Music Handbook




Kutcheri   Concert, or any musical entertainment.  

Kutcheri Dharma


The duties and obligations, rights and privileges of musicians performing in a concert, its organisers and the audience. This entails everything from dress, mode of address and welcome, to the seating arrangements on the platform.

Kakali Nishada   The major seventh note. Called Shuddha Nishada in Hindustani music. In practice, in Carnatic music, the note is often intoned slightly higher than the Suddha Nishada of Hindustani music, and the note is closer to the position of the Shadja.  
Kakapadam   One of the six Angas among the musical time measures and has a total of 16 counts.  
Kaku   A Swara technique that emphasizes the significant characteristic of a raga. Parsvadeva’s Sangeeta Samaya Sara describes six kinds of Kakus – 1. Raga Kaku is the essential splendour of a raga; 2. Swara Kaku is the embellishment of a Raga through the quality and shading of its Mukhya Swara through Gamakas or mere vocal power; 3.Desa Kaku is the introduction of folk and regional inflections into the Raga, giving it a novel and strange, yet rich form; 4. Anya Raga Kaku is the contrasting quality achieved by introducing Graha Bheda techniques or bhavas of foreign ragas; 5. Kshetra Kaku emphasises all the rules of the Raga in various combinations; 6. Vadya Kaku is the technique of bringing an instrumental quality into the vocal expression of Ragas.  

Pronounced Kalaa, it means art. Pronounced Kaala, it refers to time.

Kalahasti   Temple-town near the border of Tamilnadu and Andhra Pradesh. The name was used as a Mudra by the composer Veena Venkataswami Raju of Kalahasti, in his Tana Varna composition Valachiyunna in Pushpalatika.  
Kallinatha   See Chatura Kallinatha.  
Kalpanaswara   The creative part of Carnatic music, where the performer sings patterns of solfa notes (swaras) extempore, according to his imagination, but within the boundaries of the Raga.  
Kalpita melakarta  

The name given to fifty-three out of the seventy-two Melas described by Venkatmakhi. These were purely academic at the time, as they had not been used in compositions until then. The other nineteen were already popular when the classification was carried out.

