| Ragam Tanam Pallavi
Ragam Tanam Pallavis are unquestionably the brightest products of Karnatic music and contribute greatly to its academic and aesthetic value. It is here that the musician's talent and ability is brought out explicitly and exclusively. It is in this branch of Manodharma Sangita that the musician displays his creativity, imagination and artistic sense.
The term Pallavi has two meanings - one suggesting the initial portion of a kirtana or kriti which is so named only after Purandara Dasa's time onwards. Pallavi in another sense is an important item of a South Indian concert. It is improvised music having a definite Tala and Pada. Technically speaking, the term pallavi is made up of the three words, Padam = words, Layam = time and Vinyasam = variations.
The Pallavi form consists of text which may be intricately laced with library devices. These texts are often in Sanskrit though vernacular and multi - lingual texts are also common.
The music and Sahithya in a Pallavi should form an organic whole and provide a feeling of completeness. In the initial statement of a Pallavi theme, the line of the text is sung to a set melody in a specific ragam and talam, so that the line has a distinct melodic contour and metrical underlay.
In the past, the Pallavi text was composed extempore as evidence of the musician's creativity. In order to demonstrate his erudition as well as to ensure the spontaneity of the setting, the court patron presiding over a Pallavi performance could declare immediately before a performance the text, talam and ragam or even the entire theme to be improvised upon, thereby allowing virtually no time for the musician to rehearse.
Many interesting pallavis were composed in the past involving rare musical feat. Intricate and long talas like Parvathilochanam, Lakshmisa, Simhanandana were used. Rettai pallavi (double pallavi), Dvitala pallavi (same pallavi set in two different talas having equal counts) and multi raga pallavis were also in vogue. Some even composed humourous pallavis on a lighter vein with lyrics like - 'Onrirandu moonrunaalanjaru ezhettu onbadupathu' or 'Kutralathu kurange, marathai vittu irange' or 'Yarada avan ranga' avanai vittena thottena paar paar'.
Nowadays, pallavis have become a rarity in concerts such that they are organized with special focus as exclusive pallavi concerts. In her presidential address art the Music Academy, Dr. M.L.Vasanthakumari said - 'Ragam Tanam Pallavi is an important feature of Karnatic music. A small pallavi must atleast be included even in a two hour concert in order to maintain the dignity and quality of our music'.
Hence, in spite of the tremendous time constrains in this fast paced world, an earnest attempt to preserve and propagate this glorious musical form should be made.
In a Carnatic Concert, the Pallavi contributes immensely in terms of academic and aesthetic value. Mudhra has been organizing concerts exclusively for pallavi singing to exhibit the talent and aesthetic sense of the musicians. It is a feast to rasikas both in terms of Raga and Laya intricacies. Mudhra organised Pallavi Festival at Bharathiya Vidhya Bhavan, Chennai by talented young musicians and also conducted a one day seminar on Pallavi.