Lec-dem Dr. Sudha Raja in her presentation traced M.B. Srinivasan's life and his contribution to Indian choral music.
Some talents are born, some evolve as they make progress in life. M.B. Srinivasan (MBS) belonged to the latter. His distinctive contribution to the concept of choral music (Indian style), made him a trend-setter and a pioneer in the genre.
He served as an administrator, wielded the conductor's baton, formed the Madras Youth Choir (MYC) and made his stamp as one who organised community singing by big and small groups.
He used Indian choral music as the vehicle to make popular the lyrics of national poets such as Bharathiar, Tagore, Mohammed Iqbal and Vallathol.
Dr. Sudha Raja, who made a presentation on ‘M.B. Srinivasan and his Contribution to Indian Choral Music,' began with details about his musical beginnings, stressed the need for research in the genre, traced the early years of MBS's life and his marriage with Zahida.
Sudha pointed out that harmony and symphony were a part of Western classical music. ‘Harmony' in layman's parlance means singing in tandem and in synchronisation, the chords presented either by humming or by rendering of the lyrics, but at different levels of harmony. Harmony is a part of choir singing in churches. It is this technique that MBS used in his Indian choral music, but used vocals instead of instruments. He composed two-part, four-part and even six-part harmony in some special compositions.
She added that the songs ‘Mazhai' and ‘Vazhga Nee Emman' were chosen for detailed analysis.
The original Solfa notations have been used in the way they have been preserved, and used today, she enlightened.
Sudha said that MBS was more popular in Malayalam cinema than in Tamil. He won many national awards for his Malayalam film tunes. His music transcended the language barrier.
Tribute by personalities
Sudha quoted S.P. Balasubramaniam, who had said, “MBS had charted a course that ensured that musicians were treated with respect. He arranged for payments to be made to musicians on time. They should remember him at sunrise, each day.”
Pareeksha's Gnani compares the compatibility of music with lyrics in MBS's compositions, as the relationship that exists between man and wife.
Poet Thamizhanban, in his tribute, called MBS, “a man who had given a new dimension to music.”
Sudha added variety to her presentation by displaying photographs of MBS conducting a choir and included many audio clips of the master at work. This was followed by a group of children and adults singing songs set to tune by MBS.
Singer Rajkumar Bharathi recalled his long association with MBS and called him “Bharathi-Piththan.” For MBS, group music was not just playing a set of instruments but an effort to attain a unique oneness. The voices had to be heard as one. For him, even the pauses had to be perfectly synchronised.
Ramasami of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan urged groups to revive the MBS style of music in a big way.