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Carnatic Glossary K - listed here are terms beginning with K. If you find a Carnatic term that isn't listed, just send a note.


kaakali nishaadam - the third ni (of 3), N3 (the note just below high Sa), which corresponds to B natural in the Western key of C.

kaakapaadam - a taaLa movement of 16 beats, with a beat (4 counts), a wave upward (4 counts), a wave to the left (4 counts), and a wave to the right (4 counts). Its symbol is + and it is equivalent to 4 maattirais

kaala - this refers to the speed at which a song or portion of a song (or swaras) is performed. For singing in 1st speed, there can be 1 note per beat in practice (4 notes in concerts and when singing kritis). In second speed, there are 2 notes per beat in music practice and 8 in concerts, in 3rd speed 4 notes per beat in practice and 16 in concerts, and in 4th speed 8 notes per beat in practice and 32 in concerts (rare!). However, if the kaala of the TAALA itself is changed, the slower speeds will accomodate MORE swaras, not less, so though 1st speed is 4 swaras per beat, if the taaLa kaala is changed, 1/2 speed can now hold 8 swaras per beat because the beats are longer.

kaarvai - a pause or sustaining of a note while performing

kadinava - the first line in the katapayaadi formula, which has 9 letters ka kha ga gha nga ca cha ja jha nya

kaikilai - ancient Tamil term from Silappadigaaram for gaandhaaram

kaisiki nishaadam - the second ni of 3, N2, which corresponds to Bb (B flat) in the Western key of C.

kalai - a fractional unit of an aksharakaala, the number of beats per movement of a taaLa, or the number of swaras per kriyaa. Thus if aadi taaLa is sung in kalai 2 in 2nd speed (kaala), it still has 4 swaras per beat but instead of eight beats there are now 16 (each movement doubled). It can be Eka kalai (1 swara per kriyaa), dwi kalai (2 swaras per kriyaa), or catush kalai (4 swaras per kriyaa)

kalpanaa swaram - the part of a performance or song when swaras are improvised to fit the taaLa and return to the pallavi or first part of another section of the song. It is usually done at the end of a song, but may also be done in the middle. The main performer and non-percussion accompanists take turns doing kalpanaa swaras and show their skill and knowledge of the raaga

kalpana sangeetam - see manOdharma sangeetam

kalpita sangeetam - music that is written in notation or generally fixed in how it should be performed (as opposed to kalpana sangeetam). Created music instead of creative music

kampa vihina raaga - a raaga with no swaras that have kampita gamakam (opposite of sarva swara gamaka vaarika raaga). Examples are katanakutoohalam and sindu raamakriyaa

kampitam - a type of gamaka which involves swinging a note between two others, for example singing ri as sgsgsg... The symbol for kampita gamaka is a wavy line over the swaras

kanam - another name for kshanam

kanDam - a section or part of a raagaanga raaga lakshaNa geetam (also see khaNDika)

KannaDa - a South Indian language spoken especially in the state of KarnaaTaka. Many South Indian songs are in this language

karnaaTaka - raagas that have their origin in South India, as opposed to dEsya (2) raagas. Some karnaaTaka raagas are bhairavi, aananda bhairavi, neelaambari, and kEdaara gowLa

KarnaaTaka - one of the states of India, this is where the name karnaaTic or carnatic came from, because many prominent composers, such as Purandara Daasa came from this state. The word is still used to refer to the Carnatic tradition

karnaaTaka sampradaayam - refers to the traditions and culture of Carnatic music

karpanai isai - another term for manOdharma sangeetam, or creative music

karpanai swaras - another name for kalpanaa swaram

kartaraagam - same as mElakarta

karuNaa - a rasa (or feeling) of kindness and generosity in a song or raaga, found in the raagas sahaanaa, naadanaamakriyaa, and kaanaDaa

