100 slokas in 100 ragas

Vocalist Shakuntala Murthy   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Music is an integral part of the Navaratri experience. Devi-themed concerts and the release of albums mark the nine-day festivities. This year, the Bengaluru-based musician and teacher Shakuntala Murthy has set the 100 slokas of the ‘Soundarya Lahari’ to tune in 100 ragas.

“The first part, ‘Ananda Lahari’, with 41 verses, describes the union of Shiva and Shakti, and the remaining 59 verses are an ode to the beauty of Parvathi. One needs to appreciate the lyricism in the slokas to understand the magnificence of Shakti,” says Shakuntala.

Soundarya Lahari in raga format is nothing new, but each stanza of four lines has been set to a different melodic scale by Shakuntala. “The aim was to encourage the musically-inclined to explore more ragas and the uninitiated to get acquainted with 100 different raga scales,” she says.

The Shankar Mahadevan Academy Trust has selected the work as part of its ‘Archive to Alive’ project. The project not only preserves the works of the maestros, but makes them accessible to all. “You can learn freely as self-study, or choose a paid course, to be taught by an instructor from SMA,” says Deepa Sridhar, trustee of the Academy.

It took Shakuntala four months to complete this project. “It did not involve just composing in different ragas but notating the 100 slokas in those ragas. I also had to work on the Sanskrit enunciation.”

Shakuntala has earlier worked on a dance-musical, ‘72 Nritya mela Raga Malika’, based on Melakartha scheme of Carnatic music. “I interspersed the three-hour production with dance pieces to highlight bhava, rasa and bhakti,” she says.

Getting here

The octogenarian, who hails from a family of musicians and musicologists, is a gold medallist in ‘Vidwath-music’ and a graded artiste of All India Radio, Bengaluru.

“Music was not a hobby, but a passion,” says Shakuntala. Along with her vocalist-sister Sukanya Narayan and percussionist-brother Krishnamurthy, she launched an album of dasa-sahitya, ‘Smarisu Manave’. The three also co-authored the book, Sangeetha Akshara Swara Hridaya for advanced music students to create kalpanaswaras.

The writer is

a Bengaluru-based freelance journalist.

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Printable version | Dec 4, 2020 2:06:40 PM |

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