All are welcome to the grand nine day Festival of Carnatic Music presented by Ekata – Muscat, in Oman. It’s celebrated as the Navratri festival commemorating the Victory of Good over Evil.
Navaratri is a Hindu festival that spans nine nights (and ten days) and is celebrated every year in the autumn with great enthusiasm and fervor. It is observed for different reasons and celebrated differently in various parts of the Indian subcontinent. It is the observed in the honor of the divine nine feminine Devis/Deities.
Basically, it brings out the best of the artistic skills of the Ladies in arranging mind boggling Golus, arranging music and dance shows, and interacting within the society and in short Spreading Bonhomie, sweetness and good will.
In Muscat, the celebration is with the 9 day Music Concerts. Accomplished musicians from within Muscat and from India will perform.
The Indian Ambassador to the Sultanate of Oman H E Munu Mahawar is expected to grace the function and inaugurate the festival on September 29, 2019.
Ekta Muscat also awards the Title “Sangeeta Sudha Nidi” to select musicians, music teachers or musicologists in recognition of their significant contribution to Carnatic Music and allied art forms in this region. This year’s award goes to Dr. Saroja Raman and scheduled on the concluding day, October 7, 2019.
Look at the flyer and grace the occasion.
Venue: Al Massa Hall, Ruwi – Muscat Date: 28th Sep. to 7th Oct. 2019 Time: 07:00 PM to 09:30 PM
Music is universal and is the life line of sublime expression.
Carnatic music is basically an application in complete expansion within given restrictions. An artistic uniqueness is created within a grammatical limits. Rules of grammar in Carnatic music have not prevented the great writers from producing creative, beautiful works of literature.
A sentence in any language is a collection of words that conveys sense or meaning and is formed according to the logic of grammar. Similarly, Sruti and Laya are the main grammatical aspects which makes music melodic. Sruti and Laya are like mother and father in Carnatic music.
Music gets the identity as art form with the imbibing of the highest values of Lakshaya and Lakshana. Lakshaya and Lakshana of art form are like Sruti and Smriti relationship of sacred Veda, Upanishad, Brahma sutra etc. Lakshana defines and establishes the form. Abstract nature compelled Lakshana formation for the ease and comfort of practitioners, teachers, students and performers and also for the connoisseurs and discerning listeners.
The Music of India is one of the oldest unbroken musical traditions in the world. It is said that the origins of this go back to the Vedas. During the Sangam literature, music and dance were the main attraction or entertainment among the mass. Legend has played significant part in shaping and promoting the role of music in Indian culture. Silappadikaram is the first and foremost a treatise on music. The Puranas were written to elucidate the truths preserved in the Vedas and present them in capsules and modules to the music aspirants.
There are 22 Srutis well
known in the Carnatic music arena. Creation of raga is made easy with these 22
Srutis and to differentiate one raga from another. Swara is an essential aspect
in a Varnam, Kriti, Keertana and other forms of music. Saptaswara is the universally known syllables
in music. Sa and Pa being Achala Swaras, out of 5 remaining Swaras, Ma has two
variety and other four i.e. Ri, Ga, Dha and Ni have 3 varieties each. Thus
there are 16 Swaras. Composition in
Carnatic music is required to follow prosodic order. In so far as Tala there are 10 Pranas known
as Tala Dasa Pranas. This gives detail characteristics of a Tala structure.
Music too has diversified into different genres. There are classical Music like Carnatic and Hindustani. Carnatic music is one of the few musical systems of the world blending a fine technical structure to a profound aesthetic value. It is a melodic system based on fundamental sounds known as Srutis, which form the basis for the definition of notes, known as Swaras. Particular sets of Swaras are used to construct melodies known as Ragas.
Each of the innumerable ragas of Carnatic music is defined by rules of usage of its note called Raga Lakshana including the permissible and forbidden manners of ascent, the Arohanam and descent, the Avarohanam, the aesthetics of transition between notes, the Gamakas and their relative importance. Shift of tonic is the process by which new Melas can be evolved.
