Carnatic music is a subject which fascinates a lot of people. Many take great pleasure in knowing the names of various ragas. It is interesting to note that many raga names are fondly used to name children in the family. It is highly musical to hear children bearing names like Sahana, Hamsadhwani, Lathangi, Shanmugapriya, Sriranjani etc. Many people like to hum popular Carnatic music compositions like Vatapi Ganapathim Bhajeham, in the raga Hamsadhwani, Mahaganapathim Manasa Smarami in raga Natta, Nagumomo Kanaleni in raga Abheri, etc. and derive tremendous pleasure if they are able to reproduce the song fairly correctly.
Skanda's catalogue contains two very detailed books in Carnatic music. One is a dictionary and the other is a detailed tome structured as chapters. These books explore every aspect of the style taking the reader from the basics to very advanced and intricate aspects. With two books already available, why did we feel the need to bring out third book? Precisely because, we felt that we needed a slightly simpler book on the form which addressed the readers' basic curiosity and inclination towards Carnatic music without actually taking them into the realm of techniques and complexities. While the earlier two books have dealt with every complex aspects of Carnatic music in an extremely approachable and user friendly manner, this book makes a very conscious effort to avoid technical term to the maximum extent possible.
Our regular interactions with readers and music enthusiast also threw up some interesting observations. Some doubt that people have, are very much a part of the subject; yet, not necessarily explainable through the thala scheme or the Melakartha chart. One such question which we can quote here as an example is, 'What is the role or significance of the Thani Avarthanam? Why is it that most people leave the hall during this period, or even if present, don't pay much attention to that part of the performance?' Over these years, I have been asked many such questions which I have answered. You could say that this book is an extension of that. We have compiled fifty useful and interesting questions on Carnatic music which will make very interesting and engrossing reading. This format ensures that the reader at no point feels alienated or out-of-sync with the subject. Once a reader completes reading the full book, his understanding and his comfort level in Carnatic music would have gone up by many notches. Very keen readers can also graduate to our other titles 'A Comprehensive Dictionary of Carnatic Music' and 'Treatise on Carnatic Music' for a deeper and technical understanding of the subject.
Many questions listed herein have been contributed by my three children, Mahitha Suresh, Harshitha Suresh and Nipun Suresh, keen students of Carnatic music. It all started quite long ago as their innate curiosity and enthusiasm to know the subject better. Once the theme of this year’s book was decided, I requested them to jot down all the questions that they wished to include in the book. I truly thank them for their inputs and also for religiously reading through every answer and telling me if it was convincing and satisfactory. My husband B.A. Suresh, offered his own unique perspective suggestions and opinions from a listener’s point of view. This greatly broadened my perspective and thereby enriched this tome.
The question and answer format proved to be very successful when we brought out a book on childcare about nine years back. Hence, we are very confident that, this format will be a huge hit with music enthusiasts as well .
All the questions have been listed one after the other in the ‘Contents’ pages with their page numbers to enable easy navigation through the book. The last two pages contain very brief definitions of basic concepts which readers can refer whenever necessary. The notes Sa, Ri, Ga, Ma, Pa, Da, Ni are referred to as S, R, G, M, P, D, N.
’50 Questions and Answers on Carnatic Music’ is just the beginning of this in our Classical arts collection. We truly hope that we will bring out more such books in the future in this style about not just Carnatic music, but other classical dances as well.
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