Monday, April 13, 2009

Tanpura: the base of Indian music

There have been many musical instruments which have added to the beauty of Indian music but Tanpura or Tambura is the one which is the base of our melody. For centuries now, it has incessantly been providing the basic note or the key note to the vocal as well as the instrumental music. Its accompaniment provides a kind of drone effect which enables the vocalist to establish the tonality of different ragas around the drone of this enchanting instrument. In this essay, let us go deep into this instrument and discover its implied features.

The origin of the instrument

Although Tanpura has been providing the basic accompaniment to the vocalists as well as the instrumentalists for centuries now, yet there has not been much effort to look into the historical aspect of it. Many scholars suggest that there was a Gandharva in the name of Tumbru who discovered this instrument. Others claim that there was a Tamburi Veena which might have been behind the origin of Tanpura or Tambura. Some other musicologists differ from the aforesaid view and submit that it has come to India from Iran. Some even go on to say that it has come from the Greek Lyre. Many scholars insist upon the fact that there are the resemblances of this musical instrument in the wall painting as well as the inscriptions of the pre-medieval period. Therefore it cannot said to be of a foreign origin. There are divergent views. However all the scholars converge upon the fact that this is a unique instrument in our music. It looks to be especially made for our matchless music. That is why, it could not have come from outside. Let us assume that it is an Indian instrument, suitable to the requirements of our music. Tanpura has been used by the musicians for around two centuries for sure; we have found references in different books of Pt. Bhatkhande and Pt. Vishnu Digambar Paluskar of Tanpura or Tambura. Hence it can be stated without any reasonable doubts whatsoever, that this instrument existed in India before the advent of the aforesaid scholars.

The structure of Tanpura

Traditional Tanpuras are made of pumpkin and Teakwood. Firstly, a pumpkin of the suitable circumference and diameter is obtained. Then it is cut from its upper side and all the pulp is taken out so that it gets hollow. Then it is dried up. It goes through many processes in order to give it the perfect shape. One such process is that it is cut from the front and is covered with the teakwood of the suitable thickness. Then a bar is attached to the uppermost portion. This bar is called the "Daand". This is made of teakwood and it is also hollow. On the top of the Daand, there are four wooden "Khoontis" which are used to hold and tighten the strings. The four strings are attached to the bottom of the gourd with a screw. The wooden structure covering the gourd from the front is called "Tabli". A Bridge is put over it. This is made of the horn of a turtle or dear but gradually, this practice is discouraged as the animal-protection movement is growing. Now-a-days, it is made of some synthetic material. The surface of the bridge is given a suitable shape through a process called "Juvari". The four strings pass through the bridge and are attached to the aforesaid Khoontis. On the upper side of the Daand, there are two strips. The strings are put over these strips so that a perfect distance is maintained from the Daand. The strings can be tightened/loosened as desired. The first string is called "Pancham Ki Taar" and it is tuned in the Pancham of Mandra Saptak. Second and third strings are called "Jodi Ki Tar" and are tuned in the Shadja of Madhyasaptak. The last one is called "kharaj" and is tuned in the Shadja of Mandrasaptak.

There are two kinds of Tanpuras available: one, the Male Tanpura and the other, the Female Tanpura. The former is fifty-five to sixty inches long whereas the latter has the length of forty-five to fifty inches. The first one is tuned in C major and above and the other one is tuned in G onwards. At the bottom of the strings, there is a bead which is used to make minor tuning adjustments.

Tanpura is a cumbersome musical instrument. The artists face many problems as they have to travel from one place to another in connection with their performances in different concerts. The problem gets much more aggravating when it comes to the foreign visits. The artists are concerned with the safety of the instrument as the cargo has to be taken separately. Generally, they think it better to have the instruments with themselves. However, during the journey through the Air, it is not possible. This instrument is so delicate that the slightest jerk can spoil it. In 1980's, keeping the problem of mobility of the instrument in view, many manufacturers experimented with new innovations and one of them came up with a smaller version of the instrument which was named as "Riki Tanpura". This was around forty inches in length and hence provided some relief to the users. In this version of Tanpura, the whole body of the instrument was made of seasoned teakwood. The pumpkin gourd disappeared. Thus, the Riki Tanpura got to be stronger and easy to move. More experiments were conducted on the instrument and a new version was brought about combining the Swaramandal with the Tanpura. This version of Swaramandal Tanpura had 15 additional strings so as to tune them in the performing Raga according to the choice of the artist.

