Lesson 2 – Janta Varisai or Jantai Varisai (Janta Swaralu)

Janta varisai (Janta Swaralu in Telugu) is an exercise in Carnatic music typically used as an introductory piece. Its simple melody and steady beat make it ideal for beginners. This varisai typically uses only the pentatonic scale, making it one of the most basic Carnatic music styles. However, despite its simplicity, this varisai can be pretty beautiful and experienced Carnatic musicians often used this. In addition to being used as an introduction to Carnatic music, it is also commonly performed as a standalone piece. It is usually accompanied by a more complex piece of Carnatic music. As a result, Janta varisai notes serves as a foundation for Carnatic music and a beautiful piece in its own right.

It is often used for morning ragamalikas and has a lovely mellow sound. In this article, we will discuss the history and development of Janta Varisai and how to practice this raga.

What is Janta Varisai ? 

Janta varisai in Carnatic music refers to the use of gamakas, ornaments, and other complex phrases within a raga. It is one of the most critical aspects of Indian carnatic classical music.

The word Janta means ‘group’ or ‘assembly,’ and varisai means’ variation’ – so this varisai means ‘group variations.’ This varisai adds extra complexity and decorative detail to a raga in Carnatic music. This makes it more exciting and expressive. 

In this varisai, the spuritham is an essential element. This introductory piece is often in a different genre from the main body of the concert and provides an opportunity for the artist to showcase their range and skills. There are many classic examples of this varisai pieces, each with its unique history and traditions.

Raga Kambhoji is a very popular raga in Janta varisai. It is often used for morning ragamalikas and has a lovely mellow sound.

It is essential in Carnatic music because it helps create the raga or melodic structure of a composition. This varisai can be used for both vocal and instrumental music. 

There are different Janta varisai, depending on which notes are used. The most common is the sampoorna Janta, which uses all seven notes. Others include the shadava Janta, which uses six notes, and the oudava Janta, which uses five notes.

Madhyama kala janta varisai, dheerasha kala janta varisai and tara sthana janta varisai are the other most popular ones. Each of these has its unique benefits that can help in the overall development of a musician.

What is the importance of Janta Varisai?

Janta varisai is a vital aspect in Carnatic music.

  • 1. It helps in the development of musical skills and also aids in memory retention.
  • 2. It improves concentration levels and listening skills.
  • 3. It helps in the overall development of the Carnatic music student.
  • 4. It helps establish the tonic note or starting note of the composition.
  • 5. It also helps to establish the mode, or scale, of the composition.

History

Janta Varisai-Carnatic music dates all the way back to ancient times. This varisai originates in Sangam literature. This varisai is one of the primary melodic phrases in Carnatic music. It consists of seven notes arranged in a particular order. The term originates in South Indian folk music.

The Seven Notes of this varisai are thought to have been inspired by the folk songs of the Karnatic region. The phrase was first codified by the great Carnatic composer Purandaradasa (1480-1564), credited with pioneering folk tunes in Carnatic music.

It has become one of the essential melodic phrases in the genre. This varisai is a vital part of Carnatic music and is an essential phrase for any aspiring musician to learn.

So there you have it – a brief history of the Janta varisai in Carnatic music.

How to practice Janta Varisai notes?

Janta Varisai is one of the basic exercises in Carnatic music lessons. It forms the foundation for all the other exercises and helps in developing a good sense of pitch and rhythm. Janta varisai means ‘lower notes’ in Sanskrit. As the name suggests, Janta varisai focuses on singing the lower notes of the scale. This varisai is usually practiced in the madhyamavati raga, which has a soothing effect. This is also sometimes practiced in other popular ragas such as kharaharapriya, shankarabaranam, and Ramanathapuram.

There are various ways to practice Janta Varisai.

