Teaching nuances of classical music

Carnatic concert

Teaching nuances of classical music

The World Music Centre held a concert in Carnatic music to mark the culmination of a two part workshop conducted by the renowned musician R A Ramamani.

Incorporated in 2008 with just two Carnatic vocal students, the World Music Centre now has over 100 students studying different genres of music like Hindustani, Carnatic and Western at three different levels.

The seventeen students who have been studying Carnatic music under different teachers came together to perform a series of Varnas that were rare, unusual and not commonly sung at concerts.

For the uninitiated, Varnas are sophisticated musical forms that include swaras and lyrics.
“Simply put, a Varna is a form of song in the Carnatic music repertoire. Often it is a relatively long piece and can range from 30 minutes to up to an hour. The lyrics are simple and consist mostly of long syllables and swara phrases of various lengths which bring out the essential features of the raga. There are two main types of Varnas — the Taana Varna and the Pada Varna,” says Sangeeta Srikishen, one of the founder of the WMC who participated in the  workshop and performed in the concert.

With perfect synchronisation and singing together in total harmony, the group of performers took the audience through seven different Varnas without faltering on any of the notes. Some of the Varnas  performed that evening included Sannuthanga Sree in Raga Vasanta and Tala Adi - Dharu Varna composed by Harikeshanallur Muthaiah Bhagavatar, Neeve Rakshakudanee in Raga Kathana kuthuhala and set to Adi Tala composed by Mysore Vasudevacharya and Sarigadu in Raga Saveri set to Thisra Triputa Tala composed by Kornadu Natesa Pillai.

 The three day workshop was organised first in June and then by popular demand continued in July for a four-day period.

 “Musicians will usually begin a concert with a Tana arna. The Pada Varna differs from the Tana Varna in that the lyrics are also set for the chitta swara sections. Pada Varnas are often the central piece of a Bharatanatyam performance. Varanas lay the foundation for a strong base of musical proficiency enabling the artiste to improvise and give the piece
a different interpretation each time it is performed,” adds Sangeeta.

Apart from conducting music classes, the WMC regularly has different programmes like the Sunset Series of Classical Concerts on every first Sunday of the month from 4 pm to 6.30 pm at the school premises featuring both Hindustani and Carnatic concerts for the benefit of the students and the general public.

 The last Sunday of the month features a popular programme, The Drum Circle which is held at different venues and is becoming extremely popular. It is a team activity-cum-stress buster, open to everyone from toddlers to seniors.

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