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Tribute to musicologist M.B. Vedavalli-Hdmoviefreedownload

M.B. Vedavalli, who passed away recently, was a revered musicologist, who was known for her research, writings and lec-dems

M.B. Vedavalli, who passed away recently, was a revered musicologist, who was known for her research, writings and lec-dems

We have a host of musicians but only a few erudite musicologists, and one of them was M.B. Vedavalli. She was a popular musicologist, scholar, author, and an eminent teacher. Born on June 5, 1935 to Yadugiri and M.B. Shama Iyengar, Vedavalli had her initial training under her sister Singamma.

She did her graduation in music from Maharani’s College in Mysuru and post-graduation from Stella Maris College in Chennai. She was trained by the likes of Krishna Iyengar, M.A. Narasimhachar and Prof. T. Sambamoorthy, and T. Viswanathan. Her expertise in pallavi singing was honed under stalwarts such as Mudikondan Venkatarama Iyer. Her doctoral thesis on ‘Mysore as a Seat of Music’ is an important contribution to the world of music.

Vedavalli (right) presenting a lec-dem on ‘Ragas with dual names in post Trinity period’ at the Music Academy in Chennai

Vedavalli (right) presenting a lec-dem on ‘Ragas with dual names in post Trinity period’ at the Music Academy in Chennai
| Photo Credit: GANESAN V./The Hindu Archives

Vedavalli was known for her relentless research to identify features and nuances that enhanced Carnatic music’s appeal and understanding. This journey led her to write several books including Ragas Which Emerged During The Post Trinity Period and their Lakshana, Sangeeta Sastra Sangraha, Theory of Indian Music, and Mysore as a Seat of Indian Music. She has presented lec-dems at various institutions when she served as faculty at University of Madras, and also as a member of the advisory committee of the Music Academy and Board of Studies of University of Madras. She was the recipient of the Music Academy’s Best Musicologist award in December, 2011.

Vedavalli presenting a lec-dem ‘Ragas on ‘Post-Trinity period and their salient features’. Lalitha Sampathkumar on vocal support at Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha in 2005.

Vedavalli presenting a lec-dem ‘Ragas on ‘Post-Trinity period and their salient features’. Lalitha Sampathkumar on vocal support at Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha in 2005.
| Photo Credit: SRIDHARAN N./The Hindu Archives

In the same year, I had attended her lec-dem at Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha, where she spoke about some rare ragas such as Hamsadeepakam, Valaji, Pasupathipriya, Karnaranjani, and Niroshta, introduced by Muthiah Bhagavatar. One of the most prolific post-Trinity composers, Muthiah Bhagavatar introduced nearly 27 new ragas. Vedavalli traced the origin of these ragas and their structure, and presented about 10 compositions. On that occasion, she was honoured with the title ‘Sangeetha Sastra Ratna’. She also brought out a ‘Dictionary of South Indian Music and Musicians’, a project that was started by Prof. Sambamoorthy and completed by her. Her lec-dem, ‘Emergence of new ragas — a continuum’ was perhaps the last she presented.

Vedavalli was supported by her brother Shriman Narayanan, who is also a musician and scholar, in her initiatives. Initially, associated with the Music Academy, he is now faculty at Tamil Isai Sangam. He plans to release a compilation of his sister’s lec-dems and articles.

Vedavalli’s daughter-in law and vocalist Lalitha Sampathkumar has a lot to share about the musicologist. Apart from being a faculty at several institutions, Lalitha said that Vedavalli did her D.Litt from the University of Madras on ‘Ragam Tanam Pallavi’. She had authored research papers on Kanakadasa, Music Heritage of Kanchi, Mysore Karigiri Rao and one based on her lec-dem on Akka Mahadevi at the Music Academy.

“A traditionalist and disciplinarian, her life revolved around music. Though she was passionate about focussing on new ragas, their origin and how they have been presented in recent times, she did not like any compromise with the quality and content of the classical idiom. She spent most of her time reading to widen her horizons,” said Lalitha.

Vedavalli has left behind a rich treasure of reference material for musicians and scholars.

The Chennai-based reviewer writes on Carnatic music.

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