S.Rajam is a multifaceted genius with creative talents in a variety of fields such as music, musicology, classical painting and acting. In the field of music, S. Rajam is an unparalleled authority on Vivadi ragas and has done much to popularize Koteeswara Iyer’s kritis. He has the distinction of being the only musician to have recorded all the 72 compositions of Kanda Ganamutham, most of the kritis being accompanied by Raga, Niraval and Kalpana swaras. He was also well known for keeping the Classical Indian Painting style contemporary. He has immensely contributed to enrich our cultural heritage for over six decades.
Launch and screening of the movie: 11th November 2012 at Tatvaloka, Eldams Road, Chennai (2.00 PM)
One of the earliest attempts to make the British appreciate Carnatic music was initiated by Gayan Samaj.
STEEPED IN HISTORY:Pachaiyappa’s hall.
Had the Madras Jubilee Gayan Samaj been around, it would have been 125 this year, though it began at least four years earlier under a different name. That certainly makes it the mother of all Sabhas that have been documented in the 373 years of Chennai.
The Samaj came into existence at a time when the British were taking an active if short-lived interest in Indian music. Books were being written, some of the early works being ‘Hindu Music’ by Captain N.A. Willard, ‘Musical Modes of the Hindus’ by Sir William Jones, ‘Sangeet’ by Francis Gladwin and ‘Oriental Music’ by W.C. Stafford. The absence of any form of documentation and the native methods of notation proved to be a major deterrent. The educated Indians began to seriously work on reducing Indian music to the Western form of notation often referred to as Staff Notation. It was their view that getting their music written in the Western format would encourage the English to appreciate the art form. Among the earliest such attempts were made by the Poona Gayan Samaj, one of the early organised bodies to sponsor music performances. […]
The Samaj also reduced some of its songs to Staff Notation and had the Madras Philharmonic Orchestra render them for Europeans on yet another occasion. In addition, it had Tennyson’s Ode to Queen Victoria translated into Sanskrit, set to music and performed for the benefit of an invited audience. […]
The Samaj came into existence at a time when the British were taking an active if short-lived interest in Indian music
Music | Musics. Structures and Processes 15th International Conference of the Gesellschaft für Musikforschung Goettingen Paper and Lecture Recital by Ludwig Pesch & Manickam Yogeswaran
Unity in diversity, antiquity in contemporary practice? A fresh look at South Indian music
The music of South India or Carnatic music is an amalgam of regional traditions and practices and became increasingly codified in the past five centuries. Today it reaches global audiences while ancient roots are claimed even by those who cherish its association with musicians from other cultures – from Messiaen to Menuhin, from jazz to rock-fusion – throughout the 20th century. But how to account for its intrinsic qualities in a manner that makes sense to “non-Indian” ears and minds? More >>
Miraj is famous for tanpuras made by its craftsmen, who honed their skills by first becoming trained musicians.
How did it ever strike someone to stick a piece of wood on a dried pumpkin, build this bridge and that and twist some strings on it, to make this wonderfully resonant thing one calls the tanpura? […]
“Musical training is the basic foundation for an expert tanpura maker. There are about 500 craftsmen in Miraj and all are musicians.” […]
As much as Miraj is associated with the tanpura, it is also associated with Ustad Abdul Karim Khan saheb, the founder of the Kirana gharana of Khayal. It was after listening to his record, playing in a shop, that Bhimsen Joshi decided at the age of 11 to run away from home to learn music. Music can become as obsessive as that. […]
All great musicians of the Kairana gharana have sung at this festival such as Bhimsen Joshi, Gangubai Hangal, Roshanara Begum, Hirabai Badodekar and Suresh Bhau Mane. “We have a tradition of ending the three-night musical offering with a concert by a Kairana gharana vocalist. This year it was Ganapati Bhat,” said Mirajkar.
Abdul Karim Khan saheb’s music was uncluttered and deeply moving. He could tug at hearts with his plaintive and sharply etched swaras, and the power of his music lay mostly in that. Sheer mastery over swaras, what Bhimsen Joshi once spoke of as ‘swara siddhi.’ Veena Dhanam, who was hard to please, had great regard for his music. He was probably the first Hindustani musician to seriously study the Carnatic system and the first to be invited to sing all over the south. He even recorded a Tyagaraja kriti.
