Scholar and writer B. M. Sundaram's lecture for Sri Parthasarathi Swami Sabha at a Mylapore hall on Dec.20 was on ' Musicology'..
Musicology can be termed as 'research study on music' or 'knowledge in music'. The definition also goes like this - 'All study of music except proficiency in performing or composition'. Sundaram however felt that he/she should be able to sing/perform also.
A musicologist should know the what, why, when and how of music and also have the ability to share this with others. He/she must be a bridge between oral and textual traditions.
He said some kritis are composed by one person and the credit goes to another. For example 'Nidu Charanamule' and 'Nathajana paripala' were composed by K. V. Srinivasa Iyer whereas the two kritis are attributed to saint Thyagaraja.
Similarly 'Abhimana mennadu' was by Mannargudi Rajagopalasami and not by saint Thyagaraja. The wrong authorship is more prevalent in varnams as many composers have the same signature 'Venkata', Sundaram stated.
A musicologist should also study when folk music got refined to classical music. Sundaram told us how he and a friend had visited interior villages in Andhra Pradesh and recorded the compositions of Ramadoss. 'Nannu brovamani cheppave' was in the folk style originally and only later was tuned in classical Kalyani raga.
A musicologist should get inscriptional evidences before putting forth his research findings. It is believed that all the 3 greats of the 'Trinity' were born in Thiruvarur.
But there is evidence that saint Thyagaraja was born in Thiruvaiyaru. One Narasimha Bhagavathar, disciple of one of the direct students of Thyagaraja, in 1905 printed an invitation calling people to attend the aradhana of saint Thyagaraja at Thiruvaiyaru. There it was mentioned that 'Panchanada pura kshethramuna janinchina' (meaning born in Panchanada pura).
So he was born in Thiruvaiyaru (Ammal Agraharam, his mother's place) and not Thiruvarur. Sundaram said he had seen a copy of the invitation.
A musicologist should be a linguist too - knowledge of Telugu and Sanskrit are a must for a musicologist researching Carnatic music. This will only enable him to analyse words and interpret them. Ragas like Mandu and Sindhu Bhairave have descended from Marati culture. Even before Thyagaiya's period one Lavani Venkata Rao has composed a song comprising all 72 melakartha ragas in the Marathi language.
A musicologist should be able understand certain terminologies. Like mohara which is used when playing mridangam is a Persian usage and has come from Maharashtra.
Said Sunaram, "Finally musicology is a science and is not an art. But a musicologist should be able to explain what is art too."
- Reported by V. Vasantha