Experiments and the innovations continued on the instrument and many more modifications were tried. However, the remarkable change was seen as the electronic and the synthesized versions of the instrument came up. Now an electronic version of Tanpura is available with many different models to choose from. There are several new features which were not available previously. But most of the artists of Hindustani music, especially, the vocalists do not like the electronic version as the tone of the instrument is not natural but the synthesized one. In the south Indian music however, it is broadly recognized and extensively used during the concerts. In North India too, the instrumentalists are gradually are coming to terms with it. During practice sessions, artists/learners of Hindustani music use the electronic version more often than not.

Features

Finally, after describing the different types of tanpura, let us now focus our attention at its salient features which make it a unique and very relevant musical instrument in the context of Indian music.

The very tone of Tanpura is so fascinating that it attracts our attention as the instrument is played. Its sound creates the environment which is suitable for the creation of Indian music; be it through vocal cord or through the instruments. Secondly, it supports the voice of the vocalist. It not only provides the tonic note or the basic note to the singer/instrumentalist, but it also improvises the tonal quality of the singer. Thirdly, besides the musical notes which are produced by its strings, its specifically adjusted Bridge helps creating numerous overtones which, in turn, help in finding all the seven notes of the octave which are used in our music. Thus, it helps choosing the proper notes by the singers. Those who use Tanpura while singing have this feeling that it helps developing a proper musical voice as more and more practice with it helps the singer to find the perfect tone through the numerous overtones. These overtones help develop a perfect voice-culture. As the learners of the present era are substituting the original tanpura with an electronic version or with the Harmonium, the tonal quality of such singers lacks the depth and the voice culture which is essential for Indian music.

To conclude, it can be submitted without any disagreement from the music lovers that the traditional Tanpura is better than its electronic version. That is why; the vocalists should use the traditional one as comprehensively as possible.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Music therapy:

*Footnotes are given at the end.

In this era of rapid growth and nail-biting competition, life is getting full of tension. This tension leads to different diseases like the hypertension, heart problems, and insomnia and so on. Moreover, many ailments occur due to the lack of physical exercises. Our life-styles have become so comfortable and relaxing, thanks to the science and technology, that most of our day-to-day activities are performed automatically by different machines. For example, we have remote control devices for TV, air conditioners, fans etc and therefore need not trouble our legs in order to use them. Outdoor games have been replaced by very meticulously designed video games. Hence, most of us need not go out and play. Mobile phones have made it possible to sit at home and replace important meetings with the video conferencing. There is just no scope for physical activities. The result is that we are becoming victims of the diseases like obesity, diabetes, heart attack, sleeplessness etc. the more the diseases, the more medicines to consume. Then comes the problem of the side effects or the after-effects of the medicines consumed. This side effect leads to more illnesses like ulcers of different kinds, acidity, and defect in our immunity system etc.

Almost all of us are tired of medicines. Therefore, different alternative medical therapies are getting popular day by day. Medical practitioners themselves suggest these days, that the drugs sometimes make the situation worse. That is why; people are looking for such kind of medical therapies which have lighter medicines to consume. Hence, many new alternatives for the allopathy are being suggested these days. These include homeopathy, acupressure, acupuncture, ayurvedic system of medicines and the last but not the least, the music therapy.


 

1 What is music therapy?


 

Music therapy is the alternative treatment for various diseases. It is a kind of nonmedical therapy supplemented with the medical treatment of the patients. In a broader sense, it is an alternative therapy for those patients who wish to avoid the amount of allopathic medicines as much as possible. These days, the doctors recommend music therapy in coherence with the medical or the allopathic therapy. It is recognized by many physicians. The doctors are convergent on the fact that music is a powerful tool which can be used to give relaxation to our minds. It arouses our sensations and keeps us out of negative feelings. If we listen to fine quality of music, our mind is concentrated towards it and we forget our worries, tensions, troubles, problems etc. it is this potential of music which is tapped by the specialists to use it as a medical treatment.

