Bhava enables the transmission of experience of thoughts and emotions – Narayana Vishwanath

CHENNAI: We are aware that the ultimate aim of every composer and musician is to achieve the coalescence, the essential factors of classical music namely bhava, raga and tala. We know bhava literally means, expression, the expression of existence. In a composition, bhava encompasses the aspects rasa, raga and laya and for a musical composition to be meaningful and beautiful, it should be rich in bhava. In short, bhava is that which enables the transmission of experience of thoughts and emotions from the composer to the musician and from the musician to the listeners. We understand that bhava has to be experienced by every individual, in a personal and subjective manner and devotion is the pre-dominating aspect depicted in a musical composition. I am sure it would be of immense value to study the aspects of bhava, expressed by the musical trinity Thyagaraja, Dikshitar and Syama Sastri, who were contemporaries in the 18th century. […]

Source: “Efficacy of Bhava — An Evaluation” by Narayana Vishwanath, The New Indian Express (21st September 2015) >>

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Indian music studied from a social and intercultural perspective

Ethnomusicology can be considered as the holistic and cultural study of music existing in various folk, tribal and other ethnic societies.

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Ethnomusicology can be considered as the holistic and cultural study of music existing in various folk, tribal and other ethnic societies. The discipline ethnomusicology deals with the study of music from a social and cultural perspective and aims to survey and analyze the music traditions of various cultures. Ethnomusicology also emphasizes the study of music of one’s own and other cultures which promotes the intercultural perspective of music. Initially, the Indo-British interrelationship paved the way for intercultural communication through musical works and set the foundation for ethno musicological study in India. Ethnomusicology emerged in India during the British period when western authors started to write about Indian music in English language mainly for western readerships. Intercultural aspects can be found in all styles of music because of the cultural changes in societies that are induced by the changing reigns of rulers in the different ages of a nation‟s history. […]

After the 1980s, concepts of anthropology and musicology merged and more emphasis was placed on the observation of the process of musical creation, as seen in improvisations and performances. The focus of the study has shifted towards making critical examinations, rather than collecting abstract information. […]

Source: “Emergence of Ethnomusicology As Traced in Indian Perspectives” by Bisakha Goswami (Assistant Professor in Musicology, Rabindra Bharati University)
URL: https://www.academia.edu/10205543/Eemergence_of_Ethnomusicology_As_Traced_in_Indian_Perspectives
Date Visited: 8 September 2023

Classical music is the most refined and sophisticated music to be found in the subcontinent of India. There are many other forms, however, which have a specific function in the society, and these are by no means devoid of artistic expression. The great diversity of music in India is a direct manifestation of the diversity and fragmentation of the population in terms of race, religion, language, and other aspects of culture. The process of acculturation, so accelerated in modern times, is still not a very significant factor in many areas of the country. There remain remote pockets where tribal societies continue to live much as they have done for centuries.

“Tribal, Folk and Devotional Music” by NA [Nazir Ali] Jairazbhoy in AL Basham (ed.). A Cultural History of India. London: Oxford University Press, 1975, pp. 234-237. 

There is a continuing association of apsaras with heroes, as for instance in the hero-stones of later times, which show the hero being taken up to heaven by apsaras arter he has died in battle. There is also an association with heavenly musicians, the Gandharvas. In the epic version, the identity of Sakuntala as an apsara is reiterated by the small details which [unlike those found in Kalidasa’s portrayal] make her different from an ordinary woman.

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The apsara was a beautiful woman made for dalliance, the fantasy woman of the world of the heroes. In later times the apsaras fade when the goddesses become prominent. The apsaras are not, therefore, the same as women of the earth, they have their own order and their own codes of behaviour and authority. In a sense they are a counterweight to the insistence on the pativrata as the ideal woman – the life-long, devoted, self-effacing wife to her husband – and to that extent alleviate the dreariness of the didactic sections of the epic [Mahabharata] with their heavy male-dominated pronouncements.

