Saturday, August 12, 2006

Lesson-42 : WCM Vs Carnatic - Scale Vs Raagam - Pattern Formation Comparison

Let us take the Pattern Formation of both WCM and Carnatic.

We have seen the pattern construction of WCM scales.

Basically, the exercises involved the following two things:

1) Selecting a Note as Tonic

2) Based on this Tonic, construct the Pre-determined Pattern (either Major or Minor as required for us)


For further variations, we shifted the Tonic (say by Perfect 5th upwards or downwards) and repeated the pattern formation. We are sure and know that we struggled to keep the pattern same..!

To say it in simple logical way, We kept changing the Tonic as per Step-1, whereas the Pattern in Step-2 exercise remained and kept absolutely the same.

Imagine, the reverse of this…..!

Meaning, keep the Step-1 constant, and Change the very pattern itself ! That’s’ Carnatic scheme of pattern formation.

Because,,,,,,,Carnatic Philosophy is

“Select any one note as the Tonic…

Then onwards, that Tonic SHOULD BE / MUST BE / COMPULSORILY maintained and remain same……! Through out the concert……!”

You might have noticed the Thampoora….or… Shruthi Petti …. etc.. being the integral part of any Carnatic concert….!

Now do you realize the importance of such instrument……?

This makes you to stick to the note you started as Tonic and help in remaining in that Tonic through out the concert…!

Percussion instrument like Mridhangam etc are having equal importance in Carnatic concert…! These are also tuned based on the tonic shruthi set in Tampura , shruthi petti…etc !

While the vocal and instruments like violin can pick-up and adjust quickly to the shruthi required, It is difficult to adjust and change the shruthi of these percussion instruments which will take considerable time…!

Imagine in the middle of the concert or between songs, if the Tonic changes…! then the whole Carnatic orchestral system arrangement will go haywire….!

Abaswarams…the great sin…!

When you compare this with WCM system, because of the frequent shifting of tonics, you generally never find the percussion instrument separately (except in few operas –dramas - for any dramatic effect and occasional/ selected usage in symphonies…! ).

So back to track…! In nut shell, if we compare the basic philosophies,

WCM scheme Fixed the Pattern and Changed the Tonic

Carnatic scheme Fixed the Tonic and Changed the Pattern itself….!

Now, you can realize the opportunity Carnatic is giving us …..in terms of pattern formation….!

While WCM prescribed only Two main patterns ( Major & Minor ), Carnatic scheme can have millions of Pattern formations…!

It is better to have the basic knowledge of Pattern formations of Carnatic scheme.

Again everything is mathematics…! Some Permutaions & Combinations !

We will see that in our next session…!

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