The concept of Rag in the global music scenario has been a constant source of inspiration to me. I am in awe of this unique concept and its creators. This melody centric idea known as 'the Rag' has made musicians delve deep into the world of svars / notes - as each of these rags have a limited, yet an exclusive combination of svars. These distinctive aspects in turn lead one to interact profoundly and intensely with the relevant svars of a particular rag, along with the shrutis /- microtones and several other finer tones embedded between the svars. In due course of time, rags enable us to embrace the massive world of microtones and countless other musical sounds or nads as if one is flying in the sky touching several stars at some point. Such is the power of rags. However, when a novice is introduced to this form of music, it appeals as mere melody, but that is how a learner begins to groom herself into the wonderful world of rags. It is a pleasure to sec children engrossed, while singing simple tunes in Rag Bhopali, a rag with only five svars. One could compare this pleasure to gazing at the stars across the night sky. While all of us delight by gazing at the stars, only a few eventually will have the privilege of exploring them in close quarters as physicists or astronomers. Similarly, all of us hear rags with various svars with our limited imagination, but only a few are blessed and destined to visit svars in depth, witnessing and experiencing the world of srutis and nads.
Rag Malika sprang from the need of those who wished to use the Pt. V. N. Bhatkhande's Kramik Pustak Malika but were unable to access them through Hindi. They were, thus deprived of experiencing the various rags, through their compositions. As some of these volumes of work have now been transliterated and translated to English, it will be of immense use to all those who wish to learn and enjoy these compositions. In addition, Western music notations have been included to the Hindustani svars to facilitate accessibility to students familiar with Western music. Through this, Western music vocalists as well as instrumentalists can learn and experience the various melodies of the rags and their compositions.
Goddess Saraswati, the Goddess of Music, playing the veena in rapt delight, on the cover page of this book is a watercolour painting, a masterpiece created by genius artist Late Shri. S. Raj am. A former child artist in regional films, Shri. S. Rajam was drawn into becoming a full time musician and painter. Renowned for his series of portraits of the trinity of Carnatic music, he has artistically portrayed innumerable mythology-based frescoes of Ashta Laksmi, Ashta Dik Palaka, Navagrahq, Dasavatharam, Sodasa Ganapathi and illustrations of the 63 Nayanmiirs, the Saiva Saints. In fact, The Himalayan Academy at the Kauai's Hindu Monastery in Hawaii has scanned and treasured over 900 of art collections of Shri S Rajam's works.
As a musicologist, he sang as evocatively as he painted, specialising in the 72 maela kartha rags and is the only person to have sung all the compositions of Shri. Muthuswamy Dikshitar. Furthermore, he extended his commitment by popularising the musical compositions of Shri. Koteshwara Iyer.
Personally, this has been an immense honour for me to be associated with Late Shri S Rajam and his beautiful painting through this book.
For the transparency of the cover page, we acknowledge the support of his nephew Mr. V S Ramana, General Manager - CSR & Constructions Skills Training, Larsen and Toubro Limited, Chennai. Mr. Ramana supports the cause of art therapy / education and promotes the works of art by the differently-abled through his Trust HeART BEAT Foundation while also spreading the works of Shri S. Rajam.
Co-Author of this book, Ms. Nancy Needhima, is my student, who is extremely dedicated and sincere towards her work. She has put in great effort in creating this book.
Always eager to improve and yield better results, Nancy's support has been invaluable to me. I would also like to mention Dr. Lijo K Jose, another student of mine, who has put in lot of thought and work towards formatting the book. He has been extremely committed and sensitive about the quality of this work.
Last but not the least, I must mention the support, encouragement and blessings I constantly receive from my parents, Dr. R. M. Verma and Smt. Gita Verma. It is their upbringing and training that has brought me to where I am in life, today. I would also like to thank my husband Ashish, who is my friend, philosopher and guide. He has always been a true supporter and a pillar of strength concerning all my endeavours in life. My daughter Vishakha has been tremendously co-operative, understanding and supportive of my work and its demands.
Finally, I thank Dr. Laxmin arayan Garg of Haathras Publications for his consent to publish Rag Malika. He could envisage the need and utility of this work in the current state of Hindustani classical music and its requirements.
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