National seminar on Indian Music

This three-day national symposium was organized by IFIH and co-sponsored by the Indian Council of Philosophical Research (New Delhi) and Indian Institute of Advanced Study (Shimla). It was held on 7-9 February 2003 at Indian International Centre, New Delhi. A report by Dr. Bharat Gupt, IFIH founder member and academic director of the symposium:

Inaugural Session

The conference was given an auspicious opening with a MANGALA-ACHARANA of stuti of Ganesha, Sarasvati and Naada sung in the classical style in a melodious voice by Smt. Sarita Pathak Yajurvedi, Lecturer in Music, Delhi University. Besides some traditional verses of vandana, she also sang Hindi mangala compositions of the famous musicologist and composer, the late Acarya KCD Brihaspati. The seminar director, Dr. Bharat Gupt then, extended a warm Welcome to guests and participants, which included Mr. Efstathios Lozos, the Greek Ambassador and made a Statement about the Aim of the Conference. He said that deliberations were supposed to highlight the significance of the deep philosophical thought behind Indian music and how it has grown as a tradition interacting with its neighbouring countries. He invited Prof V. R. Panchamukhi, Chairperson ICSSR to light the lamp of inauguration and give his address. The Chief Guest and several speakers and participants lighted the aarati-lamp. Dr. Bharat Gupt introduced Prof Panchamukhi as a scholar and economist who would hopefully assist in promoting the aim of IFIH in combining the virtues of traditional systems of knowledge with modern needs.

In his inaugural address Prof. Panchamukhi began by saying that it was unusual for a social scientist to speak at a music seminar. Such an act seems surprising because we have for a long time forgotten the great role of music in the development of societies. It is customary to think of music, he said, as an individual pursuit and not as a method that generates immense social happiness. As the aim of human life is to create happiness and not merely to collect wealth, music should be regarded as a socially productive asset. He was glad to come and discover that music was considered in this forum as a social science. He added that it was not desirable to think of traditional systems of knowledge as merely only religious. They were systemic and scientific as well. He played and a tape of the Sama Vedic chant, the earliest example of Indian musical practice and explained how the text of the Rgveda was transformed into music through Saman chants that fulfilled a need of even higher happiness than was provided by the practices of Yajurvedic yajnas.

Traditionally music has been defined as a way to attain the four aims or purushaarthas of life, not one, but all four. Also music was never alone in its use but nearly always combined with poetry that was thoughtful and serious that which made a difference to the life of heart and head. Music merely as a divergence is a modern phenomenon where as in the ancient world it was always connected with a philosophical or ethical choice. He pointed out that in many Euro-American universities the philosophy of music was studied but in India it is doubtful if any such attempt is being made.

He told the audience that a major function of music was to create absorption or tanmayata, which is emotionally very satisfying, and it does so more efficiently than any other art. It also provides a strong emotional expression, which however should be of the right and socially healthy kind. Neurotic and unhealthy emotion even through music of any other art can be socially ruinous.

In his keynote address, Prof K. D. Tripathi began by recapitulating the historical survey of Indian music by the noted scholar Thakur Jaidev Singh in his book Bhartiya Sangeet ka Itihas in which the earliest evidence of musical instruments is stated to be found in the Sindhu Civilization which the scholar considered to be culturally interactive with Mesopotamian, Greece and Egypt. But moving on, Prof. Tripathi mentioned that the philosophy of Indian music was part of the analysis of Sound or Nada, which included in its ambit, with music and dance, grammar, language and meaning. All the systems of philosophy whether Vedic, Agamic or Tantric have broadly speaking, accepted the concept of Nada as struck and unstruck, that is ahata and anahata, and have held that while ahata is for liberation and is not pleasing, the ahata is pleasing and leads to anahat. The utility of ahata or music is thus established for aesthetic pleasure, ranjana, as well as for spiritual quest. He cited Yajnavalkya who enlisted the virtues of music in his section of Yatidharma or the path for renunciates. Prof. Tripathi concentrated on the late ancient and medieval texts like Vakpadiyam, Vijnyanabhairava and Tantraloka that reveal the philosophy of music. Of all them state that Speech is said to of four kinds, vaikhari the spoken, madhyama the conscious but unspoken language, pashyanti the consciousness that sees and creates the language construction and para that sees everything in its total unity before breaking into any classification. He quoted Abhinavagupta who asserts that music is higher than poetry or any other form of art as it is much less divided and closer to ‘sthula pashyanti.’ It seems that proximity to undivided Brahmachaitanya decides the status of an art form in the hierarchy of human activities. Concluding his lecture, Prof Tripathi asserted that in the face of globalization the essential values of Indian music must not be lost sight of.

