Audio |  Vidya Shankar on teaching Carnatic music to children

vidyashankar_vina2000_web_thu
Vidya Shankar (1919-2010)
Listen to an interview with
Vidya Shankar on teaching Carnatic music to children
held at her Chennai home by Ludwig Pesch (24 February 2005)

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Pallavi | A musical tribute to Dr Pia & Prof SA Srinivasan – Sannidi Academy of Music and Arts

Pallavi
Srīnivāsa Pia Priyāya Namaste
Sangīta Sāhitya Rasika


Catusra Jāti Triputa Tāla
Hamsānandi Rāga

This concise vocal composition (pallavi) by Vidvan TR Sundaresan pays tribute (namaste) two outstanding personalities in this field:
Dr. Pia Srinivasan & Prof. SA Srinivasan
whose affection (priya) and discerning patronage (rasika) of the language of music (sangīta sāhitya) could hardly be expressed better than through music itself

Raga Sri | A musical tribute to Dr. Pia Buonomo Srinivasan – Brhaddhvani

Dr. Karaikudi Subramanian and Dr. Meenakshi Subramanian salute Dr. Pia Buonomo Srinivasan (May 15, 1931 – April 8, 2022) for her respect and selfless contribution to vina and its tradition. […] We dedicate the raga Sri she loved particularly in her memory. | Read the full tribute posted on the video channel of Brhaddhvani – Research and Training Centre for Musics of the World >>

Karaikudi style is not a family style.
It is a veena style.

THE JOURNAL of THE MUSIC ACADEMY MADRAS
Devoted to the Advancement of the Science and Art of Music
Vol. LXXVII 2006, pp. 28-31

The Karaikudi Style

“Bhani” from “bhanihi” in Sanskrit which is from the root word “bhan” meaning “sound”. “Bhanihi” also has another meaning, “weaving”. Literally it is “weaving with sound”. But when one talks about style, a “bhani” in Carnatic [music], first and foremost is that one recognizes the total personality of the performer speaking through the music performed. The personality encompasses the way in which the performer has lived, the number of years staying with the master, the values held, the music listened to, the aesthetics developed, the right and wrong integrated unto oneself due to lineage or as disciples of the master, and finally the individual limitations and strength. “Bhani” is generally translated as “style” in English. […]

Describing a musical style of a parampara going back to several generations in the contemporary context becomes even more difficult, especially in an oral tradition such as Indian music. The Karaikudi style of veena playing started from Karaikudi veena brothers, Subbarama Iyer, Sambasiva Iyer’s son’s generation veena players in their family. No recordings are available of the music of Subbarama Iyer. […]

Karaikudi style is not a family style. It is a veena style. The lecture was presented by live demonstration at the different places to understand the Karaikudi style by Dr K S Subramanian.

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In memoriam Pia Srinivasan Buonomo (15 May 1931 – 8 April 2022)

With vainika Rajeswari Padmanabhan
(Madras, winter 1974-75)

With the demise of Dr. Pia Srinivasan, the world of Indian music has lost one of its most fervent supporters.

For over three decades she and her husband, renowned Indologist Prof. S.A. Srinivasan, spared no effort to acquaint discerning music lovers with the intricacies of South Indian classical music; and this with remarkable success as evident from critical acclaim for their publications including a musical memoir in Italian titled Il raga che porta la pioggia; a work not just distinguished by an understanding for the traditions and the ways of life in India but – in the words of Renata Maione –  an empathy that enables her to judge in freedom from her own cultural heritage and gets the reader too involved in the India she describes.

rajeswari_pia_vina_1969
Pia with her guru in 1969

In her own words, it all began “when I joined Kalakshetra in 1968 to learn Carnatic music. It was there that I met Rajeswari. It was a great event in my life as I came to realise more and more.”

Prof. David Reck (Amherst University), a close friend and associate in her lifelong pursuit of spreading Carnatic music far and wide, expressed best what this music meant to them and their students:

For those of us who experienced those halcyon days Pia brings back wonderful memories. For other readers her writing will bring the images, smells, tastes, personalities, rhythms of existence, and most of all the music of those times vividly to life.

In short, her and her husband’s quest was all about building bridges across cultural and linguistic divides; one that continues to benefit anyone willing to make an extra effort for the sake of getting immersed in this music for an extended period of time.

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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. 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: 19 March 2022

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. 

