Smt. Suguna Purushothaman gave a very educative lecture demonstration on “Teaching and Practice of Dwitala Avadhanam” at The Music Academy, Chennai on 23rd Dec 2009. The very fact that Smt. Suguna made her students (K. Gayatri, Sharanya Krishnan and Nandini Sharma) perform most of the exercises was very encouraging to see. They assisted her ably in the demonstrations. This led Shri Pappu Venugopala Rao to remark – “We have so many Sugunas on stage!”. Kudos to K. Gayatri who did most of the demonstrations based in the more complex talams.
Here are some excerpts from the session based on the notes I took.
Avadhanam is the ability to do many things at the same time. There are many people who have done avadhAnam and have been called “avadhAnI”s. Dwitala avadhanam refers to putting two different talams simultaneously with both the hands for one song.
Smt. Suguna Purushothaman learnt this art from Shri Thinniyam Venkatarama Iyer.
THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND WHILE DOING DWITALA AVADHANAM
- The talams put on both hands should be different
- Total count of the two talams should be the same
- Any musical composition can be taken up – but it should be pleasant to hear.
HOW TO DEVELOP THE ABILITY TO DO DWITALA AVADHANAM
Dwitala avadhanam can be performed by anyone with proper practice.
1) There are basic exercises for laya while learning basic lessons of Carnatic music. These should be practised putting talam in both hands. This will help strengthen the talam/laya sense.
2) Swaravali/ Sarali varisai should be practised starting with samam of the talam in one hand and at the same time starting after 0.25 beat from samam of the talam being put in the other hand. This should be repeated for a start after 0.50 and 0.75 beat from samam also in the other hand.
3) Sapta tala alankarams should be sung in different kalams (speeds) while maintaining the same talam. Then they should be sung with two different talams in the two hands.
The following alankarams were demonstrated:
- S R G S R G M | R G M R G M P | … – Tisra Triputa – in 3 kAlams/ speeds
- 6 beats – S R S R G M | R G R G M P | … – Chatusra Rupakam in one hand and the usual way Rupakam is put these days (2 claps and one wave – hereafter referred to as Rupaka Chapu for the purpose of this post) on the other hand
- 10 beats – S R G S R S R G M , | R G M R G R G M P , | … – Misra Jampa in one hand and Chatusra Matya in the other
- 10 beats – S R G S R S R G M , | R G M R G R G M P , | … – Tisra Ata in one hand and Misra Jampa in the other – 2 kalams
- 14 beats – S R , G , S , R G , M , M , | R G , M , R , G M , P , P , | … – Kanda Ata in one hand and Tisra Triputa in the other
- 14 beats – S R , G , S , R G , M , M , | R G , M , R , G M , P , P , | … – Kanda Ata in one hand and Chatusra Dhruva in the other
- 14 beats – S R G M G R S R G R S R G M | R G M P M G R G M G R G M P | … – Chatusra Dhruva in one hand and Tisra Triputa in the other
4) One can also try interchanging the talams being put on both hands i.e., if talam A was being put by the left hand and talam B by the right hand, one can also try singing the same exercise with talam B now being put by the left hand and talam A by the right hand. Smt. Suguna said that Shri Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, while hearing her demonstrate the technique when she was young, asked her if she can interchange the talams and demonstrate. She was able to do it easily as she had already tried the same in her practice sessions.
5) Varnams can be practised the same way. All adi talam varnams should be sung with tisram done to get a good grip over the talam in tisra gati.
