Venkata Kavi was adept with the rhythmic aspects of music and deeply aware of the concepts that it seemed like child's play to him and his passion for dance can also be observed. He has touched the very horizons of rhythm and has many firsts to his credit. A study of the following aspects gives us a clear idea about this.
Use of complex talas: While there are several questions raised many a time about the authenticity of his compositions and whether some other person has tuned his works, a very basic point is often obviously ignored when finding answers to these preposterous questions.
None other than the composer himself can visualize using complex talas such as Sankeerna Mathyam or Khanda Dhruvam for a composition.
Even if somebody is trying to tune another person's lyrics, they will first think of using the four basic talas like Adi, Roopakam, Mishra Chapu etc and only when all those options are exhausted, they start considering other tala possibilities. Therefore, thinking of talas such as Sankeerna Mathyam and others are obviously far too outstretched.
Sectioning within a tala: Partitioning within a tala can be done in many ways and both the trinity and Venkata Kavi have incorporated these in many compositions.
Partitioning a tala according to the parts of a tala instead of dividing it into two exact halves, can only be done by exemplary vaggeyakaras. Venkata Kavi has partitioned the 17-unit tala, Khanda Dhruvam, as 5+2+5+5 in his 5th navaavarana krti, Neela lohita (Balahamsa). A similar instance can be seen in Tyagaraja's Dachukovalena (Todi) in Mishra Jhampa and Shyama Shastri's Sari Evaramma (Bhairavi).
Partitioning a tala into equal sections has been used in the fourth navaavaranam, Yoga yogeshvari (Anandabhairavi) where Khanda Triputa, the 9-unit tala, has been split into four equal parts of 2.25 units each.
Change of gait (gati bhedam): Most composers are said to have composed maximum pieces in chaturashra gati and very few krtis have been composed in Tishra gati such as Biraana brova ide (Kalyani) and Parvati ninu ne (Kalagada). But Venkata Kavi has also used khanda gati in his compositions and indulged in gati changes in several compositions. This can be credited to him as this feature has not been tried much by composers before or after his period.
Some pieces where gati change has been used are:
Neerada sama – Jayantashree – he has used Tishram and Khandam
Natavara tarunee – Kannadagowla – Tishram and Khandam
Svaagatam krshna – Mohanam – Tishram and Chaturashram
Vitasama vara – Vasanta – Tishram, Chaturashram and Khandam
Mahashaya hrdaya – Abhogi – Chaturashram and Khandam
Shankari – Madhyamavati – Chaturasham and tishram (1st and 2nd speed)
Kalai change: Kalai change seems to be an innovation that can be credited to Venkata Kavi's great mind only. No other composer seems to have used this concept before or after him. In the 6th navaavaranam, Sadaanandamayi, he chose a complex 20-unit tala – Sankeerna Mathya, and has composed in 2 kalais (8 notes per beat) for the 1st 2 sections (pallavi and anupallavi) and the final section, he shifts to 1 kalai (4 notes per beat).
Take off and landing points: Venkata Kavi has used different landing points – ateeta and anaahata (before the beat and after the beat) in his compositions.
Landing before the beat – In the Saptaratnas, Baalasarasamurali (Keeravani) and Sundara nanda kumaara (Madhyamavati), the charanas start on beat and end before the beat.
Landing after the beat – In Padmaavati ramanam, the madhyamakala section starts on beat and finishes after beat.
Use of yati patterns: Yatis are musical patterns and are of 6 types – sama, vishama, gopuchha, srotovaha, mrdanga and damaru.
Bhajanaamrta (Nattai) – pallavi madhyamakalam – sama yati
vraja sundari jana pada pankaja sama
anukampita hrdi smara sambhava nija
Mummada vezha (Nattai) - Anupallavi - srotovaha yati
Jataadhara shankara (Todi) – first charanam - Gopuchcha yati
M P D P M G R S , - D P M G R S , - P M G R S , - M G R S ,
Vishama yati (random) and mrdanga yati (combination of ascending and descending patterns) have also been used by the composer.
References to technical terms related to rhythm: The composer has made numerous references to rhythmic instruments and talas in his works.
Alankaara gopikai (Athana) – mentions seven basic talas
Jataadhara Shankara (Todi) and Pranavaakaram (Arabhi) – mentions percussion instruments such as mrdangam, panava, aanaka, dundubhi, dhakka and dindima
Passion for dance: Venkata Kavi's passion and fondness for dance is evident in many compositions. This could also be attributed to Bhagavata mela's influence on him.
Visualization: His visualization of dancing Krshna or Vinayaka are exemplary and the lyrics of such songs are lilting and enables us to envision what the composer has conveyed.
Use of jatis: Very few Carnatic composers have used jatis in their compositions and even those has been very sporadic. But Venkata Kavi's use of jatis seems unparalleled.
Direct references: There are several references to dance in his works and a very well known example is Yaar enna shonnalum in Manirangu
yaar enna shonnalum anjaade nenjame
ayyan karunaiyai paadu – raga
aalaapanamudan paadu – mudindaal
adavodum jatiyodum aadum