Critical acclaim for “The Goddess Mariyamman in Music and in Sociology of Religion”

Excerpt from the review in Ethnomusicology
by Prof. David B. Reck (Amherst College)

“The authors of this interesting monograph are ethnomusicologist and veena player Pia Srinivasan Buonomo and the eminent Indologist S.A.Srinivasan. Each brings to the topic a unique perspective. The focus of their study is a cinema song with a verse in praise of the (low-caste) village goddess Mariyamman, and the ascendancy of this song into the repertoire of an eminent classical Carnatic music singer, Madurai Somasundaram, (…) and its acceptance by his mostly Brahmanic, cultivated, high-art audience (…)

Buonomo provides us with a full transcription of both versions of the song in Western staff notation, detailed musical analysis, and a substantial background information. As a scholar/performer she is also “street-wise”, and the many anecdotal comments add color and depth to the total picture of the song and its transformation (…)

S.A.Srinivasan’s contribution to the monograph is in several reflective essays examining the questions posed by the appearance of a low-caste folk goddess Mariyamman in the lyrics of a song initially addressed to high forms of the archetypal mother goddess… All in all, Buonomo’s and Srinivasan’s monograph makes fascinating and provocative reading for Indologists, ethnomusicologists, or those interested in the processes of the migration of things musical from low status to high, or vice versa.”

The full review by is found in the print edition of Ethnomusicology (Winter 2005, pp 132-133)

Excerpt from the review in The World of Music 46(1) 2004
by Prof. Matthew Allen

Associate Professor of Music, Coordinator of Asian Studies (Wheaton College)

“This engaging volume will reward the attention of those interested in the history of the relationship between popular film music and classical Carnatic music in South India, and of students of Hinduism interested in the changing articulation between high and low caste worship practices (…)

The co-author Pia Srinivasan Buonomo contributes insightful musicological analysis of the performances to the narrative, which are supplemented by detailed transcription in staff notation. S.A.Srinivasan offers remarks in the form of “a graded description of riddles” (…) on the sociology of the worship of Mariyamman as manifest in the song texts and their reception (…)

This thought-provoking book constitutes an important contribution toward the study of the interstices – musical and social – where different registers in Indian society and art meet. It is enthusiastically recommended to the reader already somewhat conversant with the terminology and practices of Indian music, and open to a narrative as playful and occasionally self-deprecating as it is substantive.”

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