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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 mridangam accompaniment.

 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.

 Swara-Kalpana: It is the improvised section performed with the drummer in medium and fast speeds.

 Ragamalika: This is the final part of the Pallavi where the soloist improvises freely and comes back to the original theme at the end.


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