Kalpita Sangita   Composed music, e.g. Kritis and Varnams.  
Kampita   See Gamaka.  
Kanjira   A tambourine, used as a percussion instrument in concerts.  
Katapayadi Sankhya   An ancient Indian system of mnemonics that is used to correlate numbers with words. numbers of words. This was widely used in astrology, musicology, and several other arts and sciences in India. Each letter of the Sanskrit alphabet is associated with a number, as summed up in four key phrases. Kadi Nava – the nine letters, Ka, Kha, Ga, Gha, N(g)a, Cha, Chha, Ja and Jha, are given values from 1 through 9. Similarly, Tadi Nava – the letters beginning with ‘Ta’ and ending in ‘Dha’ are again given values 1 through 9. Padi Panca – the five letters from ‘Pa’ to ‘Ma’ are given values from 1 to 5. Yadi Ashta – the series of eight letters, Ya, Ra, La, Va, Sha, Shha, Sa and Ha have values from 1 through 8. The letters N(j)a and Na represent zero. The names of the 72 Melas are based on this scheme, such that the first two syllables of the name correspond to the Mela number in a reverse fashion. This can be illustrated with an example. Take the Mela Ramapriya. Ra and Ma are the first two syllables. The serial number of ‘Ra’ is two and that of ‘Ma’ is five, so that ra-ma encodes the number 25. The digits in this number are to be reversed, to give the number 52. This is the Melakarta number of Ramapriya.  
Kathakalakshepam   A combined word, formed from Katha (story), Kala (time) and Kshepa (spending). It is the art form of passing leisure time through musicalized story-telling. Legends from the Puranas are narrated through songs rendered in a dramatic fashion. The Ramayana, the Mahabharata, and Bhagavatam form the basis of the stories and anecdotes that are sung and recited by performers. Tanjavur Krishna Bhagavatar is described as the father of this art-form, which requires its practitioners to be scholars, musicians and dramatists simultaneously.  
Khayal   A word of Persian origin, meaning ‘imagination’. It is believed to have developed out of the Qawwal style of singing and through the period of Amir Khusro became an important part of the Hindustani music tradition. The arrival of the khayal slowly displaced the old Dhrupad style of singing and effected a revolutionary change in the Hindustani music tradition. The structure of the Khayal requires a high order of improvisational skill in the musician at several levels and layers of the Raga. The range and scope of improvisation also covers the whole range of human experience, from the poetic and mystic to the frontiers of quick arithmetic calculation and intellectual exploration.  
Koot-taan   A complicated and extensive set of notes in complex figures in a Taan.  
Kovur Pancharatna   A set of five Kritis, composed by thy great composer Tyagaraja, in praise of the deity, Sundareswara, in the shrine at Kovur near Madras. These are ‘Sambho Mahadeva’ in raga Pantuvarali, ‘Ee vasudha nivanti’ in Sahana raga, ‘Kori Sevimparare ‘in Karaharapriya, ‘Nammi Vacchina’ in Kalyani and ‘Sundira Varuni’ in Shankarabharanam.  
Krama   Order, regularity. Krama Sampoorna means an orderly Arohana and Avarohana without zig-zag patterns and tortuous variations. Shadava Krama indicates a six-note regular scale, and Audava Krama refers to the regularity of the five-note scale.  
Krishna   The most well-known God of Hinduism, asociated in music with the Venu or Murali, the divine flute. Hence, he is also called by the name Muralidhara. The pure music ascribed to Lord Krishna is believed to be the essence of Indian music. Composers and musicians have used this figure of Krishna with his flute from the dawn of Indian memory. Krishna appears as the inspiration behind Jayadeva’s Ashtapadis in the Gita Govinda, the songs of Meera, the Bhajans in Brij, and in numerous Thumris and Khayals.  
Krishna Leela Tarangini   The longest Sanskrit opera, composed by Narayana Tirtha. It contains 112 cantos. Its origin is in the Bhagavata Purana’s tenth chapter, which begins with the birth of Krishna and ends with the marriage to Rukmini.  
Kriti   Literally, composition/work. One of the most highly evolved forms of musical composition in the Carnatic music system. Every composer in the Carnatic School has attempted to compose Kritis and contributed richly to this form of music. Therefore, Kritis form the bulk of musical compositions in Carnatic music today. Unlike the Khayal in Hindustani music, the Kriti is a fully composed piece of music, complete in its architecture and motion. Its value lies not only in its musical content, but also in the lyrical content, the Sahitya. An allied form of composition, the Kirtana, lays much greater stress on the Sahitya than the Kriti. There are three movements – the Pallavi, the Anupallavi and the Charanam. In many such compositions, there are multiple Charanams. The Kritis are ornamented with several technical devices, such as Chitta Swaras, Madhyamakala Sahitya, Swarakshara Sangatis, Solkattu Swaras, Swara Sahitya and so on.  
Kriya   A mode of counting time. There are two main kinds of Kriyas, e.g. the Nis-shabda Kriya, which is silent or unvoiced, and the Sa-shabda Kriya, which is voiced by means of a beat.  
Kshana   The smallest division of time that can be conceived in a Kala, or between two beats.  
Kudimiyamalai   An inscription on a rock face in Pudukottai, giving much information about music. It belongs to the seventh century, and was inscribed by Mahendra Varman, a Pallava king. Except for the incomplete inscriptions available from Titumayam and Pudukottai, the inscription at Kudumiyamalai is unique in all of India. This inscription belongs to the period before Hindustani and Carnatic music took slightly different paths and therefore can be said to belong to both the traditions. It gives brief Sancharas of seven ragas – the Madhyama Grama, the Shadava, the Sadharita, the Panchama, the Kaisika madhyama and the Kaisiki Nishada. The Sancharas are given in four note steps of Taans, in what is known as the Chatushprahara Swaragama
Kural   Tamil word, meaning voice. The name of the tone that is equivalent to Shadja, in ancient Tamil music.  
Kusa and Lava   Sons of Rama, known as great singers and balladeers. They sang the Ramayana and enthralled the court of their father King Ramachandra of Ayodhya.



Chakra Chart

Melakarta Chart

Raga Index

Varnam Index

Kriti Index

Addresses of artistes

Addresses of Organisations