Compositions in Carnatic
music possess multiple dimensions. The
aesthetic element refers to the melodic value extended by the raga and its
intensive usage with the lyrical aspect. The prosodic dimension describes the
technical or grammatical value associated with the poetic meter. The rhythmic
element captures the association of the Sahitya and prosody according to the Tala
to which a composition is set to. The grammatical aspects in Raga, Tala and
compositions are briefly discussed below:
aspects of raga alapana:
We are aware that the raga alapana has undergone
organized expansion from time to time. However the raga alapana paddhati now in
vogue is as per the Matanga’s raga paddhati. There are three main stages of
alapana- 1. Akshiptika (introduction) 2. Raga Vardhani (main content of
alapana) and 3. Sthayi and 4. Makarini , the concluding part of alapana.
In Akshiptika a succinct form of raga is presented by
the musician for making a clear identification of raga by the listeners.
Raga Vardhani which is the second stage of Alapana,
has 4 stages – Eduppu (commencement) and Muktayi (conclusion) for every stage
i.e. Vidari I-IV.
In the concluding part of Alapana the Arohana Sthayi
and Avarohana Sthayi is maintained and Sthayi Sanchara is done with
madhyamakala sanchara and in higher octave sanchara and finally concluding with
avorohana karma. In some ragas it is concluded in higher octave Sadjam also.
Again while analyzing the aspect of grammar in raga Alapana,
the exposition of a raga sung before a kriti is different from the one sung
before a Ragam, Tanam, Pallavi. In both
the situation the raga Swarupa has to be shown maintaining the grammatical
aspect of raga alapana. But in for a
Pallavi singing the raga Alapana is slightly expanded than singing before a Kriti.
This in itself is a full topic for discussion with proper examples. Its quiet
amusing that some raga give scope for elaborate exposition whereas some have
very little scope. It is observed that the present day artists have made a
research even to sing such ragas elaborately giving importance to each swara
sancharas within the permitted scope.
The variety of Tala as in Carnatic music is not found
in any other musical form. When we discuss about Tala it has 10 pranaas to be
followed. Tala is the strength for a composition. As a hand of clock moves according to a time
sequence (rhythm) so also in Tala which has a time frame, moves around set to the letters. We have
variety of Talas like Sapta Tala, 175 Talas, 108 Talas, Navasanthi Tala etc., each
has different parts and style of presentation.
Each Tala has angas- Anudrutham, Drutam, Lagu, Guru, Plutham
and Kakapadam. These are taught to the
students at the initial stages of learning. Alankaram lessons are very apt to explain
these aspects. But all these Angas are not used in a normal Tala. These are
more applicable for dance where every small variation can be explained with an
There are several ways of
doing a Tala. Here we count time, and several gestures are involved like
joining two hand, counting the fingers, lifting the hands up, turning right and
left etc. etc.
Yathi pattern is adopted
in the Kalpana Swaras by musicians which adds beauty to the composition and
also the Tala kattu. Similarly different Chaapu Talas have its own attraction
and added value to the composition.
of a composition
A composition has three parts: Padam, Prasam and
Padam refer to the
sentences in the composition. For e.g. Marukela ra O’Raghava in Jayanthasri
Ragam or Sri Saraswathi in Arabhi raga. The compositions are usually set to
Adi, Rupaka or chapu Talas.
Prasam – 3
kinds of Prasam – Adiprasam, Anuprasam and Antyaprasam. The pattern of words in
the sentences must be uniform. Prasam and Yati both are important.
In Adiprasam the second letter of the first word will
e.g. Seethapathe naa manasuna
Vaathathmaja dule chenda (Anupallavi)
Anuprasam : the words sound similar in the sentence.
e.g. Balakanakamaya chelasujanapari-
Balasri Rama Lola vidruta sara
In Antyaprasa there will be similar sound at the end
of the sentence.
kriti in Anandabhairavi –
Manasa Guru Guharoopam Bajare –re
Mayamaya Hrithithapam Thyajare- re
the word pattern in a composition. It will be similar to that of Anuprasam in
Similarly for a Pallavi, Vilomam, Anulomam and
Pratiloman should be maintained.
