A lot has been said and written about Carnatic music, either comprehensively or concisely. However, the quest to delve deeper into the subject or the need to get the basics stronger seldom ceases for a student or musician.
They access a host of articles from libraries or digital archives for this purpose. In this digital age, one is always tempted to head to online portals for a quick reference material that can be read or watched on the go. One such resource platform is musicologist Radha Bhaskar’s online music series ‘CM 365’, launched during the pandemic — it contains explanatory videos, each running into a maximum of five minutes.
“The series throws light on various aspects of music, which a rasika or a student would want to know about. They can be accessed at anytime,”, says Radha, who completed this year-long series recently.
To watch the entire series (365 in total) can get a bit overwhelming yet the subject and the nuanced explanation helps sustain the momentum. The first two videos have Radha explaining the basics of Carnatic music, and the different patterns such as Sarali varisai, Janta varisai, and alankaram, that are an integral part of this style. Radha demonstrates how the placement of swaras (notes), the arohanam and avarohanam structures, and different swara patterns add beauty and variety to the renditions.
The third deals with raga classification. Based on several principles, a raga may range from being sampoorna, audava or shadava raga. A raga may take all the seven notes (sampoorna raga) like Sankarabharanam, which has seven notes in both ascending and descending order, or Karaharapriya. Radha explains these facts and demonstrates the difference by rendering the notes of some of the ragas and how the placement of the swaras enhances their beauty.
She next moves on to explain about samashti charanam and how Dikshitar has introduced this segment in some of his kritis. Radha renders ‘Sri guruguha tarayashumam’ to highlight this. In the next few online sessions, Radha explains how Tyagaraja approached new ragas, how to handle Janaka and Janya ragas, the pivotal role played by the swaraksharas, the different talas and their take off (commencing) points. The subsequent videos pack enough details, including those pertaining to the works of different composers, the importance of a composition, and the role of instruments such as the violin and yazh in Carnatic music.
Radha also shares her ideas about how parents can motivate their children to pursue music as an art form or as a profession. The last few segments are set in a quiz format, where the topics range from finding the rare ragas and the composer, to figuring out the correct song, and how one can identify asymmetric ragas by watching the placement of swaras.
This is a laudable effort by Radha, who has conceptualised this series and managed to compress a vast topic into easily understandable nuggets, without compromising on the essential features. To access the CM 365 playlist log on to mudhrabhaskar YouTube channel and select the playlist.
Scan the QR code for direct access to the videos