Differentiating Between the Minor and Minute in Voice Culture/Music Practice

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“Another important aspect of Voice Culture, as well as overall musical practice, is to remember to never confuse the minute with the minor. The voice must be able to distinguish and project the tiniest of distinctions between closely allied ragas such as ‘Da’ and ‘Ga’ in Surati & Kedaragowla or ‘Da’ and ‘Ri’ in Reetigowla & Anandabhairavi.
The obvious pre-requisite for voice culture is mind culture which in turn is best served by ear culture! Honing one’s ears by listening to and learning from only the best sources is an absolute must for evolved musicianship along with constant introspection and consistent practice with the right approach 🙂 ” – Sangita Kalanidhi Chitravina N Ravikiran
Question from Student:
Sir, do isolated differences in specific swaras supersede contextual differences between two ragas or is it the other way round ?
Answered by Shri Chitravina N Ravikiran
It varies from raga to raga. There are some ragas that are not merely distinguished by gamakas but by the arohana/avarohana sequence. In that case, even a small change in the sequence, can make a huge difference. Similarly other ragas like Jayamanohari, Abhogi, Sriranjani also come under the same category of being differentiated predominantly by their scale sequences. Then there are ragas like Kedaragowla, Surati, Anandabhairavi, Reetigowla, where the sequence in the scale could be very similar and the gamakas become the main distinguishing feature. Each gamaka or note distinction is a context in itself. So we have to be aware of the distinguishing features and then be true to that. We should avoid presenting Bhairavam like Sowrashtra or render Sowrashtram like Chakravakam and Suryakantam combined.
Question #2 from Student:
Dear Sir,
1.Is “MKaram” safer than Akaram during long hours of practices say three hours since voice is not put into strain?
2.Is it good to practice in F with lower octaves in morning and gradually shift it to A or B Madhimastayi keeping practice in aadhara shruti C to ensure that voice is not put into too much strain
3.Is practicing plain notes and only swaras in morning in various ragas is recommended or songs or krithis?
Answered by Shri Ravikiran:
Not really, Akaram is the best as its used the most. The other vowels and Mkaram are best practiced during varnams. Varnams are designed for that, which is why its not a good idea to sing entire varnams in akaram because the whole purpose of varnams is defeated which is to get training in all the vowels.
I would never recommend anyone to change their adhara shruti at all. Once you fix your pitch or shruti, you should always stick to that unless there is a physical limitation and you can choose to reduce your pitch by about half a note for about 2-3 days. Practice intelligently by starting on the lower notes, warming up and then going to the higher notes. Start with slower speeds and gradually go to higher speeds. These points are covered in the recent camp conducted by Acharyanet in Bangalore.
No, practicing plain notes or gamaka-laden notes is dependent on the level of the person practicing. Advanced level students may practice everything in the morning but slowly.
Question #3 from Student:
Namaste sir.
1. Is singing all 35 alankarams in different ragas say, kalyani, shankarabharanam, shanmukapriya etc, with akarams ( for voice warm up) suggested??
Answered by Shri Ravikiran:
Sure but with right gamakas without which one may get confused about the raga swaroopa… But it can take days or months to figure out the correct gamaka for each note in various contexts even for the same raga, unless one trains under a quality artist…
Question #4 from Student:
Thank you sir for the very valuable tips. You mentioned 10 mins of voice warm ups. What kind of warm-ups would you suggest ?
Answered by Shri Ravikiran:
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