karnATik kritique

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Vol.2, Issue 2 2002

Now that the year is underway, karnATik has some 
great new additions as well. So many more lyrics,
plus fun stuff. Be sure to read this issue's 
article too! And let me know what you think.




Every time you look, something new, I hope. 
Spend an afternoon just browsing, then go tell
all your friends. And come back for all the 
new stuff on karnATik - post your views at the
forum, find out what notes are,
see the raga scales on lyrics pages, and more.

a) What's a note?

Notes are a special type of composition. You 
may be familiar with a few. See one here:


b) Scales on lyrics pages

If you were printing out lyrics and just needed 
the aarohana and avarohana on the page, had to 
click to the raga, and find it, you won't have 
to much longer!

I am now modifying each song so it has its 
melakartha name and number plus the aarOhana 
and avarOhana scales listed just below the raga!
So far, songs with ragas beginning with A or B 
are done, and more will be finished as soon as 

Thanks to an insightful reader for this suggestion.


c) New Forum!

Want to talk about Carnatic music? Get lyrics we can't
find? Discuss ragas, controversial issues, concerts, 
and more? Try it all at the new karnATik forum! 

Start out by posting your opinion of Western and film 
music as  it relates to Carnatic.

d) What's new? 

If you've missed the new stuff, check out our 
what's new page to look back:


e) Site Features - this time we feature two new links.

*K.S. Srinivasan's page on Mysore V. Ramarathnam

A tribute to this educator and musician, revered as a 
dedicated disseminator of musical knowledge. The site 
includes 11 concert audio files.
Mirror: http://www.geocities.com/prof_v_ramarathnam/ramarathnam_Biography.shtml

*Shri Ogirala Veera Raghava Sarma

Dedicated to this great composer by his daughter, 
this page includes a biography, list of compositions,
and audio.


Twenty-five (a whopping 25!) new songs have been added
to karnATik lyrics. These songs are all kritis. 
by KOTeeshwara Aiyyar (KI) and most are part of 
his 72-melakarta compositions.

All the lyrics were provided by Mr. Lakshman 
Ragde (thank you!)

anbon annaiyE - shree - KI

aruLvaay - kharaharapriyaa - KI

gaanaamuda paanam - jyOtiswaroopini - KI

ghananaya - rishhabhapriyaa - KI

ihamE sukham - gamanashramaa - KI

ihapara sukhadaayaka - vaacaspati - KI

ini namakkoru - bilahari - KI

kaa guhaa - koshalam - KI

kaa murugayyaa - kaamavardhini - KI

kaikkooDa - lataangi - KI

kandaa bhakta - dharmaavati - KI

kandaa karpaka - shyaamaLaangi - KI

manadE maravaadE - hEmaavati - KI

naadasukham - kaantaamaNi - KI

paramaananda - vishvaambari - KI

ranjita kavi - sudda saavEri - KI

saamagaanalOla - citraambari - KI

saamee sadaa - raamapriyaa - KI

sadaanandamE - kalyaaNi - KI

sukhakara - dhaatuvardhani - KI

sukhamE sukham - shhanmugapriyaa - KI

tandaruL ayyaa - naasikabhooshhaNi - KI

tingaL maavadanam - shuruTTi - KI

varavENum - shankaraabharaNam - KI

vElu mayilumE - sucaritra - KI

Check them all out on the lyrics page:

3. ARTICLE: Popularity of Carnatic Music
by Raghavan Jayakumar

>From time to time, an article will be posted 
here in place of trivia. I welcome articles by 
people who have some experience with Carnatic music, 
as well as your comments on the posted articles.
Articles will eventually be archived on the 
karnATik website. 

This month, I have posted below the first ever 
article. I have a reason to brag about this one: 
it was written by my father, a singer/
musician as well as an avid rasika. His comments
are written from the USA. This article is Part 1
in a series:

*Popularity of Carnatic Music:

It is with some trepidation that I approach this topic. One reason is that
a dedicated listener may legitimately question whether we should be
concerned at all about the popularity of any art form, as long as it is
understood, appreciated and nurtured by such dedicated listeners and the
practitioners.  Yet, human pride and weakness is one obvious reason why
some like me would be concerned about the popularity. But perhaps a more
pertinent reason is that if there are a large number of listeners
(a) there would be a sustained attempt to preserve and foster the musical
tradition (b) there would be increased opportunities for innovations in
the music. I being a strong believer in the power and beauty of Carnatic
music, contend also that if the popularity of Carnatic music increases, it
will give rise to new genres of music worldwide and will imprint itself
in many existing musical forms of the world. My qualification for
addressing this topic is that first I have an eclectic taste in music,
revere all classical traditions and enjoy all forms of popular music. I
have not met a form of music I didnt like. The second is that I have heard
Carnatic music for 30 years and to some extent I have learnt it.

But before I go on, I  apologize in advance if words below offend
anyone. If the words are offensive it is only because of the inadequacy of
my expression and not my intention.

*The Carnatic, the Traditional Music

Carnatic music is the oldest classical musical form from India and has
survived many turbulent periods in Indian history. But resilience is not
necessarily a characteristic of a popular art form. One could even argue
that  popularity leading to license can alter or dilute  the form such
that it either fades away when fads change or that it would survive in a
completely different form not true to its roots.  While in the north
India, music rooted in Carnatic music was influenced by Muslim traditions
and  was perhaps compelled to take more secular paths because of the need
to perform in the court of Muslim rulers or in western India, the music
was changed to fit popular arts and cultural taste, in the south it was
preserved mainly by jealous guardians who revered the music as a medium of
worship.  Again while  Hindusthani classical music has different gharanas
(schools), Carnatic music remains monolithic and the only differences
between practitioners may be related to small differences in the way a
specific composition is rendered. This steadfastness and jealous
guardianship of the original Vedic tradition has, by no means, prevented
the musical establishment from accepting innovations which are truly
additive, such as adopting the Western musical instruments. Even today,
most practitioners of Carnatic music are proud of their adherence and
respect to the classical traditions and any direct innovation in the music
is evident to only to the well trained ear.

