Note by note

Ambika Shaligram
Tuesday, 23 April 2019

Musicologist Dr Chaitanya Kunte will be speaking in the city on how a sound is transformed into a complex piece of art

Keeping in line with ethno-musicologist Dr Ashok Ranade’s vision and also to mark the new beginning of the archives established in his name — Dr Ashok Da Ranade Archives (ADRA) — in a new location, a guided listening session on ‘A Journey from Sound to Raga’ will be held on Friday evening.

The foundation of ADRA has been laid in line with the expansive vision of scholar-musician Dr Ranade. The archive consists of his collection of wide-ranging and rare material, painstakingly put together over the 50 years of his ethno-musicological journey. The archives has now shifted to a new space in Maharashtra Cultural Centre’s Jyotsna Bhole Sabhgruha, Tilak Road. 

Dr Chaitanya Kunte, musicologist and a student of Dr Ranade, will be conducting the first series in which he will explain how a mere sound gets transformed into the complex and enjoyable art of music making. He will also play some audio clippings and there will also be a narration of some passages from Dr Ranade’s written works. 

The process  
In this series, Kunte will be discussing the developmental stages of how music is made — from a mere sound to a complicated raga. “The previous space accorded to ADRA was inadequate for our needs and hence we couldn’t hold guided listening sessions and audio sessions. Now that we have moved to a new space, we thought we should begin with the series and invite artists and laypersons to attend them and enrich themselves. We will start with natural sounds, manufactured sounds like instruments, vocals ie primitive music, folk music and then art music’s journey at conceptual level,” says Kunte. 
He will also give the attendees an overview on how this journey is reflected in world music, which will be complemented with music pieces developed outside of Indian classical music repertoire. Says Kunte, “We recognise seven music cultures like African music, Asian, Middle-Eastern. I will be choosing examples from these music cultures in my lecture session. From these pieces, we will move on to how raga was developed in Indian classical music.”

Utilising archival material
Such kind of guided listening sessions are pretty common now, but it was Dr Ranade who introduced the concept in 1970s for music students and laypersons, aimed at developing appreciation of music amongst them. When asked if he will be using reference material from Ranade’s archival material, Kunte replies in the affirmative. 

“In this series, we are including 60 per cent of the archival material sourced by Dr Ranade and 40 per cent is the new material that we have added to the archive. The idea of these sessions is to encourage artists to make use of the material and develop theme-based performances around it. In the succeeding series that we plan to hold, we would want the guest lecturers and artists to use the material at ADRA. That’s a prerequisite we  have kept,” he says. 

Indian and Western classical music 
Kunte then delves a little more into the first of the series that ADRA has planned. He says there are some common stages between Indian classical music and the music system which developed outside India. And, then are certain elements that are unique to Indian classical music, like the grammar and aesthetics that shaped taal. Raga was developed in India alone.

“The Indian classical music is monophonic whereas polyphonic presentation is primarily seen in Western classical music. Some elements (of polyphonic) are also seen in African music and American music. There are cultural, anthropological, economic and social reasons on why our India music stayed monophonic. I will touch upon this subject in my presentation,” explains Kunte. 

When asked about fusion/collaboration between musicians belonging to Indian and Western classical school thought and how they come about despite the obvious differences, the artist says, “I hope to speak on this subject, on the confluence of music in detail, but maybe in a different episode. Melody and rhythm are universal. But when it comes to raga, we will have to determine how two musicians from different schools of thought can influence this concept, what happens to raga.”

About ADRA 
Currently, the ADRA is open on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. In case, if someone is working on a specific project, s/he can take a prior appointment and visit it on other days of the week as well. “Archive material need not be dreary and limited only to scholars. We want to encourage artists to take advantage of archival material. Every year on the archive’s foundation day, we hold an event. This year, we will be presenting a programme on dance,” says Kunte, adding, “We are also working on digitisation of texts and other reference material. But that will continue for a few more years.” 

ST Reader Service 
Attend a guided listening session on ‘A journey from sound to raga’ at Dr Ashok Da Ranade Archives, Jyotsna Bhole Sabagruha on Friday, April 26 from 6.30 to 7.30 pm

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