Indiranagar Sangeetha Sabha:

'Africa Meets Asia' -- International Conference

Report on Conference

By Dr. Rajiv Trivedi



Educational institutions throughout India were placidly overseeing a fresh batch of bright-eyed youth disover the world when a number of scholars from across the world made a bee line for Banglaore where a grand event awaited them. A week long International Music Conference in association with the Centre for Intercultural Musicology located in Churchill College, Cambridge, UK and headed by Dr Akin Euba of USA was organized by an institution of Bangalore. The twenty three year old institution was celebrating its annual music festival from July 11th to 16th. To coincide with it, the organization had planned a massive convocation of musicians, musicologists, teachers, scholars and enthusiasts in seventeen sessions apart from the inaugural and concluding sessions.

The history of Indiranagar Sangeetha Sabha is an encouraging one. In the land where such stalwarts as Pandit Bhatkhande and Pt. Paluskar faced failure one after another in making music institutions run, the Sabha after being registered as a Trust in 1986, has been engaged in propagation of performing arts by organizing regular monthly programmes and special programmes of music and dance, alongwith running a school, which imparts structured instruction in music - vocal and instrumental - both in the Carnatic and Hindustani styles and in Bharatanatyam dance form. There are over 400 students learning in the School and more want to join. Managed by a group of dedicated trustee members, the Sabha could construct its own premises in Indiranagar, Bangalore in 2004 with an auditorium having excellent acoustics for performances. There are spacious classrooms to run the School with performing artists as teachers.

The Sabha organized a Symposium in 2006 on Science and Music which was well attended by Scholars and Musicologists from all over India. The Proceedings containing the Papers for the Symposium were printed and circulated to participants before the meet and have earned scholarly appreciation. The success of the event infused the members to organize a still larger event. Its invitation was accepted by Centre for Intercultural Musicology whose objectives include the study and promotion of cross-cultural activity in music, including composition, performance and scholarly work. The last International Music Conference promoted by this Centre was in China. It was truly a privilege for the Indiranagar Sangeetha Sabha to have been selected by the Centre to host this Conference - one which was held for the first time in India.

The aim of this particular Conference was to promote an exchange of views among Musicologists, Musicians and Composers from the Asian and African Diaspora on their music treasures. Among others, it aimed to encompass compositions, traditions, music concepts and rapid changes witnessed in the last five decades. Such an exchange would naturally promote further relations between Africa and the rest of the world in the field of Music, hence there wre three thematic focus -- African Music Traditions, Asian Music Traditions, and Interaction between Africa and Asia.


Mr. S.N.S.Murthy, India - Chairman
Dr. Krishna Bisht, India
Dr. Akin Euba, USA - Chairman
H.H. Marthanda Varma, India
Dr. Cynthia Tse Kimberlin, USA
Prof. R.C.Mehta, India
Prof. Li Xin, China
Prof. P.K.Dixit, India
Dr. Paschal YaoYounge, Ghana
Dr. Dipali Nag, India
Dr. Kimasi Browne, USA
Dr. P.K. Bagilthaya, India
Ms. Laura Falzon Baldacchino, Malta
Dr. Ananda Shankar Jayanth, India
Dr. Kim Heesun, Korea
Dr. S.A.K. Durga, India
Dr. John Robinson, USA
Dr. R.Balasubramaniam, India - Convenor
Dr. Smita Srinivas, USA
Dr. Razak Abdul Aziz, Malaysia
Dr. Fermi Adedeji, Nigeria
Dr. Mathoor Krishnamurti, India
Ms. Olusola Oyeleya, Nigeria/UK

The several sessions were enriched by presence of such exalted speakers as:

Prof. R. Satyanarayana, India
Dr. Yomi Daramolo
Dr. Morakeng Kenneth Lebaka, S. Africa
Dr. Vidyadhar Vyas, India
Dr. Cynthia Tse Kimberlin, USA
Dr. Mathoor Krishnamurti, India
Prof. R.C. Mehta, India
Prof. Li Xin, China
Prof.Chen Zi Ming, China
Prof. S.R. Janaki Raman, India
Dr.Y. Saradhambal, India
Dr. Tin Hoffman, Japan
T. M. Hoffman
Hans Utter, USA

The Lecture Demonstrations will be presented by Prof. Krishna Bisht, Prof. Ritwik Sanyal, Dr. Paschal Yao Younge, Prof. Neena Grover, Dr. Zelma CM. Badu Younge, Dr. Lipica Das Gupta and Dr. Anasuya Kulkarni, among others.

Evening concerts were planned to feature Smt. M.S. Sheela, Sri T.M.Krishna, Smt Jayanthi Kumaresh, Sri Gaurav Majumdar, Dr. Vidyadhar Vyas, Dr. Lorna C. Young Wright and others. A Thematic presentation: "Flame in the Forest" (in English) by Smt. Gowri Ramnarayan, an Instrument Ensemble by the Faculty of the-School of the Sabha, Dances of India, African Drums and a "Ghata Tarang" by Smt Sukanya Ramagopal too were highlighted.

Dr. S.A. K. Durga's key note address (Confluence of Melody and Rhythm in the music of Africa and Asia) set the mood for conference. Globally renowned for her work on voice culture Dr. Durga presented the development of music as Harmony and Melody both employing rhythm as a prop. She traced the commonality between muscial scales in East Asian, South East Asian, South Asian, West Asian, East African, West African and South African countries. Prof. Li Xin traced the creativity in Akin Euba's African Pianism; while initially he experimented with atonal technology to mix with African rhythm patterns, now he 'strove to depict mainly melodies of African nature'. A counterfoil to his paper was Neera Grover's examination of Bandish in Khayal singing. Dr. Alamelu Ramakrishna, Smt. GBV Anuradha, Dr. K. Saraswati Vidyarthi as well as Dr. Premeela Gurumurthy spoke on various aspects of Sri Thayagaraja's compositions.Dr. Achuth Shankar Nair read his paper on Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma whose Navratnamalik was discussed in detail by Smt. Prema Rangarajan. Tracing the various threads, Dr. R. Sathyanarayan wisely concluded, "source of all music is heart of man which sings out in a, language transcending words for the harmony amongst nations and symphony of all human endeavours towards peace and fraternity".