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. Rajeswari, along with her music, is the central figure in my book titled Il raga che porta la pioggia (The raga that brings rain) describing my first stay in India 40 years ago.
As a teacher she was totally different from the elderly gentleman who first taught me to play the veena. He was taciturn, introvert, and did not correct my fingering, so much so that I had to stand behind him to observe how he played. Rajeswari Amma (later, as our friendship grew, there was no need for the ‘Amma’) was extrovert, she immediately caught hold of my fingers to correct their position. She was a remarkable teacher, playing a passage again and again, insisting on my repeating it till I got it right. She saw my deep involvement in Carnatic music, and knowing that I would not be staying very long in India, taught me difficult pieces, like the Viriboni varnam in the wonderful Karaikudi style, with all the gamaka-s possible. I had not learnt the subtleties while learning to sing it in a class for beginners at Kalakshetra a few months earlier.
At first Rajeswari Amma was very severe, paying no compliments on how I played the Veena. I remember once when I managed to play a passage very well and she reacted with a cool “Correct”. In later years, however, she would ask me at times to sing to her students, pieces that the great Turaiyur Rajagopala Sarma had taught me – Tyagaraja’s Seetamma mayamma (Vasanta), or Seetapatey (Khamas). In course of time, I became a member of her family. […]
To me Rajeswari was inconceivable without the veena. Hearing her play the listener would be reminded of her great-uncle Karaikudi Sambasiva Iyer. Sometimes she sang, matching the veena so perfectly that you were not sure who was singing – the veena or she! […]
The unique Karaikudi tradition has not come to an end, for Rajeswari’s daughter, Sreevidhya, is continuing the tradition. Back in 1969 Rajeswari did not accept the ‘mike’ (as the pick-up was then known). Playing on her veena- she said, “This is the sound of the veena, and not a nasal nonsense.” Like her mother, Sreevidhya too keeps away from a ‘technologised’ veena. And her sons Kapila and Sushruta, still children, are immersed in the veena. Watch out for the Karaikudi Brothers of the 21st century!
Making studies as pleasant as music Review by A. Sangameswaran
Two musicologists of international repute are on an innovative mission to educate music lovers across the world about the intrinsic value of Carnatic music as a potential tool for education and blending cultures. The Indo-Swiss research project, titled “Sam, reflection, gathering together,” is being executed jointly by Emanuel Wuethrich and Ludwig Pesch, in association with Natana Kairali at Irinjalakuda. (…) Their experiments to use Carnatic music for educating students with varying capabilities across the world have yielded remarkable results too.
They conducted joint programmes in different parts of the State to share their teaching and learning experiences.
They say that there is ample scope for introducing some of the Carnatic music lessons in classrooms, adult education and also rehabilitation programmes for the physically and mentally challenged.
THE HINDU, The Hindu, Kerala edition, Sunday 13 August 2006 (Online edition of India’s National Newspaper)
Preserving a rich cultural tradition The Indian education system boasts of a past where knowledge was imparted to the next generation by word of mouth. To pass on the teachings of various art forms, the masters devised various techniques. One among them is rhythmic syllables or phrases called Vaaythaari. These rhythmic phrases, in the case of percussion arts, are construed in such a way that their recitation resembles the sound generated by the instrument, be it the chenda, maddalam, mizhavu, mridangam or edakka. (…) Professor Immanuel Wuthrich, a musicologist at the Bern University of Arts (Switzerland), and Ludwig Pesch, a musicologist and Indologist, have documented this system. Under the joint auspices of the Bern University of Arts and Natanakairali, Irinjalakuda, a workshop was conducted two years ago at Irinjalakuda on the intangible aspects of oral traditions. (…) In the workshop that followed, a lecture-demonstration by Nirmala Panicker on the incorporation of rhythmic syllables in Mohiniyattam, an oral exercise by Vayali, a class by P. Nandakumar on the rhythmic phrases and patterns used in playing the edakka and the mridangam, a demonstration by Kalanilayam Prakasan on the phrases used in maddalam and a painting class by V. C. Arun were included. (…) The organisers hope that the workshop will help create awareness about Kerala’s rich folk art culture.
