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# Classification of Gamakas

## Introduction

We have looked at the historical evolution of Indian Classical music, and seen how its tuning systems have developed based on the principles of consonance.

But beyond the tuning of musical intervals, the concept of Gamaka occupies a position of pre-eminence in Indian Classical music. A Gamaka is a musical ornamentation carried out by modulating the pitch of a single note or by moving continuously from one note to another.

In this article, we interpret the different types of Gamakas described in Sangeet Ratnakar by Sarang Dev, as well as the Dashavidha Gamakas commonly practised in the tradition of Carnatic music.

## Reference Pitch and Basic Intervals

Before we begin, let us start with the concept of the fundamental note Sa. In Indian Classical music, all musical notes are defined based on their relationship with Sa. You can use the settings below to set the Sa to any pitch you prefer. All the demos on this page would play according to this setting.

Common Parameters

Key
Offset

## Standard Drone

For the purposes of this article, we will use the Standard drone tuning. Click Start below and listen to the drone track for some time.

Standard Drone

After you have spent some time and feel comfortable with the drone track, you can move to the subsequent sections. Let the drone track continue to play while you read and listen to the remainder of this article.

## Scale

For the purposes of this article, we will use the scale: Sa re ga Ma dha Ni. You may recognize this as the scale of Raga Todi or pancham-varjit Varali. However, note that this article is meant to illustrate different types of Gamakas, and should not be considered as a commentary on Todi.

Scale of Raga Todi
• Sa
re
• ga
• Ma
• dha
• Ni
• SA

## Panchadasha Gamakas in Sangeet Ratnakar

Sangeet Ratnakar (refer to [1]) describes Panchadasha Gamakas or fifteen types of Gamakas. A number of them refer exclusively to vocal music which we cannot demonstrate using the PureTones tools. So, the following Gamakas should be considered out of the scope of this article: Tribhinna, Kurula, Humphita and Mudrita. The rest of the eleven Gamakas are described below.

### A note on Tempo

For the purposes of this article (and to align with the nomenclature of Sangeet Ratnakar), we use the following nomenclature for note durations or matras, with respect to a reference tempo:

• Druta is a $1 \over 2$ note
• Laghu is a whole note
• Guru is a double length note (2 matras long)
• Pluta is a triple length note (3 matras long)

### Tiripa

Tiripa is a fast movement of notes at $1 \over 4$th of Druta. It is supposed to sound like a damaru.

Tiripa Gamaka
Sa re(G)(0,15,8,0.95) , re(G)(0,15,8,0.95) ,
ga(G)(0,15,8,0.95) , ga(G)(0,15,8,0.95) ,
re(G)(0,15,8,0.95) , re(G)(0,15,8,0.95) ,

### Sphurita

Sphurita is a fast movement of notes at $1 \over 3$rd of Druta.

Sphurita Gamaka
Played at 66% speedSa re(G)(0,15,8,0.95) , re(G)(0,15,8,0.95) ,
ga(G)(0,15,8,0.95) , ga(G)(0,15,8,0.95) ,
re(G)(0,15,8,0.95) , re(G)(0,15,8,0.95) ,

### Kampita

Kampita is a medium tempo movement of a note at $1 \over 2$ of Druta. It is noted that there should be no shade of an adjacent note suggested by the Kampita gamaka.

Kampita Gamaka
Sa re(G)(0,15,8,0.95) ; re(G)(0,15,8,0.95) ;
ga(G)(0,15,8,0.95) ; ga(G)(0,15,8,0.95) ;
re(G)(0,15,8,0.95) ; re(G)(0,15,8,0.95) ;

### Lina

Lina is a medium tempo movement of notes at the speed of Druta.

Lina Gamaka
Sa re(G)(0,15,8,0.95) . re(G)(0,15,8,0.95) .
ga(G)(0,15,8,0.95) . ga(G)(0,15,8,0.95) .
re(G)(0,15,8,0.95) . re(G)(0,15,8,0.95) .

### Andolita

Andolita is a slow movement of notes at the speed of Laghu. It is not clear if the note is shaken once or it can be shaken multiple times.

Andolita Gamaka
Sa re(G)(0,15,4,0.95) ga(G)(0,15,4,0.95)
re(G)(0,15,4,0.95) re(G)(0,15,4,0.95)

### Vali

Vali gamaka employs different speeds of gamakas and also uses a vakra (out of sequence) ordering of notes.

Vali Gamaka
Sa re(G)(0,15,8,0.95) , re(G)(0,15,8,0.95) ,
Ma(G)(0,15,8,0.95) ;  Ma(G)(0,15,4,0.95) .
re(G)(0,15,8,0.95)  , dha(G)(0,15,4,0.95)
dha(G)(0,15,4,0.95) ; ga(G)(0,15,8,0.95) , re(G)(0,15,8,0.95) ,
Ma(G)(0,15,8,0.95) , dha(G)(0,15,4,0.95) .
Ni(G)(0,15,4,0.95) . dha(G)(0,15,4,0.95) . SA

### Ahata

Ahata gamaka is when you touch the succeeding note and return.