Thanking Prof Tripathi, the convener expressed his delight over his survey. He also said that the total philosophy of Indian music was not contained in one series of texts but spread from very early times. The early texts like the Natyashastra unlike Brihaddeshi or Ratnakara do not mention any Nada like concepts at all but from the Vedic times onwards the ethical, aesthetic and spiritual use of music has been clearly evident.

Giving the vote of thanks Dr. R. C. Pradhan, Secretary, ICPR, praised the speakers for stating loud and clear the philosophical values of Indian music and said that these must be brought to match with modernity. He said that India more than any other culture has emphasized the role of music in seeking transcendence. These days while Indian music is very popular globally its serious thought content is often ignored. The ICPR wishes to assist in the correction of this phenomenon. He thanked IFIH for organizing such seminars to highlight the validity of heritage to present life.

First Plenary Session

Srishti: Creation of Music (Scales and Systems)

Chair: Prof. K. D. Tripathi

Prof. Pankaj Mala, speaking on “Sama Gana, its Technique and Philosophy,” gave a remarkably detailed account of the actual practices of music through Saman chants in various yajnas. She pointed out that Sama Gana was not the beginning of Indian music but its first highly complicated and developed state both ritually and socially functional for very large number of participants. It included dance such as in the Mahavrata Somayaga in which several servant girls dance around the marjari fire. There was clear evidence that music both for entertainment and ritual was in vogue in the Vedic age. Her highly learned paper was exhaustive in describing the various functions of the udgata prastota, pratiharta and subramanian priests and the division of the mantras in the Samavedic samhita according the needs of the sacrifices or yajnas.

Dr. Pankaj Mala’s paper was followed by many congratulations to her erudition and analytical comments by a host of speakers, Bharat Gupt, N. Ramanathan, and Raji Ramanan among others.

Prof. N. Ramanathan spoke on the Influence of the Gāndharva Scale System on Post-Bharata Musical Systems. He described the earliest musical system described in the works of Bharata and Dattila then called as Gandharva. It was based on Mūrcchanā and Jāti that served as the melodic bases for the musical compositions. This scale system had a melodic approach using a modal-shift of the tonic. In other words to obtain a different scale the tonic was shifted from one svara to the other without altering the intervals of the svaras or the sequence of the svara arrangement.

Bŗhaddēśī of Matańga was the earliest available work of the Dēśī tradition and in it ‘Rāga’ is described as the basis for musical compositions. This text uses the same scale system as in Bharata for describing the ragas. This raises questions regarding its applicability. From Abhinavabhāratī, the commentary on Nāţyaśāstra, we learn that two more sādhāraņa svaras, sādhāraņa gāndhāra and Kaiśika nişāda made their appearance in the system and that at the same time Madhyama-grāma was relegated to a secondary status and Şađjagrāma assumed the position of the chief or natural Grāma. This is a pointer towards the collapse of the Grāma system. This gradually results in the formation of a set of seven ‘pure’ (suddha) svaras and a number of other alternate ‘modified’ (vikŗta) svaras. The sādhāraņa svaras and the Madhyamagrāma pañcama that differed from the suddha svaras constituted the ‘vikŗtasvaras. This is described in a systematic way by Śāŗńgadēva in his Sańgītaratnākara although he himself does not use these svaras to define the rāgas in his book.

The inability of the ‘modal-shift of tonic’ based Grāma system to describe the Rāgas naturally led to the formulation of the `fixed-tonic' linear system in the post-Sāŗńgadēva period, although the scholars in the Eastern part of India chose not to go in for any change. Scholars from both the Southern part of India and the Northern part used the system of Sāŗńgadēva as the starting point but adapted it in their own way to describe the ragas of their regions.

