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Annual Report 2023-24: Reviving Karnatic’s Extinct Notes

Annual Report 2023-24: Reviving Karnatic’s Extinct Notes

INDICA has been supporting the preservation of rare compositions in Karnatic music in collaboration with Marabu Foundation, Thillaisthanam, founded by Dr Ramaa Kausalya for the last six years. The Foundation is 18 years old and has done pioneering work in researching, promoting and propagating both Carnatic and folk music, free of cost, for children, students and teachers of music.

Dr Kausalya is a musician (Veena and Vocal), teacher, musicologist and propagator of culture and traditional values. A former senate member of the Bharathidasan University, she has also served as a member of the Advisory Committee of All India Radio, Tiruchi. She is also the former principal of Thiruvaiyaru Music College.She has focussed on exploring ‘bhakti ilakkiyam’ or devotional literature and has studied Tevarams and Divya Prabandams in detail under the guidance of Thanjavur TN Ramachandran.

INDICA is proud to be associated with a scholar whose passion for research into music is legendary. She has done extensive research on ancient musical instruments in temples of Tamil Nadu and published her findings in her book Alayavazhipattil Isaikaruvigal. She says while the media focuses its attention on icons stolen from temples, no one laments the loss of ancient musical instruments from temples. 

We are happy to join Dr Kausalya in her life mission to uncover lost treasures of music. In November 2019, Marabu Foundation in association with INDICA and Justice Kodanda Ramayya Fund, organised a three-day workshop on ‘Vintage Compositions: Padam 1’at Thillaisathanam.The workshop was dedicated to Bangalore Nagaratnamma, linguist, musician, dancer and author, to mark her birth anniversary that falls on November 3.

The workshop saw rare and vintage padams by Padakaras Kshetrayya, Sarangapani, Muvvalur Sabapati Ayyar, Ghanam Seenayya, Vaideeswaran Koil Subbaramayyar and Ghanam Krishnayyar being taught by resource persons such as S Rajeshwari, Bhushany Kalayanraman and Geetha Raja in addition to Dr Kausalya. 

In 2023, we explored lesser known compositions on the Dasavataras at INDICA Ritambhara Gurukulam, near Bangalore from 9th June 2023 to 11th June 2023. The workshop conducted in Gurukul pattern (as all Marabu events are) was an immersion into bhakti, bhava and bhagwan.  Krithis taught included Dinamani Vamsa Tilaka by Bhushani Kalyanaraman. Another composition rarely heard is Mutthuswami Dikshitar’s rare ragamalika krithi on all the 10 avatars. Set in Rupaka Talam, the featured ragas are the five ghana ragas Natai, Gaula, Shri, Arabhi and Varali, followed by five mangala ragas – Kedaram, Vasanta, Surati, Saurastram and Madhyamavati. 

Another workshop was held between 30th September and 2nd October, 2023 at Sangama (Confluence) Retreat, Tiruvannamalai. The workshop featured compositions on Anjaneya or Hanuman, Garuda, Peacock, Adisesha or the Divine serpent and Nandikeshwara. The compositions are by both eminent composers including Thyagaraja, Badrachalam Ramadas, Swati Tirunal, as well as lesser known compositions by composers from Karnataka. Ugabhogas, a rare musical form from Karnataka was taught in the workshop. Ugabhogas usually contained simple messages in an open ended prose style, with emphasis on devotion. They usually contain five lines and are set to a particular raga but not to any particular tala or rhyme. Fourteen participants learnt 12 compositions, two ugabhogas and a Divya Prabandam Pasuram.

Currently Dr Kausalya, with support from INDICA is involved in a beautiful marriage songs revival project, on which she gave an extremely popular talk at the Madras Music Academy, of which she is Expert Committee member, in December 2023. Folk music has been very close to her heart and she has undertaken some projects in the past like tracing the influence of folklore in Tiruvachakam, and reviving marriage songs. She had also formed a group which, when invited, render these songs to suit various marriage rituals. She is recording these songs and they will be available soon.