In this book, the author provides a detailed study of Tyagaraja's Divyanama-Keertanas. Fifty one of these keertans are presented in a manner that will allow a singer to truly appreciate the passion and the grandeur of the compositions. For each keertana, the text in Sanskrit is presented with the notations by the side, followed by the text and translation in Tamil and English. This book is bound to become a cherished possession of students, teachers and performers alike.
Tyagaraja is probably the most dominant composer in the Carnatic music firmament. His influence on music and musicians over the last 150 years is considerable. Tyagaraja has been the most talked about and most written about composer in Carnatic music. This edition of Tyagaraja's Divya nama keertanas is unique and special and will definitely add value to the already available literature on Tyagaraja.
The author, Smt. Vidya Shankar, has been a musician, musicologist, vainika, teacher, scholar and writer for more than seven decades; an almost unparalleled achievement in the field of Carnatic music. It is her burning passion coupled with a punishing work ethic that can put much younger people like us to shame, that has enabled her to come out with an outstanding publication in the 90th year of her life. Smt. Vidya Shankar has given us valuable treasures in the form of her earlier publications like the compositions of Syama Sastri, etc. These have been received by the music community whole heartedly and to critical acclaim. I am sure that this work will also be welcomed in a similar manner.
Smt. Vidya Shankar, as in her earlier works, has used a system of musical notation that is ideal for students of music to follow and learn from. Particularly impressive is her simple handling of the complex gamaka system that is so unique to Carnatic music. This makes for the compositions to be presented in a much more authentic marmer. Her elaborate introduction to the Divya nama keertanas with special emphasis on the meanings and content of the songs in enlightening and indicative of her knowledge and scholarship.
I am sure that this publications will be of immense value to the music community at large and to music students in particular. I am particularly honoured to be invited to write this as I have been a student from afar of her work and have attended many of her lecdems and concerts and learnt so much from her publications and research articles.
Saint Tyagaraja's - Divya-nama-keertana-s is a special set of compositions. Singing them in chorus is an experience that can be described as ethereal. To derive the maximum enjoyment from singing them, one must not only understand the musical aspect of the compositions, but also the very rich meaning, passion and devotion they throb with. This book is essentially written to help those who sing these compositions to derive greater joy while doing so.
Several reasons and incidents have motivated me to write this book. Embarking on this task resulted from a speech given by Sri R. Krishnaswamy (President of City Sabhas, Secretary of Narada Gana Sabha), at the book release function of one of my earlier works, The Aesthetics and Science of Carnatic Music, Vol II' in 2004. Commenting on Saint Tyagaraja's compelling urge to share his philosophy with the rest of humanity through the Divya-nama-keertana-s, he said, 'The way this was explained and elaborated in a manner by Smt. Vidya Shankar was unprecedented. This is an eye opener to budding artists'. Sri Krishnaswamy's genuine appreciation impelled me to make a deeper study of these keertanas and present them with a line-by-line translation as I had done in my previous editions of the compositions of the great composers Syama Sastry and his descendents, Subbaraya Sastry and Annaswamy Sastry.
Another reason for taking up this task was the response received from the numerous programmes and lecture-demonstrations I conducted over the years on Divya-nama- keertanas of Saint Tyagaraja in various organizations and study circles.
I have entered my 90th year. I wish to complete this to my full satisfaction while I am still physically fit and intellectually capable of the task.
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