Vande Sangeetham

Each episode of Vande Sangeetham by Vidwan Vijay Siva on You Tube covers a certain aspect of Carnatic music. It is not very technical nor does it go much into theory. But the information is useful for a lay listener who likes to hear good music and would like to know some information which would make it more interesting for him such as the Raga, who composed a particular Kriti and where it was done, and something about the story or philosophy contained in the lyrics. Siva speaks in a casual manner about such details so that the viewers find it easy to sit and watch.It does not confuse or confound the viewer. Particularly for young people who want to learn to appreciate music or even learn music these episodes could evoke their curiosity and make them want to delve deeper into the world of Sangeetham.

Siva starts by saying that we start traveling along the river Kaveri. The first episode Kavery – Saveri is about the greatness of river Kavery and how many composers have sung about it and in general about the importance of rivers and how civilizations grew on the banks of rivers. Siva renders the song “Karikalabamukham” of Muthuswamy Dikshitar set in Raga Saveri on Lord Ganesha and his temple situated on the banks of Kaveri in Mayiladuthurai. In a later episode he talks of Ratnagiri, popularly known as Iyer Malai, near Trichy situated not far from river Kaveri. The Siva temple on the hill is featured in Muthuswami Dikshitar’s Kriti in Mukhari Raga “Pahimam Ratnachalanayaka” and mentions the story of the temple. Again Kaveri comes in while talking of Arunagirinathar and his Thiruppugazh. In “Nadabindukaladi Namo Nama” the saint poet mentions the Cholanadu created by river Kaveri and the life style of the people living there.

Some Ragas come in for special mention. The episode on Raga Thodi has Siva talking about how though the Raga is not an easy one to handle, still it has been used by all important Vaggeyakaras in numerous compositions. For instance Saint Thyagaraja has composed ever so many Kritis in Thodi each one a unique creation, each one starting at a different Swara. So has Dikshitar such as the Kamalamba Navaavarna Kriti, Papanasam Sivan with “Karthikeya Gaangeya” and so on. If you take Bhairavi Raga various emotions can be conveyed through it, be it Veera, Karunya or even Sringara. Siva gives examples for the variety of compositions. How could one forget the magnum opus of Shyama Shastri, the Swarajati in Bhairavi “Kamakshi Amba”.

It is known generally that Saint Thyagaraja was a great devotee of Lord Rama and his compositions were mainly about Rama Bhakti. But his Kritis also deal with life itself. Citing many Kritis Siva explains how the Saint talks of how one should lead one’s life through reference to stories from the epics and Puranas – how one should behave in the family, in society and in profession.

One gets to know about Vidushi D.K. Pattammal and her brother Vidwan D.K. Jayaraman and their styles of approaching music but with total commitment. Pattammal made it a point to stick to the manner in which a song was taught to her and never deviated from it. DKJ was somewhat adventurous says Siva.

In the episode on Manodharma or improvisation he insists that the original Patanthara as taught must not be meddled with improvisation. Kalpithasangeetham, that is, what one has been taught, should remain as such and not imposed with one’s own Kalpana. But though the title of the episode is “Manodharma” there is no mention about how to and when to handle it. In “Chintana” he talks about voice training. Demonstration of Akara singing is very interesting and useful to young learners. He suggests that early morning is the best time for practicing voice training.

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