GAMAKA BOX, the path-breaking invension by the eminent musician, Ramesh Vinayakam.


The present invention relates in general to music notation system and a method for teaching music.


Music is an art form that uses organized sounds of definite pitches structured over time. Its main elements are melody, time and harmony.

Melody !A U ique recognizable tune.

Time: Quantified by beats.

Harmony: Simultaneous sounding of more than one note used in an organized way.

Indian Music, the North Indian Hindustani and the South Indian Carnatic are highly evolved systems of music. They are melodic in nature. The use of harmony is next to minimum.

On the other hand, Western music is a highly evolved harmonic music system.

Both these systems use the seven note scale of "Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni Sa", out of which Sa and Pa are fixed. The other five notes have two different pitches making it twelve notes.

However, while Western music employs the fixed pitches, only as they are, Indian music additionally employs Gamakas, very unique and exclusive to itself.

What Is Gamaka?

The oscillations of notes including bending, curving or moving with graces of other notes are called Gamakas. They are the life and soul of Indian music.


A scale is made of a set of fixed-pitch notes, ascending (Arohanam) and descending (Avarohanam), performed invariably in their original positions.


Raga-s are formed when fixed-pitch scales are performed with gamakas. Thus, Indian Music is made of melodically intricate Gamaka laden Ragas. Notation Indian music has been handed over through the ages by the lip-ear route only. The disciples learnt directly from the masters. While Western Music developed side by side, notation system to record, communicate, perform and recreate music, Indian music traditionally did not believe in notation for music per se. Evolution of Notations of Gamaka's -Efforts made so far

A skeletal notational system for Indian music came into vogue about a hundred and fifty years back (before which there was practically none). However, there is no definitive notation for the most important aspect of the music -the Gamaka, thanks to the inadequacies of the seven note representation to indicate these complicated oscillations.

Aware of this lacuna the great music scholar Subbarama Dikhshathar, the grand nephew of Muthuswami Dikhshathar, one of the Trinity of Carnatic music, devised symbols to notate and represent Gamakas on paper. This system of notation was influenced by the Western Staff Notation and its symbols. In his Sangeetha Sampradhaya Pradarshini,(1904) he has a list of symbols to denote the fifteen Gamakas (Pancha-Dasa Gamakas) as classified by him. Some of the symbols were from the western music but to denote some other musical meaning.

Thereafter, many great musicians and legends like Ranga ranianuja Aiyangar, T.Viswanathan, Lalgudi Jayaraman, Karaikudi Subramaniam Dr.Mallikarjuna Sharma and others who were aware of this vacuum devised their own methods to notate gamakas using symbols to facilitate gamaka singing. However these have not found their way into practical use as they are complex in nature and difficult to adapt.

Also, the perception of the musicians and the musicologists that Gamakas are inexpressible through notation and that the same can only be assimilated through the ear contributed to the lack of to scientific approach to the problem. Therefore, Indian Notation has never represented the true music as performed.


Need for Gamaka Notations in Indian Music

Just as in the Western music tradition Indian music styles have been changing over a period of a thousands of years. To study, practice and perform different styles of different periods there has to be an advanced system of notation that represents the music along with the oral tradition. This way the styles could be preserved with less distortion. While the west has an advanced system that evolved side by side making it possible to play Bach in the Baroque style and Beethoven in the Romantic; there is no such system in India.

We do not have authentic notation of any sort, not even the basic of say Thyagaraja (written by himself) or any immediate shishya of his. The music has passed on for centuries only through the aural route with no notation to rely on. This obviously means that the music that we sing today has to be most certainly different from what was sung two hundred years ago, either distorted or enhanced - but definitely changed. It also means that the music literature that we have is only oral literature.

For any student of Indian music the Gamakas are quite complicated to imbibe. Only through rote and aural tradition has it been handed over to us. The problem of not having a notational system has confined this great music to Indian sub continent. The north Indians hardly attempt to sing the south Indian ragas, the south Indian way and vice versa. Therefore the Hindustani and carnatic systems are almost confined to north and south respectively. Without a system of proper notation there is no way to methodically codify Indian music which precludies any one to come forward to learn and play Indian music even if they are interested. And this includes the people in West.

Students in India being the product of the culture have it in their genes. However just as a language has to have a script a musical system too needs such a script without which all the problems of a language languishing without a script would befall Indian music.

Therefore Gamakas should be notated for understanding, recording, representing, reproducing performing and analyzing defining, analyzing, studying, learning, teaching, chronicling and preserving different styles of music and recording changes in and capturing the evolution and development of ragas.


Gamaka Box is designed for easy practical use from the student to the researcher, it is a pedagogic and a research tooi.

It is a framework and a template which can be enriched further as time goes by. It consists of lines denoting definite pitches and symbols that capture the movement of the Gamakas, as they are performed.

Many new symbols have been invented along with the Gamaka Box while, some of the old symbols which were very vague assumes definite and clear meaning here as it is used with the Gamaka Box.