Definition And Parts Of Alapana In English

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Definition And Parts Of Alapana In English


  • In Carnatic classical music, alapana is a form of manodharmam, or improvisation, that introduces and develops a raag (musical scale).
  • It communicates the permitted notes and phrases of the raag, which sets the mood for the composition to come.
  • As a word that is Sanskrit in the language, alapana means “to speak, address, discourse, communicate”.
  • This is the first part of the raagm tanam pallavi, which showcases the Carnatic musician’s ability to understand a raag and improvise a musical set.


  • The flavor of the raag is underlined in the alapana by presenting the permitted notes of the raag in structures and phrases unique to the raag.
  • The alpana is usually preceded by a song sung in the same raag. It demonstrates proper knowledge of a raag by highlighting common phrases of a raag.
  • The alapana is presented in different tempos with a gradual increase in speed. Similarly, the complexity of the pattern continuously increases as the alapana progresses.
  • Alapana, also known as raagm, is the interpretation of a raag or swara. It is a slow improvisation without any rhythm, where the melody serves as the basis for the ornamentation.
  • In performing alapana, the performer treats each raag as an object that has a beginning and an end and is somehow a sequence of thoughts.
  • Raag Alapana is divided into three parts: Akshipathika, Raagvardhini and Magarini.

Three Parts Of Raag Alapana


  • In Carnatic music, Akshipathika is the first part or introductory part of the alapana. It gives an idea about the raag (musical genre) in which the song is going to be sung.
  • It usually starts on a low note in the scale but the performer is then allowed to start from where they want in the scale and at any speed.
  • We must remember that the idea of ​​raag alapana is to allow the musician to creatively express himself and the raag without sticking to a particular scaffold as it should be in a song.
  • Thus, there is no particular order or way in which it should be done.


  • Raagvardhini is a major part of raag alapana. The performer elaborates the melody step by step, stopping at each major swar or swar.


  • Magrini is the concluding section of Alapana. The artist sings rapid passages in the full range of the raag.