To re-introduce the Carnatic music magic to youngsters, introduce them to a world of “raagas and taalam” and create a database of some of the greatest “krithis” of music exponents, TAG Digital Corporation and The Music Academy, Chennai have established the TAG Digital Listening Archive at the University of Hyderabad campus. All one has to do is just walk into the archive, plug in the headphones and listen to any of their favourite classic by a mere click on the desktop.
About 5,810 collections, accounting for 1000 hours of music dating back to 1934 have been brought under one roof, on one desktop at the TAG Digital Listening Archive. Over 250 versions of Mangalam, 32 versions of Endaro Mahanubhavulu and many more such classics have been fed into a software developed by Precision Informatics in Chennai. The special software enables the listener to retrieve any concert or song of choice. The archives have been conceived and executed by RT Chari, managing director, TAG Corporation, Chennai. From Maharajapuram Santhanam, Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavatar, Muthuswamy Dikshitar, Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar, Gangubhai Hangal, Mysore Chowdiah, Bhimsen Joshi, Sabri Khan, Kishori Amonkar, Sheikh Chinna Moulana, Ravi Shanker, MS Subbalakshmi, Bala Murali Krishna, you name it, they have it.
Preserving Carnatic music
Head of Department, Dance, Anuradha says, “We were approached by TAG and the Music Academy of Madras on January 24, this year. We sent our consent and the archive was set up in less than two months. This is the first-of-its-kind in the country, out of Tamil Nadu.” The archive at the University of Hyderabad currently has 1000 hours, from RT Chari’s collection and the next 1000 hours will be fed in a while. In addition to this, the Music department of the University will add recordings that are available with them now and progressively in the future. Ramu Endowments has donated 10 sets of computers, head phones, central server and other accessories.
“This listening archive has been specially designed so that people can listen to the music of any artist from any year, raaga or composition of their choice. RT Chari, who has been a great music enthusiast, wanted people to appreciate Carnatic music and came up with this idea of creating a database of all his collections,” explains Anuradha. This database will surely go a long way in not just conserving Carnatic music but also keeping it alive and refreshing for generations to come. Anuradha further says, “The TAG archives seek to promote and preserve the rich heritage of Carnatic music, which will not just be a treat for music lovers, but will also enable scholars and students to access, listen and research some of the great exponents of Carnatic music ranging across classical, contemporary, vocal and instrumental.”
In the pipeline are six more such archives in different parts of the South and one in Singapore. The archives at Kalakshetra, Chennai, University of Madras, Chembai Music College in Palaghat are in progress. A mirror archive will also be set up soon at the facility at Golden Threshold, which will be easily accessible for public in the City. TAG will also be training two to three students of the University as to how to enter data and introduce more hours of music available or collected by the Department. “We will be training a few senior scholars so that they can get familiar with the software. In about five or 10 years, we are looking at the evolution of this library into a huge central archival library with recordings and concerts of different performing arts, all in one place, which will act as great research material,” expresses Anuradha.
Agreeing with her was Shivaraju, assitant professor, dance and music who opines, “It’s a great opportunity for art lovers, dancers, musicians and researchers in dance and music to listen and understand raagas. It will act like Manodharma or self-improvisation. People can compare, evaluate, analyse and learn.”
One good news is that the library is open to everybody. “We have not yet created a format for registration. Interested people should, however, place a requisition with us and then can come over and get a taste of the archive. We are also planning on creating a web page, which will provide them with an ID and password and set a particular day and time. So that they can walk into the library in their stipulated time and listen,” Anuradha explains.
Ask her about piracy issues and she promptly replies, “There is no provision for either a mass storage device or a link to download. If anybody has to listen to music, they have to come here. They cannot copy music from the systems here.”
An MBA student and a music lover from Osmania University, Nivedita Rayavrapu says, “this software is amazing and it has songs which I don’t even remember. It is very user-friendly and we can operate it by selecting our favourite song, artist or even the music composer. My Bamy (Grandmother) will simply love the place.”