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K.S. Narayanaswamy (1914-1999)
Issue : 190
Published on : July, 2000

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Profile - K.S. Narayanaswamy

Main Feature

Profile - K.S.Narayanaswamy


When Narayanaswamy was only 14 years of age, his family decided that he should study for a postsecondary diploma in music. At that time, the best place for studying music under institutional auspices was the newly constituted music college of the Annamalai University in Chidambaram. Narayanaswamy's application to study for the Sangeeta Bhooshanam course there was accepted and he enrolled for the diploma course. The college in Chidambaram was considered an ideal place for the study of music because, despite its institutional status, the teaching-learning process was very much akin to what obtained in the gurukula mode, with an almost one-to-one relationship between teacher and student. Even the ambience was that of a gurukula, although the students did not have to do guru seva, often an euphemism for doing various chores in the guru's household. More, the faculty included many stalwarts like Tiger S. Varadachariar (vocal); Sabesa Iyer (vocal); Tanjavur K. Ponniah Pillai (vocal and mridanga); and Desamangalam Subramania Iyer (veena). It was a dream situation which yet allowed the realisation of the students' own dreams of becoming accomplished musicians capable of performing as well as teaching. It was a win-win situation for any student who was willing to study sincerely and diligently.

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Special Feature

Sringara Prakasa, a work by Maharajadhiraja Bhoja Deva is an important watershed in the evolution of Rasa theory. Earlier works had given importance to sringara but Bhoja glorifies it as the rasa of rasa-s. It is one of the longest works in Sanskrit, longer than most epics except the Ramayana and the Mahabharata and it is certainly the longest and most detailed work focusing on sringara. In this regard, it is comparable to the much shorter Tamil work Meypattiyal which deals in detail with the techniques of interpreting the various stages of love by body and eye movements (i.e., abhinaya). In spite of its importance, however, Bhoja's Sringara Prakasa was neglected and misinterpreted. There are good reasons for this. The first one is the inordinate length of the work, more than twice the size of Bharata's Natya Sastra. Secondly, the manuscript was forgotten for centuries, recovered early in this century and printed in the late nineteen sixties (by C. R. losyar in Mysore and in part by Dr. V. Raghavan at Harvard University Press).

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Special Feature

The history of Indian music and the West is a complex and intricate web of social, cultural, political and musical issues. My initial interest in this subject was stimulated through research into the recent history of fusions between Indian music and Western popular music and jazz. However, this proved to be only a beginning and I soon found myself working backwards in time, finally arriving in the late 18th century and the collections of Indian songs in staff notation known as Hindustani Airs. Between these two popular manifestations of the West's interest in Indian music
lay a vast, and often bewildering, wealth of historical and musical material. A number of new questions now presented themselves: could a chronological line be drawn between, and beyond, these two historical poles of Western interest in Indian music? How have the ways in which Indian music has been viewed in the West changed over a period of 200 years? As the period under discussion is largely that of colonial domination of India by Britain, how did this historical fact influence Western attitudes to Indian music? When Western and Indian musicians encountered each other, how did they accommodate the differing cultural and musical systems within which their music
operated? What role did Western technology play? What effect has the growth of South Asian communities outside the Indian sub-continent had on the West's perception of Indian music?

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