Ahata Gamaka
Sa re(G)(re,ga,4,0.95) ga(G)(ga,Ma,4,0.95)
Ma(G)(Ma,dha,4,0.95) dha(G)(dha,Ni,4,0.95)
Ma(G)(Ma,dha,4,0.95) ga(G)(ga,Ma,4,0.95)
re(G)(re,ga,4,0.95)

Pratyahata is not mentioned but it is an analogous concept but includes touching the preceding notes and returning.

### Ullasita

Ullasita gamaka is when you slide into the succeeding or preceding notes in the order of the scale.

Ullasita Gamaka
Sa re(G)(Sa,re,4,0.5) ga(G)(re,ga,4,0.5)
Ma(G)(ga,Ma,4,0.5) dha(G)(Ma,dha,4,0.5)
Ma(G)(dha,Ma,4,0.5) ga(G)(Ma,ga,4,0.5)
re(G)(ga,re,4,0.5)

### Namita

Namita gamaka is a gentle and soft slide into the succeeding or preceding note of the scale.

Namita Gamaka
Sa^ ;3 re(G)(Sa,re,4,0.5) . re^ ;3 ga(G)(re,ga,4,0.5) .
ga^ ;3 Ma(G)(ga,Ma,4,0.5) . Ma^ ;3 dha(G)(Ma,dha,4,0.5) .
dha^ ;3 Ma(G)(dha,Ma,4,0.5) . Ma^ ;3 ga(G)(Ma,ga,4,0.5) .
ga^ ;3 re(G)(ga,re,4,0.5) . Sa

### Plavita

Plavita is a very slow movement of notes at the speed of Pluta.

Plavita Gamaka
Sa 3 re(G)(0,15,4,2.95) 3 ga(G)(0,15,4,2.95) 3
re(G)(0,15,4,2.95) 3 re(G)(0,15,4,2.95) 3

### Mishra

Mishra is a combination of the different types of gamakas. Here we have combined many of the Gamakas described earlier into a musical sequence. In practice, Mishra gamaka can be a combination of different Gamakas in any order, as per the Raga and aesthetic judgement of the artist.

Mishra Gamakas
Sa re(G)(0,15,8,0.95) , re(G)(0,15,8,0.95) , ga(G)(0,15,8,0.95) , ga(G)(0,15,8,0.95) , re(G)(0,15,8,0.95) , re(G)(0,15,8,0.95) ,
Sa re(G)(0,15,8,0.95) ; re(G)(0,15,8,0.95) ; ga(G)(0,15,8,0.95) ; ga(G)(0,15,8,0.95) ; re(G)(0,15,8,0.95) ; re(G)(0,15,8,0.95) ;
Sa re(G)(0,15,8,0.95) . re(G)(0,15,8,0.95) . ga(G)(0,15,8,0.95) . ga(G)(0,15,8,0.95) . re(G)(0,15,8,0.95) . re(G)(0,15,8,0.95) .
Sa re(G)(0,15,4,0.95) ga(G)(0,15,4,0.95) re(G)(0,15,4,0.95) re(G)(0,15,4,0.95)
Sa re(G)(0,15,8,0.95) , re(G)(0,15,8,0.95) , Ma(G)(0,15,8,0.95) ;  Ma(G)(0,15,4,0.95) . re(G)(0,15,8,0.95)  , dha(G)(0,15,4,0.95)  dha(G)(0,15,4,0.95) ; ga(G)(0,15,8,0.95) , re(G)(0,15,8,0.95) , Ma(G)(0,15,8,0.95) , dha(G)(0,15,4,0.95) . Ni(G)(0,15,4,0.95) . dha(G)(0,15,4,0.95) . SA
Sa re(G)(re,ga,4,0.95) ga(G)(ga,Ma,4,0.95) Ma(G)(Ma,dha,4,0.95) dha(G)(dha,Ni,4,0.95) Ma(G)(Ma,dha,4,0.95) ga(G)(ga,Ma,4,0.95) re(G)(re,ga,4,0.95)
Sa re(G)(Sa,re,4,0.5) ga(G)(re,ga,4,0.5) Ma(G)(ga,Ma,4,0.5) dha(G)(Ma,dha,4,0.5) Ma(G)(dha,Ma,4,0.5) ga(G)(Ma,ga,4,0.5) re(G)(ga,re,4,0.5)

## Dasavidha Gamakas

While Sangeet Ratnakar acts as a reference to many treatises written after Sarang Dev's time, the music of North and South India diverged slowly but progressively into two forms which are quite distinct at an aesthetic and stylistic level. We know them, of course, as Hindustani and Carnatic traditions. In the Carnatic tradition, musicians recognise Dasavidha Gamakas or ten forms of Gamakas. Though there are some variations and differences in their descriptions by different scholars, here we present a commonly understood form of these Gamakas (refer to [2, 3 ,4]).

### Arohana

Arohana is a graceful movement of notes in ascending order.

Arohana Gamaka
Sa re(G)(re,ga,4,0.95) ga
Ma(G)(Ma,dha,4,0.95) dha Ni SA

### Avarohana

Avarohana is a graceful movement of notes in descending order.

