intended effect of the composer in his/her composition.
There are many types/forms of compositions. However, Geethams and
swarajatis (which have their own peculiar composition structures) serve as
basic learning exercises.
Compositions associated with Indian classical dance and Indian
devotional music are increasingly finding their place in the Carnatic music
repertoire. The performance of the Sanskrit sloka, Tamil viruttam and Telegu
padyamu or sisapadya forms are particularly unique. Though these forms are
composed of lyric-based verses, musicians improvise raga phrases in free
rhythm, like an alapana. As a result of this, both the sound value, as well as
the meaning of the text, guides the musician through elaborate melodic
improvisations. Forms such as the divya prabandham, thevaram and
ugabhoga are often performed similarly. These forms can also have a set
melody and rhythm like the devaranama, javali, padam, thillana and
thiruppugazh forms. Varnam and the kriti (or kirtanam) are the most
common and significant forms in Carnatic music .
Varnam Varnams are short metric pieces which have the main features and
requirements of a raga. The features and rules of the raga (also known as the
sanchaaraas of a raga) include how much stress be put on each note of the
raga, the scale of the raga, and so on. All varnams are made up of lyrics, as
well as swara passages, including a pallavi, an anupallavi, muktayi swaras,
acharanam, and chittaswaras.
Varnams are a fundamental form in Carnatic music. They have complex
structure and are practised as vocal exercises in multiple speeds by
performers. This helps to develop voice culture, and maintain proper pitch
and control of rhythm. In concerts of Carnatic music, varnams are often
performed by musicians as the opening item. This serves the dual purpose of
warming up activity for the musician, and as a means of grabbing the
attention of the audience.
Kriti Carnatic songs (kritis) have varied structure and style, but generally
they consist of three units:
Pallavi: This is the equivalent of a refrain in Western music, with 1 or 2
Anupallavi: This is the second verse, also as 2 lines.