...................... by Sivapriya Krishnan
Carnatica.net is organising what they call " Nerukku Ner", an interactive workshop, in conjunction with Sri Krishna Gana Sabha and Sri Krishna Sweets. This is held in the nice, cosy mini auditorium of the sabha.
In this interactive workshop, the senior artists /gurus teach an item , as a learn along /sing along process, wherein the audience participates in the learning process.
Sangita Kalanidhi Smt.R.Vedavalli conducted the interactive workshop on Varnams on the 14th of December, 2009.
In the process of learning, she brought out the importance of gradual learning in Carnatic music, the importance of varnams in initiating the student from swarajathis to singing a composition like varnams with gamakas, karvais, jantais- dhatu swaras, and sahitya all rolled into one.
Varnams she said lays the strongest foundation for the following :
a. voice training through akaara sadhakam
b. appreciation and understanding of swara sthanas for a raga
c. fine tuning ones senses to individual sruti values and co-ordinating, swara and sahitya
d. memorising complicated and even repetetive swara patterns
e. getting a mental map of the raga in practice
f. helps the student in learning and practising tala and kalapramana variations by singing it in various nadais and eduppus
The varnam that she took for teaching was a rare Begada Ata Tala varnam, by the renowned composer-gayaka-vidwan Sri Patnam Subramania Iyer. Assiduously, she went about methodically , step by step, into initiating the audience, comprising of the old and the young alike and made all of them sing it in unison towards the end of the session.
This varnam has many a Begada swara pattern, so characteristic of a "pracheena " (old) version of the raga. She explained the beautiful use of both the Kaisiki and Kakali nishada, the "aarsha" or specially rare prayoga of "NDNS" , "SGM" , with the gandhara in the upper octave and the use of beautiful euphemistic language by the composer. She emphasised that one should learn varnams like this with a view to critically understand how ragas were used in ancient times and learn the specialties of the raga through these compositions.
She also implored that while doing so, it is best to leave the composition without trying to alter and fit any patterns to suit to a modern day view of the raga pattern; as great composers - vidwans have done their best with a full understanding of the Lakshana of the raga and only then handed it down to posterity.She gave some examples of how the Adi tala Begada varnam has undergone such changes , over time.
It was a truly enriching, magnificently educative and elevating experience to all there to have been able to learn a solid rare composition of merit, handed down to the audience through a wonderfully meritorious stalwart like Smt.R.Vedavalli.
Thanks to all the conveners and organisers of events like this, which makes the December season , a memorable and elevating experience.