THE HINDU, Friday Review Thiruvananthapuram (Online edition of India’s National Newspaper), Friday, Sep 14, 2007
‘The Small Theatre (Tamil Sittrarangam) is a chamber auditorium specially designed for Indian performing arts. Based on rural architecture, it provides a congenial atmosphere for traditional performers of dance, music and folk arts, and their audience alike.’
From the introductory note jointly published by The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) The Government of Tamil Nadu The Tamil Nadu Tourist Development Corporation (TTDC)
Beautifully and very imaginatively conceived. India needs theatres of this kind in every village. Goverdhan Panchal, Professor of Theatre Architecture at the National School of Drama in New Delhi
A THEATRE FOR ALL Sittrarangam – the small theatre Madras by Ludwig Pesch with a Foreword by Himanshu Burte
ISBN 90 75785 03 8 2nd revised edition
89 pages 3 colour plates (cover photograph, 2 digital graphic representations for the floor plan of the theatre on the back cover) 15 b/w plates Size: 25,7 cm x 19 cm Weight: 248 g
Price: 36 EUR Libraries and the booktrade: please enquire about customary discount
Contents 1 Introduction 2 A small theatre for Chennai 3 A theatre for all 4 Historical and social aspects of Indian performing arts 5 Access to the living arts 6 Sittrarangam and traditional Indian theatre architecture 7 Sittrarangam: model for a facility serving cultural tourism 8 About the plates and their context Plate 1 Open-air stage (‘Tiger Cave’) near Mamallapuram Plate 2 Kuttambalam stage (Irinjalakuda / Kerala) Plate 3 Interior of Sittrarangam (Island Grounds / Chennai) Plates 4, 5 and 6 Sittrarangam: phases of construction Plate 7 A South Indian vocal recital by Mani Krishnaswamy Plate 8 A leather shadow play by S. Seethalakshmi Plates 9 and 10 Dance performances by Archita and Satyajit Plate 11 Living theatre: Terukkuttu and Kattaikkuttu Plates 12, 13, 14 and 15 The Sittrarangam experience Appendix 1 A theatre according to the Natya Shastra in the IIT Madras Appendix 2 Postscript to the IIT project description Appendix 3 In search of an Indian theatre by Ludwig Pesch Appendix 4 A Chamber Theatre for the Performing Arts Appendix 5 Personal comments (Visitors’ Book 1987, 1988) Acknowledgements About the author Bibliography
Sittrarangam is discussed in the chapter on Indian theatre architecture, pp. 18-19, in: The Oxford Companion to Indian Theatre edited by Ananda Lal (New Delhi 2004) http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/470139309
“An easy to use reference book for concert, music class and and home” [about the first edition] – Indian Express, Chennai, 29 August 1986
“A neat compilation … ragas mainly used on concert platforms … highly useful as a reference book for listeners in concerts and to students for use in the classroom. …” [about the first edition] – The Hindu, Chennai, 23 December 1986
“Students of music, as well as music lovers in general, will find this a very useful reference book. Neatly printed and attractively produced.” – Sruti Magazine, The Indian Classical Music and Dance Magazine, Chennai, January 1994
“Unique Directory of Ragas … For 15 years he [Ludwig Pesch] studied with the late Ramachandra Sastri (1906-1992) … Pesch not only became a performing artiste on the Karnatic flute but had access to his mentor’s research material. He received many scholarships and put them to good use for enlarging the horizon of Karnatic music by research, documentation and publications … His [is an] ingenious and logically consistent scheme for identifying ragas by an alpha-numerical method … almost encyclopedic in its scope … contains 500 north and south Indian ragas … the Hindustani svaras and their Western equivalents have been given and the scales shown in staff notation … The glossary, with all terms and names cross-referred, is an illuminating compilation … which every lover of music should welcome with gratitude.” – T.S. Parthasarathy, Journal of the Music Academy Madras, Vol. LXV, 1994
“No library of books on Indian music would be complete without Ludwig Pesch’s Raga Dhana (published by Natana Kairali) and Illustrated Companion to South Indian Music (Oxford University Press). They are among the most widely consulted books on Indian music in English. Pesch’s writing is highly regarded for its accurate scholarship. At the same time he takes pains to write in a style that does not intimidate the lay reader.” – S.R. Ramakrishna, themusicmagazine.com, Bangalore, July 2003