Aesthetics tells us that all the fine arts divert our minds and activate our senses. This brings us to the spiritual upliftment. The spiritual upliftment liberates us from the worldly tensions and we feel a kind of pleasure which cannot be expressed in words. This inexplicable feeling is very precious and can be compared with the Rasa as has been mentioned in Natyashastra.


 

2 The human mind:


 

Before going deep in the analysis of the music therapy, let us understand the basics of the human mind.

The human brain, it has been said, is the most complexly organized structure in the universe and to appreciate this you just have to look at some of the statistics.

The brain is made up of one hundred billion nerve cells or "neurons" which is the basic structural and functional units of the nervous system. Each neuron makes something like a thousand to ten thousand contacts with other neurons and these points of contact are called synapses where exchange of information occurs. And based on this information, someone has calculated that the number of possible permutations and combinations of brain activity, in other words the numbers of brain states, exceeds the number of elementary particles in the known universe.

Even though it's common knowledge these days, it never ceases to amaze me that all the richness of our mental life - all our feelings, our emotions, our thoughts, our ambitions, our love life, our religious sentiments and even what each of us regards us his own intimate private self - is simply the activity of these little specks of jelly in your head, in your brain. There is nothing else.

Given the staggering complexity, where do you even begin? Well let's start with some basic anatomy. It's the 21st century and most people here have a rough idea what the brain looks like. It has got two mirror-image halves. These are called the cerebral hemispheres. Hence, it looks like a walnut sitting on top of a stalk. This walnut-like structure is called the brain stem, and each hemisphere is divided into four lobes: A. The frontal lobe, B. The parietal lobe, C. The occipital lobe and D. The temporal lobe.
The occipital lobe in the back is concerned with vision. If it's damaged, you become blind. The temporal lobe is concerned with things like hearing, with emotions and certain aspects of perception. The parietal lobes of the brain are concerned with - at the sides of the head - they are concerned with creating a three-dimensional representation of the spatial layout of the external world, and also of your own body in that three-dimensional representation. And lastly the frontal lobes, in the front, are the most mysterious of all. They are concerned with some very enigmatic aspects of human mind and human behavior such as your moral sense, your wisdom, your ambition and other activities of the mind which we know very little about.

The brain, together with our psyche, is called our mind. Mind is composed of two parts: the brain and the subconscious part of our psyche. This subconscious part is responsible for various psychological activities including the emotional development and different sentiments. It is not just a biological structure but our mind is something greater than that. In the coming paragraphs, we will interpret how our mind is hypnotised by the beautiful musical composition.


 

3 Music therapy in India:


 

Long before acoustics came to be understood in Europe as a subject of study, the ancient Arab, Greek and Indian civilizations were already familiar with the therapeutic role of sounds and vibrations and the later day concepts pertaining to them. While music as a whole is well recognized for its entertainment value, the Indian civilization had gone a step forward to attribute the curative aspect to music.

The ancient system of Nada Yoga, which dates back to the time of Tantras, has fully acknowledged the impact of music on body and mind and put into practice the vibrations emanating from sounds to uplift one's level of consciousness. It is the Indian genius that recognized that ragas are not just mere commodities of entertainment but the vibrations in their resonance could synchronize with one's moods and health. By stimulating the moods and controlling the brain wave patterns, ragas could work as a complementary medicine.


 

3.1 What is a melody or Raga


 

Raga, we all know is the sequence of selected notes (swaras) that lend appropriate 'mood' or emotion in a selective combination. Depending on their nature, a raga could induce or intensify joy or sorrow, violence or peace and it is this quality which forms the basis for musical application. Thus, a whole range of emotions and their nuances could be captured and communicated within certain rhythms and melodies. Playing, performing and even listening to appropriate ragas can work as a medicine. Various ragas have since been recognized to have definite impact on certain ailments.