  • One way is to use a shruti box or a drone to help you sing in the correct pitch.
  • You can also start by singing this varisai in a lower octave and gradually moving up to the higher octaves.
  • The best way to practice this varisai is to approach a Carnatic music teacher who can guide you through the exercise and help you sing in the correct pitch.
  • Another way to practice this varisai is to sing along with recording the Janta varisai phrases. It helps you keep in tune with the right pitch.
  • You can also find this varisai notation online, which can help you understand the structure of the Janta varisai phrases.
  • Practicing this varisai with a friend or in a group can also be helpful as you can get feedback on your singing. Keep practicing Janta varisai, and soon you will be able to sing it fluently!

So go ahead and start practicing Janta varisai today! It will help you in your journey to becoming a Carnatic music expert

Benefits of practising Janta Varisai

Practicing Janta varisai is an excellent way to improve your Carnatic music skills. It will help you develop a good sense of pitch and rhythm.

  • 1. Improved control of breath and voice
  • 2. Better understanding of raga
  • 3. Develops a sense of rhythm
  • 4. Helps to sing fast passages with clarity and precision
  • 5. This varisai is the foundation for all other Carnatic music exercises.

So go ahead and start practicing Janta Varisai today to improve your Carnatic music skills! You will see a difference in your singing.

Janta or Jantai means two notes and they come as pairs. Therefore the notes are repeated twice. Janta Varisai is also sometimes referred to as Janta Varisai or Jhanta Varisai is a logical extension of Sarali varisai. The notes that are sung once in Sarali Varisai are repeated twice.

In Janta Varisai, a swara will be repeated two times, wherein the second swara will be stressed. This enables the student to sing or play an instrument, the same swara twice on the same place, with perfect swarasthana.

Janta Swaralu or Jandai Varisaigal

Janta varisai is referred to as Janta Swaralu in Telugu. Janta Varisai notes are also tuned to the raga Mayamalavagowla and set to Aditala. Janta varisais are relatively little more advanced than Sarali varisais.

Jandai Varisaigal’s notes has to be practiced in 3 speeds

  • First speed – Two notes per beat.
  • Second speed – Four notes per beat.
  • Third speed – Eight notes per beat.
Jantai Varisaigal
1. SS RR GG MM | PP DD | NN ṠṠ ||

