Rhythm for Songs

Playing mridangam for songs along with 'thani avarthana' is the most desired goal of many mridangam aspirants.. In this context, "Song" means all classical songs that includes, Varnam, Kritis etc... You have reached this page, which means you must have learnt mridangam to some extent of basics and also to play for a Thani Avarthanam like Na Thim Dhin Na.etc... You must have learned to play all the three motions rhythms like Slow motion, Medium motion and Fast motion lessons that has been taught by your Guru.
Now you wonder how to play for songs?
Playing for songs involves little creative skills rather than just memorizing the lessons. In other words, it requires one to have application skill of what has already been taught to you. But don't think it is difficult. It will be so easy if know how to apply those 3 levels of motions mentioned above practically, so that it matches the rhythm required for a song. You got the point? How do I know what rhythm has to be played for a song ? This is the next question. All these things will be explained in detail below now...
1.First thing must be to classify the "nadai" or "ghathi" of a song which can be Chatusram, Thisram, Misram, Kandam and Sankeernam. If a song rhythm matches Chatusram, then the Nadai "Thakadhimi" based rhythm has to be played.
2.Determine what rhythm has to be played. To understant what rhythm has to be played, you must observe the song for atleast 'one avarthana' and capture the required background music that will be best suitable. The background rhythmic score of many Cinema songs involves the same technique,that different permutation and combination of rhythmic patterns are played. Similarly in Classical Music, one must judge and determine the best rhythm in mind as a background rhythm that will be suitable for a kriti/song.
3.Till you learn to determine all possible rhythms for a song/kriti, there is already available one rhythm for you which you can eaily learn to implement. There is one beautiful combination of chatusram that can be easily played by all mridangam players for any song is definitely the right answer.
What is that rhythmic combination that can be easily played for any song? What is it called?
The required rhythm combination is called "Sarva Lagu" which is considered to be the best essential one a mridangam player has to know. The sarva lagu can be used as a foundation that can lead one to play advanced rhythm from it. In this term "Sarva Lagu", the "Sarva" means universal. "Lagu" in this context means, simply rhythm within particular count of Tala (that includes Akshara and Mathra). Hence "Sarva Lagu" gives the meaning of "UNIVERSAL RHYTHM". Here universal rhythm means the rhythm that can be universally applied to all songs. So, when you know to play "Sarva Lagu", you can play for any songs. Sarva lagu for each Nadai or ghathi has to be learnt. From Chatusram to Sankeeranam you must know to play Sarva lagu. For the purpose of this explanation, I think most of you would only require Chatusra Nadai Sarva lagu.
What is the "Sarva Lagu" in chatusra Nadai? The fast motion lesson "thangutha thinatha thina" is the sarva lagu. It consumes Two Aksharas if you play one time. This is the rhythm. The sarva lagu mentioned here can also be played as "Thangu thathimi thathimi" or "Tha kita thina tha thina". It has to be played from "samam" and repeat the same rhythm till the pallavai is over when you have to play "theermanam". It is a musical pause where a short "Aruthi" for half avarthana can be played, like, 'thaka dina tham' (repeated three times). Now the singer will render Anupallavai. Here also you play same "sarva lagu" starting from "samama". Again at the end of Anupallavai, theermanam or pause will be there, where you play the same Aruthi. Now play for Charanam with the same sarva lagu and at the end of it , for the theermanam you play the same aruthi". Thats it. You have played for the song and you can implement this technique for any song in chatusram.
After experience, this "sarva lagu" will transform into further different permutations and combinations of rhythmic patterns to play like professionals slowly as you grow by constant practice.
Audio demonstration below. It will play sarva lagu "thangu thathimi thathimi" for 1 Avarthana (8 Aksharas)
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