Wider in its concern was Dr. Cynthia Tse Kimberlin's paper tracling linkages between indian-Ethiopean-Eritrean Arts. The linkages have existed from 15th century Ethiopean dynasty in Bengal to support provided by India to Ethioea's first independent producer Amha Eshete to create his own record labels. More fundamental was another intersting paper by Prof. Li Xin about Indian music on the Silk Road of China. He referred to Japanese scholar Shigeo Kishibe's disovery that modes of Qiu-zi music had clearly evolved from pronunciaion in Sanscrit.

The doyen of contemporary Indian scholarship, Prof. R.C. Mehta mesmerized the audience by his lucid history of Indian music schools, speaking knowledgably of over 150 musicians of different streams and their relatiionship by birth, school and style. He covered all Gharana-s starting from Tansen and Dagar to Darbhanga, Betai, Tilwandi, Mathura, Gwalior, Agra, Kirana, Rampur-Sahaswan and right up to the highest evolved Khayal singing of Jaipur Atrauli or Alladiya school. He narrates how a Delhi vocalist, Tanras Khan, who fled to Patiala in turbulent times of unrest during 1857 trained Alia and Fattu in Madhya laya Khayal with very fast Taans in turn taught two brothers Ali Bux and Kale Khan, who in turn trained Bade Ghulam Ali Khan thereby creating a stalwart of Thumri.

Several papers comparing styles, composers, performers and even schools were presented. Relationship between poetry and singing was examined. Brig. Srinivasan Naambirajan laid a new hypthesis for understanding the 22 Sruti-s of Indian music. Dr. Margaret Bastin presented an anthropoligical background to the Indian instrument Yazh which resembles Harp. The history was well traced, however the possibility of Yazh evolving from Vipanchi Veena was not examined. The two schools that are foil to each other, Hindustani and Carnatic were compared in different light by Dr. Usha Singh, Smt. B. Priyadarshini, Dr. K Shashikumar, Dr. M. Lalitha, Smt. Ganga Ramchandran besides others who referred to similarities and speciality in passing.

While Prof. Ritwik Sanyal and Dr. Vidyadhar Vyas along with Lipika Dasgupta, Dr. Sudha Sahgal and Dr. lawanya Kirti Singh chose a particular vocal form of North India like Dhrupad, Rabindra Sangeet, Hori-geet or Thumri, scholars like Dr. A. Anuradha, Smt. Sumathi Krishnan, Dr. Radha Bhaskar, Smt. K. Gayatri, Smt. Gayathri Vankataraghavan and Dr. T.S. Sathyavati focused on featurs and forms of Carnatic music like Kriti, Raga Alapana, Swara Kalpana, Tana and Pallavi etc.

Instruments were not neglected as apart from Yazh, the hypnotic drums of East India, specially the Khol of Bengal was discussed by Dr. Krishna Bisht; musical instruments of the world were discussed by Dr. Anasuya Kulkarni; Dr. M. Lalitha examined the Violin techniques whereas Dr. Dipanwita Tripathi elaborated variety of Sitar forms and Baaj. To her credit, Dr. Tripathi was hesitent in (mis)attributing invention of Sitar to Amir Khusro but failed to mention its evolution from Tritantri Veena which later was called Jantra. R. Shankar Rajan traced the genre of orchestration in South Indian Carnatic music while Prof. T. Unnikrishnan of Khairagarh university enumerated the voice modulation techniques for Vocalists. An examination of innovative elaboration was made by Uday Karan K T.

Scholars also had in their purview the fundamentals of music. Dr. Anay Milind Thatte examined the principles on which new Raga-s are created while Shankarabharanam's scale (Bilawal as practiced in North) was studied by Smt. B. Priyadarshini and Smt. Smitha Patvardhan vis-a-vis western diatonic scale. Smt. Mala Mohan established inter-relations between poetry, melody and rhythm which give rise to embellished compositions of the musical Trintiy -- Thyagaraja, Muthuswamy Dikshitar and Shyama Shastri.

Myth and ritual in oral narratives were examined by Dr. Morakeng Kenneth Lebaka with special reference to Pedi circumcision ritual. Almost at a diametric oppsite Riccardo Nova came up with such visula/mathematical concepts as verticality, horizontality and perpendicularity in music. When he says, "theory of Tala is perhaps the most complex topic in South Indian music", he unintentionally emphasizes the limited exposure given to Indian music. In truth it is the vastness of ICM that it requires years of patient unravelling to begin to understand the origin and culmination of myriad threads that weave the elegant elusive, ephemeral yet eternal designs.

The hallmark of Indiranagar Sangeetha Sabha is publication of a valuable volume of its proceedings. All praise must go to editors S.A.K. Durga, R. Balasubramaniam, S.N.S. Murthy and H.S. Sudhindra for making possible such an interesting and insightful collection.

Academic Conventions

Omenad Symposium 2007

International Conference Jan 2009

"Music in Perspective of Globalization" Delhi March 2009

Other Concerts :

Sangeetotsav at Bhopal -- Dr. Rajiv Trivedi

4th Brahaspati Sangeet Samaroh at Chandigarh

Artistes of Indore

Ustad Abid Hussain Khan

Niranjan Haldar

Chitrangana Reshwal

Arun Morone

Ulhas Rajhans