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ITC SRA News - August 2014 - July 2015

ITC SRA Holi Milan 2015

When spring has sprung and the cuckoos have started cuckooing incessantly, the gardens of the ITC Sangeet Resarch Academy come alive with splendid blossoms of the season. But colours do not appeal to one’s visual perception alone. Holi, the spring festival, is as much about spraying ‘abir’ on one another as it is about rejuvenating the soul with the many hues of nature. The Holi Milan programme at ITC SRA is the byword for the spirit of spring. The 86-year-young Girija Devi, doyenne of the Benares gharana and undisputed Empress of Thumri, presides over its Holi celebration. Like every year, this year too she was at the centre of the festivities, singing, laughing and affecting everyone with her cheerful magnetism. In a rose pink silk sari, the diamond on her nose and her paan-lined lips mocking at her lovely long white braided hair, Appaji – as she is referred to by everyone at the Academy – presented Horis and Kajris with an energy that only she can conjure up. For the large audience gathered at the Academy’s auditorium on Sunday, 8th March, it was as though colours had taken on distinctly auditory overtones. Not only did she sing herself, she also presented some of the Academy’s scholars. The youngsters did justice to the traditional numbers which are deeply rooted in classical ethos but have the spontaneity and emotional content of folk art forms. Nirbhay Saxena and Sripad Limbekar rendered ‘Nain gulal’, a Hori in Kafi, with commendable aplomb. Sucheta Ganguly, Shoumi Roy and Piu Mukherjee, who gave vocal support to Girija Devi, impeccably trained by her, invested a lot of passion into ‘Dhum machi hai’, ‘Urata abir gulal’ and Holi khelana kaise jaun’. But, as expected, it was Girija Devi ji herself with her nuanced ‘bol banawat’ and her remarkable command over Ragas who communicated vivaciously to all members of the audience. She completely claimed the morning for herself. And she saw to it the colours of spring flooded the hearts of all those present in the ITC SRA auditorium that was ready to burst at the seams.

Raga Analysis Class - 17th July 2015

Aparajita Lahiri Brahmachari,As a student and devotee of music, I always had an interest regarding the huge variety of Ragas, each of unique in type. Having learnt music for more than 23 years gives a fair and prominently distinct idea of the fact that behind the majesty of Hindustani classical music lies a the power of Raga and its various dimensions. There are ragas known to depict each and every mood and season. At ITC Sangeet Research Academy, utmost importance is given to the Raga system of Indian Classical Music and the Raga Analysis class is one of those time when the scholars and Gurus of the Academy sit together and discuss the particulars of a single Raga, how it should be rendered, what the different routes within the framework of the Raga are or what the criterions are behind establishing a Raga during performance. Being a Senior Scholar of this Academy, I, along with my 2 scholar friends, were given the responsibility of organising this time's Raga Analysis class by our Executive Director and our respected Gurus.The Raga decided was Malhar and a few different types in the Malhar group. The first question that came to my mind was what the actual phrase of Raga Malhar should be like? "What is the essence of Malhar?", "Is there any Raga called Shuddha Malhar?".I along with Debasmita requested our Gurus to explain the track of Malhar, Shudh Malhar and Megh / Megh Malhar. Guru Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty firstly mentioned that if we want to know or sing or play Raga Malhar we would need to know about Raga Darbari because both Ragas use the same phrases (R P, M P g M R S) and this very phrase is what denotes the difference between both the Ragas. A question posed by Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty was,"What is a phrase or why are there even phrases in Ragas?" Sankumay Debnath, a scholar, was asked to begin an alaap of Raga Megh and was asked to established the Raga in one phrase. N S N P, P R. This was the phrase sung by Sankumay and he was asked to build on the same phrase through different routes. Guru Pandit Ulhas Kashalkar said there are Ragas of the same swara/notes like Bhupali/ Deshkar, Megh/Madhmad Sarang, Puriya/Marwa/Sohini. "These Ragas have the same notes but become different through different rendition of the same notes. "Swar, swar sangati, badhat, meend, murki etc are all the terms that have fixed meaning and the same affects each and every Raga and makes it different", said Pandit Kashalkar. On Megh and Megh Malhar it was said that there is no such difference between the two Ragas. Megh is recited with Malhar ang which is R M P, P MgR S. Between M and R there is usage of komal Gandhar which is rendered through meend. Some artists use clear komal Gandhar saying that Megh Malhar and some artists sing M R S with meend which is called Megh. The following is a frequently used phrase of Raga Megh and important one as well. n S R M P n S, S n S P N M P R M S R n S

Guru-Scholar Meeting - 10th July 2015

A joint meeting between the Scholars and Gurus of the ITC Sangeet Research Academy on July 10 proved to be momentous. It was decided that a magnificent tradition of the Academy, a Raga Analysis Class with all the august Gurus of the Academy participating, would be held on a monthly basis. The first group of Ragas, in keeping with the mood of the season, was to be Malhar. On July 17, it was decided, this group of Ragas would be explored in all its glory. The Scholars responded enthusiastically, promising animated participation in the event. The significance of these discussions has to be judged in the light of the superior erudition of the Gurus who have their own experiences and understanding of the Ragas. These enrich the Scholars beyond measure. And often teach them to look at their music in a new light.

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