It is however seen that the intervals of svaras of Şađjagrama of Gāndharva continued to dominate the form of Śuddha svaras till very recently at least theoretically. Again the names of sādhāraņa svaras continue till this day in Karņāţaka music system till day. The Madhyamagrāma-pañcama survives as the augmented madhyama. Thus although totally different systems of music evolved in the country, the scale systems have only been modifications made to the Scale system of Gāndharva.

Prof Ramnathan’s paper was followed by a long discussion. Ms. Lila Omchery contested the speaker’s view that Gandharva system was dead. In Sopanam music of Kerala, according to her, it was still very much alive below the surface as was the impact of ancient Tamil scales called Panis. The Raga-ragangas of Sopanam are a separate entity even today and are remnants of Bharata’s Jatis. Many participants wished to know if present-day techniques like tanas and sargams were used in ancient times to which the speaker said there could be no definite answer.

Dr. Gupt wondered why Prof. Ramnathan should question that the Natyashastra was a work depicting practices prevalent all over India and that there were regional variations of its concepts and generalization just as the 108 karanas are fundamentally the same but performed with diversity of style. The Panis and the Sopanams do not talk of wholly different classification of notes and melodies from that of the NS. The western anthropological approach of making the regional music an independent tight-sealed unit cannot be applied to India where the mechanism of shastra writing was constantly drawing from the whole subcontinent and giving back the finished shastra to its remotest corners.

The chair Prof. Tripathi in his conclusion noted that the question raised by Dr. Gupt regarding methodology applied to Indian text was fundamental. For the last two hundred years western systems like comparative philology, anthropology, structuralism and postmodernism have been applied. He said his mind was open to these all but first we should apply our own traditional system of vyakhyaa as it has developed through centuries.

Chair: H.E. Efstathios Lozos, Ambassador of Greece

Dr. Gupt informed the audience that the afternoon session was being chaired by the Mr. Lozos who was not only a representative of a great culture but also a kindred soul to this gathering as he played the piano.

The ambassador said he was honoured to be in the seminar which he noticed since morning was a meeting of very eminent scholars and perceptive listeners. Both music and philosophy were highly valued in the Greek culture as they were in India and hence he felt so much at home in the seminar. Music was regarded as the highest of all arts in ancient Greece. Though there were nine Muses protecting different arts, they were all called Muses deriving their name from ‘mousike or music, thus metaphorically asserting the supremacy of music in all epistimes or knowledge systems. Hence gymnastics, music and mathematics were compulsory in ancient Greek pedagogy.

He added that besides the philosophy of music there was also the music of philosophy or in other words the inner order of the consciousness, which analyses and sees the diversity of things in the world. This inner order can be best experienced through music. For this reason the Greeks and the Indians concurred in taking to music as a spiritual pursuit. The final point he made was about the tradition of music in Greece, which he said was disrupted by Christianity (in spite of the prevalence of devotional hymn music) till the interest in Greek gods was revived in modern times and brought back music to the Greeks in a new way. He was also very pleased that he was being so honoured for representing Greece.

The first speaker of the post lunch session was the Greek musicologist Mr. Costis Drygianakis who showed slides and reading paper on Greek and Indian Music: Evolution of two Non Western Traditions. The Greek scholar gave a PowerPoint presentation on the variety of Greek music forms showed images from Minoan culture, the 2500 BCE figurine of the Cycladic islands, notation of the ancient times on Apollian hymn and many others through ages till the present day folk and classical forms to highlight the rather less known but very crucial fact that India and Greece share many common elements in arts, poetry and theatre and most of all in music. They were both old cultures, he said, showing a remarkable development in the early antiquity; after centuries of glory, they underwent a phase of suppression by various occupants and till they re-emerged in the 20th century, asserting their importance and their independence. Music is one of the most prominent features of both civilizations. Greek music like the Indian is monophonic and modal and many aesthetic concepts are common to Poetics and Natyasastra. Sharing a common background even in technical terms, in the 20th century both Greek and Indian music have to face the evolution of technological media achieved and introduced by the alien Western culture. The technological eminence of the West, the vast growth of commerce also included, becomes a tool that has to be mastered and incorporated in the re-vitalized Indian and Greek cultures. Both cultures have to find their way to utilize fully the modern media, without missing their diachronic internal values. Mr.Costis Drygianakis felt that in general, it seems that this goal is already on the way to achievement. Is the same thing happening in all non-Western cultures, he asked?

