Symposium analyses Veene Seshanna's compositions on Sunday
Veene Seshanna is synonymous with Mysore and is considered the chief architect of the Mysore Baani, having established a unique style and approach in his compositions that revolutionised the Carnatic genre nearly a century ago.
Swaramurthy V.N. Rao Memorial Trust is organising a symposium on the compositions of Seshanna with the Sangeet Natak Akademi, New Delhi, sponsoring the educative session.
Vainikas Shobana Swaminathan and M.K. Saraswathi, and vocalist Sukanya Prabhakar will speak on the various facets of Seshanna's creativity.
Veene Seshanna (1852-1926), born in Mysore, was the son of the vainika Chikkaramappa, and displayed his precocious talent even as a boy of 10 at the Mysore Palace.
His 53 compositions show his affinity to rare ragas and talas, some set in sankirna matya and misra triputa tala. Abherini, Poorvi, Gumma Khambhoji and Chittamohini were unheard of scales in the 18th Century when he pushed them. Composed in Kannada and Telugu, his varna and tillanas were dedicated to his royal patrons, Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar and Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar.
Says Shobana Swaminathan, who holds a PhD in Seshanna's compositions: “I was wondering if his 50-plus compositions would be enough for an extended analysis, but then I realised the sea of significance attached to each work.”
Ms. Swaminathan, who is taking up his 11 swarajathis in the symposium, will cite examples from each to showcase their distinctness. “I would say his prayogas were directed towards the veena, especially his swara patterning where he envisions a masterly glide for the vainikas.”
Several books explain that Seshanna primarily wanted veena artistes to take up his varna and swarajathi for practice sessions as the swift flow ensured fingering that swept the three octaves in a single line.
Ms. Swaminathan will take up his masterly Khamas piece, bringing components of the Western chord-like feel, while his signature Mysore approach — stressing the right-hand strumming with a profuse of plain notes — would be mirrored in the Khamboji piece.
Sukanya Prabhakar will take up a few of Seshanna's kritis to demonstrate the ingenuity of his sangatis building up the raga.
“Seshanna has employed rare janaka ragas as Ganamurthe and Gamanashrama, rare janya ragas as Gowri, and familiar scales as Kambodhi and Vachaspati. That was his greatness,” she says.
M.K. Saraswathi's demonstration will include Seshanna's zigzag swara patterning (dattu) in his most popular Jhenjuti tillana, used on dance platforms too.
The vainika of Mysore Baani, D. Balakrishna, will preside and Suma Sudhindra will inaugurate the meet.
The symposium is on June 17 at the Sri Rama Lalitha Kala Mandira, 9th Main, 2nd Stage, Banashankari, 10 a.m.