 

3.2 Historic References on Raga Chikitsa.


 

The ancient Hindus had relied on music for its curative role: the chanting and toning involved in Veda mantras in praise of God have been used from time immemorial as a cure for several disharmonies in the individual as well as his environment. Several sects of 'bhakti' such as Chaitanya sampradaya, Vallabha sampradaya have all accorded priority to music. Historical records too indicate that one Haridas Swami who was the guru of the famous musician in Akbar's time, Tansen is credited with the recovery of one of the queens of the Emperor with a selected raga. The great composers of classical music in India called the 'Musical Trinity', - who were curiously the contemporaries of the 'Trinity of Western Classical Music, Bach, Beethoven and Mozart– were quite sensitive to the acoustical energies. Legend has it that Saint Tyagaraja brought a dead person back to life with his Bilahari composition Naa Jiva Dhaara. Muthuswamy Dikshitar's Navagriha Kriti is believed to cure stomach ache. Shyama Sastry's composition Duru Sugu uses music to pray for good health.

Raga Chikitsa was an ancient manuscript, which dealt with the therapeutic effects of raga. The library at Thanjavur is reported to contain such a treasure on ragas that spells out the application and use of various ragas in fighting common ailments.


 

3.3 Raga Chikitsa: Raga Therapy in India


 

Living systems show sensitivity to specific radiant energies – be it acoustical, magnetic or electro-magnetic. As the impact of music could be easily gauged on emotions and thereby on mind, it can be used as a tool to control the physiological, psychological and even social activities of the patients

Indian classical music can be classified into two forms: kalpita sangita or composition, which is previously conceived, memorized, practised and rendered and manodharma sangita or the music extemporized and performed. The latter can be equated to the honey-mooner's first night as it conceives both spontaneity and improvisation. It is fresh and natural as it is created almost on the spot and rendered instantly on the spur of the moment.

According to an ancient Indian text, Swara Sastra, the seventy-two melakarta ragas (parent ragas ) control the 72 important nerves in the body. It is believed that if one sings with due devotion, adhering to the raga lakshana (norms) and sruti shuddhi, (pitch purity) the raga could affect the particular nerve in the body in a favourable manner.

While the descending notes in a raga (avarohana) do create inward-oriented feelings, the ascending notes (arohana) represent an upward mobility. Thus music played for the soldiers or for the dancers have to be more lively and up lifting with frequent use of arohana content. In the same way, melancholic songs should go for 'depressing' avarohanas. Although it is not a rule, most of the Western tunes based on major keys play joyful notes, while those composed in minor keys tend to be melancholic or serious.

Certain ragas do have a tendency to move the listeners, both emotionally as well as physically. An involuntary nod of the head, limbs or body could synchronize with lilting tunes when played.


 

3.4 Some Therapeutic Ragas


 

Some ragas like Darbari Kanhada, Kamaj and Pooriya are found to help in defusing mental tension, particularly in the case of hysterics. For those who suffer from hypertension, ragas such as Ahirbhairav, Pooriya and Todi are prescribed. To control anger and bring down the violence within, Carnatic ragas like Punnagavarali, Sahana etc do come handy.

Sairam, experimenting on the impact of raga on mentally-retarded (MR) children have noticed that it is the right combination of rhythms and tempo, which also affect the quality of a raga.

Not only psychological impact, but also somatic or physiological impact of ragas has come to light in some recent works. For instance, stomach-related disorders are said to be cured with some Hindustani Ragas such as Deepak (acidity) , Gunkali and Jaunpuri ( constipation) and Malkauns or Hindolam (intestinal gas and for controlling fevers). Fevers like malaria are also said to be controlled by the ragas like Marva. For headaches, relaxing with the ragas like Durbari Kanada, Jayjaywanti and Sohni is said to be beneficial.

There is a growing awareness that ragas could be a safe alternative for many medical interventions.

Simple musical rhythms with low pitched swaras, as in bhajans and kirtans are the time-tested sedatives, which can even substitute the synthetic analgesics, which show many a side-effect. They are capable of leading to relaxation, as observed with the alpha-levels of the brain waves. They may also lead to favourable hormonal changes in the system. It is therefore felt that there is an urgent need for further detailed enquiry to be based on scientific parameters, which will go a long way in unearthing the goldmine on which the Indian musical system is resting now.

