News & Notes

An inclusive teaching aid - a lecture by KT Uday Kiran

Inclusive teaching aid for melakarta ragas and sooladi sapta talas

K.T. Uday Kiran presented an inspiring talk at the Music Academy on the creation of a teaching aid that aims to disseminate information on melakarta ragas and sooladi sapta talas without any limitations based on demographics of age, gender, ethnicity, ability, or music genres.

The teaching aid comprises multiple formats such as print, braille, tactile graphics, and audio references that will benefit students, teachers, performers, and music researchers.

Braille, a teaching aid to impart knowledge, is a script, not a language, he said. It uses dots to phonetically express any language and can be read by anyone who has learnt braille. While some assume braille to be bulkier, expensive, and outdated, its advantage lies in allowing visually challenged individuals to read at their own pace and aiding retention as compared to audio. The spectrum of braille extends beyond its traditional format with a few varieties such as large print, high contrast, and electronic braille. Another medium of the teaching aid is the usage of tactile graphics. This is essentially embossed print (raised dots or lines) which can be felt by users who prefer the medium of touch to learn, instead of a kinesthetic or haptic approach to teaching or learning. In such cases tactile graphics are an excellent alternative to represent elements of talas and how they are counted and the depiction of drutas in the talas.

The teaching aid also encompasses the concept of swaras and assists the reader in understanding the essence of swaras.  The aid delves into details beyond mere names or representations, which enables the reader to explore the scientific nuances of frequencies (measured in Hertz) and their different terminologies.  The aid provides interpretations of swaras in both Carnatic and Hindustani music.

The aid incorporates audio references as another tool.  Melakarta ragas are recorded in male and female voices with and without gamakas. Similarly, the talas are also recorded with number, count and jati along with acoustic cymbals. This helps the reader comprehensively grasp the fundamentals of ragas, swaras and talas.  The printed braille versions has all the 72 melakartas named with the krama sampoorna and asampoorna systems.

In summary, the teaching aid aims to bridge the gap between fundamental, intermediate, and advanced concepts of music by demystifying intricate topics like melakarta ragas and sooladi sapta talas, and foster enthusiasm and curiosity, especially among the younger generation.


Saarang Anand