Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Carnatic Music: Not a forgotten art anymore!!

Music is an art form, the elements of which are sound and silence. The emotion that results out of music affects not only the performer, but also in the listener. It is as easy for a person to lose onself in singing, as in listening.
From the ancient times of Purandara Daasa, Tyagaraja and Muthuswami Dikshitar to the modern world of Dr. Balamuralikrishna, Smt. M. S. Sheela and Dr. T. S. Sathyavathi, people who bring this art in to the world as well as practice it are treated with respect. Be it instrumental or vocal, Carnatic music is regarded as the best in the world when it comes to the complex compositions as well as simple subtlety in it.
The origin of music, people say was from the nature. It was amusing to the human mind to hear and mimic the sounds of nature which included the sounds of birds and animals. For example, Imagine a simple tap on the wood by the axe of a wood cutter with equal intervals of time can create “Taala”. Throw in the sounds of birds chirping and you can get the music of the nature. Of the saptaswaras (seven primary notes), each note is said to be emanating from a particular animal. For example, the cuckoo (kokila) sings in the ‘panchama’ and the elephant (pikaH kUjati panchamam … niShAdam bRimhate gajaH). Thus, the various sounds that Nature gave us became ‘swara’s (Musical sound of a single note: Sa-Re-Ga-Ma-Pa-Dha-Ni) hence forming a Raaga which then makes music.
In the ancient times, it was tough for common people to study or seek music. It was the “Pitamaha” of Carnatic music, PurandaradAsa, who simplified the teaching process and helped even a common man attain this peace. Even Saint Tyagaraja’s ‘kriti’s are egalitarian. Our Haridasas brought music to the masses with their kirtanas that were universally appealing.
Carnatic music is sought about these days as therapy also. It is something that people go after to get some peace of mind. Listening to the scores of instruments like a Santoor or Bansuri will definitely calm the nerves. Carnatic music even attracts foreign students (in turn their culture) not only to practice it but to study the various raagas and efficient ways of mastering it. The influence of our culture in Carnatic Music is equally influencing the people around the world as much as the western culture in our society. This is very positive since it makes people of our generation to take the best of both worlds and make it their own. The formation of the Fusion music in which East meets West is one such discovery of this century. Dr. L Subramaniam is one such artist who is more in to Fusion of Carnatic and Western music.
Music Philanthropist Mr. T V Sairam (Mumbai’s commissioner for Central Excise), in his book “Healing with Music” says that practitioners of Carnatic music are fully aware of the power and influence of the raagas as a balm for the mind. He further clarifies that "Some raagas such as Darbari-Kanhara, Khamaj and Pooriya were strongly recommended by ancient vaids for defusing tension of the mind, particularly during episodes of hysteria. Hypertension is another health ailment that responds positively to music. Raagas such as Ahirbhairav and Thodi have been recommended for patients with high blood pressure. On the other hand, low blood pressure is healed with the Raaga Malkauns, believed to have supernatural energy.”

** Special thanks to Parijatha for helping out with the content and proof reading.