Online Carnatic music tutorials from Chennai


Contributed by Mythily Ramachandran

Well known gurus have been employed to help train youngsters to prepare for an annual music festival in the USA. The classes are held in and web cast from Adyar in Chennai, India.


When eminent Carnatic music vocalist, Suguna Varadachari takes class for N. Malavi in a bungalow in Adyar, Chennai the ragas are heard in distant California where 11-year-old Nishevita Ramesh, records the songs and uploads it on her iPod.

At the same time, in Chicago in the USA, Sundeep Bharadwaj, who is just 12, listens intently to the notes. Hooked on to the same class are 20 other students residing in the US.

All of them have signed up for a unique project on Carnatic music.

And all this is happening in the virtual, Net-worked world.

Now, Carnatic music lessons via the internet have been the order for a few years now.

However, this project which has its links in Adyar, is unique.

The two month-long online tutorial known as ‘Sustaining sampradaya,’ was conducted at V. V. Sundaram’s residence in the Royal Enclave colony in Karpagam Gardens in Chennai. It concluded this month with the singing of ‘mangalam.’

This project was launched last year by ‘Aradhana,’ an organization which has been actively promoting Carnatic music in the USA and is the prime mover of the well known Cleveland Thyagaraja Festival being held now.

Online-Carnatic-music-tutorialsSundaram, who used to be based in that region when he headed a software company, was a key member of the Cleveland group and since his relocation to Chennai, he and his wife Gomathi, have continued the Cleveland music connection, organising artistes from here to perform at the annual festival in the USA, besides playing an active role in the Carnatic music world here.

In preparation for this year's aradhana in Cleveland, two learning programmes were conducted - ‘Prahlada Bhaktivijayam’ based on Thyagaraja kirtanas led by guru Suguna Varadachari and ‘Kamalamba navavarnam’ led by Bangalore-based guru R. K. Srikantan.

Says Sundaram, "It was an experiment we had launched last year and gave an opportunity for students in the US to train under senior vidwans."

Classes were held during the weekends, sometimes during the week. And now, the juniors seem set to perform at the festival.

Nishevita, a US-based student of music for the past six years, writes in her e-mail, "These classes have helped me in learning many krithis and ragams. I am now able to recognise a ragam. And the narration e-mails with meanings make it more interesting."

She performed at the Cleveland fest last year.

From Chicago, Sandeep writes, "I listen to the class and practice the songs during the week on the violin. Sometimes because of school work, I am not able to do it. So I listen to the modules that Sundaram 'mama' sends and I work on it again. I like the Kamalambha nava varnams. There is a lot of bhavam in those songs and I get carried away."

Late last year, a small group of the US-based music students flew down to be here during Chennai's December season and later presented a few concerts. And they impressed the city's rasikas.

'Sustaining Sampradaya' then seems to be on course and working well.

You can contact V. V. Sundaram at No.3, Royal Enclave, Karpagam Gardens. Adyar Chennai - 20 Ph. 044 - 24914103.