ṠṠ NN DD PP | MM GG | RR SS ||












2. SS RR GG MM | MM GG | MM PP ||

GG MM PP DD | MM PP | DD NN ||

PP DD NN ṠṠ | ṠṠ NN | DD PP ||

NN DD PP MM | DD PP | MM GG ||

PP MM GG RR | MM GG | RR SS ||












3. SS R-S SR SR | SS RR | GG MM ||

RR G-R RG RG | RR GG | MM PP ||

GG M-G GM GM | GG MM | PP DD ||

MM P-M MP MP | MM PP | DD NN ||

PP D-P PD PD | PP DD | NN ṠṠ ||

ṠṠ N-Ṡ ṠN ṠN | ṠṠ NN | DD PP ||

NN D-N ND ND | NN DD | PP MM ||

DD P-D DP DP | DD PP | MM GG ||

PP M-P PM PM | PP MM | GG RR ||

MM G-M MG MG | MM GG | RR SS ||












4. SS RR G-S RG | SS RR | GG MM ||

RR GG M-R GM | RR GG | MM PP ||

GG MM P-G MP | GG MM | PP DD ||

MM PP D-M PD | MM PP | DD NN ||

PP DD N-P DN | PP DD | NN ṠṠ ||

ṠṠ NN D-Ṡ ND | ṠṠ NN | DD PP ||

NN DD P-N DP | NN DD | PP MM ||

DD PP M-D PM | DD PP | MM GG ||

PP MM G-P MG | PP MM | GG RR ||

MM GG R-M GR | MM GG | RR SS ||












5. SS RR GG RR | SS RR | GG MM ||

RR GG MM GG | RR GG | MM PP ||

GG MM PP MM | GG MM | PP DD ||

MM PP DD PP | MM PP | DD NN ||

PP DD NN DD | PP DD | NN ṠṠ ||

ṠṠ NN DD NN | ṠṠ NN | DD PP ||

NN DD PP DD | NN DD | PP MM ||

DD PP MM PP | DD PP | MM GG ||

PP MM GG MM | PP MM | GG RR ||

MM GG RR GG | MM GG | RR SS ||












6. SS ,-R R, GG | SS RR | GG MM ||

RR ,-G G, MM | RR GG | MM PP ||

GG ,-M M, PP | GG MM | PP DD ||

MM ,-P P, DD | MM PP | DD NN ||

PP ,-D D, NN | PP DD | NN ṠṠ ||

ṠṠ ,-N N, DD | ṠṠ NN | DD PP ||

NN ,-D D, PP | NN DD | PP MM ||

DD ,-P P, MM | DD PP | MM GG ||

PP ,-M M, GG | PP MM | GG RR ||

MM ,-G G, RR | MM GG | RR SS ||












7. S, S-R ,R GG | SS RR | GG MM ||

R, R-G ,G MM | RR GG | MM PP ||

G, G-M ,M PP | GG MM | PP DD ||

M, M-P ,P DD | MM PP | DD NN ||

P, P-D ,D NN | PP DD | NN ṠṠ ||

Ṡ, Ṡ-N ,N DD | ṠṠ NN | DD PP ||

N, N-D ,D PP | NN DD | PP MM ||

D, D-P ,P MM | DD PP | MM GG ||

P, P-M ,M GG | PP MM | GG RR ||

M, M-G ,G RR | MM GG | RR SS ||












8. SS S-R RR GG | SS RR | GG MM ||

RR R-G GG MM | RR GG | MM PP ||

GG G-M MM PP | GG MM | PP DD ||

MM M-P PP DD | MM PP | DD NN ||

PP P-D DD NN | PP DD | NN ṠṠ ||

ṠṠ Ṡ-N NN DD | ṠṠ NN | DD PP ||

NN N-D DD PP | NN DD | PP MM ||

DD D-P PP MM | DD PP | MM GG ||

PP P-M MM GG | PP MM | GG RR ||

MM M-G GG RR | MM GG | RR SS ||












9. SS MM GG RR | SS RR | GG MM ||

RR PP MM GG | RR GG | MM PP ||

GG DD PP MM | GG MM | PP DD ||

MM NN DD PP | MM PP | DD NN ||

PP ṠṠ NN DD | PP DD | NN ṠṠ ||

ṠṠ PP DD NN | ṠṠ NN | DD PP ||

NN MM PP DD | NN DD | PP MM ||

DD GG MM PP | DD PP | MM GG ||

PP RR GG MM | PP MM | GG RR ||

MM SS RR GG | MM GG | RR SS ||

Mastering Janta varisai enables a student to build strong fundamentals which will enable them to use them in gamakas like sphurita, tiripa, ahata etc. in later stages. Once the student has learnt Janta varisai they can move to next set of exercises – Dhattu Varisai or Dhattu Varisaigal. You can explore Dhattu varisai.

Famous musicians who have popularized Janta Varisai

Many renowned Carnatic musicians have popularized Janta varisai in their music. Some famous names include M S Subbulakshmi, T N Krishnan, M L Vasanthakumari, Lalgudi Jayaraman, and D. K. Pattammal. These artists have brought this varisai to the mainstream and helped to establish it as a unique and essential part of Carnatic music.

This varisai is a technique that involves the use of four notes (sa, re, ga, ma) to render a phrase or motif. This technique is an integral part of Carnatic music and helps to create a beautiful, flowing sound.

These musicians have all helped popularize this Varisai and make it more widely known. This Varisai is an excellent exercise for Carnatic music students, and we hope that more people will start practicing it!

Carnatic lessons for beginners

Click on the following blogs to explore more Carnatic lessons:

Sarali Varisai

Dhattu Varisaigal

Upper Stayi Varisaigal

Conclusion

Janta Varisai is an essential aspect of Carnatic music. It has a long and exciting history that has helped make Carnatic music famous worldwide. Anyone who wants to learn this form of music should take the time to practice it regularly. With its continued popularity, there is no doubt that this form of Carnatic music will continue to thrive for many years to come. If you want to learn more about Janta Varisai or Carnatic music in general, please approach our famous musicians in the field. They would be more than happy to help you out!

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