Swara-samudra – creating music from the elements

Swara means sound and Samudra means sea or ocean. Swara-samudra means an ocean of sounds. That’s literally what music constitutes – a variety of sounds. In Karnatik music – a music native to the Southern part of India, there are basically eight swaras – that’s it. And all music can be translated to these eight. Much like western music has Do-re-mi-pa-sa-la-ti-dou, Karnatik music has sa-ri-ga-ma-pa-da-ni-sa. These sounds can be sung in different pitches. One’s own natural pitch is where the singer starts and with practice, he or she masters singing in lower or higher pitches. Tara-stai – is singing the swaras in higher pitches and Mandara-stai is singing in lower pitches. You combine the sounds with different pitches and the combinations are endless. Then you have beats. Each swara goes with one beat to start with. Later on you vary the length of the swaras with the beats. Thus one swara can occupy two or four beats, for example. And that is how you translate music into its elements or create music from the elements!

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