- for the village in Oman see Tanam, Oman
It consists of improvising a particular raga with repetition of syllables like aa, nam, tham, taa, na, thom, tha, nom etc. Use of rhythmic pulse has an important place in taanam exposition, and the singer is sometimes joined by the mridangam artist, since this is said to enhance the effect of the performance. The tradition of mridangam artist accompanying during tanam is usually credited to the custom of Kerala based carnatic musicians.
Tanam is the second part of a Raagam Taanam Pallavi, and comes immediately after the raga is sung but before the pallavi is about to begin. Among these three modes, tanam is rarely sung very elaborately when compared to raga and pallavi, the reason usually cited for this being that tanam singing requires a lot of physical stamina, sound knowledge of the fundamentals of classical music, good practice and experience.
Tanam singing is regarded as a dying art today with musicians not having the patience or the aptitude to take up such scholarly rigorous pursuits.