*Carnatic Music is Popular only with South Indians

Generally Carnatic music finds only south Indian audience.  A typical
connoisseur of Carnatic music would happily attend a Hindusthani concert
and indeed enjoy a Thumri during Thukkada, but it is hard to find a
corresponding example among north Indian music listeners. My experience is
that Hindusthani musicians and listeners do not bother with Carnatic music
and would be impatient with the rigor and complexity of Carnatic
music. Even a typical well-heeled Hindusthani music listener would admit
to not finding the Carnatic stylization pleasant to hear and does not take
the trouble to cultivate an interest in the music. Has any one heard of a
Carnatic piece being sung in a Hindusthani concert?  In the West,
particularly in the United States, where music of different kinds are
appreciated, Carnatic music has not made any inroads except for
performances attended by academics. Even westerners who are aware of
Indian music,  would probably only know the Hindusthani form.  While Ravi
Shankar, Ali Akbar Khan, Amjad Ali Khan, Hari Prasad Chaurasia and Zakir
Hussain attract non-Indian audience and have significant name recognition,
no south Indian musician is known for his or her own art. A few like
L. Subramaniam are somewhat known only because they have (to their
credit) attempted a fusion of east-west music. Again, my experience is
that Americans find Carnatic music intriguing and find similarity with
jazz, but are yet unable to grasp the musical content in order to enjoy

*So, what if Carnatic Music is Popular only with South Indians

This has, at first, one serious impact. The lack of a broad appeal affects
the professional Carnatic musicians. A medium level Hindusthani musician
perhaps earns 3 to 4 times the amount  earned by a top Carnatic
musician. The attendence and accolades received by the artists are
correspondingly diminished. And the lack of broad audience limits the
opportunity to increase the  popularity of the music. But the higher price
is that the Carnatic musician with a powerful and magical art to share
feels powerless to do so in the face of a marketing oriented culture.

As far as popularity in India is concerned, one could argue that
Hindusthani music is northern and since there are more northerners, the
attendence and the remunerations are consistent.And why worry about the
popularity of Carnatic music when many other musical forms such as Chinese
music are in the same state?  For a fan of Carnatic music like me, such an
argument would be fallacious. I believe that Carnatic music holds many
keys to the hearts and intellects of the people of India and the world
over. Indeed, it is one of the most  sophisticated forms of music,
integrating simple and complex  melodic and rhythmic structures for a
whole composition or in a complete elaboration of an improvization. It
uniquely evokes a sense of fulfillment in the listener, balancing the
intellectual,. contemplative and spiritual aspects. Unlike in other forms
of music, the semantic content of compositions is beautifully and
inseparably incorporated with the music and the listener is emotionally
rewarded as well. Which music can lay claim to all this? Yes, the western
classical music can evoke emotions with its harmony and majestic use of
instruments and invoke intellectual aspects in its counterpoint and
melodic structure. Yes, Hindusthani music can excel in deepening the
meditative mood of the listener and even establish the atmosphere the
listener intends, but I claim that Carnatic music does all this, all the
time. The tears that well up in our eyes involuntarily, when we hear an
aptly stated musical phrase,  are a testament to the awesome power of the
music to move our spirit.  The care with which we must listen to the
adroit  rendering of the shruthi and raga bound swaras in the constraints
of  Tala is the proof of the intellectual content of the music and finally
when the same music soars with joyous freedom even within these
constraints, one glimpses the meaning of life itself.  It is imperative
that at least all the people of  Indian origin, who are united in our
sensibilities,  should have an opportunity to experience this.

*Bhakthi -  Foundation  and Strength of Carnatic Music, Is it its Burden

One aspect which might be intrimidating to the casual listener is that
Carnatic music is steeped in Bhakthi rasa (devotional aspect).  While some
compositions associated with classical dances may incorporate Shringara
(romantic aspect) or Vatsalya (affection), even these are forms of
worship. Even songs of national pride have reverent aspect.  In these days
of discomfort regarding religious sensibilities, sensitivity to cultural
/regional/sectarian  biases of religions, the emphasis on Bhakthi may at
least initially be a discouragement to a broad audience. An increasingly
secular society must view any music that is founded on worship of  Hindu
Gods, with suspicion because the music might  offend someone. But, this
very Bhakthi and reverence is one of the pillars of  Carnatic music and
some would even say that it is its foundation. There is one other
particular worry I must share in this regard: Carnatic music seems to be
practiced and learnt more by people of Brahmin caste and less by others. I
believe that there is not much truth in this perception.. This perception
arises partly because how Carnatic music is performed, promoted or
exhibited in the south and secondly because admittedly Brahmins have
incorporated Carnatic music as a requirement in their learning. On the
other hand, people of other castes have incorporated Carnatic music in
their daily worship, in popular music and practice with great joy  in
their day to day practices. Yet, some could argue with reason that people,
particularly children, of other than Brahmin caste do not place sufficient
emphasis on learning Carnatic music  with rigor and dedication.

So what does one do?

(to be continued in the next issue). I hope you enjoyed this. Please email
comments to promise@geocities.com. Thanks!

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