The Parthasarathi Swami Sabha had organised a series of lec-dems on the various facets of music.
Dr. T. Sachi Devi, Retired Professor of Music, spoke on ‘A rational approach to Vivadi swaras in ragas with proximity to Vadi, Samvadi, and Anuvadi swaras.’
“Music is all pervading in the universe, and the swara is the main ingredient of music,” was her first remark.
The four different swaras -- Vadi, Samvadi, Vivadi and Anuvadi – have been defined by Bharatha in his Natyasastra. Venkatamakhi used the concept of vivadi swaras and formulated the 72 Melakarta Ragas, which had 40 vivadi melas. The six ragas in the chakras one, six, seven and twelve and the first and last ragas in the other chakras together would form the 40.
Saying that even ghana ragas contain the vivadi swara but are not classified as vivadi, Sachi Devi demonstrated how the interval between swaras was the clinching factor. She gave examples from kritis. ‘Swaminatha Paripalayasumam’ was sung as it existed in the Sangita Sampradaya Pradarsini. This was followed by compositions in Kanakangi, Gaanasaamaravali, Jyothi, Varunapriya, Nabhomani and Vagadeeshwari to bring home the consonant relationship between swaras, the vivadi aspect in the purvanga/utharanga and the existence of continuous vivadi swaras.
She ended by saying, “Irrespective of the approach adopted, the student will have to pay special attention to grasp these concepts fully. Saying that samvadithwa is of prime importance may not be enough. Vadi - the Shadjama, Anthara Gandhara, Sudhamadhyama and Panchama - is present in everything and there are no gamakas for these swaras and even the madhyama does not take a strict Vadi colour at certain times.’
Certain sets of swaras are termed Anuvadi and another special set is construed as Vivadi. Anuvadi swaras helps in maintaining the elaboration of the raga by associating Vaadhi and Samvaadhi. Vivadithwa can be avoided with the application of Samvadi. Anuvadi should also be frequently used here to make the Vivaditwa element lie low. It all amounts to managing a group of swaras observing these basic tenets. Vasudha Ramu assisted Sachi Devi in her presentation.
Importance of sahitya
Alleppey Venkatesan began by looking at the relative role and importance of sangeeta and sahitya in the context of music concerts and more specifically, viruthams. “The aim of virutham singing should be to communicate the lyrical content - without the din and bustle of the trikalams, kuraippus and korvais - and create in the minds of the rasikas a sense of serenity.”
Viruthams are a small segment in a concert but they become rich qualitatively in terms of aesthetic value. To be successful, one has to choose a suitable sahitya based on certain selection criteria and that would apply with equal emphasis to the raga in which it has to be sung. An artist must consider with care the sequence and contrast of ragas he/she chooses, aiming again to provide aesthetic and musical satisfaction to the listeners.
The presentation part should be done effectively and evocatively. Viruthams (or slokas) without any exception are sung as a prefix to kritis or tukkadas.
The sahitya should primarily contain positive sentiments and should never be split to convey wrong and unintended meaning (anartham). Unlike Harikatha, no explanation can be offered and therefore, the sahitya should be familiar, fall on the mind easily and should be comprehended as it is being sung. Venkatesan sang slokams and viruthams such as Kanakadhara Sthothram, ‘Pachai Maa Malai Pol Meni’ and ‘Dhanam Tharum Kalvitharum’ to elucidate.
Venkatesan continued, “The raga should fit the mood of the lyric and its theme. Lord Rama breaking the Siva dhanush should be portrayed in Atana and should soar in veera rasam. Contrastingly, a lyric addressing a child could be in a soothing raga like Kapi, Behag or Desh.’
The practice of presenting the lyric in a hurried manner and then resorting to alapana-like phrases towards the end would be rated as poor rendering. He also reminded that just like fingering techniques serve to determine the character of instrumental music, faultless pronunciation will determine the quality of vocal rendering. The use of swarakshara in viruthams can be used liberally. The employment of arohanakrama or avarohanakrama and the picking of lower or higher registers while rendering, requires musical sensitivity on the part of the singer.
The overall rendering should be neither rajasic nor tamasic but sathvic – a blend of bhakti, clear diction and raga swaroopa. Venkatesan was accompanied by Ganesh Prasad (violin) who played thoughtfully to enhance the value of the session.