Lecture demonstrations have become an integral part of the December Music Season. Some opinions…

Come the Annual Music Season, and there is a spurt in the number of sabhas, musicians and concerts. There is also an appreciable increase in the number of rasikas who like to get educated in the theory, science and subtleties of classical music. So we have morning sessions organised by sabhas, with lecture demonstrations on the various aspects of music and its appreciation.

“It is really interesting to learn about the intricacies of music since there is lot of information, which musicians and musicologists have to share with listeners,” says Viswanathan, a Carnatic music lover in Chennai.

“We have been holding these morning sessions from 1997-98 for the benefit of young students of music and music lovers,” informs M. Krishnamurthy, secretary, Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha. “It is not a new concept for us; just that it was discontinued in between,” he accepts, and adds, “We try to select subjects that will be of interest to music students. Senior scholars such as S.R. Janakiraman, Chingleput Ranganathan, Alleppey Venkatesan and M.B. Vedavalli are quite popular.”

Senior musician and musicologist S.R. Janakiraman says that his sessions receive an overwhelming response because he makes them interesting with not just theory but illustrations. “I am of the opinion that a musicologist should also be a musician; then alone will his views appeal.” He fondly recalls his lec-dem in 1975 at the Music Academy which was well attended and appreciated by a host of veteran musicians.

Professor S.A.K. Durga agrees that the increased interest of the music lovers has led to the inclusion of lec-dems by various sabhas in the recent times. Durga says: “I choose my topic and mostly I try to touch on the practical aspects of music with demonstrations.” Her lec-dem on Kshetrayya's padams even brought many rasikas to her home in search of more information, she says.

According to Shyamala, a music student, “Sometimes, these sessions are a big let down. Once a popular musician didn't touch the main topic till the end and had to wrap up hastily.”

For Prof. T.R. Subramaniam, “Time is not a limiting factor at all. My lec-dem on ‘The special status Telugu enjoyed in the music compositions' at the packed Andhra Music Academy went on for more than two hours.”

Dr. M.B. Vedavalli, a regular speaker, confides that she chooses music composers from Mysore from where she hails. She also feels that if the topic is interesting, it draws the attention of the people. This season, she presents two lec-dems -- one on the ragas with dual names such as Suddha by Pallavi Seshayyar and the same christened as Urmika later by Muthiah Bhagavathar. Vedavalli is also touching upon the contributions of Veenai Seshanna and Mysore Vasudevachar.

Belonging to the present generation, Dr. Radha Bhaskar feels the contemporary scenario is encouraging “because we conduct courses mostly on how to comprehend a concert, the ragas, the songs and the nuances of the kutcheri format. I was moved by the interest evinced by an octogenarian who attended our first workshop and turned emotional on the valedictory day saying though he had been listening to concerts for a long time, it was this programme that helped him understand the various aspects of music in a brilliant way.' His words of appreciation inspired Bhaskar and me to organise programmes every month,” says Radha.

R. Vedavalli is an illustrious teacher, performer and musicologist who has made her mark in all these areas. Her lec-dems are popular and she feels that it is probably because they are illustrative and performance-oriented and also provide the highlights of the topic in the form of a capsule. “I have spoken on a variety of subjects at Sri Krishna Gana Sabha, Indian Fine Arts and the Music Academy. Before the presentation, I prepare by doing detailed research and that provides me great insight into the subject.” You want to know which one of her lec-dems got maximum response; she laughs and says, “Almost all.”

Watching rasikas, young and old, sitting with note pads and pens and diligently jotting down everything is a sure sign that there are takers for grammar too. That must be the reason why many of the present day artists such as Sudha Ragunathan, Sowmya, Ravi Kiran, Sriram Parasuram and Jayanthi Kumaresh are making a foray into the world of lec-dems.