Carnatic Vocal & Instrumental - OFAAL

The follow is the syllabus for Carnatic Vocal and Instrumental examinations from Oriental Fine Arts Academy effective from Feb 2019.

Grade 01


All the following Varisaigal should be learnt in two speeds with Thalam.

1. 12 Types of Swarasa Varisaigal

2. 6 Types of Janta Varisaigal

3. 4 Types of Mel (Upper) Stayi Varisaigal


1. Names of the Sapra Swaras.

2. Name of the Seven Talas.

Grade 02

In addition to Grade 1 syllabus, the following.


1. 2 Types of Thattu Varisaigal - (In 3 speeds)

2. 7 Types of Alangaram - (In 3 speeds )

3. 3 Types of Geetham(Sanchari) - (in 2 speeds)


1. Parts of a Talam (Laghu, Drutam, Anudrutam) and their symbols.

2. Sthayi (Octave) - Taara (Upper) Madya (Middle) Mandra(Lower) Sthayis and their notations.

3. Symbolic notation of the 7 Talas and their Jaathis (Tisra, Chatusra etc).

Grade 03

In addition to Grade1 - 2 syllabus, the following.


1. 6 x Geetham (Sanchari) - (in 2 speeds)

2. 1 x Jathiswaram

3. 1 x Swarajathi

4. 2 x Thevaram


1. Arohanam and Avarohanam for:

a. Sankarabaranam

b. Mayamalavagowla

c. Kalyani

d. Mohanam

e. Malahari

f. Suddha Saveri

2. Prakruthi, Vikruthi Swaras.

3. 12 notes in the Octave and their names and symbols.

4. Notation of time duration ( Aksharakalam )

Grade 04

In addition to Grade1 to 3 syllabus, the following.


1. 2 x Adi tala Varnam

2. 2 x Keerthanam(Adi Tala)

3.2 x Keerthanam(Rupaka Tala)

4. 2 x Thiruppugal


1. Basic idea of 72 Melakartha Ragams.

2. Janaka and Ragams.

3. The 12 Swarasthanas and their 16 names.

4. Arohanam and Avarohanam of the following Ragam:

a. Hamsadhvani

b. Kamboji

c. Anandabairavi

d. Bilahari

5. Tala Eduppu (Graham) – Samam, Atheetham, Anagatam

6. Structure of Geetham.

Grade 05

In addition to Grade1 to 4 syllabus, the following.


  1. 3 x Adi Tala Varnam

  1. 1 x Navaraga Malika Varanam

Note: The above four Varanams should be learnt in
two speeds with Thalam.

  1. 8 x Keerthanam

  1. Kalpana Swaram for 1 Roopaka Tala Kriti.

5. Sight Singing (All candidates should be able to Sing the given Swara Korvai)

Note: Students will be examined only in Mohanam, Kalyani, Sankarabarnam, Bilahari, Kamboji, Hamsadhvani, Mayamalavagowla and Suddha Saveri.


1. Types of Ragams :- Janaka and Janya . Types of Janya RAGA ( With examples)

2. Life history and works of

a. Thyagaraja Swamikal

b. Papanasam Sivam

3. Structure of Varnam, Keerthanam, and Swarajathi.

4. The Scheme of 35 Talams

Grade 06

In addition to Grade1 to 5 syllabus, the following.


1. 1 x Jampa Tala Varanam

2. 1 x Ada Tala Varnam

3. 10 x Keerthanam (Adi + Rupaka Talam)

4.1 x Chowka Kala Kriti

5. Raga Alapana and Kalpana Swaram for: a Adi Talam Keerthanam (All must be in the same ragam), also Kalpana Swaram (must be done on 2 speeds)

Note: The Jampa Tala and Ada Tala Varnams should be learnt in Two Speeds with Talam.


1. Science of the following Musical Instruments:

a. Veena

b. Violin

c. Flute

d. Miruthangam

2. Gamakas and their types.

3. Life history and works of:

a. Muthuswamy Dikshitar

b. Gopalakrishana Bharati

4. Raga Lakshanam for:

a. Aarabhi

b. Kamas

c. Karaharapriya

d. Aabogi

Grade 07

In addition to Grade1 to 6 syllabus, the following.


1. 2 x Ada TalaVarnam (in 2 speeds )

2. 15 x Keerthanam (in variety of Talams)

3. 2 x Chowka Kala Kriti

4. 1 x Pancharatna Kriti

5. 1 x Thillana

6. Raga Alapana Niraval Kalpana Swaram . One Keerthanam. All should be in the same Raga


1. Manodharma Sangeetam(Improvised music) Raga- Alapana, Niraval, Thanam, Kalpana Swaram ( in 2 speeds, Raga can be performed in both speed).

2. Life history and works of

a. Shyama Sastrigal

b. Swati Thirunnal

c. Purandara Dasar

3. Raga Lakshana for:

a. Bhairavi

b. Hindolam

c. Panthuvarali

d. Todi

e. Nattai

f. Saveri

4. Writing notation for music, showing structure of Talam, Kalam, Karvais, Sthayi, Eduppu etc.

Grade 08 - Diploma

Title - Sangeetha Kala Jothy

Candidates applying for Diploma grade should be above 14 years of age and have completed Grade 7 Practical and Theory examination on the relevant subjects, conducted by OFAAL. This will be in force from year 2007 onwards. Candidates are expected to pass at least Grade 3 standard in one of the following subjects as their subsidiary to achieve the Kala Jothy title:

a. Violin

b. Veena

c. Vocal

d. Flute

e. Bharathanatiyam

In addition to Grade1 - 7 syllabus, the following.