There is a continuing association of apsaras with heroes, as for instance in the hero-stones of later times, which show the hero being taken up to heaven by apsaras after he has died in battle. There is also an association with heavenly musicians, the Gandharvas. In the epic version, the identity of Sakuntala as an apsara is reiterated by the small details which [unlike those found in Kalidasa’s portrayal] make her different from an ordinary woman.

Yet she is in the mould of the other epic heroines – Draupadi, Kunti, Gandhari – strong women who as mothers and wives dominate the story and whose individuality cannot be overlooked. Epic heroines are sometimes associated with the knowledge of a treasure which the hero seeks, or else they protect the treasure. In the narrative of Sakuntala the treasure may be symbolised by the son she brings to the hero, a son who was to be unique in the lineage of the Purus. The eulogies on Bharata in the later tradition, exalting him as the ancestor of a famous clan (even though his children died and he was succeeded by an adopted son); marking him out as a major figure in the lineage not only requires introduction through an unusual birth – namely, a three-year gestation with a mother who could be either an apsara or a forest dwelling woman – it also ensures that the story of Sakuntala remains in the consciousness of those who live in the land of Bharata.

Source: Romila Thapar in “The Narrative from the Mahabharata”, Sakuntala: Texts, Readings, Histories (New Delhi 1999), pp. 41-42

Article 52 of the Constitution says, “There shall be a President of India,” with no mention of Bharat. […] India is already called Bharatam in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, and Malayalam.

Source: livemint.com (5 September 2023)

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Flow | The right tempo or “kalapramanam”

Listen to Intakannaanandam emi sung by Balamurali Krishna | Lyrics >>
Image © Kutcherbuzz.com

If there is a single feature of Carnatic music to account for its mesmerizing effect on listeners it may well be a feature known as kalapramanam: practicing rhythm (laya) and performing in the the “right tempo” (kālapramānam) which, once chosen, remains even or standardized.

Adopting it as part of regular practice enables musicians to perform in perfect alignment. Of equal importance are a number of benefits, including

The last point may be seen as test of the assertion made by the most beloved composer of South India: Sri Tyagaraja posing the rhetorical question: “Can there be any higher bliss than transcending all thoughts of body and the world, dancing with abandon?” – Intakannaanandam (learn more on karnATik.com), Bilahari raga, Rupaka tala

For details, also refer to the Oxford Illustrated Companion to South Indian Classical Music

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Video | Keeping tala with hand gestures: Adi (8 beats) & Misra chapu (7 beats)

Adi tala (8 beats) demonstrated by T.R. Sundaresan
Misra chapu tala (7 beats) performed as konnakkol by T.R. Sundaresan

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Upholding “Freedom of religion or belief, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to peaceful assembly and the right to freedom of association” (22 August) – United Nations

We must understand India today in the light of its rich, long argumentative tradition [while] appreciating not only the richness of India’s diversity but its need for toleration. – Nobel Awardee Amartya Sen >>

Freedom of religion or belief, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to peaceful assembly and the right to freedom of association are interdependent, interrelated and mutually reinforcing. They are enshrined in articles 18, 19 and 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Upholding these rights plays an important role in the fight against all forms of intolerance and of discrimination based on religion or belief.

The open, constructive and respectful debate of ideas, as well as interreligious, interfaith and intercultural dialogue, at the local, national, regional and international levels, can play a positive role in combating religious hatred, incitement and violence.

Furthermore, the exercise of the right to freedom of opinion and expression and full respect for the freedom to seek, receive and impart information can play a positive role in strengthening democracy and combating religious intolerance.

Source: “International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief”
URL: https://www.un.org/en/observances/religious-based-violence-victims-day
Date Visited: 15 August 2023

Even the brilliant Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, who was himself deeply religious, clarified that bhakti is essential for a Carnatic music, but this bhakti is for music, not for any personal deity.

Lakshmi Sreeram in “Carnatic Music Ruminating the Landscape”, Indian Horizons published by The Indian Council for Cultural Relations