Mastering Mel Sthayi Varisai: Enhance Your Vocal and Instrumental Range
Namaskar music learners, and welcome to today’s session! In this blog post, we will delve into the fascinating world of Mel Sthayi Varisai, a fundamental lesson in Carnatic music. Mel Sthayi Varisai, also known as Upper Sthayi Varisai or Hechchu Sthayi Varisai, holds a significant place in music education. So, let’s explore this technique and discover how it can improve your vocal or instrumental range.
Firstly, let’s understand the meaning behind the terms. “Mel” refers to the higher octave, while “sthayi” denotes octave. Mel Sthayi Varisai comprises a series of sequences in the higher octave, which gradually enhance your musical abilities. These exercises are designed to elevate your pitch and enable you to reach notes beyond the Panchamum (the fifth note in the scale).
Within Mel Sthayi Varisai, there are five exercises to practice. The first exercise is the simplest, and each subsequent exercise adds a new phrase to the previous one. As we progress through these exercises, we expand our vocal or instrumental capabilities.
In this session, we will focus solely on Thara Sthayi Varisai, which involves the upper case notes or Thara Sthayi notes. To identify these notes, look for a dot placed above a swaram. Now, let’s explore the exercises.
Exercise 1: Reaching the Shadjamam The first exercise aims to reach the Shadjamam [Music].
Exercise 2: Reaching the Thara Sthayi Rishabam The second exercise focuses on reaching the Thara Sthayi Rishabam [Music].
Exercise 3: Reaching the Thara Sthayi Gandharam In the third exercise, we aim to reach the Thara Sthayi Gandharam [Music].
Exercise 4: Reaching the Thara Sthayi Madhyamam The fourth exercise guides us to reach the Thara Sthayi Madhyamam [Music].
Exercise 5: Reaching the Panchamam Finally, in the fifth exercise, we strive to reach the Panchamam [Music]. It is important to note that our range is limited to Panchamam in Thara Sthayi as well as Mantra Sthayi.
Like any basic lesson, there are some do’s and don’ts to be followed during these exercises. Shuddhi, or purity of sound, is of utmost importance in Mel Sthayi Varisai. As we progress to Gandharam, Madhyamam, and Panchamam in the third, fourth, and fifth exercises, we must avoid straining or shouting. Instead, we should produce a soothing and gentle voice. Aim to touch each note lightly without exerting pressure from the stomach or lower throat.
Another crucial factor to consider is shruti, the pitch reference. If your shruti is set at six and a half or six, it is recommended to practice at least one pitch below, which is five and a half or five, depending on your vocal capabilities. Straining your voice or shouting is not advised; instead, focus on singing softly. As you explore the upper sthayi varisai, ensure your voice remains calm and clear.
In my case, my shruti is set at seven, but I prefer to practice at six or five and a half. This adjustment allows me to explore the exercises at different speeds, with talam (rhythm), aakaram (lyrics), and mel sthayi varisaigal (upper octave exercises).
So, music learners, embrace the art of Mel Sthayi Varisai and witness the expansion of your vocal or instrumental range. Remember the do’s and don’ts, maintain shuddhi, and adjust your shruti accordingly. Happy practicing!
Note: It’s always recommended to seek guidance from a qualified music teacher for personalized instruction and feedback.