decorative aspects of composition

By Spardha Learnings | 



 The kriti or a composition is the most highly evolved amongst art musical form. It is the most important of the melodic group of composition. 

 An exceptional style in musical composition is seen only in kritis. It contains niraval and Kalpana swaras. 

In a kriti gana rasa is experienced, in Kirtana bhakti rasa is experienced.

✓Angas/parts of a composition:

Pallavi, Anupallavi and Charanam are usually the 3 special divisions of a kriti, kirtanai or composition. 

In some compositions we have only Pallavi and Charanam which are considered as essential parts of a composition. And we have also decorative parts or Aspects of a musical composition which add special beauty to it. And Gamakas are chiefly said to be the one which add beauty to the compositions.


Gamakam means a particular shake of the svaram which we employ while singing or playing instruments in order to bring out particular shape of the ragam. Though Gamakam is mentioned in this chapter on decorative aspects of composition it is certainly an indispensable aspect of the whole Indian Bharata says that any musical composition without Gamakam is like a river without water ,a night without moon ,a plant without flowers and a lady without ornaments.

Gamakams were known by the word Alankarams. Sarangadeva in his "Sangita Ratnakaram" speaks about " Panchadasa Gamakams "( 15 kinds of Gamakams ). But today we speak about only dasavidha Gamakams (10).  They are given below:-

 1. Arohana Gamakam:

It is employed when we sing or play a ragam in the ascending order properly.

Eg: s r g m p d n s (upper sadjam).

2. Avarohana Gamakam:

It is employed when we sing or play a ragam in the descending order properly.

Eg: s (upper sadjam) n d p m g r s

3. Ahata Gamakam:

It is noticed when we sing or play the musical pharses like sr rg gm mp pd dn ns( upper sadjam)

4. Pratiyahata Gamakam:

It is noticed when we sing or play the musical pharses like s(upper sadjam)n nd dp pm mg ns

5: Sphurita Gamakam:

It is obtained when we stress the second svaram while singing or playing Janta Varisais like ss rr gg mm pp

6. Tripuscha Gamakam:

 It is obtained when we sing or play the swaras in triplets. 

Eg: sss rrr ggg etc... 

7. Dhalu Gamakam:

 It is produced when a person starting on a basic swaram reaches the higher swaram in confirmity with the raga bhavam. Thus beginning on shadjam and sounding Madhyamam, beginning on shadjam and sounding Gandharam etc....

   Eg: sP - sM - sG - sR 

In the Anupallavi of Syama Sastri's Ananda bhairavi kriti, we have an excellent example of Dhalu Gamakam. 

  s s ; S

  Sa ra na

8. Andolita Gamakam :is something brought out when playing the swarams in the following Manner in instruments like veenai. 

Eg: s r s D d - s r s P p - s r s M m

9. Kampita Gamakam: 

It is produced when we lengthen the duration of the swarams and sing them with stress:

   Eg: Dhanyasi: s G m p N s

          Atana: s n D p m p G r s

         Anandabhairavi: g m p m g r G

10.  Murchchanai Gamakam: 

It is obtained if we starting on shadjam proceed regularly in the Arohana kramam and finish on the Dirgha Nishadam; then start on Rishabam, proceed as before and finish on Dirgha shadjam and so on. Here the phrases are sung or played fast. 

       Eg : s r g m p d N

              r g m p d d n S

             g m p d n S R 

             m p d n S R G 

             p d n S R G M

It is known that all the above 10 Gamakams are found in Bhairavi raga - Ata Tala Varnam " Viriboni".

All Gamakams can be grouped under 2 heads: 

       1. Ravai(vibrato - slight variation in pitch in singing or playing some musical instruments) Gamakam like Sphurita and Tripuscha.

       2. Jaru ( Portamento - a slide from one note to another, especially in singing or playing the violin) Gamakam like Andolita and kampita. 

We must remember that there are quite a few Gamakams peculiar to vocal music and instrumental music. (veenai,violin, flute nagaswaram) which are covered by the above 10 Gamakams.

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