A prolonged discussion followed his lecture and many among the audience wanted to hear some more examples of Greek folk music.

The senior scholar and author of several books on Nadadarshana, Prof Narusimhacharan Panda distributed his 40-page paper on “Nada Siddhanta and Music” and gave a pithy summary of the various concepts of Nada as found in Nadabrahmavada, Shabdabrahmavada and Spandadarshana of Kashmir initiated by Vasugupta. One of the thrusts of his talk was that modern scientists have brought forward the Big Bang theory about the creation of the universe, which has an exact parallel in the creation theory of the Nada philosophy, except that modern science does not postulate a creator like the Brahma. He also admonished Indologists and philosophers to take keen interest in Greek thought as such has been the way of philosophy since ancient times.

Second Plenary Session

Aasvaad: Appreciation of Music (Enjoyment, Style, Individual and Social)

Chair: Dr. Shanti Hiranand

Dr. Sarita Pathak Yajurvedi presented The Unity of Svara Tala and Pada: a Demonstration. She emphasized that the Indian tradition was upholding this principle as a primary characteristic throughout the ages. Quoting from the Natyasastra she showed how this has been visualized at the very outset. She gave some basic definition about Svara, Tala, Gita and Pada and their variation. Then he proceeded to sing various compositions in ragas Bhimpalasi, Bhairavi, and Yaman Kalyan explaining how the words were assisting the general bhava of the composition that was created by the notes and rhythm. All the compositions were creations of the late Acarya Brihaspati. The performance was widely appreciated.

February 8, 2003

Chair: Ms Sharbori Mukherji

The second day began with the young and brilliant scholar Priyadarshi Patnaik who read his provocative paper on Transcending the Self and the Other, Listening to Indian Classical Music. He postulated that Indian classical music is essentially meditative. Originating from the anāhata nāda (causal and unmanifest sound) as āhata nāda (effect and manifest sound) of the Nāda Brahman (Sound Principle), the exploration of notes is not so much a ‘composition’ as a ‘comprehension’ — the process of self-realization, self-reflection made outwardly manifest. What is the pleasure, relish or enjoyment derived from such music, he asked? The role of the listener, in such a context, is distinctively different from that in other musical traditions.

He argued that in such a tradition musical exploration essentially aims to transcend ego, as in other forms of meditation. Musical enjoyment, if it can at all be called so, is the concern not only of the listener but of the musician as well. Further, in the light of Abhinavagupta’s exploration of sahridaya (the sensitive and learned listener) and rasananda (delight derived from aesthetic pleasure), that the connoisseur and the musician, at one point of time, cannot really be separated from the musical experience, and they all become one. The artist he said was seeking to be anonymous by merging with the ever present sound both struck and un-struck and not seeking recognition for his personal creation of art.

As a part of this exploration, Patnaik said he was planning to take some actual responses to Western and Indian classical music (qualitative, quantitative, physiological responses of 15 subjects) and test out the degree of actual difference there is in the listening to the two categories of music. He wished to use an Indian and a Western clip (5 minutes each) of approximately the same tempo using similar notes as between subject variables. He wished to take subjects with understanding of Western music, Indian music, and listeners with no theoretical training as the within subject variables. The conclusions of the study would be a further ground for revisiting his postulations.

This paper was heatedly debated. The Chair itself made the first comment that it was not fair to allege that western music is written and thus with little room for performative innovation and interpretation. She said that in the Indian traditions compositions were bore signatures and thus anonymity was not sought all the time. T. S. Shankaran said that Indian audiences very often were too responsive and at the wrong time. The speaker’s thesis was however strongly supported by Prof V. N. Jha who pointed out that in the Indian tradition anonymity was sought as it was a belief that no body and least of all the artist cannot ‘create’ anything but only rearrange things as given by tradition. The artist makes only his ‘bhava’ known and that too in a universalized way through ‘vibhava anubhava.’ Bhai Baldeep Sigh added that in India when ‘signed’ compositions become highly circulated they become common property and are virtually anonymous as they become transformed into a tradition then than individual creations. Prof. Ramanathan suggested that even alap was an individual creation and not anonymous.

