Lec-dem V. Premalatha, Suguna Varadachari and Priyashri Rao talked about music manuscripts, niraval singing and textual traditions in dances. Pappu Venugopala Rao

D r. V. Premalatha's paper presented at the morning sessions of The Music Academy, Chennai, on ‘Music Manuscripts and Manavalli Ramakrishna Kavi' was academic and thought-provoking. At the outset, Premalatha gave a very brief introduction about the manuscripts, their types and the various areas of their study, with reference to music.

She then spoke about the great scholar Manavalli Ramakrishna Kavi (1866-1957) whose contribution to the study on music manuscripts can be read under: Survey and Collection of manuscripts, Making Copies of Manuscripts, Edition of ‘Abhinavabharati' and compilation of his magnum opus, ‘Bharatakosa.'

Ramakrishna Kavi travelled to many places in India searching for manuscripts and made hand written copies of many of them.

The unique feature in his manuscript collection is that he has given numerous references about other readings of the same verse or line and in many places noted his opinion on the subject with regard to other manuscript readings. This feature, Premalatha said, was very useful while making a study of those manuscripts now.

Glimpses of his life and a few accounts of his life, mentioned by Dr. Premalatha, showing his determination to continue this monumental work in spite of poverty moved the audience.

Two of his noteworthy contributions were the edition of the ‘Abhinavabharati,' a commentary to the Natyasastra and ‘Bharatakosha' an exhaustive lexicon of terms related to music, dance and other allied fields, which would be a valuable resource for students and scholars.

Neat presentation

‘Niraval singing for Pallavi and kritis' was the topic dealt by Suguna Varadachari. It was a neat presentation where most of the points made were substantiated with appropriate demonstrations. Defining the term ‘niraval' as making things even (‘niravuvadu' in Tamil), she said that in music, filling in the gaps between

syllables in a given line with creative melodic phrases constitutes niraval singing.

Suguna emphasised that for kriti niraval, choosing the appropriate line where the meaning was complete was very important. In both pallavi and kriti niraval the finishing note should be the one that preceded the eduppu or starting note of the niraval line. She said the main differences between niraval for pallavi and kriti, were that in pallavi there was eduppu and aridi (where the tala beat after a laghu and the syllable coincided) which should not be changed in the course of niraval singing while in kriti, eduppu alone was prominent and aridi was not mandatory even structurally; the Pallavi niraval was more intellectual and embellishment of the meaning of the sahitya was not as important as for kriti niraval.

Suguna also explained that both pallavi and kriti were sung in three speeds, the first speed was similar to raga alapana, the second to first speed of svara singing, and the third to second speed of svara singing. The presentation was very educative especially to students of music, who were present there in large numbers.

Interesting observations

Dr. Priyashri Rao commenced her lecture with an introduction to the textual tradition, listed various treatises in thechronological order beginning with the Natya Sastra of Bharata, the commentaries to the texts wherever available and briefly described the contents in the different texts. She mentioned some more literary sources other than the Lakshnagranthas.

She took up some of the texts to emphasise how they were used in some specific form of classical dances. She made some interesting observations such as how ‘Sangitadarpana' described a dance form, ‘Sudasabdanrtta,' where a mention of a lady ‘taladhari' or a lady Nattuvanar was mentioned. She explained how Perani Paddhati, referred to different techniques of sounding the Gharghara or the anklets and drew parallel between the use of anklets in Kathak and Perini. She said that Abhinayacandrika mentioned 13 Bhaumi (earthly) caris and inferred similarities between the ninth cari, Katara, and sequence of movements performed in Mangalacaran, the first item of the Odissi performance repertoire

Priyashri Rao's lecture stressed the importance of study of different Lakshanagranthas.