- KANDAM – Portions from the varNam viribONi (kEdAragauLa) were sung with Misra Jampa in one hand and Adi Talam Kanda Gati in the other
- MISRAM – Portions from the varNam vanajAkSi (kalyANi) were sung with Kanda Ata in one hand and Adi Talam Misra Gati in the other in 2 kAlams. They were also demonstrated with Kanda Ata in one hand and Tisra Triputa in the other
- MISRAM – Portions from the varNam viribONi (bhairavi) was sung in Adi Talam Misra Gati (without indicating the misra cApu like claps per beat to maintain misra gati). They were also sung with Kanda Ata in one hand and Adi Talam Misra Gati in the other and also with Panchanadai in one hand (3, 4, 5, 7, 9) and Kanda Ata in the other
6) Kritis can also be sung. Sections from the following kritis were sung and demonstrated by Smt Suguna and Kum K. Gayatri:
- CHATUSRAM – sari evvarammA (bhairavi) – Kanda Jampai in one hand and Chatusra Triputa (Adi Talam) in the other
- TISRAM - gaTTi gAnu nannu (begaDA) – Rupaka Chapu in one hand and Adi Talam Tisra Gati in the other
- TISRAM – shankari shankuru (sAvEri) – Rupaka Chapu in one hand and Adi Talam Tisra Gati in the other
- KANDAM – budhamAshrayAmi (nATTakurinji) – Misra Jampa in one hand and Adi Talam Kanda Gati in the other
- KANDAM – dAtsukOvalEna (tODi) – Misra Jampa in one hand and Adi Talam Kanda Gati in the other
- KANDAM – shrI kamalAmbAya (bhairavi) – Misra Jampa in one hand and Adi Talam Kanda Gati in the other
- SANKIRNAM – kaNNA karunIla vaNNA (rAgamAlikA, a composition of Smt. Suguna Purushothaman) – Sankirna Chapu in one hand and Tisra Ekam Tisra Gati in the other
- 108 TALAS – lakSmI samEta nArAyaNa (mOhanam, a composition of Smt. Suguna Purushothaman) – Lakshmisa Talam in one hand and Tisra Rupakam Kanda Gati in the other
7) Kalpana swarams can also be sung. Care should be taken to complete the cycle of the longer taLam while ending the kalpana swarams each time. If we put a shorter talam in one hand, it might take multiple cycles for the same to match one cycle of the longer talam being put in the other hand. We should finish the kalpana swarams at the appropriate place of the longer talam (when the song is set to that talam)
Swarams were sung at the phrase “shyAma krishna sOdari” of shankari shankuru (sAvEri) by Kum K. Gayatri
8) Kritis with eDuppu different from samam can be sung
The kriti himAdri sutE (kalyANi) was demonstrated with Rupaka Chapu in one hand and Adi Talam Tisra Gati in the other
9) Pallavis can also be sung in a similar way
- MISRAM – The pallavi line “rangashAyi yani pilacitE / O yanucu rA rAdA” was sung in Kanda Ata and Adi Talam Misra Gati (with eDuppu of 8 akSaram post samam and arudi kArvai of 9 akSaram). Trikalam was done
- KANDAM – The pallavi line “kandA mukundA marugA guhA kA vA / kadirgAma madil vAzhum guruparanE” was sung with Misra Jampa (eDuppu 2 akSaram after samam, aruDi 12 akSaram) in one hand and Adi Talam Kanda Gati in the other
- Smt. Suguna Purushothaman and Smt. Suguna Varadachari then together demonstrated another pallavi composed by the former. Smt. Suguna Purushothaman said the usual dwitala avadhanam used to have one talam in chatusra gati and the other in a different gati. She wanted to sing with both hands putting talams in gatis other than chatusra gati. Hence she composed this pallavi. The two sang the pallavi “mAyA veNNai unDa vAyA / paN isaithu magizhvAyA”. They put Tisra Triputa Kanda Gati (eDuppu – 2 akSaram before samam, kArvai – 6 akSaram) in one hand and Tisra Rupakam Misra Gati (eDuppu – 3 akSaram before drutam starts, kArvai – 6 akSaram after lagu starts) in the other
10) Tillanas can also be sung in a similar way
A line from the tillAnA “tArAdipAnana” (kApi) was sung (Lakshmisa Talam in one hand and Tisra Rupakam Kanda Gati in the other)
11) Tiruppugazh can also be sung in a similar way
- marukkulAviya (pUrvikalyANi) was sung with Tisra Jampai Tisra Gati in one hand and Kanda Triputa in the other
- nilayAdha samudhiramAna (cencuruTTi) was sung with Sankirna Ata in one hand and Chanda Talam in the other (didn’t note down and forgot the structure of this)
Shri Pappu Venugopala Rao spoke highly about Smt. Suguna Purushothaman and her students. He also made the following remarks:
- “avadhAnam” basically means concentration
- The term is supposed to have come from the vedic lore as vedic scholars were supposed to have had the ability to recite the Vedas from up to down and also down to up
- The term then started getting employed in literature – ashTAvadhAnam, satAvadAnam, sahasrAvadhAnam etc.
- There is also nATya avadhAnam which Dhara Ramanatha Shastri is famous for – audience gives a topic, lyrics are composed on the spot, music for that is composed on the spot and the choreography is also done on the spot.
- Adibhatla Narayana Dasu, who was titled Pancha Mukha Parameshwara, used to put 5 talams simultaneously – 2 with 2 legs, 2 with 2 hands and the 5th with his head.