Thus it is seen that Carnatic music has grammatical
rules which needs to be followed. From
the basic lesson (Abhyasagana) to the kriti singing the set pattern of grammar
is required to be followed in order to give an esthetic sense and also to add
embellishment in rendering.
Prasant Radhakrishnan is a saxophonist identified with both the South Indian Classical (Carnatic) Music and Jazz disciplines. Blessed with a legendary teacher (Kadri Gopalnath) and a strong tonal depth on the saxophone, Prasant caught the attention of audiences worldwide while still in high school. His style has been described as possessing technical fluidity as well as a mature depth of melodic phrasing beyond his years.
Due to the nature of his instrument and musicianship, Prasant has transformed several first-time listeners of South Indian music into enthusiasts. His performances have been described as captivating, fresh, soothing, gripping and profound by audiences and critics all over the world. His original compositions have also been featured in premiere concerts in the U.S. and abroad. His first album Swara Sudha, released in 2000, met with critical success both in the U.S. and India. Prasant Radhakrishnan continues to push the limits of the saxophone and improvisational music.
Prasant Radhakrishnan, is the youngest musician to receive the prestigious AIIS (American Institute of India Studies) Senior Performing Arts Fellowship in its history.
Swara Sudha (2000)
Duality (2005) East Facing (2007) VidyA (2008)
Kiravani: A Live Experience (2009)
Meditations: Ragas on Saxophone: Vol. 1 (2011)
Naada Samyama (2013)
Meditations: Ragas on Saxophone Vol. 2 (2015)
Just because December is done and the ensuing months have come doesn’t mean Music Academy is on hibernation till the next December to come. Madras Music Academy is one of the earliest established music academies in South India. Before the concept of infrastructure was introduced to India in the early 1920s, it was a gathering for elite musicians simply called (and is still more commonly referred to as) Music Academy
Lovers of music and other well-wishers wanted to stimulate interest in Carnatic music in the South and develop a rich culture. The academy had sound planning from the start with an expert committee consisting of some of the leading musicians and scholars to advise the academy on all technical matters. The SPIRIT is still sustained in a very visible and commendable way.
Annual music conferences are held every December to collect all information regarding music, maintain the library and publish a journal. They also help to bring to public notice aspiring musicians and scholars by conducting competitions and other presentations and Great Concerts.
Round the year there are positive activities in sustaining this effort and always significantly innovative and productive.
In this streak of activity comes a nice thematic vocal concert by Ms. Shubashree Ramachandran.
Daughter of Padmabushan awardee Trichur Ramachandran and Kalaimamani Charumathi Ramachandran both illustrious Carnatic Vocalists Shubashree is also a solo vocalist in her own right.
Shubashree gave her first concert at age fourteen for YACM. To date she has sung for Madras Music Academy, Indian fine arts, Kartik Fine Arts, Krishna Gana Sabha, Bharat Kalachar, Mylapore Fine Arts, Narada Gana Sabha , Sabhas in Delhi, Bombay, Bangalore, Hyderabad and other centers.
She has given vocal support for her mother Charumathi in Australia, USA, and London. Shubashree is a graded artiste of All India Radio and TV. She has sung for Sun TV, Star plus TV, Doordarshan and Bharathi TV.
Shubashree has won many awards and laurels and had performed at the Theatre de la Ville, Paris.
She is a Yuva Kala Bharathi awardee, a Bhavan Excellence and Yagnaraman Excellence awardee. She is also a graded Radio Artist and the student of the world famous vocalist D.K.Pattammal. She has received the Best Junior Musician Award from Music Academy in 2003, from Indian Fine Arts Society in 1998-2000, and from Parthasarathy Swamy Sabha in 2003.
Shubashree had a fair chance of vocal concerts in the just concluded Chennai December Music festival also.
