How is a composition organized?

A composition, also called a “Bandish”, generally consists of two parts. The opening part is called “Asthayi” and the subsequent part is called “Antara”. The vocalist uses the Asthayi to establish the Raag and gradually develops the Swars in an ascending sequence. Typically, after reaching the first Swar i.e. “Sa” in the upper octave, the vocalist starts the Antara. In the Antara the vocalist moves to notes in the higher octave and traverses the entire spectrum of notes allowed by the Raag framework.

Within the Raag framework, the vocalist enjoys a lot of freedom. While maintaining the basic structure of the composition, the vocalist may develop certain musical patterns of on the fly. These patterns are not written down before, but are a result of spontaneous, extempore thinking.