Nadasurabhi Cultural Association located in Koramangala, Bangalore is in the forefront of promoting Classical Carnatic Music. Nadasurabhi conducts the highest quality music concerts every month and a week-long Annual Festival in November, free of charge to all rasikas. Our other events include a youth festival, Thyagaraja and Purandaradasa Aradhana, and music competitions for children.
Written by Sri.V.Sriram. Extracted from the book Carnatic Summer with the author’s kind permission and published in Nadasurabhi Souvenir 2007
|A brief history of Carnatic Music
Kshetragna who used the mudra of Muvva Gopala, was an illustrious composer of a slightly later period who is today best known for his padas, which are replete with eroticism. Later some other composers such as Sarangapani (1680-1750) also composed in this genre. These songs were preserved exclusively by the Devadasis, women whose profession it was to entertain by music and dance.
It was however only in the 17th Century that Carnatic music became codified the way we know it today. Venkatamakhin wrote the Chaturdandi Prakashika, in which he for the first time defined the parent scales (ragas) and mathematically arrived at 72 of them (called the melakarthas) based on the variants of the seven notes. A later scholar, Govinda, futher refined this scheme in his Sangraha Choodamani and it is his nomenclature that survives till date. All other ragas were attached to one or the other of the parent 72 based on their notes, and were called janya ragas.
Carnatic music had by the 17th Century shifted further south to Tanjore, where under the benign rule of the Nayaks and later the Maratha kings, it flourished as a major art form. Many of the kings were themselves greatly respected musicologists and composers. Attracted by employment opportunity and the stability, several Brahmins from Andhra region moved to Tanjore and its environs. This sect of Mulakanadu Smartha Brahmins was to play a major role in the development of Carnatic music. Several composers lived in Tanjore and the language of composing was invariably Telugu as that was the language of the court.
The Maratha influence brought about the development of the Harikatha or the tradition of discourses on the greatness of God in the form of stories, accompanied by music. This greatly added to Carnatic repertoire with bhajans, folk songs and several operas entering the mainstream. The art of percussion too acquired great refinement as a result of these Harikathas.
The arrival of the Carnatic Trinity was an epoch-making event for the art form. Syama Sastry (1762-1827), Tyagaraja (1767-1847) and Muttuswami Dikshitar (1775/6-1835) were all born in the town of Tiruvarur. All three of them took to music and evolved into composers of outstanding excellence. In keeping with Indian tradition, they are collectively thought of as divine in the incarnations.
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