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Updated: April 26, 2011 12:30 IST

A treatise on musicology

B. M. Sundaram
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“Sangeeta Sampradaya Pradarsini”, a musicological work by Ettayapuram Subbarama Dikshitar, was originally written in Telugu and published from Ettayapuram in 1904. It is an excellent work that gives the raga lakshanas, the notations of many Prabandhas, Geetas, Keertanas, and so on. In ‘Vaggeyakara Charitram', he has narrated the lives of Vaggeyakaras, though some of the accounts are confusing — as in the case of Veerabhadrayya, and Anatandavapuram Balakrishna Bharati, for instance.

It also makes us believe that Muthuswami Dikshitar has composed in Telugu too — eg. Roopamu joochi (the Varna in Todi raga). Subbarama Dikshitar has used specific symbols for ‘Gamakas' so as to help every aspiring musician to learn and sing these compositions. In this, he took the cue from the work of A.M. Chinnaswami Mudaliar, who got a lot of help from Dikshitar for his own book of compositions in Carnatic music.

The Music Academy (Madras) has earlier got this monumental work rendered into Tamil. In recent times, its English versions have also started coming. And now, the Academy has embarked on a project to bring out an English translation of Pradarsini in four volumes. Heading the editorial team in charge of the project is Pappu Venugopala Rao, a scholar of repute who is also one of the Secretaries of the Academy.

The volume under review, which is the first in the series, is the outcome of a job well done. It consists of compositions up to the 14th Mela, with some footnotes provided wherever necessary.

Subbarama Dikshitar (in the Telugu version) devotes a chapter for the ‘Gamaka' symbols, wherein he mentions the names of three ‘Gamakas' as Digu Jaru, Odigimpu and Orayika. But he refers to them also as Irakka Jaru, Odukkudal and Orika — these are more popular among musicians. Dikshitar has written the Preface both in Telugu and Tamil, wherein he acknowledges the help he received from Radhakrishna Iyer, Principal of the Maharaja's College, Pudukottai. The name ‘Pudukottai' is mentioned as ‘Kothakota' in the Telugu version and as ‘Pudukotta' in Tamil. Though ‘Kotha' in Telugu means only ‘Pudu' in Tamil, the translators have chosen to retain only the Telugu name.

Meticulous

At the end of the chapter on ‘Gamakas', by way of illustration, Dikshitar gives the composition Sree Subrahmanyaya Namaste in Kambhoji, while in the Tamil version of the same chapter (found in the original Sangeeta Sampradaya Pradarsini), he gives the composition Adi Arambhakkalavi in Todi, for the same purpose. In this volume, while the Kambhoji composition is given, the Todi song is missing. Otherwise, the translators have been meticulous in their work, for which they deserve unstinted praise. The music world will be avidly looking forward to the remaining volumes in the series.

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