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‘Alankars’- musical ornamentations

“A thing of beauty is a joy forever” – John Keats

Yes, all of us are drawn to beauty, be it in physical form or abstract. Although the sun rises and sets each day, every time we witness this phenomenon, we reach out to our phones to capture that moment. So many poets have used the beauty of the full moon as a metaphor to describe a love situation. When a woman drapes her best silks, adorns her jewellery, wears her hair in a special style, and steps out, all eyes turn towards her with appreciative glances. Perhaps she makes heads turn even on normal days, but when she is decked up, it is special and makes her even more attractive.

It’s the same with music too. A melodic piece is always a pleasing sound, but add to it some ornamentation, and it becomes a lilting tune, that stays with the listener for long.

In Hindustani Classical Music these melodic ornamentations are called ‘Alankars’, also known as ‘Paltas’. An ascending-descending pattern of ‘swaras’ within a pre-determined structure, that completes a melody, is what constitutes an ‘Alankar’.

The right mix of small Alankars, go on to create a full-fledged tune or song. Each raga needs to be approached differently, because each raga has its own set of patterns. And for a raga to be entertaining, it is essential to incorporate these various permutations and combinations of ‘swaras’.

In the past, different scholars of music have proposed different types of ‘Alankars’. According to Bharata’s Natyashastra, there are 33 types of ‘Alankars’. Sharangdev’s Sangeet Ratnakar claims 63 types, while Ahobal’s Sangeet Parijat refers to 68 types. All these theories can be mind-boggling for a student of music. This is where MyGurukul has addressed these complex pieces of information, and explained them in a simple, student-friendly manner.

What are the different patterns each raga permits? How to create these patterns? What is the importance of these patterns? And answers to many more questions arising in the student’s mind!

MyGurukul emphasizes on the importance of regular practice of ‘Alankars’. After all, the right mix and match of patterns, is a sure shot measure of the student’s musical prowess.

Any form of art is a translation of the artiste’s expression. As a musician, the artiste goes up on stage to showcase his/her musical expression. And the right blend of ‘Alankars’ are his/her tools to achieve that state of musical bliss!

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