For this purpose, it is necessary that a group of exponents in Indian ragas join experts in medicine to help evolving a scientific system of raga therapy for the most common illness of the modern times: stress and stress-related disorders. Our leaders, professionals and managers all suffer from stress, thanks to the ever-increasing man-machine interface, resulting in the machine making the man to behave!

"Nada centre for music therapy" is an inconspicuous outfit at Chennai committed to propagate the concept of music therapy among the general public. So far one national (2005) and one international conference (2006) has been successfully organized by this centre at Chennai with the support of a few music therapy enthusiasts. A few modest publications and cd's on music therapy have also been brought out by them as may be referred to from their website.

Thus, we see that music therapy is getting momentum in the present era. More and more individuals and institutions are making efforts to popularise this kind of therapy as a supplement to the medical treatment. The initial clinical tests show that it is a very effective tool for some specific kinds of ailments. Mental illnesses, tension related problems, hypertension, psychological problems like depression, anxiety etc are some of the diseases which can be cured through the music therapy supplemented with the routine available treatments. Music therapy helps in the rapid cure of the ailment with the lesser quantity of the drugs so that the after-effects of the same are eliminated.

Footnotes

1. Music mind and Mental Health by Bagchi, P.31.

2. Ibid: P.72.

3. Self-transformation through Music by Crandall, J: P.51.

4. B. B. C. Reith Lectures Series 2003.http://yahoogroups/sayeverything.messages_Brain.htm

5. Music, Mind and Mental Health. by K. Bagchi, Society for Gerontological Research P.43.

6. Ibid: P.44.

7. Music, mind and mental health, Society for Gerontological Research by K Bagchi, P.43.

8.Ibid: P-44.

9. The Psychology of Tones, by Sairam. P.21..

10.

11. Ibid: P.34.

12. Music, mind and Mental Health byK. Bagchi, 2003, P.61

13. Taken from the link:http://ayurveda-foryou.com

14. Same Link.

Same link.

15. For further information:http://ayurveda-foryou.com/health_articles/health_articles.html

16. Medicinal Music. Nada Centre for music therapy. by T. V. Sairam, p-33

17. Nada music Therapy Centre located in Chennai.

18. Self-transformation through Music by Crandall, P5.).

19. http://www.nada.in


 

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Taken from:

Omenad

U.G.C. Conference:

'Music in Perspective of Globalization'

By Dr. Rajiv Trivedi

   

 
 

Educational institutions generally organize conferences and workshops during each academic session depending upon the grants available. Such meetings of academics and professionals helps in forwarding the process of education by sharing and documentation of recent innovation, experimentation and meditation in the discipline. Where theoretical observations outweigh novel revelation, the interest of participants and the audience in the proceedings is likely to wane. The conference organized by Music faculty of Delhi University was held in the compact but acoustically strong auditorium called Shankarlal Hall. Apart from the first few rows reserved for the speakers and guests, the hall was filled to capacity with students. It was refreshing to find so many bright-eyed youth interested in music - a heritage whose epithet 'ancient' is more likely to drive them away. A little later, it was apparent that the students attended the seminar not due to any pressure but because the proceedings held real meaning for them. This indeed is the victory of Dean Anjali Mittal and organizing secretary Suneera Kasliwal who not only chose an interesting topic but could also motivate participants whose presence together spelled plurality of Indian music.

After the traditional Vandana (enjoyable both in composition and presentation as it was presented by students of music) and welcome address by Dr. Anjali Mittal, Shri Lalit Mansingh inaugurated the two-day seminar. He drew attention to basic ideas beneath the ubiquitous term 'globalization' that were of value to scholars and performers alike. Art never changes externally; when it is forced as such, it might give birth to a new genre, but the main body stays the same. It is only when the artiste changes in accordance with fundamental values that his art portrays a new look. This fact was stated in different terms throughout the seminar by speakers, artistes and observers. Among the audience were such names as Dr. Saubhagyavardhan Brahaspati, Dr. Mukesh Garg, Prof. Ravi Sharma who is looking after music courses in IGNOU, Ustad Iqbal Ahmed Khan, classical vocalist and doyen of Delhi school. The seminar was attended by a large number of ex-students of the Music faculty.

