"Music colleges of those days had their own advantage of covering a quantum syllabus. But the quantum also had its detrimental value. Like for example “ The 72 melakartas”
I have heard Vaaddiyars (theory masters) (a raga is divided into Purvanga and Uttaranga. Purvanga is shadja to pancham. Uttaranga is Pancham to taara Shadja). having a peculiar way of educating students that “Purvanga of this mela and uttaranga of that mela.. combine them and you get this melakarta”. The students became very happy that they have learnt a new raga just with this one sentence of information. The students would start experimenting with all their half-baked raga knowledge, singing the first half in one chaya and the second half with another chaya. Thus several mongrels of the melakartas happened. I have seen students having such confusions in the musical movements of Pantuvarali and Purvikalyani. First and foremost, in Patammma amma’s class, (D K Pattammal) I realized the beauty of the Dha occurring and how enticing the Panchama varja (varja means absent) prayogas could be.
After the Swara pallavi (known as the miniature varnam, without a sahityam. We have said elsewhere that this is the amanat of Telugudesam) the musical form, Varnam is the real essence of any raga. This particular varnam in Pantuvarali, just brought tears in my eyes while learning. The beauty of the form, the piece, moved me. Immediately after that she taught Dikshitar’s kriti, Visalaksheem Vishweseem. While Pattamma amma sang phrase after phrase, you could see the pristine pure Puryadhanasri prayogas. Afterwards there was no confusion. Each note and its placement in different phraseologies was crystallized. It was a unique experience. When Pattamma amma arrested a musical phrase at Dha. It was a divine experience of how pure a note could be.
Learning from the stalwarts was indeed an experience. Similar experiences on purity of notes and the applications that could move you was with Brindamma or with Sri Vishwa. Every note that emantated from his flute brought a reality of pure naada binding us in an intoxicated thrall. With Yadukula Kambodi or Aahiri or Sahana or even Todi, one realizes how they should sound when you listen to the stalwarts. At this point, I am reminded of Brindammas statements - "Sangeethatha pathi paesaraaahalaame? Paada vaendiyadhudhaane? Paesardhukku enna irukku?” Talking about music was strictly prohibited. No doubt was explained in words. And everything was inferred and sensed by the teachers and clearing of doubts were by way of music alone. Never by words. 'Once the tanpura was on the sound in the room has to be only music and not words at all' was the dictum. When someone with a theoretical knowledge was flaunted in front of them, they used to politely say “Avuha ellam meththa padichavuha”. It had a tremendous velocity and sarcasm. They also never believed in teaching music resorting to verbal explanations or by means of diagrams and statistics"
To be continued…..
P.S.: This post is in quotes and as dictated by mom.