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Most compositions in Carnatic music have
three parts to their body. The first two lines of the song
(sometimes-just one) are called Pallavi. They occur
over and over, especially after each stanza. Usually the
Pallavi is followed by two more lines or sometimes just one
more. This portion is called Anu Pallavi. This is sung at the
beginning for sure, but sometimes even during the end of the
song, but not necessarily after each stanza. The stanzas of a
song are called 'Charanam'.
Varnam: It is a composition usually sung or
played at the beginning of a recital and reveals the general
form of the Raga. The Varnam is made up of two parts: 1) the
Purvanga or first half and 2) the Uttaranga or
second half. The two halves are almost equal in length.
Kriti: It is a
highly evolved musical song set to a certain raga and fixed
tala or rhythmic cycle.
Ragam: It is a
melodic improvisation in free rhythm played without
Tanam: It is
another style of melodic improvisation in free rhythm.
Pallavi: This is
a short pre-composed melodic theme with words and set to one
cycle of tala. Here the soloist improvises new melodies
built around the word pallavi.
Trikalam: It is
the section where the Pallavi is played in three tempi keeping
the Tala constant.
is the improvised section performed with the drummer in medium
and fast speeds.
is the final part of the Pallavi where the soloist improvises
freely and comes back to the original theme at the end.