It was still a step forward when Vidushi Shanno Khurana was going down memory lane to recall the days when she first started using classical compositions in opera. As she sang out different parts, one could picture the the story unfolding on the stage. Yes, the audience shared her wonder; what was wrong with this to cause uproar and statements like 'Shanno Khurana has abandoned serious music'. She described how gradually people began to see creativity instead of degeneration in this venture. The few lines she recited from her first Urdu opera were a treat -- a rare blend of poetry, diction, drama and music.

When Prof. Vidya Dhar Vyas was invited as the next speaker, there was a momentary fear that after such a presentation would the young audience grant due attention to the scholar-performer. Some of the students had attended his lectures and looked forward to his presentation here. Dr. Vyas briefly described how technology has aided promotion and practice of Indian Classical music. He pointed out that when students from West or Far East come to learn Indian music, it is not only a body of knowledge they seek but an understanding of an alien culture as well. Most institutions and independent teachers formulate a starter module which acquaints these students with salient features of Indian culture important for understanding Indian music. He proceeded to relate how a keen student was groomed in this fashion and when everyone in the audience was curious about him, he put on a tape of his performance. No one can guess from the recording that the singer is not an Indian. Chairperson Dr. Krishna Bisht invited questions from the audience and helped the speakers in stressing an active role of musicians towards building a pluralistic global culture.

In the post-lunch session Hans Utter presented a perfect sequel to Dr. Vyas. Through his paper he emphasized the need for taking a cultural approach to understanding Indian music. He talked about the fundamental differences in western and Indian music. The very nature of western music calls for a definite progressive structure based on harmony that effects an impediment to appreciating Indian music. The Indian system is cyclic based on establishment of shadja laying stress on accuracy of microtonal units. This produces a kind of cultural deafness; unless trained for it west can not appreciate east and vice-versa. It is the degree of insight gained which marks whether the western rendering of Indian Raga approximates the original. He used compositions in Todi performed by three artistes on different instruments to substantiate this hypothesis.

Though western artistes like James Barralet and Nancy Lesh have used Cello to play Indian music, Saskia Rao de Haas has gone a step farther. She is wedded not only to Indian music but also to an Indian musician. An erstwhile student of Delhi university she completed her Ph.D. from Amsterdam and stalwarts like Pt. Hariprasad Chourasiya are all praise for her. She credits a Dutch musician for designing her Cello and Sanjay Sharma of Shivam Musicals for making her instrument. It has five playing strings with tonic in D and uses ten sympathetic strings. The deep tones of Cello suited the Bhimpalash composition in Jhaptal and teen tal. At times, the very strength also becomes its weakness as thirst for softer tones remains unquenched, but considering that this is pioneering work, Saskia comes out a winner.

The presence of a number of artistes, scholars, critics in the audience lend credence to the seminar. Dr. Krishna Bisht, who headed the music faculty till her recent retirement acted as bridge across generations and vocations. The organizers had thoughtfully arranged for the presence of major publishers of books and music. Latest releases by Sangeet Natak Akademi and Akashvani archives were on display. As they offered handsome discount, during breaks they were filled with students and visitors eager to update their libraries and collection.

Director of Sangeet Natak Akademi, Dr. Jayant Kastuar and chairperson Pt. Bhajan Sopori set the mood for second day of seminar by interpreting the paradoxical impact of globalization. Anyone who has moved out his town, city or country suddenly learns the value of native identity. Globalization has brought his realization to people without their moving out. In the plethora of activities, commotion and babble the anchor of things known and proximate is necessary for defining one's individuality; else one's sanity would be in question. Later Pt. Sopori expressed his complete agreement with Dr. Kastuar's emphasis on defining policies for reinforcement of the local so that the steps to regional and national might give a stable movement to global. Despite several significant contributions to the discussion by eminent personalities, due perhaps to the essence of seminar being more artistic than philosophical, the misapprehension of globalization as an upward climb could not be successfully belied. Still, the speakers were clear about bolstering our immediate culture in order to contribute to the global one. Dr. Kastuar went as far as to state that citizens should work towards making Indian culture as the global culture. Quite patriotic! Yet, the statement was made more in spirit of encouragement than denial of pluralism. Pt. Sopori was more concerned about the heady spirit of experimentation. Egged on by an opening world market, many Indian artistes tend to experiment with fusion which is "possible only when marketing is successful". It is no more than gymnastics or lampooning completely devoid of true music. The legendary santoor player is right to be angry because all that goes in the name of fusion rises out of material ambition and not aesthetic sensibility.

