KrithiBook is an essential companion app for all Carnatic Music connoiseurs! It is a handy quick reference to more than 3000 songs (krithis) featuring most of the major Carnatic Music composers. For each song, the title, the raga (with mēḷaārōhaṇaavarōhaṇa), the tala and the composer is provided. All informaton is cross-referenced in multiple ways resulting in a simple, yet powerful storehouse of knowledge!

KrithiBook is bound to come to handy to many of us during a carnatic music concert to look up information about songs being rendered. However, even at other times, it is an invaluable knowledge-base on carnatic music for finding answers to many questions such as:

  • Which of the composers composed in a certain raga – say ābhōgi?
  • How many songs did tyāgarāja compose in a raga, e.g. pantuvarāḷi? What are they?
  • What is the ārohaṇa and avarōhaṇa of a raga – say andhāḷi?
  • Who composed the varnam in nārāyaṇagauḷa?
  • What songs are part of the nīlōtpalāmbā kṙtīs composed by dīkṣitar?
  • What songs are part of the nauka caritramu opera composed by tyāgarāja?

The song title, names of ragas, talas and composers are shown using roman diacritics, and thus conveying accurate pronunciation detail. The song detail page also shows the information in Tamil (iPhone & Android), and Devanagiri (at present only in the iPhone version) scripts.

KrithiBook also features a “fuzzy” search that is extremely flexible and can find a song even if you provide only an approximation of its spelling. For example, sItamma maayamma, seetamma mayamma, seethamma mayamma will all locate the song sītamma māyamma by tyāgarāja.

All these features make KrithiBook indispensable to carnatic music rasikās with smartphones all over the world! Expand your knowledge on composers, krithis and ragas! Impress your friends!

KrithiBook is available now at both the iPhone App Store as well as the Android Market.

Today is a great day. I finally followed through with something useful 🙂 !!

My first iPhone App  Xanagram is available on the Apple App Store for $1.99. It is a Crossword Jumble game, which I hope that many of you would find exciting and engaging.

An exciting word game!

The game works as follows: You are presented with a puzzle containing two scrambled words. You solve the puzzle by unscrambling the words and the game presents the next puzzle. Puzzles get harder (longer words) or easier depending on how you do. You can reveal the meaning or select letters to help you solve the puzzle.

Please check out http://arunk.freepgs.com/xanagram for more information or click here to take you to the App Store. Let me know if you like it!

Update:  There is now a free version Xanagram Lite for those that want to give the game a spin before deciding whether to spend the $1.99 for the full version. The Lite version uses a smaller dictionary.

A few weeks ago I had posted how much I was impressed by Bebot, an iPhone app, which gives you so much more for just $2 (albeit running on a $300 device ;-)). I had mentioned that the fact that the entire touch screen is one “continuos” playing surface very much like the Haaken continuum makes it a potential candidate for producing carnatic music gamakas in a way that could surpass most keyboards (even with portamento control).

At that time I had admitted that my initial attempts at producing carnatic music on it were (expectedly) unsuccessful. After all playing any music on a new instrument is a challenge – and that too carnatic music, which I would argue is the ultimate challenge for the player and a continuum like instrument. On top of that, with the iPhone you have an extremely limited playing surface in terms of real estate – a problem that should be largely alleviated by the iPad.

A week or so after that post, I had labored long enough to be able to produce something that could be called to resemble carnatic music ;-), and that is the subject of this entry.. Of course in the spirit of true experimentation, I have mixed a “different background” than the standard tampura drone of Carnatic Music. Hope you like it, and hope you can guess the raga in spite of any mistake(s) (there is certainly one suspicious phrase)

Note: There was post editing and post processing (i.e. to add effects etc. some of which also to change the timbre slightly) was done with GarageBand.

I actually like the way the background brings new hues into the melody – hues that are completely unexpected for this raga but yet strangely compatible. This was a revelation to me, in spite of the fact that this concept is not new at all (e.g. pretty much standard fare in Indian Films , and also is Anil Srinivasan does). By revelation I mean that I did not at all foresee the end result when I was adding the background music to a melody that until then the familiar, standard carnatic (barring flaws ;-)) feel.

The addition of background to me makes the whole piece become multi-layered – it certainly enhances the melody.

Oh by the way, here is a video demo by A.R. Rahman playing a semi-classical piece on the Haken Continuum on the Haken Website:

Playing the Bebot is sort of like that – except you have a very small playing surface 🙂

So someone suggested this iPhone app called Bebot, a $2 bucks synthesizer, which has the same “potential” as the $3000-$5000 Haken continuum!  The thing which intrigued me (and similar carnatic music fans) is that it can generate pitches not boxed in set western keys, but all the intervening pitches, and thus making it potentially amenable to the gamakas of carnatic music. What intrigued me more was that it was only two bucks 🙂 ! It certainly is the best iPhone app I have .

Long story short – no, i could not produce Carnatic music in it – it probably requires very very expert hands, and possibly a larger screen in order to achieve the required fine control  (yes, the poorly named iPad would be one).  It is technically possible to do some simple tunes with gamakas but requires a lot of perseverance and effort.  But it can do, is let you create some really cool and interesting music just goofing around, and can keep young and old occupied.  Mucho, mucho impressive for just 2 freaking bucks!

The touch interface of iPhone (and my iPod Touch) is superbly suited for this kind of a musical instrument.  You move your finger left to right and pitch increases, you move up and down and the timbre changes and thus by just making arbitrary patterns one can create very interesting music.  You can add echo, overdrive effects to. And, I love the fact that you could set up various scales, and of course within an hour I had set up many of the Carnatic based scales – and when played with classic western sounds, one can produce very spacey kind of music.

Here is a sample I generated which uses 5 scales of Carnatic ragas. I have termed it a “roguamalika” – yes rogue form of ragas strewn together 😉 !

Obviously it sounds wild and haphazard, as there was really not much thought into producing it, and is a result of mostly haphazard patterns with my finger on the touch screen!!!! Can you guess the 5 ragas? Select the text below for the answer:

  1. Amrtavarshini (S G3 M2 P N3 S or   C E F# G B ),
  2. mOhanam ( S R2 G P D2 S or   the major pentatonic)
  3. HamsanAdam ( S R2 M2 P N3 S or  C D F# G B )
  4. AbhOgi  ( S R2 G2 M1 D2 S or  C D Eb F A )
  5. (old) udayacandrikA or SrOTaswani ( S G2 M1 P N3 S or C Eb F G B )