in the arohanam Ga comes before Ri. Now, any gamaka that you give must respect this fact while you are ascending notes. For example, to play this ragam you just cannot slide from Ri to Ga. THIS IS WRONG....To give a gamaka for Ga, you can do one of the things:
    1. Either simply slide from Sa to Ga or do a braking slide from Sa/Ga/Ma..
    2. Simply shake around Ga..
    3. Hammeron from Sa to Ga..
    4. Slide down or pulloff from Ma

    3. What type of gamaka you are going to use depends on where you are right now... as well as the bhavam you want...For example, Hammerons and pull-offs are more harder in texture.. they sound very bold.. While a slide sounds very soft

    Many ragas have vakras such as kannada and they need to be respected at all times...

    3. Also, every ragam has a specific pattern (prayogas) that gives a summary of the essence of the ragam. for example in hamsadhwani , the prayoga, GPN is very much considered to give the flavor of Hamsadhvani during alapana.. use it nicely during playing.. you can play it as GaHPa/Ni.. (H is a hammeron). Similarly, one of the prayogas for the ragam sri as in endharo mahanubhaulu is S/R/G/R/G/R/S(You pluck at Sa and go to Re and fluteer between Re and Ga and go back to Sa). Another one for Sri ragam would be

    P/S/N/S/N, P/S/N/S/n/R (Pluck at Pa and flutter between Ni and Sa and end at Ni the first time and end at the Re the second time)

    You can find all the common sancharas (i like to call them prayogas) for different ragas at

    4. Some times, to get a more dense feeling, you can play the ragam on double make it sound more like a canon.. for this you need tuning of DADADA. Play the ragam with two D strings simultaneously

    5. Some ragas also dictate as to where you can and cannot pluck your strings.. For example, in todi, you cannot pluck at Re or Dha.. you can only slide to them and out of them... Pucking at Dha or Re kills the ragas bhavam.. As harini and other experts may say, bhavam is very important and one of the very important and hardest things to follow..

    As a demonstration, I am giving you the riff for the first line of vatapi pallavi on the AD strings..


    Now lets us check out the bhavams for different gamakas replace 2/4 at the start with 2h4, where H is a hammeron. feel the change. Change the duration of the slide 2/4 from fast to slow and see how it feels...

    replace 4/2/4/2P0 with a braking slide at the following notes (4/2/0)

    Hopefully i am making some sense..

    Experts, please come back wih all your knowledge and share it with us.. expecially violin players as their sliding and gamakas tend to similar to ours...

    I have only gathered this stuff by teaching myself ... please corrct me if i am wrong..

    T get the gamaks for a ragam, i play the arohana and avarohana of the ragam initially trying it out with different gamakas..
    This site has vocal recordings of arohanas and avarohanas for ragas and you may want to exactly reproduce the AROHANAS AND AVAROHANAS AS THE VOCALS in the guitar before you start the songs..
    Thats it for today...
    ananth222 likes this.
  6. ananth222

    ananth222 Beginner

    Thats some great information. Reps to you.
    And thanks for the sancharas link, I've been looking for info like that for a long time.
  7. harini

    harini Hameer Kalyani

    Could not refrain from posting. Too juicy a topic. It is an interesting way of figuring gamakas- Trying to maintain the continuity of the ragam, but not very accurate. For eg. lets take thodi and dhenuka. The ragams are right next to each other in the melakartha scheme...thodi is 8 and dhenuka is 9. the only difference between the two is ni. however, the entire way of handling the ragam is different. It is impossible to identify the gamakkas based on the swaram, which is why people are taught songs/kirthanams to get the feel of how the ragam goes.

    Technically prayoga does mean a phrase in the ragam, but is more commonly used to indicate an anya swaram in the ragam.

    Playing gamakams on the violin is difficult initially, because of the very fact that you have to listen and correct urself. Once you get the hang of it though, it should be easy. Going to a teacher is probably the best way to go about it. We tend to miss out the small details when we hear ourselves playing/singing.

  8. ananth222

    ananth222 Beginner

    welcme back harini
    i completely agree that carnatic must be learnt under a guru.
    i am learning myself under a guru, but have not been able to devote a justifiable amount of time to it.
    The manavyalkim and mahaganapathim i posted were learnt under a guru.
    they sound amatuerish cos I AM an amatuer and I'm transposing vocal music to guitar.
    I don't know where you got the impressiqon that i think a guru is not necessary.
    Its best to learn from a guru but unfortunately not all of us have the resources or the time.
  9. twarak

    twarak New Member

    I am glad that you did not refrain from posting... ;)

    Ohh... how i wish to have a guru here from whom i could learn... But, unfortunately is not the case... all i try to do is try differrent possible gamakas styles by listening to the modulations given by vocalists....
    And the terms that i use are something that i use for my convenience.. for example, the braking slide ...there is no gamaka like that.. but, it is something i can understand quickly when someone says play a braking slide at (Sa/Ni/Da)

    This is not because of my ignorance and lack of respect to purists and perfectionists such as you.. but just an effect of helplessness people like me face in finding a guru...

    But, sharing my own interpretations opens doors because i can correct myself and improve myself.. to whatever extent it may be.. due to these interactions...

    This gives all the more motivation for the carnatic vocalists and professionals to share their knowledge..

    I believe ananth will agree with me...

    Also, Harini, i had requested for venkatachala nilayam notations and specialities of sindhubhairavi in some thread... please help me in this regard.. :nw:

    Keep it going guys.. you all rock or should i say 'you all gamak'
  10. golisoda

    golisoda Comfortably Numb

    Couldnt have emphasized any better about the helplessness with which some people try this art....