It shall take some time for Indian artistes to admit the yeoman service that Shri G. Rajnarayan has performed. If one takes the global view, wide in span and sensibility, then perhaps this engineer-musician inventor has made the largest contribution in granting expanse to practice of Indian classical music. In the words of Santoor artiste and composer Pt. Omprakash Chourasiya, "the sole invention in twentieth century which has revolutionized practice of Indian music is G. Rajnarayan's invention, electronic Tanpura and Tabla". Rajnarayan in tandem with wife Radhika, an acclaimed artiste of Tanjour or Saraswati Veena presented his invention Digital Veena. The first synthesized Indian music instrument to hold patent, the Digital Veena addresses many trivial issues that together make the original acoustic instrument a challenge to artiste's creativity. Portability is not an issue when one is debating on merits of various instruments in a conference hall, but soon as the artiste gets a chain booking of eight or ten performances three thousand miles from home, it acquires draconian proportion. Many concerts have been cancelled because of damaged instrument. Indian artistes used to reverent disciples looking after their mentor's instrument find to their loss that they are not reincarnated as airport baggage attendants. But Digi-veena takes care of other crucial issues like freedom from fixed frets through single button tuning, ease for smooth finger-work, powerful sound that can hold its own with any percussion and has rich benefits like built-in Tanpura, memory for various settings and so on. Radhika ji was truly enjoying playing on this Veena which was designed on her suggestions and to her tastes. Her fingers glided with unbridled joy, for the digi-veena needs merely the touch and no pulling to produce the perfect notes.

Equally proficient is Dr. Francesca Cassio in her Dhrupad recital. Clarity of diction is pleasantly surprising. She has attained this difficult art-form through the path of poeple-culture-art. Once again, only time shall tell whether she is able to cross over from being a practitioner to master. Yet, she has already performed a great service by establishing that overcoming all sorts of deafness and closed doors the great Indian art which passed from master to son has now finally be opened up for those who dare.

Before this presentation with another senior member of faculty. Ajit Singh Paintal as moderator a panel of four renowned music scholars discussed the place of indian music in global perspective. Shri S.L. Kandara a sensitive violin player and media administrator initiated the dialogue by affirming the cultural stream running unperturbed by economic activity. The globalization phenomena is technology driven economic activity that despite inconveniencing Arts here and there would not be able to affect its course. Prof. Najma Perveen Ahmed was less critical and seemed ready to take the bull by horns through bringing about some changes in methods for teaching of Indian music. Prof. Deepti  Bhalla a Kathak performer said that it all depends on the conviction of the artiste. (S)he can present as much or as little of the art before the global audience as required. This control grants them the key to tackling this phenomena. On the other hand when anyone wishes to learn this art, it has to be taught in absolutely the manner in which it was learnt. This way it is Indianization of the alien sensibility and not globalization. Prof. Uma Garg and Prof. Pankaj Mala Sharma too helped in charting out ways available to artistes and academics for furthering the cause of Indian music without losing its essence. Dr. Sharma pointed out that performing arts are always experimental and thus change is the tradition of music; only such change is acceptable which does not abuse the integrity of the art-form.

As a fitting finale, another erstwhile member of faculty Padmashree Dr. Debu Choudhury gave a moving sitar recital.  Prof. Sunita Dhar proposed a vote of thanks for all participants, guest speakers, students and supporting artistes, namely, Pt. Dal Chand Sharma, Pt. N. Padmanabhan, Pt. Somnath Mukherjee, Pt. Subhash Nirwan, Shri Gulshan Kumar and Shri Rashid Zafar.

On behalf of the organizers Dr. Suneera Kasliwal promised to come out with publication of proceedings of the seminar. With Hindi Madhyam Karyanvaya Nideshalaya being situated so close to Music faculty, one can hope it to see another issue of Vageshwari soon.