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|
Percussion has always been an integral part of Carnatic music. Its importance was further enhanced by the bhajana and the Harikatha traditions that depended on rhythm to create an atmosphere. There have been two principal schools in percussion. The first is the Tanjore school which was founded by Naraynaswami Appa (19th Century), an aristocrat of Maratha origin. He used the mridangam for accompanying himself as he sang bhajans. He was followed in time by Tanjore Vaidyanatha Iyer (1894-1947) and others. The other school is the Pudukkottai school founded by Manpoondia Pillai (19th Century). His stellar disciples were Pudukkottai Dakshinamurthy Pillai (1875-1937) and Palani Muthiah Pillai (d 1946). He is also credited with introducing the kanjira to the concert platform.
Carnatic music also owes a lot to the temple traditions that demanded nagaswaram performances during processions. The nagaswaram aritists were well known for their extensive raga alapanas, their scintillating pallavis and their rapid swaras. Keeping pace with them were the tavil vidwans who maintained a high standard of mathematics when it came to percussion. In the era preceding the advent of the electric light, all night processions of temple deities accompanied by gas lights and sonorous nagaswaram performances were an integral part of village culture. Several villages of Tanjore district such as Tirumarugal, Semponnarkoil, Tiruvizhimizhalai, Ammachatram and Tiruvidaimarudur were made famous by their nagaswaram artistes. The trend of migration to the city brought to an end the mass participation in temple festivals, which in turn brought about the decline of the nagaswaram tradition.
Madras began its rise as a musical hub in the late 18th Century when the rich dubashes and businessmen of the city began patronizing artistes. With the setting up of the High Court, law became a favoured profession among the Brahmins of the music loving Tanjore Kumbhakonam belt. With their move to Madras, several musicians followed suit. The earliest sabhas came up in the 1880s with the Tondaimandalam Sabha being the pioneer.
With the proliferation of the sabha culture, the boom in recording and broadcasting and the avenue of films slowly opening up, it more or less became necessary for musicians to move to Madras and pitch their tent among fans and patrons. Moving first to George Town, they slowly spread to the southern districts of the city with Mylapore becoming the area of choice by the 1930s.
Carnatic music also ceased being an entirely oral tradition around this time, with the print medium gaining ground. The early works in print began coming out by the 1870s and with the efforts of A.M. Chinnaswamy Mudaliar, a Christian who lived at the turn of the 20th Century, songs began coming out with notation. His publication, Oriental Music in Staff Notation (1893) was a landmark in Carnatic music history. It was entirely owing to his efforts that the Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini of Subburama Dikshitar (1839-1906) was published in 1904. Hailed as the last magnum opus in Carnatic music, it brought to light several songs of Muttuswamy Dikshitar.
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