[Bold typeface added above for emphasis]

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Gamaka determines the character of each raga in vocal and instrumental music

By N S Ramachandran (University of Madras, 1938) | Compositions >>

Gamaka has been defined by Sarngadeva and others as the ornamentation of a note by shaking it. But evidence from their works can be cited to show that the idea of gamaka is more extensive than the connotation of this definition; it has been used to convey the idea of beautifying a note not only by the shake but by any other means which seem to be efficient or adequate. For instance by the adjustment and control of the volume of a single note it can be made to assume different shades of colour, and these effects can be, and have been legitimately classed under the category of gamakas. […]

This complexity in the nature of gamakas, as used in vocal and instrumental music, has been noticed and exhaustively treated in Sanskrit treatises on music. They offer an abundance of material on this subject as well as on others. […]

Sreevidhya Chandramouli
Srīgananātha (Gītam) – Malahari rāga – Rūpaka tāla
contributed by Sreevidhya Chandramouli >>
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Practice Rupaka tala here >>

Though the employment of gamaka in music is plain enough it is a long time before we come across the term gamaka in Sangita literature. Bharata does not use the word gamaka in his Natya Sastra. […]

Among authors who came after Bharata, Narada in his Sangita Makaranda and Matanga in his Brhaddesi mention gamakas though they do not enumerate any list of them or seek to define them. Along with the idea of gamaka, the expression ‘gamaka’ was perhaps being slowly evolved. Narada in dealing with alankaras says that he will describe 19 gamakas but their definitions are missing in the existing recension of his treatise. Matanga freely uses the term gamakas in the definition of ragas and gitis. As in so many other respects, he is the writer who gives the most important information on this subject between the time of Bharata and Sarngadeva. […]

The gamaka has come to occupy a vital place in our system of music. It is not simply a device to make melodic music tolerable, and it is not its function merely to beautify music. It determines the character of each raga, and it is essential to note that the same variety of gamaka appears with different intensity in different ragas. The function of the same gamaka in different ragas varies subtly and establishes all the fine distinctions between kindred melodies by an insistence, which is delicate but withal emphatic, on the individuality of their constituent notes. The gamaka makes possible the employment of all the niceties in variation of the pitch of the notes used and is therefore of fundamental importance to our music. If the personality of any raga is to be understood it cannot be without appraising the values of the gamakas which constitute it.

Source: Ragas of Carnatic music by N S Ramachandran, University of Madras, 1938, CHAPTER V. Gamakas and the Embellishment of Song, pp. 112-158
URL: https://archive.org/details/RagasOfCarnaticMusicByNSRamachandran
Date Visited: 18 March 2022

[Bold typeface added above for emphasis]

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Oral transmission vs. notation in Carnatic music: Pondering the “original pathantaram-s of kriti-s” 

One of the debated topics in Carnatic music is the deviation by musicians from the so-called ‘original’ pathantaram of kriti-s. This article is not an attempt to provide a conclusive answer to end the debate but a constructive provocation and an invitation for opening up the topic for a wider debate. […]

While in matters of art and aesthetics no rule can be imposed on either the artists or their audiences, some relevant considerations in the matter appear to be: Is there incontrovertible proof in all such cases that the ‘versions’—which includes the raga, its arohanaavarohana, mela and musical phrasing—touted as the original or authentic are really the versions composed by their authors? In the case of modern composers there may not be any problem because most of them write them down in notation which, in spite of the inherent limitations of any notation to capture all the nuances of Carnatic music, provides at least a defence against wholesale distortion. In the case of composers who lived during an earlier era of entirely oral transmission of music, there would be real difficulty in ascertaining the authenticity beyond doubt. […]

Read this valuable essay and more on Sruti.com >>

Source: “‘Original’ pathantaram-s of kriti-s” by PK Doraiswamy, Sruti Magazine
URL: https://www.sruti.com/index.php?route=archives/article_details&artId=98
Date Visited: 3 March 2022

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What is the Katapayadi sutra?

The Kaṭapayādi sūtra is an aid to memory or “mnemonic system”. 

Its name corresponds to a “thread” (sūtra), here provided by the initials of four sets of letters within the Sanskrit alphabet: 

Ka Ṭa Pa and Ya

A total of 33 letters are distributed among ten numbers including 0 (zero): 
K (1st) to 9 (nava = 9) + 0 = 10,  (1st) to 9 (nava = 9) + 0 = 10, P (1st) to 5 (pañca = 5) = 5, Y (1st) (aṣṭa = 8) = 8

Note:

  • each letter is associated with a particular number from 1 to nine or 0 (zero)
  • there being more letters than numbers, each number corresponds to several letters: 
    four letters (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
    three letters (6, 7, 8)
    two letters (0)  
  • not all the available letters serve as key syllables in Govindachari’s scheme of 72 mēḷakartā ragas (e.g. only “N” and “S” are used to indicate “0” and “7” respectively)

For details please refer to the file attached below (PDF, 145 KB)

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This website offers many resources for free (see menu for details): to learn more about the above mentioned composers and scholars, the places where they flourished; and about the musicians who tread in their footsteps today.

Enjoy your exploration of a wonderful music!