Dr. R.S. Jayalakshmi presented a lucid account of the evolution of the raga.
Dr. R.S. Jayalakshmi, noted vainika, presented a lecture-demonstration on the raga Begada. It was a lucid presentation where facts were laid down on the basis of authentic textual references on the one hand and authoritative practical demonstration on the other. Taking the Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini as the source text for explaining the structure and form of the raga, she said that the book had a record of Begada as it evolved through three centuries, 17-19th.
Dr. Jayalakshmi pointed out that ni and ma were the notes that lent Begada its uniqueness. The various changes in prayogas both additions and deletions, with respect to the gitam, Muthuswamy Dikshitar's krits and Subbarama Dikshitar’s sancharis were explained with suitable demonstration. In spite of such structural changes, interestingly, the form and feel of the raga were not altered.
Citing Tyagaraja kritis and the compositions of later composers the vainika observed that there has a been a marked shift from sparse usage of the kaishiki nishada (only in pa da ni, da pa) in SSP to its abundance in present day renditions of Begada while kakali ni has taken a backseat. She also spoke about the changes made by later vidvans to the popular Begada varnam ‘Inta calamu’ which has resulted in some of the prayogas such as ‘sa ni dha ni sa’ being lost or considered outdated.
Flute – Techniques and styles
Renowned flautist Mala Chandrasekhar presented an impressive lecture-demonstration, ‘Flute – Techniques and Styles.’ She began with an introduction about the bamboo flute, its structure, advantages and disadvantages of the instrument, limitations and its comparison with voice.
She then dealt with some technical terms used in playing styles, by demonstrating, thuthukaram, the usage of tongue and how it is particularly useful when the flautist plays manodharma swaras; viraladi, the way the fingers are placed on the holes to make a demarcation in the sound or emphasis of a note where needed; the gamaka techniques, blowing-air control, sustaining in sruti, different fingering techniques.
Mala listed some major artists who made a mark and brought solo status to the instrument. She demonstrated their styles with the help of audio visuals, photos, audio and video clippings of prominent artistes such as Palladam Sanjeeva Rao T.R. Mahalingam, Sikkil Sisters, Ramani, T. Viswanathan, B.N. Suresh, K.S. Gopalakrishnan and others.
She concluded with a demonstration of how one can use the same instrument to suit different pitches, transposing the notes or swaras, the use of base flutes and how the flute is used as an accompaniment.
Keywords: R.S. Jayalakshmi