Nadasurabhi Cultural Association located in Koramangala, Bangalore is in the forefront of promoting Classical Carnatic Music. Nadasurabhi conducts the highest quality music concerts every month and a week-long Annual Festival in November, free of charge to all rasikas. Our other events include a youth festival, Thyagaraja and Purandaradasa Aradhana, and music competitions for children.
Written by Harini Raghavan
Tracing the origin of music is
not an easy task. Great minds have delved deep into the past to take a glimpse
of the primitive music, but failed to obtain any authentic facts. Indian music
however traces its origin to 'Samaveda'.
Geniuses have constantly worked on this field of knowledge trying to
synthesize philosophy, psychology and aesthetics and blend it with music. The
oral tradition had its drawback in the transmission of knowledge and caused
confusion. Hence there was an urgent need for the script. Celebrated writers like Narada, Panini and
Yagnyavalkya have developed music as an art through their writings. Even though
part of the history of ancient music is legend, our scholars with their
knowledge- hungry-souls have worked hard enough to come with major developments
in the field. Naradiya Siksha, Paniniya Siksha and Yagnyavalkya Samhita were
the only authentic source material for ancient music. While the 1st was lost and only references could
be found in the later classics on music, the other two were not treatises on music
but, yet landmarks in the evolution of music during past centuries could be
spotted in these books.
1. The Natyasastra of Bharata: It
is the earliest literature on music. It
is considered to have been written around 2nd century B.C. Written in Sanskrit,
the book runs into 6000 couplets spread over 36 chapters, covering a wide range
of topics about music. It is a document
of supreme educative value. Chapters 28-
34 deal with aspects of music like, Shruti, Swara, Grama, Murchana, Jati,
various types of instruments and how and when to play them, their construction
and so on. All later works and their
findings have their roots in this book.
2. Silappadikaram by
Illango: This was a poem in Tamil
written in the 2nd centuryA.D. The
author was a gifted scion of the Cheran Royalty. The work had 3 cantos divided into 30
chapters with more than 5200 lines. It was a master piece, a literary classic,
depicting in sublime verses the religious, social, political, cultural and
economic set up of the three southern kingdoms - Chera, Chozha and Pandya. It
was poetry, lyric and drama woven together. Music was treated in the most exhaustive
manner. It dealt with various musical
instruments and directions for tuning and using them, different aspects of
rhythm, different 'Panns'(ragas)and their evolution, the seven notes in Tamil,
the treatment of ragas and their classification, 72 melakarta plan, derivation
of 'Palais' through modal shift and so on .We find an endless stream of
informative musical material here.
3. Sangam Literature:
Silappadikaram promoted vigorous creative activity in music. During the Sangam Age of Tamil literature
which ended by 5th century, most of the great classics had music as their
favourite theme. Tolkappiam, the oldest Tamil classic was a primary treatise on
grammar. It surveyed the entire field of
culture and laid down rules and directions for all kinds of literary compositions.
4. Tamil Hymns of Tevaram: Even though the Sangam literature centered on
music and dance not much was said about the music theory or musical
instruments. Practical side of music was not touched upon eloquently. With the
dawn of the 7th century, philosophers and religious leaders identified the
enthusiasm of people for music and they used this opportunity to propound their
doctrines in simple songs in the language of the masses. The 'Tevaram' and
'Divyaprabhandam' of Saiva and Vaishnava saints in popular 'panns' (ragas), set
to easy talas were the earliest patterns of practical music on record. The four important figures in the Tevaram
hierarchy were Manicka Vachakar, Tirugnana Sambandar, Tirunavukkarasar and
Sundaramurti. 'Jeevakachintamani', a
poem running into more than 12,500 lines written by a Jain monk –
Tiruttakkathevar, also stressed on the
importance of music for the culture and stability of the community.
5.Brihaddesi of Matanga: After Natyasastra and Tamil classics,
Brihaddesi is a work in Sanskrit best known during that period. The work stands
incomplete. Only about 500 verses are
available, along with a number of commentaries.
Of the available chapters, the first three explain aspects like, Nada,
Shruti, Swara, Murchana, Desi,Tana, Varna, Alankara, Jati, Geeta and Raga. Various
other aspects including the popular melodies of his time are given in the other
chapters. As the name suggests, it is a
huge work and highly informative, like an encyclopedia.
6. Abhjilashitarta Chintamani
(Manasollasa) by Someshwara: He was a
king who ruled over Chalukya dynasty in the 12th century. His contribution to music is great. He hailed the music of South India as
'Karnataka Sangeetha". He has
covered in his book, countless topics about music like, the qualities of a
singer, composer, the auditorium, the voice, Alapana, Gamaka and so on in great
7. Sangita Samayasara of
Parshwadeva: The book must have been
written in 13th century. The book is
divided into 10 Adhikaranas, where he has dealt with Shruti, Swara, Grama,
Ragas, Desi-Gita, Alankaras, Gamaka, Vadya, Nritya, Talas and so on. He has
classified Ragas as Raganga, Bhashanga, Upanga and Kriyanga and has mentioned
details of 43 ragas that were popular during his time. It is an authoritative book.
8. Sangita Ratnakara of
Sarngadeva: The author was adept both in
music and Sanskrit and had studied all the 'Sastra Granthas' that were
available in his time, in minute detail. His is a voluminous treatise running
to about 5000 verses divided into 7 chapters written in Sanskrit, with every
detail pertaining to musicology. It is a
perfect work done meticulously and methodically. It is an encyclopedic work.
9. Sangitasara of Vidyaranya: It was written in 14th century. The book is not available now. But before it was lost the other musicologists
who chanced to study it have given information in their books about this book.