In his paper, Dr. Bharat Gupt pondered on the subject, “Will Indian Music Retain its Identity?” He said in a way his paper was a continuation of Patnaik’s paper as he was going to draw certain distinctions between modern western and Indian music. The shape of music and its traditions, he said, depended not just upon the performer but also as much, if not more so, upon its audience and listeners. In the present juncture a great change has come about in the audience, the student, the performance repertoire just within last ten years under the impact of mass media and globalization. Some instruments like the tabla have disappeared from film and popular music. The students today are more anxious to be known as performer even before they have completed their training and acquired a substantial repertoire. This is not merely a change in the market but in the attitude where the individual has now become more demanding and the older attitude of deriving a spiritual satisfaction from music is fast declining. The shape of classical music in India was dependent upon a close relationship between the performer and the audience where the audience itself was trained and participatory. In the ‘fast-food fast-taste’ world the audience has no time to be present for long. Hence the replacement of night long concerts by tapes and CDs. Those who can promote their CDs are ‘greater’ musicians and award winners and get great audiences and not those who can nurture and be nurtured by steady and stable connoisseurs. Already glamour and ‘celebrity’ status has made the artist a slave to the new class of money spinning media patrons. The unction o the musician is transforming from that of a community/sabha mover to an entertainment producer. Also the discerning patron is very nearly gone, as independent India has failed to provide special classical music radio channel, music foundations, music research institutes and university departments of music, dance and theatre in sufficient numbers and satisfying quality. He said that the Euro-American world that produces so much of this oppressive and intrusive pop also has a huge volume of quality patronage. Dr. Gupt regretted that he had no ready answers to these problems but identity of music in its traditional uniqueness is bound to change radically to the point of dissipation if certain drastic measures are not adopted soon.

Chair: Shri Gangesh Gunjan

Nita Mathur on “Music in the World of Santhals” detailed account of how music was a ritual reality in the lives of the Santhals. She said that it was obvious from what was said by the Santhals themselves, their songs were not meant for aesthetic delight as urban cultures understand aesthetics but for life occasions such as marriage, death, birth, weaving, harvesting etc. She gave a detailed account of the nature of these songs and the poetry they contained. The most important thing she emphasized was that music was placed by the Santhals in the cosmic order as a sustainer of their lives.

The next speaker Malti Agnesvaran gave her talk on “Music and Classical Dance: Interlocked Traditions” along with a demonstration of an item from Bharatanatyam. She said, music and dance are kinetic art forms that exist in the energy release of the artiste and thereafter cease to exist. Music is an audio medium and dance is audio-visual. However this is a simplistic way of distinguishing between them. In as much as they both are kinetic art forms, they are created through physical energy.

At the deeper level of kinetics there is an inner power that moves the artiste both in music and in dance. Kinetics is not a reference to dynamic movement alone. The silence or pause in music or dance is a moment of equipoise before the next level of movement and is itself also a subtle aspect of movement.

The relationship between music and dance is one of a shift of emphasis as qualitatively both springs from kinetics. In music a visual is created but the sensory experience of hearing is primary; whereas in dance the visual is shown graphically with music becoming subsidiary as a sense experience.

The rational mind may not accept certain realities that are created by the cadences of music and movement in dance. These are in a manner of speaking created by ‘inner rhythms’ that do not operate at the conscious level and are often termed as ‘artistic impulse’. Often these impulses are esoteric in their import especially for those artistes who are deeply religion-oriented. In Bharatanatyam it is said, “where the hand goes there the eye goes and where the eye goes there the mind goes,” implying that all body movements should be synchronized to a common goal to create a unified experience. When the musical mode is expressed through there dance, then the entire being is concentrated to produce a powerful communication through Soul, mind and body. This may be described as a synergy of sahitya, raga, tala, and nritya creating thereby a bhava.

Third Plenary Session: Prayoga

The Practice of Music (Development of Genres and Forms).

Chair: Prof. Kapil Kapoor

The famous Dhruvapad singer Ustad Wazifuddin Dagar gave a lecture-demonstration entitled “Dhruvapada a Blissful Journey of Discipline and Freedom.” In his experience as a performer belonging to the family that goes back to 20 generations, pursuit the right note or svara sadhana was the highest aim and the greatest reward. Speaking in a highly metaphorical language, he said that arriving at the correct note was the most blissful experience but this whole pursuit also demanded a highly rigorous and disciplined life style. The freedom to create in the Dhruvapada genre was within certain set parameters. He also challenged the notion that Dhruvapada was a discarded and dry style of music. In fact it was the opposite. But to achieve this great bliss the one has to treat every raga as a living entity and discover it through personal search, as the teaching of the guru is only a beginning.

