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Music & Research: The serious side to December Music Festival MARGAZHI

Posted by ElJay Arem (IMC OnAir) on December 29, 2012

by courtesy of M. Lalitha and M. Nandini


… written by Dr M Lalitha and M Nandini (MS Academy of Global Music*) –

The December music festival (15 December 2012 – 1 January 2013 by Madras Music Academy**) not only boasts of concerts by eminent musicians but also research papers presentations by reputed musicologists.

Research in music is as important as music performance. These musicologists focus on technical theory, history of music, research and musical theory along with current practises. Many sabhas hold conferences/ paper presentation in the morning where these musicologists present research papers. The Margazhi music festival is not just made up of music concerts but also research paper presentation by these eminent musicologists who have contributed their mite for the success of the Margazhi Music festival.

With respect to Carnatic music, musicologists can be classified broadly into:

  1. Those who research, practise music theory
  2. Performer musicians with a research degree (M Phil or Ph D)
  3. Performer musicians and non Ph Ds

Here’s a look at some current musicologists who have carved a niche for themselves …

Pappu Venugopala Rao (Source:

Pappu Venugopala Rao (Source:

Pappu Venugopala Rao is an eminent musicologist who has triple masters (one each in Telugu, English and Sanskrit literature), apart from a doctoral degree in Sanskrit and Telugu. He is also an All India Gold Medallist in Business Management. Author of several books and research papers in music, dance and philosophy, he wrote the script for the world’s first animated CD on the Ramayana. Pappu has written the English translation, with transliteration and commentary, on Rasamanjari, a work in Sanskrit by Bhanudatta that deals with the Nayika Nayaka classification. He is a much sought-after musicologist giving lectures all over the globe and chairs the morning sessions at the Music Academy.

Professor N Ramanathan is an authority on the treatise Sangita Ratnakara, written by Sharangadeva during the 13th century. He received a bachelor’s degree in violin from Sri Venkateswara University, Tirupati and his masters and Ph D, in musicology at the Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi. He was the Head of the Department of Indian Music, University of Madras, teaching and guiding many research students in their thirst for music. His book on the musical forms in the Sangita Ratnakara was published in 1999 and he has several other publications and research papers to his credit.

B M Sundaram, a native of Thanjavur, studied music and worked as an assistant under G Ramanathan, film music director, for two years. His work on the origin and evolution of nadaswaram and tavil obtained him the degree of the doctor of philosophy. Author of several books on music, his contributions include Palayazhi that deals with 3,600 raga scales with different arohana and avarohana, a work that deals with 1,400 talas, the Tala Sangraham and Mangala Isai Mannargal to name a few. A multi-linguist, B M Sundaram is equally at ease with different languages Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu, Marathi, Kannada, Gujarati and Urdu.

S Seetha holds the degree of M Litt and Ph D in music, from the University of Madras. She is also a vainika. She was the Professor and Head of the the Department of Indian Music, University of Madras, where she taught and guided many students. Her works include Tanjore as a seat of music during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries and Ragalaksanamu of Sahaji besides several research articles and publications.

S A Kumari Durga is a renowned musicologist cum ethnomusicologist. She holds a doctorate in ethnomusicology from the Wesleyan University, USA and a did her post-doctoral research work at Yale University for the topic ‘A comparative study of Gregorian and Vedic chants and Tevaram hymns’. She began her formal training in music from her mother, Lalithabai and later under Tirukkodikaval Venkatarama Iyer and Madurai Mani Iyer. She also had her advanced training under T Viswanathan and Dr M Balamuralikrishna. She is equally well-versed in Hindustani classical music having had her training from Ustad Mohammed Munnawar of Delhi. An expert in voice culture, she did her masters in voice culture at the University of Madras. Her contributions include research on Vallala Yakshaganam and voice culture, among others.

M B Vedavalli trained initially under her sister M B Singamma in music and later came under the tutelage of Krishna Iyengar and M A Narasimhachari. She was the Head of the Department of Indian Music, University of madras. She has published many books including her doctoral dissertation ‘Mysore as a seat of music’, apart from presenting many significant papers in the field of musicology. Her magnam opus is the unfinished work of Prof P Sambamoorthy, the Dictionary of South Indian Music and Musicians, that she finished successfully which brought her encomiums.

S R Janakiraman is both a Carnatic vocalist cum musicologist. He started learning from Thanneerpalli Krishnamurthi and later under Tiger Varadachariar, Tiruppamburam Swaminatha Pillai and T Brinda. He was trained in musicology by Prof Sambamoorthy and P K Rajagopala Iyer. He was the head the Dept of Musicology at Sri Venkateswara College of Music, Tirupati and then Principal at the Teachers College of Music. He has written several books including Raga Lakshanas and Essentials of Musicology apart from many paper presentations.

(Source: 12/29/2012 – The Times Of India Chennai | Section: Chennai Times; Page: 40)
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*MS (Muthuswamy Subbulakshmi) Academy of Global Music is a systematic learning academy for research and studying the Carnatic, Western Classical and World Music in Chennai.
MS Academy of Global music has been started in Chennai to foster and propagate carnatic music and world Music. It offers a variety of courses and caters to the individual needs of those aspiring to study different genres of Music. Classes / Courses in theory and Practicals are being taught by reputed professionals.

**) Madras Music Academy is one of the earliest established Music Academies in South India. Before the concept of infrastructure was introduced to India in the early 1920s, it was a gathering for elite musicians simply called (and is still more commonly referred to as) Music Academy (Tamil: சங்கீத வித்வத் சபை,sangeetha vidhwadh sabaiIt plays an important role in encouraging and promoting primarily the Carnatic Music Indian art form. It played a vital role in the revival of the Indian classical dance form of Bharatnatyam in 1930s when it faced near extinction due to a negative connotation caused by conservative societal standards (Source:

Violin duo sisters Dr. M. Lalitha and M. Nandini


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