All are welcome to her forthcoming concert at the Music Academy:
“Sundara Narayana” songs about Lord Guruvayurappan
Time: 07:00 PM
Date: 15th February 2018
Venue: Music Academy Hall,
TTK Road, Chennai
Akshara – In Time (Blue Skinned God Records, 2017)
In Time is the debut album by Akshara, a world fusion ensemble rooted in Carnatic music led by percussionist, vocalist and composer Bala Skandan.
Akshara is based in New York City and brings together musicians from various traditions, including Indian classical music, jazz and western classical.
Bala Skandan’s main instruments are the mridangam (South Indian barrel drum) and his voice used as a percussion instrument (konakkol). The ensemble includes two violinists, a cello player and hammered dulcimer performer, who deliver a fascinating mix of string sounds from diverse traditions.
Throughout In Time you’ll find a mix of highly complex rhythmic pieces featuring drums and vocal percussion, along with laid back moments focused on the strings and bansuri (Indian flute) melodies. These performances are new arrangements of classic ragas.
Personnel: Bala Skandan on mridangam and konnakkol; Arun Ramamurthy on violin; Trina Basu-Ramamurthy on violin; Nitin Mitta on tabla; Jay Gandhi on bansuri; Max ZT on hammered dulcimer; Dave Eggar on cello; Thejeswini Raj on konnakkol; Beenakumari Viju on konnakkol; Kabilan Jeganathan on kanjira; and Shrinath Viswanathan on konnakkol.
In Time features masterful genre-defying performances rooted in Carnatic music.
Roopa Mahadevan is a Carnatic vocalist. Born and raised in San Josem Californiam Roopa underwent her formative training under Smt. Asha Ramesh disciple of the late Sangeetha Kalanidhi D.K. Jayaraman and Sri Nanganallur Ramanathan.
In 2007 Roopa was awarded the highly-regarded Fulbright Scholarship by the U.S. State Department to receive advanced training in Chennai India under Smt. Suguna Varadachari, a senior vidushi and respected teacher of the Musiri Subramania Iyer tradition.
Roopa has been a regular performer in the major sabhas during Chennai December season for the past years and has received praise from the Carnatic music fraternity and notable press including The Hindu Indian Express Times of India The Week and more.
She has performed full-length concerts in several venues in India and North America including the Cleveland Thyagaraja Aradhana where she has been awarded the first prize for raga alapana and krithi rendition in their annual competition in years past.
In 2010 Roopa was honored with the title “Kala Ratna” by the Cleveland Thyagaraja Aradhana for her commitment to the pursuit of Carnatic music as a young American. Roopa is also an accomplished Bharathanatyam dancer who has done her arangetram and performed in India and Europe under the training of Smt. Indumathy Ganesh disciple of Padmashri Smt. Chitra Visweswaran.
Roopa is additionally adept at singing for Bharathanatyam productions; she has sung for such dance artists as Bragha Bessel Mythili Prakash Abhinaya Dance Company and Shakti Dance Company among others.
Roopa also enjoys performing R&B/soul music and has lent her voice to several contemporary art projects such as an Indian folk ensemble curated by Chennai’s Prakriti Foundation the Guadalajara International Book Fair and two urban/R&B music albums “Lovespeak” and “Bring Back the Nyte.”
She provided lead female vocals for the track “Sukle Krsna” on the album Calling All Dawns that won a Grammy for “Best Classical Crossover Album.”
Roopa received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degree from Stanford University and currently works in the public health policy field while simultaneously pursuing her artistic career.
Rajna Swaminathan, disciple of mrudangam maestro Sri Umayalpuram K. Sivaraman accompanies Carnatic musicians. She started learning Mrudangam from her father Dr. P. K. Swaminathan at the age of 5 and came under the direct tutelage of Sri Umayalpuram K. Sivaraman at the age of 8. She is 14 years old and is studying in Benjamin Banneker Middle School in Maryland. Rajna is only one of a handful of female mrudangam artists and one of a very few female percussionists in the world.