Captivating his audience with a demonstration he showed the various technical aspects of the style such as dhurana, murana, jivyah, anunasik gamak and a host of other embellishments that give shape to this kind of singing. He also demonstrated how very carefully one raga has to be kept from merging into another raga and the various kind of rhythmic cycles that are in vogue. Answering questions he maintained that Dhruvapada has made a very lively come back and more of the younger people are aspiring to become its performers.

The second speaker of the session was another famous artist of national level specializing in khayal style, Smt. Sulochana Brihaspati who spoke on ‘Acharya Brihaspati, a Vaaggyeya-kaar of the Rampur Tradition’. She drew the attention of the audience to the contributions of the Rampur gharana which came into prominence, she said in her erudite historical survey, after the decline of the Mughal court in Delhi and the kingdom of Awadh as the musicians of these eminent places were given patronage by the Rampur Nawabs from the mid 19th century onwards. Acarya Brihaspati as a pundit of the Rampur court inherited in musical wealth that prevailed there till mid 20th century through his proximity to the court musicians. He then used this training to produce historically significant works of musicology and hundreds of khayal compositions in Brijabhasha, the traditional language for Hindustani style of music. He restored appropriate poetry in the musical compositions that had come to develop a lack of sufficient literary content in the past half a century. He also created a systematic pedagogy of music for the modern student as is evidenced in his two volumes of Raga Rahasya.

Smt. Sulochana Brihaspati then proceeded to sing many of these compositions in a variety of ragas showing in them the beauty of notes, the accuracy of tala and their efficacy in the production of rasa. She not only regaled her audience or long but also answered a host of questions. The highly involved discussion extended till the very limit of the time.

   February 9, 2003

Chair: Dr. Trichy Shankaran

On the third day the Chair opened with the remarks that crucial interchanges in the musics of the world has now begun this session was an example of this ongoing phenomenon. He invited the Japanese musicologist Ms. Takako Ioune who gave her illustrated talk on “Japanese Musicologists and Indian Music.” She provided a history of the Japanese musicologists looking into the music of other countries particularly India. Her talk was illustrated by slides that delighted the audience. She said, it was the policy of the Japanese Government to send out scholars to study the music of various countries and under this scheme Prof. Mio Kosami came to India in 1957 and researched in Indian music at Madras and Lucknow. This had created a healthy awareness in modern times about the influence of Indian music on Japan that had occurred centuries ago. She proceeded to show certain modern performative creations in Japan that had used features of Korean, Chinese and Indian music. A short question session followed her lecture in which people wished to know if the Noh theatre was influenced by Kudiyattam to which the speaker said that Noh’s ancestor Jigishu may have been influenced.

The second speaker Bhai Baldeep Singh holding forth on “Gurbani and Dhruvapad pointed out that on learning Gurbani the most essential requirement was not the musical ability but a strong urge to seek the divine. He said, it was not a collection of poems but a kitartan or praise. We have to understand who is being praised, who is the praiser and what is the process of praising. The praised is the Akal Purukh or the Timeless Self that is formless but manifests itself in many ways and all forms. The praisers are the poets of Gurubani, which was not a sectarian book. Its poets are 36 saints who out which only 6 are Sikhs. The earliest of them is Baba Farid a Sufi poet and others like Jaidev, Namadeva, Mira, Kabir and a host of others lived in a span of 700 years much before and after Nanak.