Avarohana Gamaka
SA Ni(G)(Ni,SA,4,0.95) dha
Ma(G)(Ma,dha,4,0.95) ga re Sa

### Dhalu

Dhalu involves starting on the fundamental note Sa and producing the higher notes in ascending order while keeping the raga bhava, and again in descending order to Sa.

Dhalu Gamaka
Sa dha Sa Ma Sa ga Sa re

### Sphuritam

Although the name Sphuritam comes from Sangeet Ratnakar, it is understood differently in the Carnatic tradition. This gamaka takes its inspiration from Veena playing technique. Here we use the concept of what is called Janta swaram, or notes taken in pairs. For instance, Sa Sa, re re or Sa re, re ga and so on. The technique involves playing the second note with a slight touch of the previous fret without sounding the note at that fret position.

An example of Sa Sa re re ga ga:

Sphuritam Gamaka 1
Sa Sa(G)(Ni',Sa,20,0.5)^ , Sa
re re(G)(Sa,re,20,0.5)^ , re
ga ga(G)(Re,ga,20,0.5)^ , ga
Ma Ma(G)(ma,Ma,20,0.5)^ , Ma
dha dha(G)(Pa,dha,20,0.5)^ , dha

An example of Sa re re ga ga Ma:

Sphuritam Gamaka 2
Sa re re(G)(Sa,re,20,0.5)^ , ga ga(G)(Re,ga,20,0.5)^ , Ma
Ma(G)(ma,Ma,20,0.5)^ , dha

It is important to note that the previous fret need not be a note belonging to the raga (like in the examples above), and therefore the playing technique should be such as to not sound the previous fret note.

### Kampita

Kampita gamaka is understood in the same way as in Sangeet Ratnakar, i.e., at $1 \over 2$ of Druta without any shade of an adjacent note.

Kampita Gamaka
Sa re(G)(0,15,8,0.95) ; re(G)(0,15,8,0.95) ;
ga(G)(0,15,8,0.95) ; ga(G)(0,15,8,0.95) ;
re(G)(0,15,8,0.95) ; re(G)(0,15,8,0.95) ;

### Ahata

Ahata is again similar to the style described in Sangeet Ratnakar but with a slight twist. It is played in pairs of notes. Unlike in Sangeet Ratnakar, here a straight unmodulated note is played in between touching the succeeding note and returning.

Ahata Gamaka
Sa re(G)(re,ga,4,0.95) ga ga(G)(ga,Ma,4,0.95) Ma
Ma(G)(Ma,dha,4,0.95) dha

### Pratyahata

Pratyahata is analogous to Ahata, but is done with preceding notes in the scale, rather than succeeding notes.

Pratyahata Gamaka
SA(G)(SA,Ni,4,0.95) Ni Ni(G)(Ni,dha,4,0.95) dha dha(G)(dha,Ma,4,0.95) Ma
Ma(G)(Ma,ga,4,0.95) ga ga(G)(ga,re,4,0.95) re re(G)(re,Sa,4,0.95) Sa

### Tripuscha

Tripuscha is a fast movement of notes rendered as $1 \over 8$th notes but tripled up.

Tripuscha Gamaka
Sa re(G)(0,15,8,0.95) , re(G)(0,15,8,0.95) , re(G)(0,15,8,0.95) ,
ga(G)(0,15,8,0.95) , ga(G)(0,15,8,0.95) , ga(G)(0,15,8,0.95) ,
re(G)(0,15,8,0.95) , re(G)(0,15,8,0.95) , re(G)(0,15,8,0.95) , Sa

### Andola

Andola employs a mixture of straight unmodulated notes and deergha (long duration) notes.

Andola Gamaka
Sa re(G)(re,ga,4,0.95) ga 2 ga re(G)(re,ga,4,0.95) re 2 re Sa

### Murchhana

Murchhana gamaka is a medium fast sequence of notes in ascending order, but with a different starting note (either the succeeding note or the preceding note).

Murchhana Gamaka
Sa . re . ga . Ma . dha . Ni
Ni' . Sa . re . ga . Ma . dha
dha' . Ni' . Sa . re . ga . Ma

## Concluding Remarks

We have looked at the different classifications of Gamakas which are documented in the technical literature on Indian Classical music. In practice, these gamakas are combined in myriad ways by skilled artists. But at a technical level, these gamakas represent the rudiments of ornamentation in Indian Classical music.

As mentioned earlier, the different classes of Gamakas is an important aspect of Lakshanas, in addition to the other aspects discussed in the linked article.

Finally, it may be useful to listen to these Gamakas both with and without the drone playing to understand the subtlety of modulation and how it relates to the drone track.

## References

1. Śārṅgadeva, Premlata Sharma, and R. K. Shringy. Saṅgīta-ratnākara of Śārṅgadeva: Sanskrit Text And English Translation With Comments And Notes. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1978.
2. P. Sambamoorthy. South Indian Music. Indian Music Publishing House, 1963.
3. G. N. Subramanyam. Veena. Archives of the University of Michigan, 1989 (digitized 2010).
4. S. Balachander. Personal interpretation of scriptures on Indian Classical music.