Dr. S.A.K. Durga’s Sareera Sadhana, a DVD that presents a model workshop on voice training for Carnatic music was released this past Friday, at the Raga Sudha Hall, Mylapore. In her speech on the role of Sadhana, Dr. Durga emphasised the importance of voice training for musicians. “Voice training has become imperative in the current scenario where time is a key factor -- it helps voice flexibility and ensures both sruti and swara suddham,” she asserted.

Dr. Prakash Boominathan, consultant speech pathologist and faculty member, Sri Ramachandra University, dwelt on the importance of vocal hygiene, vocal diet and vocal exercise. Releasing the disc, N. Murali, president, The Music Academy Madras, complimented the team for the contents of the DVD, which is hard to come by nowadays. Describing Dr. S. A. K. Durga as a torch bearer in the area of voice training, he noted that her research began even as early as 45 years ago. The importance of voice training in the context of Carnatic music cannot be overstated. “In the changing scenario, Carnatic musicians ought to be aware of it,” he added. .

Receiving the first copy, Dr. M. Balamuralikrishna quipped, “I don’t know music but music knows me very well,” and stressed the importance of sruthi suddham. Like their Hindustani counterparts, Carnatic musicians too need to take up voice training and voice culture seriously. Dr.Pappu Venugopala Rao, secretary, The Music Academy Madras, felicitated the team. “The subject was dealt with even in the days of Bharatha and Saranga Deva. Bharatha postulated the five doshas in a voice that have to be overcome for a singer to shine,” he averred.

Sruthi’s executive editor S.Janaki described the voice as an instrument for the vocalists to communicate their musical ideas. “It has to be kept finely tuned. Dr. Durga’s workshop helps improve its quality, its power and endurance.

Mala Mohan anchored the programme and Swathi Sudhakar proposed the vote of thanks. These were followed by a scintillating 75-minute vocal recital by K. Gayathri ably supported by S.P. Ananathapadmanabha (violin) and R. Sankaranarayanan (mridangam). Her programme covered a brilliantly conceived Lathangi alapana (‘Marivere’-Kanda Chapu-Patnam Subramnia Iyer) and a resplendent Bhairavi (‘Balagopala’-Adi-Dikshitar).The captivating concert was a clear demonstration of what voice culture can help a musician achieve!

The 133-minute DVD (concept and direction: Mala Mohan) has been shot in an aesthetically designed set with subdued lighting that gives it an ethnic texture. The first part of the DVD is on Voice Training where Dr. S.A.K. Durga deals extensively on subjects such as voice production and vocal exercise, voice range in high octave, articulation, gamakas, resonance and breathing exercises. A musician is bound to benefit immensely by going through this DVD and putting into practice what is taught, while the breathing exercise in particular will help even actors and voice-over artists. However, Dr.S.A.K. Durga’s statement in the gamaka section of the DVD that the pancham is shaken in the Ada tala Bhairavi varnam is a point of debate, for the shadjam and pancham are the base notes of Carnatic music and are considered constant. They are Sathya (truth).

Aptly supported by vidwans K.Gayatri, Malavi and Mythreyi Sastry, Dr.S.A.K.Durga’s venture is unique indeed. The second half of the DVD is a panel discussion by Dr. Prakash Boominathan and Dr.Durga, anchored by Mala Mohan. It covers topics such as scientific methods of understanding a singing voice. The highlight of this segment is the demonstration of breathing exercise for voice maintenance.

Recommended for musicians, music students and those for whom using the voice is a part of the profession!

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Replete with bhavaAugust 13, 2010