Decoding classical music with a pinch of technology

Aruna Sankaranarayanan first shot to fame when she and her friend developed the ‘Chennai Flood Map’ in 2015.

Published: 26th November 2018 10:16 AM  |   Last Updated: 26th November 2018 10:16 AM   |  A+A-

Aruna Sankaranarayanan at a talk

Express News Service

KOCHI: Aruna Sankaranarayanan first shot to fame when she and her friend developed the ‘Chennai Flood Map’ in 2015. The app, which had gone viral, was recognised by the United Nations and exhibited at the UN-Habitat III conference in Ecuador. The engineering wizard who was in the city for a talk organised at Cochin University of Science and Technology says she is also focusing on making classical music more accessible to the public.

Through this project, people will have easier access to sound recordings of Indian classical music on Wikipedia (under the Wikimedia Commons, a website of the Wikipedia Foundation), which are not under a strict copyright.

Such a system becomes useful when offline copies of Wikipedia/Commons are taken to areas where there is no access to the Internet, like on a CD or another storage device. Further, the recordings themselves will improve the richness of the content on Wikipedia.

“Indian Classical music has always been quite elitist in India. The availability of recordings in the public domain, free of any charge, will help in making classical music more accessible and enable anyone with an Internet connection to access them,” she said.

Right now, she has been uploaded over 50 Indian classical songs on to the Wikimedia Commons and is getting like-minded classical music enthusiasts to do the same.

“My father has always been a huge Carnatic music afficionado. I have often accompanied him to a blink-and-miss shop in a hidden alleyway in Malleswaram in Chennai from where he sourced new audio cassettes to add to his ever-growing collection. My interest in Carnatic music peaked when I was about 17. The lyrics of the various songs – spiritually rich and full of stories from Indian mythology caught my fancy,” she said.

She came across the dearth of sound recordings of Carnatic and Indian classical music when she was associated with editing articles for Wikipedia.

She is pressing forward with her project and hopes that more recordings can be brought under the platform, using the open source software.  In India, classical music recordings came to the public domain 55 years from the date of recording. Those interested in contributing recordings to Wikipedia can reach Aruna at aruna.evam@gmail.com.

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