She has performed at many local Thyagaraja utsavams and other programs. Along with her father Dr. P. K. Swaminathan she has accompanied high caliber artists such as Dr. N. Ramani Sikkil Mala Chandrasekhar Rudrapatnam Brothers Charumathi Ramachandran etc. and won their praise.
During Fall 2004 Rajna toured the USA along with her illustrious Guru and performed for one piece on Mrudangam with Sri Sivaraman accompanying on Kanjira and encouraging her. Sri Sivaraman presented her to the Maryland audience for a full two hour concert debut at the auspices of the Chinmaya Mission Maryland on October 9th 24 with Sri Somayajulu on Jalatharangam Sri Nagai Sriram on Violin and Sri E. M. Subramaniam on Ghatam.
Rajna also performs mrudangam for dance programs, most notably the grand Kuchipudi dance ballet Bharata Sambhavam held at Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater.
In addition to mrudangam, Rajna plays piano and has learned Bharathanatyam for some years.
Fresh from the memory of momentous inaugural concert by Prince Rama Varma, music fans in Muscat are being treated to a double delight by Nadopasana. A totally voluntary organization dreamed up by a bunch of die-hard rasikas of classical Carnatic music, Nadopasana is in its very first year of service to the music lovers of Oman. Encouraged by the support provided by its well-wishers, the organizing team has arranged for two concerts by promising young musicians who are currently making waves in the Indian music scene.
The concerts, planned for the 25th of March 2017 at the Krishna Temple, Darsait, Muscat, will feature Mrs Nandini Neelakantan in the morning session and Mr Vignesh Ishwar in the evening.
Mrs Neelakantan (nee NJ Nandini of Trivandrum), stormed the Carnatic music scene a few years back by winning many of the reality competition shows on Indian television channels. Blessed with a lovely voice and a matching countenance, she has imbibed everything from her Gurus and created an enchanting style of her own. Yet to be 25, she is already an “A” grade artiste with All India Radio, and has performed over 700 concerts in India and abroad. If her track record is any indication, the discerning audience in Muscat is in for a real treat on Saturday, the 25th March. Her concert starts at 10.00 am.
She will be accompanied by Sri M S Ananthakrrishnan, the youngest torch bearer of the great Parur style of violin playing, made internationally famous by his grandfather Sri M.S. Anantharaman and the legendary Sri M. S. Gopalakrishnan.
The Parur style emphasizes strict adherence to sruti and focuses on the gayaki style of playing the violin. In recent years, young Ananthakrrishnan has repeatedly won laurels for upholding the trend set by his illustrious predecessors.
The percussion accompaniment for Nandini will be by her brother Sri Nandagopal, already a well-known and much sought after mridangist, vocalist and teacher in Muscat. As a loving elder sibling, Nandagopal has been nurturing Nandini’s career and his presence and support on the mridangam is bound to bring the very best out of Nandini.
The evening concert, scheduled to begin at 6:00 pm, will feature another rising star in the Carnatic scene, Sri Vignesh Ishwar. Born with the advantage of belonging to a musically evolved family, Vignesh has grasped the essence of Carnatic music, which is revealed in impressive stage presence, and confident rendition of alapanas, kritis and kalpana swarams.
Making good use of his technical background (he holds a masters in sound and music technology), Vignesh has been involved in many innovative schemes to improve and preserve the great heritage of classical Indian music. He has a bagful of honors and awards to his credit, and there is no doubt he will leave his mark on the Muscat audience.
Young Ananthakrishnan will be Vignesh’s violin accompanist. It is creditable that Ananthakrishnan has agreed to play the violin for a lead female and male artiste on the same day, as this can be technically demanding.
The mridangist for the evening will be Delhi R Srinivasan, who has an enviable track record as an accompanist to almost all the great vocalists and instrumentalists who have visited Delhi in the last thirty odd years. He has been chosen to accompany many of these artistes abroad on their concert tours, such is his level of understanding the role of a percussionist. Another Muscat boy, Srinivasan is bound to delight the many locals who already know his prowess.
Saturday the 25th March promises to be an exciting day, alright!
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