katapayaadi - the formula used to determine the number of a melakarta from its name or vice versa. The first two syllables of the melakarta name are used, each representing a digit, and the number that results is reversed to give the melakarta number. It has four lines, the first line starting with ka (kadinava, 9 letters), the second ta (tadinava, 9 letters), the third pa (padipanca, 5 letters), the fourth ya (yadiashTa, 8 letters). Each of these ka + ta + pa + ya di add up to make the name of this formula

kaTTai - the pitch at which a performer performs. A kaTTai of 5, for example, is G in Western notation

keertana - a sabhaa gaanam, a Carnatic song, usually of a devotional nature (vaidika gaanam). It has a saahitya to praise god or beg pardon, sometimes connected with puraanic incidents. The saahitya is more important in keertanas and it is said to have existed before the kriti. It has a pallavi, may or may not have an anupallavi, and has at least one caraNam, each usually of the same pattern (even the same pattern as the pallavi!). Keertanas are usually in familiar raagas

keezh staayi - the mandra staayi

keezh staayi varisai - same as takku staayi varisai

khaNDa - refers to 5, as in khaNDa jaati (5 beats in the laghu)

khaNDa caapu - a caapu taaLa with 5 beats (2 + 3), a beat and a wave, counted as taka takiTa

khaNDika - the division of a song into sections such as pallavi, anupallavi and caraNam. Each section may be called a khaNDika

kOlaaTTa Daru - a Daruvu that is a song sung during the time of dance

kONangi Daru - a Daruvu that is a song supposed to be sung by a daivika kOmali (a divine Joker)

koodal - one of the 4 musical forms of isai-tamil (see tEvaram)

kOrvai - a rhythmic phrase of several taaLa cycles, usually having a repetition of 3 within it, which may be sung, played, or performed on a percussion instrument

kOvai - an ancient Tamil term for swara

kOvai varisai - another Tamil term for sarali varisai or swaraavali

Krishna - an incarnation of Lord Vishnu (preserver of the universe), known as a cowherd, beautiful flautist, a great King of Dwaaraka, and for his mischief around the gopis, his many female admirers

kriti - a type of sabhaa gaanam, one of the most important types of songs with broad scope for neraval, kalpanaa swaras. They have a pallavi, anupallavi and at least 1 caraNam (or may have a samaashTi caraNa) with the same or different swara patterns in the caraNas. They can be either about God or about worldly matters and range over 1 1/2 to 2 staayis. They can have any eDuppu (sama, before or after), and are there to understand the swaroopam of the raaga. They may have sangatis, madhyama kaala saahitya, citta swaras, swara saahitya, solkaTTu swaras, swaraksharams, gamakas, gOpucca yati, srotovaaha yati etc. as embellishments

kriyaa - meaning action, it is any single movement within an anga, such as a beat or a movement of a finger, or a wave. Thus a khanda jaati laghu will have 5 kriyaas

kshanam - the smallest unit of time, the time a needle takes to pierce one petal in a pile of 100 lotus petals together (also kanam)

ku - abbreviation for kural (1)

ku-kai - abbreviation for kural kaikilai

kural (1) - an ancient Tamil term from Silappadigaaram for sa

kural (2) - an ancient Tamil term from Silappadigaaram for notes that are of lower pitch (such as shuddha notes)

kural kaikilai - an ancient Tamil term from Silappadigaaram for saadhaaraNa gaandhaaram

kural taram - an ancient Tamil term from Silappadigaaram for kaisiki nishaadam

kural tutam - an ancient Tamil term from Silappadigaaram for shuddha rishabam

kural uzhai - an ancient Tamil term from Silappadigaaram for shuddha madhyamam

kural vilari - an ancient Tamil term from Silappadigaaram for shuddha dhaivatam

ku-ta - abbreviation for kural taram

kutcEri - the name for any Carnatic concert

ku-tu - abbreviation for kural tutam

ku-u - abbreviation for kural uzhai

ku-vi - abbreviation for kural vilari

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updated on 03/20/2009