Radha Bhaskar's music appreciation workshop had a lot to offer for a disciple of music and the audience as well

At the Music Appreciation workshop held by Sri Rama Lalitha Kala Mandira last week, a few members of the audience had an interesting suggestion. Such courses, they opined, should not be made one-off events but rather followed up with progressively higher-grade ones, so as to create a kind of ‘continuing music education'.

This particular one held on the basics of Carnatic music by well-known vocalist, musicologist, and music-critic Radha Bhaskar, especially could do such a follow-up. The half-day session outlined the fundamentals and got both students and parents interested in knowing more, so it would be a good idea for organisers of such seminars to sustain the momentum with further workshops.

Radha began by explaining the rationale for such a lecture –– how a music-appreciation course enriches a listener and also helps performers by creating enlightened audiences. She went on to place Carnatic music within the context of music worldwide. There are four categories recognised worldwide in music –– folk, devotional, popular, and art music. The last can also be called classical music and both Indian forms ––Carnatic and Hindustani –– fall into this, she explained.

She also explained briefly the concepts of raga and thala, which she described as the two pillars of Carnatic music which she called the most scientific music system in the world. Classical music is a combination of aesthetics and grammar in a musical presentation, and Carnatic music is blend of kalpitha sangeetham (pre-composed music) and manodharma (improvisation), said Radha discussing the appropriate connectivity of notes helps build the raga properly

The best part of the event was the singing by Radha whenever she wanted to illustrate a point, especially for those in the audience already familiar with the basics and looking forward to a vocal rendition. Radha has a melodious voice with superb control over shruti and laya and her concerts are always satisfying to connoisseurs. Her brief renditions of Bahudari, Shankarabharana and Panthuvarali along with a few lines of some relevant lyrics were the highlights of her presentation.

Radha also touched on the range of the human voice –– how a normal voice can range over two octaves adding that stalwarts like M. Balamuralikrishna and Yesudas are known to have amazing voices that range much further than that with ease. She also touched on the oft-heard lament of organisers –– audience treats the tani-avarthana as a coffee-break. She said this part was the product of as much learning and hard work as the rest of the programme and deserved an attentive audience.