Scheme of Swarams
Carnatic music is almost as complex as our life. We enjoy and love the beauty of the music form at the same time trying to comprehend all the myriad grammar that defines it.
When we first learn caranatic music we are taught only the 12 swarams till we complete geethams and the books have only the 1st & 2nd variety (ex:R1, R2) for each swaram.
We see the arohanam & avarohanam for geethams & varanams in books listing only the swarams that has identifiable physical position.
R1- Suddha Rishabham; R2- Chathusruthi Rishabham; G1 – Suddha Gandharam, G2-Sadharana Gandharam; D1 – Suddha Dhaivatham; D2-Chathusruthi Dhaivatham; N1 – Kaisiki Nishadham; N2- Kakali Nishadham.
Subsequently when we move on to Kirthanais we come across R3, G3, D3, & N3 which baffles most students.
here is an example…
While in the varnam book the arohanam & avarohanam for the ragam Shankarabaranam is given as
S, R2, G2, M1, P, D2, N2, S / S, N2, D2, P, M1, G2, R2 S
in some kirthanai books and in most websites it is given as
S, R2, G3, M1, P, D2, N3, S / S, N3, D2, P, M1, G3, R2 S
Which is right & which is wrong? Both are correct! Really?
The swarams for Shanakarabaranam are
Shadjam; Chathusruthi Rishabham, Anthara Gandharam, Suddha Madhyamam, Panchamam, Chathusruthi Dhaivatham, Kakali Nishadham
Since we do not normally learn any ragams that has Shatsruthi Rishabham, Suddha Gandharam, Shatsruthi Dhaivatham, Suddha Nishadham, until we reach Kirthanais we do not come across the third variety of R, G, D & N.
Carnatic music follows a 16 swarams scheme, though there are only 12 identifiable positions on an instrument like a veena where the frets for each swaram are clearly marked just like a piano. The other 4 swarams share their places with swarams that already has an identifiable position.
Here are the swarams under the 16 swarams scheme
Sa (Shadjam) -1
Ri (Rishabham) – 3 -Suddha Rishabham; Chathusruthi Rishabham, Shatsruthi Rishabham
Ga (Gandharam)- 3 – Suddha Gandharam, Sadharana Gandharam; Anthara Gandharam
Ma (Madhyamam) -2 -Suddha Madhyamam; Prathi Madhyamam
Pa (Panchamam) -1
Dha (Dhaivatham)- 3 – Suddha Dhaivatham; Chathusruthi Dhaivatham ; Shatsruthi Dhaivatham
Ni (Nishadham) – 3 – Suddha Nishadham; Kaisiki Nishadham; Kakali Nishadham
The following swarams share the same position …..
Shatsruthi Rishabham & Sadharana Gandharam
Suddha Gandharam & Chathusruthi Rishabham
Shatsruthi Dhaivatham & Kaisiki Nishadham
Suddha Nishadham & Chathusruthi Dhaivatham
An easy numbering scheme
To make it easier for students, for better understanding , I have started following a simpler method.
R1 – Suddha Rishabham; R2-Chathusruthi Rishabham, R3-Shatsruthi Rishabham
G – Suddha Gandharam, G1 – Sadharana Gandharam; G2-Anthara Gandharam
D1-Suddha Dhaivatham; D2- Chathusruthi Dhaivatham ; D3-Shatsruthi Dhaivatham
N-Suddha Nishadham; N1-Kaisiki Nishadham; N2-Kakali Nishadham
This avoids confusion and there is consistency in the learning process. Of course using the names is better than numbers but if we have to use numbers this scheme works!
One less confusion!