The Sikh gurus endowed upon us the maryada (tradition) and parampara (conventions) of Kirtan to attain the state of One-ness. Kirtan builds a time-space bound kriya (activity) that takes us to the goal provided the conceptual and practical elements that go into kirtan are carefully learnt and assimilated without any deviation or dilution on the part of the seeker. Gurubani gives us the details in this respect. Guru-Shabd constitutes the verbal content in Kirtan. Guru-Shabd or Gurubani is not poetry although it uses poetic elements, like rhyme, simile, metaphors, imagery, because unlike poetry it addresses itself to no temporal concerns. Music at its most refined — dhrupad-ang — provides the expressive framework for Kirtan, i.e. the singing of Gurubani, which celebrates (sift-salaah) the vidaanta (the wondrous infinitude) of the One, creates and delineates various phases in the evolution of the seeker. The vocal elements and the percussive elements used in Kirtan are very carefully selected and joined, so that the technical virtuosity inherent in them does not become an end in itself. The understanding of Bani is the biggest savior in this respect and ensures our graduation to the Akaal through the Kaal, i.e. by not negating Kaal but by intensifying it. He demonstrated the taal system in isolation for this purpose showing examples of ched, saath, jat, gat, makaan lagaana, sat layaan, mukaa. Among the instruments being played in the classical mode, sitar and tabla, both as solo and as accompanying instruments, occupy the centre stage. However, some Punjabis are also giving classical concerts of sarod, santoor and sarangi. Until about fifty years ago, before partition, the scene perhaps was richer. Taus, saranda, jori-pakhawaj, sur-bahar, dilruba, veena, rabab, do-tara, violin, were commonly heard in concerts and in mehfils. Along with it, there was a strong tradition of devotional music in which the Kirtan-Maryada of the Sikhs preserved and promoted classical values at their best. After partition, major setbacks led to the decline of this musical tradition. During the last 50 years most of the Punjabi talent has been dissipated and most of the instruments used in classical music have gone out of vogue. Now the Darbar Sahib of the Golden Temple at Amritsar, which used to be an abode of the classic and excellence, is a place where mediocre compositions from the films and ghazals are copied to sing the verses of Gurubani.

The second half of Bhai Baldeep Singh’s lecture consisted of the singing of many sabda kirtanas in the Dhruvapada style as they were conceived a few hundred years ago before they changed into the forms that are commonly heard now. He also answered many questions regarding Dhruvapada and Gurbani.

Chair: Prof. R. Ramanathan

Ajit Singh Paintal’sGurbani, its Form and Content” was the next item. He shortened the speech part of his presentation as he said that many of the points have been made by Bhai Baldeep Singh but he did emphasize that the Sikh Gurus were following chief method of worship used in the medieval times that is singing the praise, kirtana, of the Supreme Reality by concentrating on his name or Nama, his attributes or gunas, his actions or charitra, his play or lila, her beauty or saundarya, her power or shakti. But in the Sikh tradition as it came to be practiced right from the early times that certain activities that accompanied singing such as the swinging of darveshes and Sufis, ecstatic dancing of the Vaishnavas, and dramatic enactments of the Krishna devotees were avoided and austere but deeply concentrative singing of poems of praise was adopted. The Muslim followers of Nanak through the lineage of his disciple Mardana who were also professional players of the instrument called the ‘rabab, were also singing the shabda till they parted company in the time of Guru Arjun Dev and only the ‘ragis remained as the official singers o the shabda. He then proceeded to sing many compositions and explained their significance or music and the sect.

Turning from the vocally privileged genres the next paper by Sunira Kasliwal concentrated on “Sitar and the Changes in String Instruments” in which a history of the Indian musical instruments from the 10th century CE was given highlighting that the rudra been was the leading instrument in the North or many centuries and was towards the beginning of the 19th came to be replaced by the sitar. She showed several pictures that indicated the changes that the instrument went through till the present day instruments used by the amous sitarists. She also played taped excerpts from Ravi Shankar, Uma Shankar Mishra and Vilayat Khan to show the difference in the tonality of their instruments.

Making a brief comment on this paper the Dr. Gupt said that he was so pleased with this presentation that he wished he would some day have a chance to organize a full conference on the subject of changes that instruments have gone through the centuries and also to investigate why the changes were done. He said it must ponder why the been was fine with Dhruvapada gayaki and not capable of accompanying the khayal singer and instead of the flute the sarangi and now the harmonium was developed for that purpose. The been he said has been under an influence of the sitar as it has changed its ‘baaj string to madhyama from shadja.