Particularly Govinda Dikshita mentions about 9 chapters from Sangitasara and
taken a lot of ideas from this book.
10. Swaramelakalanidhi of Ramamatya: He was a noted scholar and musician, received
a royal commission to write a book on music to reconcile tradition and current
practice. It was published on 21st
August 1550. It had 4 chapters - Swaraprakarana, Veenaprakarana, Melaprakarana
and Ragaprakarana, with a total of 328 couplets in Sanskrit. It is a fitting introduction to the modern
period in the history of South Indian Music. After this work, numerous other
publications on music were made.
Haripaladeve wrote a 100 books.
Many other books on Raga, Mela, Janya, etc were published. But Ramamtya's exposition of Mela and Raga
and his technic of 'Madya Mela Veena' was a pioneering work in the scientific
and systematic classification of Ragas.
11.Ragavibhodha of Somanatha
Kavi: This was another important
sanskrit classic on Carnatic Music, published on 18th September 1609, having
463 verses. This book was an advancement
over all previous records treating Swaras and Shrutis, Mela and Raga.In many
places it looks like he has drawn upon contributions of Purandaradasa.
12 .Sangitasudha by Govinda
Dikshitar: He was well versed in
traditional lore particularly those relating to music. Only part of his book is available. The last
3 chapters are lost. He has followed the model of Sangita Ratnakara in his
Ramamatya, Somanatha and GovindaDikshitar
may be regarded as the trinity of theoreticians, while Annamacharya,
Purandaradasa and Kshetragnya laid the foundation for practical music on which stands
the glorious super structure of Carnatic Music built by the famous trinity of
the Golden Era - Thyagaraja, Muthuswamy Dikshitar and Shamasastry.
12. Chaturdandi Prakashika of
Venkatamakhin: The Mela concept which
went through lot of process by earlier musicologists, saw its completion in
Venkatamakhin's period. He was well versed in music, Sanskrit, Vedas, Puranas, Sastras, etc. He was a great composer, Vocalist and a
Vainika. His treatise on music stood as an authority and was accepted by all
scholars of his generaion and the future generations.
His book has 10 chapters dealing with Veena,
Shruti, Swara, Mela, Raga, Tala and so on.
The 72 Mela scheme expounded by him revolutionized the Carnatic Music
system. Even though he tabulated the 72 melas, he did not name them, it was
done by his successors and perfected by Govinda Dikshita who made it into a
'Sampurna Mela Scheme 'and introduced the famous 'KaTaPaYaadi' rule. The book
is informative, useful and has valuable information and hence occupies a
special status in the world of Carnatic Music.
13. Sangraha Choodamani of
Govindacharya: This book was written in
Sanskrit, by the end of 18th century. It
is fully in accordance with the current system of carnatic music. Swaras, Shruti, Melas, Janyas, Ragalakshanas,
Geetas are dealt with in detail. This book gives all relevant information about
the theory of Carnatic Music and hence also called by another name -
14 .Sangita Sarvatha Sara Sangrahamu
by Ramanujaiah : It is in Telugu and
Sanskrit, having 48 Gitas. It is a very handy book for learners for, it has lot
of details about Raga, Swara, their origin, Chandas, Rasas, Moods, etc. The lyrics are based on Puranas and Epic
15. Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini
of Subbarama Dikshitar: He was a
scholarly musician. In his book,
Subbarama Dikshitar has collected a number of compositions. We find Lakshyagitas, Lakshanagitas, Sancharigitas, Swarajathis,
Jathiswaras, Tana varnas, Pada varnas, Kritis, etc. and life sketches of 75
composers and Ragalakshana slokas. This book alone gives the idea of many ragas
which have under gone major changes. It
is a unique book, useful as a guide and source material for research. It was
written in Telugu, now translation in Tamil, Kannada and English languages are
Other Treatises on Music:
1. Sangita Parijatha of
Ahobila, a great scholar and highly adept in music, written in 17th century, is
a mile stone book of his time. There are 500 verses in this book. Swara, Grama, Murchana, Jathi, Varna, Tala,
Swara-expanse and many other technical words are discussed in this book. He has introduced 125 ragas and also
specified the time when each raga has to be sung.
2 .Ragatatvavibhodha of
Srinivasa is a work written in 18th century. Though he has followed Ahobila on many
topics, he has excelled Ahobila in many others.
3. Sangita Makaranda of
Narada belongs to 9th century. Lot of controversies have been
leveled against this book. This was the
first book to have classified Ragas into Masculine, Feminine and Neuter which
has served as the basis for ‘Raga-Ragini system’.
4. Naradiya Siksha by
5. Dattilam by Dattila
6 .Bharata Bhashya by Nanyadeva
7. Sangitameru by Kohala
8 .Kalanidhi by
Kallinatha ( a commentary on Sangita Ratnakara)
9. Sangitasudhakara by
10. Sangita Raja by Raja
11. Abhinava Bharatasara
Sangraha by Mummadi Chikka Bhupala
12. Sangita Saramrutha by
13. Sangita Choodamani by
14. Rasakoumudi by
15. Sangita Darpana by
Chandrodaya, Ragamanjari and Nartana Nirnaya by Pundarika Vittala
16. Sangita Kalpadhruma by Harikeshanallur Muthiah
Several authors have
written various books at different times in Sanskrit, Tamil and Telugu about Lakshya
and Lakshana and also about various changes and developments taking place in
the field of Carnatic Music from time to time.
There have been commentaries and interpretations about these books by
various other authors. These books help
students and researchers in studying these changes and developments in the
field over a period of time.
1. History of South
Indian Music by R.Rangaramanuja Ayyangar
2. Theory of Music
by Vidushi T.S. Vasanthamadhavi
Sanjeevini by Prof. Rajiv Hiremath
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