Sunday, July 26, 2009

Math and Music - Part IV

"Axis of Symmetry" is a line that divides the figure into two halves, with either side is a mirror image of the other. In the world of music, with all the figures formed with 7 Swaras, Shadjamam and Panchamam have a special significance. If the frequency associated with Shadjamam is X decibels Hz, and the Shadjamam at the next octave is 2X decibels Hz, then, the Panchamam stands in the middle of it as an axis of symmetry - at 1.5X decibels Hz.

In short, Shadjamam and Panchamam notes are special because they act as epicenters, around which other swaras dwell. In this post, I would like to bring some interesting aspect, what I call "Sa Pa Symmetry". Play a sequence/pattern of notes with your Sa as the home key and try to play the same sequence/pattern of notes with lower/upper Panchamam as the home key. There you go!

Keeravani and Mayamalavagowli raaga offered this symmetry naturally. Raaja has used this pattern in many many songs. To highlight with a classic example, "Poovama Oorvolam" song from Chinna Thambi. Listen to the verses -
"Aranmana Annakili Tharayile Nadapadhu Nadakkuma Adukkuma
Paniyilum Vetta Veli Veyilum Ulla Sogam Aranmana Kudukkuma"

If the first line of the above stanza is centered around upper Shadjamam, the second one follows with lower Panchamam. Another example in "Poova Eduthu Oru Maala" from "Amman Kovil Kizhakkale". Listen to the verses -
"Kannadi Vala
Munnadi Vizha"

Other evident usages that comes to my mind immediately are - "Om Namaha" from Idhayathai Thirudadhe; "Poo Poo Poo Pootha Solai" and many more..

This might be one of the reason why Keeravani and Mayamalavagowli are very popular in light music and especially Raaja has used to its full potential in film songs.


Emjay said...

Thanks Kannan for the correction.

Harini said...

Hey this is something very interesting. My music teacher keeps telling that MUSIC IS MATHS. And today i've got a very practical explanation about it wrt cine music. Keep posting.

I'm a new blogger, check out when you find time.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mohan Jayaraman !

... a really cool blog. Very unique this topic about ICM. How it comes ?

I am great fan of Indian Classics. Since 03/2006 I have my monthly radio show about (feel free to have a look at the topics I produced: )

What other thematics you are interested beside the mathematical aspects ?

Warm regards from Europe/North Germany, Hamburg
ElJay Arem

சங்கர் said...

Realoly nice one .

உண்மையான உணர்வுகளை அழகாக உங்களின் பேனாவால் கசியவிட்டு இருக்கிறீர்கள் . அற்புதமான பகிர்வு வாழ்த்துகள் நண்பரே !!!

வாசகனாய் ஒரு கவிஞன் ,
பனித்துளி சங்கர்