Fourth Plenary Session

Sadhana: Pursuit of Music (Pedagogy and Purpose)

Chair : Prof. Pankaj Mala

Concentrating on the teaching method still followed for music training Smt. Shanti Hiranand one of the leading names of the country in Thumri singing, concentrated on her learning under the famous Begam Akhtat Sadhana, Guru and his Method. She began by saying that music was both art and science. As far as it is the deepest method of expressing our thoughts and feelings which are presented to others and then also taken in again by the artist as a listener of his or her own creation and thus enjoyed, it is an art. But as far as it is a discipline that follows a specific method to create an ability that in turn creates a very specific and predictable effect, it is a science. It must be done methodically and with patience, perseverance, and dedication with a spiritual aim in mind. The journey of music is a long one and there are no short cuts in it. Also it cannot be done on one’s own as it requires the constant and very intimate presence of a guru. The disciple must be able to appreciate each and every expression of his teacher including the reason or his life style to understand how it is related to musical expression. She added that if there is true dedication and proper training the results are scientifically ensured. She also said that an artist is always humble in his attitude as he is willing to learn and appreciate wherever he sees excellence and is always dissatisfied with his achievement.

She then elaborated on some practical methods of perfecting the musical notes or the singer and cultivating a sense of soft fineness that is should be moving to hear. Drawing from the life of her teacher Begam Akhtar she mentioned that the teacher knows what kind of music the disciple should specialize in and answers the need. She also mentioned that music is now very widely appreciated but quality can be achieved by the age old methods that all good for all times, those of rigour and surrender to the art. Finally she sang a gazal of Mir Dehelvi.

The second speaker Prof. Trichy Shankaran: “Teaching Karnatak Music in Academic Setting” after giving his lineage as a mridangam player elaborated upon the values of the traditionally honored Gurukula system, and focused on the importance of modern methods of teaching Karnatak music in the University. He said, his experience of teaching Karnatak Music in the West (i.e., York University, Toronto, Canada) in the past 30 years was very crucial in developing modern methods of teaching that have to be incorporated now with changing times and needs. His performance experiences related to his teaching were also discussed by him and illustrated. Notation as a means to learning and the use of music scores in modern times was touched upon. Musicianship training as a primary goal in the University educational system and how Karnatak music helps to achieve were also part of the deliberations.

Fifth Plenary Session

Samvaada : Sensitivity and Music (Presentation and Propagation)

The final session was devoted to getting the responses of the young participants more so of the students regarding the variety of questions that they may have in mind. The subject through initially planned as a panel discussion was made into a question and answer session and a free play of the responses from the young and some other participants who had been anxiously listening for three days. The topic proposed was “Is Classical Indian Music for the New Generation? Questions from Students.” But in actual proceedings the students concentrated upon the difficulties they faced in learning and the discussion focused on how to remove the problems of teaching music at adult level to those who wish to become performers. The answers to the problems raised by the students were given by the many professors of music. One very common complaint was the excess of course work that was prescribed for degrees at MA and MPhil level. Prof. Paintal and Kasliwal admitted the problem and explained how this error had arisen. The music courses were patterned after general humanities subjects that were to be studied through books whereas music had to be done as a performance skill that needed far more time. The UGC should make a different kind of syllabus for music, dance and other performing arts that need a longer training period.

It was suggested that some kind of curricular teaching should be held from primary school level to prepare students or higher studies. Mr. Drygianakis suggested that the commercial market should also be made to support classical music in some way and means or that should be contemplated. Perhaps some bid media magnets should be persuaded to finance conservatories for public benefit.

Dr. Mukesh Garg commented that universities were not clear as what they wanted to do in the music departments whether they were aiming to make performers, connoisseurs, liberal art graduates, media workers or art managers etc. He pointed out that even the maestros when appointed in the universities had failed totally as they were not trained to give the theoretical knowledge about music nor were they mentally geared to give guidance to the student who was not going to be their life-long disciples.

The symposium director proceeded to give a quick vote of thanks to all those who had been responsible for supporting the seminar financially and spiritually. He said that the deepest thanks go to Prof. Kireet Joshi, Chairman, ICPR, who though could not be present was still a moving spirit behind the show. He thanked the Indian Institute of Advance Studies, Shimla, and the great and hardworking team of IFIH led by Smt. Sarita Saraf. His thanks were due to IIC and above all to all the learned speakers and the participants who had so been present so enthusiastically for full eight hours each day.

 
       
 
 
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