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Music Review - Karnatic Music Companion

Ranjani Saigal

(This article is sponsored by Sounds Of India)

“No other art vibrates with the inner soul like classical music” says Dr. Prasada Rao Gandlur, the creator of unique Karnatic Music multimedia CD-ROMS that help the user gain an understanding of this beautiful art form.  Driven by a desire to demystify Karnatic music and make it accessible to a large population, Dr. Rao, Chairman of Blue Lotus Informatics has created two sets of CD-ROMs titled “Raganidhi” and “The Beauty of Karnatic Music”.

“Karnatic Music seems like an enigma to many people. There is no reason for this to be the case” says Rao who is a medical doctor with research interest in the area of Virology. Why did a medical doctor decide to do something like this? “I love challenges. After working in Virology for many years, I decided I wanted to do something new. I was fascinated by multimedia technology and I wanted to put it to good use. My brother who runs a charitable institution in India encouraged me to create something that will help spread Karnatic music. Thus the project was born”

The first CD-ROM, titled “Beauty of Karnatic Music” is a beginner’s guide. It gives you an overview of the history of the music system. The section titled “Music Teacher” , as the name states helps you learn the basics. It has a complete course of study starting from the notes “Sa Pa Sa” all the way to Varnams, Krithis and other musical forms. The compositions are written in English script and one can hear all or any part of the composition both in voice and in veena. Since it is not an orchestral music, it imitates a real life teacher. The singer, D.V.Mohana Krishna, sounds almost like his Guru Dr. M. Balamuralikrishna.  His notes and pronunciation are very clear and it makes it easy for anyone to follow. The presentations are rendered in all three speeds.  There is also a “Mridangam Teacher” that is useful for students of percussion, or just for someone who may have an interest in understanding Rhythms.

The second set called Raganidhi is a wonderful companion for anyone who would like to get a better understanding of Ragams. Featuring about 400 Ragams, this set takes the user through the complexities of a Ragam in a simple and understandable manner. Information about Swara Stanam and Raga Lakshanam give the user a better grasp of the Ragam. Compositions of  Thyagaraja and other great composers are presented as  representative examples in about 150 Ragams along with Alapanai and swaram notation. The CD pays great attention to lyrics of the compositions as well. Word by word meanings of all these compositions in English is a highlight of this project.

Both sets have a professional look and feel to them. The graphics used are very appropriate and aesthetic. The curriculum is well designed. While nothing can substitute a good Guru, this can be a companion for those who would like more information or for those who do not have access to a good Guru. If you like Karnatic Music and wished you could recognize Ragams,  Raganidhi is for you.

So what did it take create such an amazing piece of work? “. We had a great singer with us. But while we could have him sing as many hours of music as we wanted, it was up to me to decide how I would like to put it all together.  I ended but creating a studio in my house and spending many hours trying to edit and assemble the project. If I knew how much effort it would be at the beginning of the project, I may never have ventured to do it”. What did Rao gain out of this experience? “More than I can say. I had the pleasure of listening to great music for more hours than anyone can imagine. That was a spiritual experience. I also feel very good that I have done something to help share this gift called Karnatic Music with the rest of the world”

To buy these CD-ROMS, or to get more information, please visit their website at www.bluelotusinfo.com



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