    @twarak excuse my ignorance in carnatic music I was just extending my craft in guitar towards something classical. May be I think I soon find someone to teach me ( which doent seem possible right now) or just stop messing around it. Harinis post rekindled my hope of adding some knowledge abt carnatic but dont know how long this will last... hoping for the best.
  11. harini

    harini Hameer Kalyani

    HeHe Ananth- You are funny

    Guys- I might have come across as rude previously(not intentionally). Let me try once again though. If a person has a natural flair for music, and is very hardworking, it is not impossible to listen to tapes and try and imitate the style- if you want to play authenticaly that is. Easier way would be to find a teacher- which ofcourse has a lot of pluses and negatives. Negatives as what you guys mention. My aim at replying was not to rekindle the flame, but to give an example of why not to try and make your own gamakkas by playing the arohanam avarohanam.
    Listen to any song in thodi and dhenuka(just an example, you can listen to any other ragas that are close to each other too) and the difference is so striking. If you do not have a guru, fear not. Even under normal circumstances(where the student learns from the teacher), there are a lot of songs/keerthanams taught so that the idea of how the ragam flows becomes apparant.
    So im basically saying, try learning two or three songs from a tape or musicindiaonline of the same ragam, and ofcourse, try to replicate it as much as you can. Please do not learn from the shivkumar site. Not good(my opinion- dont jump on me)...

  12. twarak

    twarak New Member

    Point taken....
    If musicindiaonline is the best way of doing it instaead of shivkumars site, i will go ahead with your suggestions.

    By the by, i got another gamakA style...yesterday..

    Gamaka-10 (Averaging slide).

    I came across this gamaka when i was learning a natabhairavi song

    Say you want to get gamaka for Ni (which in western tuning for "D as Sa" is C)
    To do this you actually spend lesser time at Ni, rather you spend more time at in the notes surrounding it..
    Try this for (Da[A#] Ni[C] Sa[D]). The letter in [] implies western equivalent of the swara.

    A# /C#/B/C/D You play it by plucking once at A#. Note that in this sequence of slides you get the Dha sound from A#, the embellished Ni sound from (C#/B/C) and upper octave Sa sound from D

    i shall share more of my carnatic experiments as i find something useful out of them...

    Ananth,... how about sharing your knowledge of gamakas.. and also i saw in one of your posts that you have notes for manavialakimpara.. please share them..
    Thanks a lot again and keep sharing your view points...
  13. harini

    harini Hameer Kalyani

    I think its funny that your trying natabhairavi(which is maybe a 6 on the difficulty scale of one to ten).
    Try an easier ragam such as mohanam/bilahari.
  14. ananth222

    ananth222 Beginner

    I don't know if you've already mentioned this, but there are gamakas where you don't hit the note at all, but alternate between adjacent notes.
    For instance, in valaji, the "ni" can be played by oscillating between "dha" and "sa"
    Valaji: S G3 P D2 N2 S; S N2 D2 P G3 S
    play the Ni as "dha sa dha sa dha"
    the rate at which you ascillate determines how beautiful it sounds. play the second "dha sa" a little faster than the first.
    A similar usage is seen in reeti gowla where "ga" can be played as "ma re ma re".
    But reeti gowla is a tough raagam and we must try to refrain form analysing it too technically at this level.

    We should really be discussing raagas like this following:
    Mohanam, Bilahari, Kathankuthuhalam, Nalinakanthi etc.

    If Harini or someone can post a sound sample based on these raagas, or maybe a recording of "raara venu" it would be very helpful.
  15. harini

    harini Hameer Kalyani

    I have horrible recording equipment. Until I get any better equipment, I can suggest songs that one could try to listen to in Musicindiaonline?

    For starters try-
    Giriraja- Ragam Bangala
    TelisiRama- PurnaChandrika
    Hamsadhwani- Varnam

    There you go...four ragams to perfect.

    p.s: Ananth is right about the gamakkams. As I said earlier, an easy way to figure it out is learn songs and replicate them as much as possible. Once you get the song exactly the way the singer sings it(Every nuance), you will know the gammakams of that ragam.
  16. arunrx

    arunrx Banned

    Anand, you are right. It will be nice if someone can post audio samples!!
    Till Harini gets an equipment why can't Ananth do it? (If time and environment permits)
  17. harini

    harini Hameer Kalyani

    A learner trying to learn from another learner is not going to give optimum results. No offence to ananth, but he is in the stage of figuring out gamakkams for himself. If he plays something wrong, everybody here will learn something wrong.

    Rest is your choice ofcourse.
  18. arunrx

    arunrx Banned

    I believe Ananth won't post anything unless he feels that is accurate.
    And it is not a serious problem if he posts wrong. This is just a discussion forum, if people are serious about learning they should go to a proper teacher.
    And if anyone does wrong, others who know it properly (say harini) can correct those mistakes and that will be fun too!!
  19. harini

    harini Hameer Kalyani

    What he feels is accurate could be wrong. It is a serious problem if he does post something that is wrong. If people are not serious about learning, then why contribute in the first place? From what I gathered, people here are serious about learning but cannot go to a teacher for various reasons.
  20. c.santosh

    c.santosh New Member

    hey cool topic...and great work by twarak about the gamakas..i had been trying gamakas on the guitar when i tried to play the carnatic songs that i had learnt on the violin...i think its the same thing as in violin...its a bit tricky in the beginning,but then once u get the hang of it....its great!!!
    and pertaining to the last few posts,i think arunrx is quite right that its only a discussion forum,and mistakes and corrections have to go hand in hand,..if u know what i mean...and..theres always the possibility of discovering something new!!!!

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