Monday 30 June 2014

Carnatic (South Indian) Music

-by Justice Markandey Katju

Due to the influence of Justice Chalameshwar, presently a sitting Judge of the Supreme Court ( who is like a younger brother to me), I have developed some interest in South Indian (Carnatic) music. Justice Chalameshwar loves to hear, and indeed himself sings beautifully, Carnatic music.

I had no idea of Carnatic music before I met Justice Chalameshwar, who is from Andhra Pradesh. I had developed an interest in North Indian (Hindustani) music, and in fact attended the Prayag Sangeet Samiti in Allahabad for about two years when I was a student in Allahabad University. So I have some idea of Hindustani music.

At Justice Chalameshwar's house in Delhi I heard ( on his ipad) Jesudas singing a Carnatic music song in raag hindola ( which is called raag malkosh or malkauns in Hindustani music). I was simply enthralled by the music. Then I heard M.S. Subbalakshmi, Balmuralikrishna, Malladi brothers etc and was equally captivated. It was a new world for me, and now I am daily hearing Carnatic music on my ipad, which Justice Chalameshwar has kindly uploaded for me.

Carnatic music songs are composed largely in Telugu or Sanskrit, and very little in other south Indian languages. They are mostly devotional, sung in praise of some deity like Lord Shiva, Ganapati, etc The father of Carnatic music is regarded Purandar Das ( 1480-1564), but the Trinity of Carnatic Music are regarded three eminent composers and singers, Thyagaraja ( 1759-1847), Muthuswami Dikshitar ( 1776-1827), and Shyama Shastri ( 1762-1827).

In recent times M.S. Subbalakshmi ( 1916-2004), Balmuralikrishna, Malladi brothers, Jesudas, etc are great names in Carnatic music M.S. Subbalakshmi performed in the United Nations in 1966, and got a standing ovation after her performance. She also was awarded the Bharat Ratna.

A week long annual Carnatic music festival on the date of Thyagaraja's death (in January or February) is held in Thiruvaiyur, Thyagaraja's native place (near Tanjore). Many top Carnatic musuc exponents, and thousands of music lovers attend it. Thyagaraja's five important compositions are always sung in the festival.

The Madras Music academy in Chennai has played an important role as a world centre of Carnatic music.

Since I have just started learning something about Carnatic music my knowledge is not deep, and so I may be forgiven by people who know more of Carnatic music if I have made some mistake, or left out some vital features.

1 comment:

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