Voice Culture in Raga Keeravani

Voice Culture in Carnatic Music includes among other factors, a deep-rooted knowledge of ragas. In this video recorded master class conducted by Guru Chitravina N Ravikiran, the topic of voice culture is explained with  examples in Raga Keeravani. As the demonstration includes phrases which are gradually developed in this raga, students will also be able to apply the principles to alapana techniques.  Techniques  like gamakas, breath control, style and akaarams are explained in detail. Students will be able to apply the techniques mastered in this session to other ragas as well. The session also includes a Q&A towards the end which students will find useful. Highlights and key points from this session are included in this article for the benefit of aspiring Carnatic Music students. To download the entire video session, please use this link. Please subscribe to our Free mailing list to get more updates on this topic. (Find the subscribe button on this page )
Carnatic Voice Culture in Raga Keeravani by Sangeet Samrat Chitravina N Ravikiran
Preview Video
Download the entire session including demonstrations and Q&A session.
Highlights from the Session as taught by Guru Chitravina N Ravikiran
Voice training in Carnatic Music also involves mind training to a large extent. Mind training can only happen through the practice of developing a good ear to pick up details and nuances. In olden days when technology was not available, students were required to grasp a phrase quickly and repeat within a short span of time. This helped them develop this skill easily. Today, it becomes only too easy for students to rely on technology tools like recorders and online resources and miss out on the opportunity to develop sharp listening skills.
A good voice may not necessarily be a fit voice. Even a good voice needs proper training to be able to execute all types of phrases effectively, especially in different ragas. One may start the warm-up with lower pitch notes in a particular region giving long sustained notes, being careful to align the voice to the tanpura or sruti , singing in a pleasing tone with a relaxed attitude.  {Guru demonstrates in the lower region of Keeravani}
The ritualistic Sa Pa Sa warmup can actually be avoided when the voice is not yet ready to sing the higher region notes. A better alternative is to sing notes in a particular region, taking care to  develop slowly and move up the scale gradually. Giving sustained notes with long kaarvai goes a long way in helping warm up the voice in preparation for more demanding exercises. It easier for the body to relax and assume a relaxed pose after practising sustained notes.  Just as the pranayama in yoga involves breathing techniques, the kaarvai practice trains the body to inhale quickly and exhale slowly taking care to sustain the note as long as possible. Students are urged to not give up easily and do their level best to hold a note as long as they can. Even advanced performers carry out this practice diligently to culture their voices with great results.
{Guru demonstrates by singing phrases in the lower region in Keeravani}
When practising phrases, beginners may avoid gamakas initially and sing plain notes whereas  advanced students may attempt  gamakas as suited to the raga. Good working knowledge of the type of gamakas and the context in which they may be applied is essential. This comes with effective training with a knowledgeable Guru as well as highlighting the importance of mind-training.
{Guru demonstrates the various ways in which the Keeravani gandharam can be rendered}
Another important point when developing  raga phrases is to be aware of the exact configuration and tempo or kalapramanam of various parts of the phrase. Over a period of time, with good training, a good singer will be able to vary the speeds within a phrase to give a good impact, stylistically as well as aesthetically.  The student must pay attention to details when repeating a phrase sung by the guru, especially in terms of  decoding the notes, gamakas, kalapramanam and other raga specific usages.
{Students are asked to repeat demanding phrases and tips are given to listen attentively and repeat accurately}
One should be careful to avoid singing that causes strain, as the vocal chords are very delicate. If the voice is not able to cope with the techincal demands initially, slow down and try the phrases slowly to allow time for the body to adjust. Akaara type of phrases should be employed as much as possible taking care to avoid other vowels and harsh sounding syllables like ‘ra’. Normally, syllables like ‘tha’ and ‘na’ can be used in alapanas.  Even in akaara phrases, the singer can be trained to sing long phrases without using too many syllables. This is a superior way of singing.
Learn to modulate the voice in the appropriate context, practice slow as well as fast phrases. To see the complete video , click on the link below.
Download the entire session including demonstrations and Q&A session.

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