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Ragalayam – Mini School of Carnatic Music

Ragalayam – Mini School of Carnatic Music was formed in August 2020.

Who are we: 

‘Ragalayam- Mini School of Carnatic Music’ was founded in August 2020 and is one of a kind in the Otago region. It is a unique initiative to encourage pupils based locally to learn an intricate and complex subgenre of classical music that originated in the Southern states of India way back in the 12th century.

Ms Padmini Parthasarathy, the vocal tutor at Ragalayam, believes in knowledge-sharing and is keen to kindle the flame of passion and admiration towards Carnatic music in her pupils. Ragalayam is open to all, irrespective of age or ethnicity.

Carnatic music is a pathway to divinity, whether one is rendering a composition or listening to it. Despite its complexity, anyone can listen to and enjoy this aesthetic form of art. The ornamentations that a musician can provide to a composition, albeit within the framework of the ‘ragam’ and’ layam’, is infinite. The variety, grandeur and succinctness of Carnatic compositions melt the hearts of people.

Carnatic music, like Yoga, is believed to have therapeutic effects. It has the potential to relieve stress and unlock latent energies in the mind and is highly effective in building positive mental discipline.

Carnatic music is essentially an ensemble of four core components- swaram, ragam, sruthi and talam- that come together to create a rasa (atmosphere) of divinity.

Swaram- Swarams are tonic solfa syllables/notations sung much like the do-re-mi-fa-so-la-ti and do of Western music. The Carnatic music language is made up of seven swaras/notes (called saptha-swaras)- Sa, Ri, Ga, Ma, Pa, Da, Ni.
Ragam- A ragam is a melodic framework that can have up to seven different swarams in various patterns.

Shruti- Shruti is the pitch/scale of rendition.
Talam- Layam/Talam is the rhythmic beat structure to which a composition is set.

There is a popular saying: Shruti Mata Laya Pita – meaning: Melody is Mother, Rhythm is Father

What Dunedin means to us:

Dunedin, the UNESCO designated City of Literature, is that lively city that connects people by way of its mesmerizing, unique landscape and immensely rich, diverse cultural ecosystem. It is remarkable to see how people from different parts of the world with different cultural backgrounds and belief systems are all welcomed equally and warmly in Dunedin. To us, Dunedin is home away from home.


Ragalayam 2020-2021