1. 2 x Pancharatna Kriti

2. 1 x Pada Varnam

3. 2 x Thillana

4. 1 x Patham

5. 1 x Ashtapathi or Javali

6. 1 x Ragam, Tanam, Pallavi (Pallavi should be Sung/Play in three kalas and Tistram should be included)

7. 1 x Virutham / Ragamalikai Kiriti

8. Method of teaching (Candidate should be able to demonstrate his/her ability in the Method of teaching). The candidate is expected to teach a group of students to demonstrate his/her teaching ability.


1. Brief knowledge of Pannisai

2. Basic knowledge of Western Music

3. Comparison of the following:

a. Indian Music with Western Music.

b. Carnatic Music with Hindustani Music.

4. Concert format in Carnatic Music.

5. Art of teaching and conducting a music lesson.

Grade 09 - Post Diploma

Title: Sangeetha Kala Ratnam

Candidates applying for Post Diploma Grade should have completed the OFAAL Diploma Grade and have achieved the Kala Jothy Title. They should also have completed a Sub subject at Grade 4 minimum of the OFAAL Examination.


1. 3 x Pancharatna Kriti

  1. 3 x Thillana

  1. 4 x Adi Tala Varnam (in 2 Speeds)

  1. 3 x Chowla Kala Kriti

  1. 2 x Ragamalikai

  1. Any 5 Raga Alapana (the candidates must knowat least a composition in each of the Ragas they choose)

  2. Candidates should demonstrate their knowledge in common Ragas and Talas.

  3. Candidates should be able to identify the swarasthanas of given Ragas (The Examiner may sing/play a raga and will ask the candidate to identify the swarastanas of the raga)

  4. The candidate should familiarise her/himself with the methods of writing notation to a composition. This will be done while the examiner sings or plays a composition.

The candidate must sing/play kalpanaswaras for one of the five ragas chosen from grade 3-8. They are expected to prepare and deliver this task within 30 minutes. They will be allowed to look at the prepared materials, while they sing/play if they wish.

  1. Candidate should be able to demonstrate their knowledge in composing a tune for a composition that composed in a stanza of 4 lines.

  1. Candidates are able to play/sing a given Pallavi in three speeds as well as have competent in Tisra Nadai.

  1. Ability to teach a practical lesson for 15 minutes, Candidates are expected to chose a piece from Grade 3 to Grade 4 OFAAL Syllabus. (You must prepare the lesson in advance and bring it in written form to the Examination.)

  2. Ability to organise an hour concert and should be able to explain reasons for choosing the pieces along with their ragas and talas.


Topic Suggestions for Post – Diploma Dissertations

Candidates applying for Post Diploma Grade should have completed the OFAAL Diploma Grade and have achieved the Kala Jothy Title. They should also have completed a Sub subject at Grade 4 minimum of the OFAAL Examination.

There is no written theory examination for this grade. However students are expected to submit a dissertation prior to the post diploma practical examination.

The candidates have the freedom to choose one of the following topics and write a dissertation on (Minimum) 5000 words. The dissertation should include bibliography, quotations, page reference captions and illustrations.

Candidates must submit their dissertation together with the Application Form in preparation for the VIVA part of the examination, (please use bamini font for Tamil letter presentation.)

Once the written dissertation is approved, the candidate is expected to bind the article in a presentable booklet form and submit three copies to the examination board.

The Post-Diploma candidate is expected to summarise and present to the board and audience the dissertation using PowerPoint slides emphasising the salient points of the dissertation subject. This will be an interactive question and answer session involving the examination panel and questions and the invited audience, duration 60 minutes.

Note: The dissertation must be submitted with the application form. The details of the topics given below are only a guideline.

Candidates must work with their teacher to research and explore more about the chosen topic.

Please submit the dissertation through your teacher. OFAAL Music committee will only be able to comment on the dissertation once it has approved by your teacher.

Recommended topics:

  1. Musical Instruments in Temple Rituals

  2. Musical Inscriptions and Sculptures in Temples

  3. Temples as the Seats in the Development of Carnatic Music.

  4. The Importance of Puns in the Expansion of Carnatic Music

  5. Music Portrayed in Ancient Texts

  6. Music of the Ancient Tamils from Tolkāppiyam to Silappathikaram

  7. 72 Melakarthas and their Contributions to Carnatic Music

  8. The importance of Gamakas in Raga improvisation of Carnatic Music

  9. Characteristics and Variations of Talas and their significance in Carnatic Music

  10. Evolution of Yal and its contribution to Carnatic Music

  11. The importance of Percussion instruments in a Carnatic Music Concert

  12. A comparison between the ‘Musical Trinity’ and ‘Tiruvarur Trinity’ and their contributions in shaping the present day Carnatic Music

  13. Classical Composers and Modern Classical Performers of Carnatic Music

  14. Aspects on Rendering Raga Alapana in a Carnatic Music Concert

  15. Folk songs used for various themes and their association of Ragas and Talas, within the sphere of Semi-Classical Music