Avadhana Pallavi at a glance

The ‘pallavi’ composition in Karnataka classical music, is a touchstone for the display of  mastery in the world of music. It sets a benchmark for; the musicians – to exhibit the genius, and the effort within, for the accompanist – a challenge, for the connoisseurs – a hearty relishable delicacy, and an unimaginable phantom for the the not so versatile.
Avadhaana pallavi is a type of rendition, wherein, the faculties of the mind and the intellect focus simultaneously, thereby giving the meaning to the word Avadhaana. This genre of music shows the ultimate level of singing which is confined and controlled by the taaLa. Though avadhaana pallavi singing is popular, it is also presented in instrumental music also. The great Aasthaana vidwaan of Mysore Krishnaraja Wodeyar III, Shree VeeNe Shamanna was known for playing the veeNe in five different taaLaas using both his hands, his legs and his head . Even Shree Adibhatlu Narayanadasa, who is revered as the Andhra Harikatha Pitamaha, displayed his singing skills through this avadhaana method only.
Shree Pundariika ViThala, in his ” Nartana Nirnaya”, describes about presentations like “kouchata”, and other prahelika presentations, where avadhaana was elaborately used.
The specialty of taaLaavadhana lies in simultaneously employing taaLaas in different “naDes”, using both hands, and finally balancing the end of both the taaLaas. The mastery, beauty and impressiveness of a general pallavi singing is very much present here.
Even rare dEsi taaLaas and suLaadi taaLaas are sometimes incorporated here. Sri. Pallavi Ramalingaiah is known as the founder of this tradition and  Sri. Pallavi Chandrappa was known as the one who made it popular. Shree Mysore Nandakumar is also well-known for displaying dEsi taaLaas like Simhanandana and Prithvi Kundala on one hand and many suLaadi taaLaas of varying speed on the other hand.
ManOdharma is an added feature here and taaLaavadhana is done for not just for pallavi but for other parts of kruthi as well.
The lyrics of the pallavi are sung in various speeds of the two taaLaas simultaneously, while the eDupu and aaruDi remain different for both the taaLaas. This requires a high level of concentration from the singers, though not from the accompanying artists as they can follow just one of the two taaLaas. The singers are expected to render neraval and kalpana swaras and thus is a Herculean task for many.
The restrictions in displaying creativity, makes this type of rendition unique and supreme in the world of music.
(Source: ‘Karnataka Sangita Vahini’ by – Mahamahopadhyaya Dr. R. Sathyanarayana
Translation: Smt. Prathibha)

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