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Niraval also known as Neraval or Sahitya Vinyasa is considered to be one of the important features in the extempore improvisation aspect (Manodharma Sangita) of Carnatic music.
Niraval is essentially the extempore construction, elaboration and improvisation of swaras for a particular line in the kriti, within the framework of a talam which brings out the Raga bhava effectively. It is usually just one line from the charanam part of the kriti and has to sit within the framework of a tala and highlight every rasa and bhava singularly.
For example : 4-beat niravals for Shyama Sastri's "sarojadala netri himagiri putri" set to Adi talam (double) in the Raga Shankarabharanam can be constructed for the line "sama gana vinodhini guna" (like this : gpmgrs | s,ndpmgrs) in the charanam of the song.
Repetition of the line in different ways within the entire range of the Raga phrases brings out the musician's imagination.
Palghat K. V. Narayanaswamy was known and is remembered today as a master of niraval singing.
Ideally, the line taken up for neraval must have a pleasant meaning, and must be descriptive. It should be something that the singer would want to sing over and over again. For example: a line which translates "The killer of Ravana, the monster," would not be an apt choice for neraval as it does not have a pleasant meaning.
Examples of Krithis containing lines best suited for neraval:
- Meenakshi Me mudam in Poorvikalyani at "Madhurapuri Nilaye Manivalaye",
- O Rangasayee in Kambhoji at "Bhuloka Vaikuntam ithiyani",
- Saroja Dhala Netri in Sankarabharanam at "Sama Gana Vinodhini gunadhama Shyamakrishnanuthe",
- Nidhichaala Sukhama in Kalyani (raga) at "Mamathabandhanayutha Narasthuthi Sukhama?" or "Sumathi Thyagaraja Keerthana Sukhama?"
- Ethavunnara in Kalyani at "Seethagowri Vaageeshwariyanu",
- Biranavara in Kalyani at "Shyamakrishna Sodhari Gowri Parameshwari Girija",
- Sri Venkateshwara in Thodi at "Maarajanakam Madhavanamakam",
- Shambho Mahadeva in Kamavardhini at "Shambho Mahadeva Sharanagathajana rakshaka",
- Palinchu Kamakshi in Madhyamavati at "Kanthamagu Peru Pondhithivi Kaarunyamurthivai jagamu",
- Balagopala in Bhairavi at "Neela neeradha shareera dheerathara",
- Pakkala Nilabadi in Kharaharapriya at " Tanuvurce vandana mona ninchuchu nara"
- Chakkani Raja in Karaharapriya at "Kantiki Sundarataramagu Rupamemu",
- Rama Rama Gunaseema in Simhendramadhyamam at "Munimaanasa dhama Mrughamatha Sulalama",
- Ninne Nammithi in Simhendramadhyamam at "Pannagendhra Sayana Pannagari Vahana",
- Entara Nithana in Harikambhoji at "Sheshudu Shivuniki Bushudu Lakshmana",
- Ksheenamai Thiruga in Mukhari at "Etijesina Jagannathudu Shiramuna"
- Dasarathe Nee Runamu in Thodi at "Bhakti leni kavi"
- "Saasaksha" in Pantuvarali at "Baamini samudhya shya mohana Padbanamba kamaladara nivara"