Indian Classical Music has been studied, practiced, and perfected over 5000 years. The most fundamental aspect of Indian Classical Music lies in the creative development of the movements of the raga without adherence to pre-composed notations. In the traditional guru-sishya parampara, the exposition of various ragas have traditionally been passed on by the teacher (guru) to the student (shishya) through oral training. A big question that looms over the current and next generation is – how long will the guru-shishya parampara survive?
Pt. Ajoy Chakraborty, one of the living legends, believes that a renaissance of Indian Classical Music is needed for the next generation. And he believes that this is possible through a more objective and articulate understanding of the deep structure of ragas – one that stimulates the intellect and sparks the spirit of creativity among youth. And to prove his point he is producing hundreds of wonderfully talented young vocalists from his school Shrutinandan, where school children are nurtured on weekends from a very tender age through his unique style of training. One of the finest examples of this success story is the eminently versatile Smt. Koushiki Chakraborty, one of the finest and most popular vocalists of the new generation.
“Unfortunately, there has been very little effort in the past to articulate and archive the deep structure of ragas based on intellectual understanding and scientific principles”, says Pt Ajoy Chakraborty, “if this is not done soon, this knowledge may be lost with the passing of the present generation of musicians. It is therefore with great pleasure that I received a communication from Professor Joy Sen, soliciting my participation in the Science and Heritage Initiative of IIT Kharagpur, one of the leading seats of education in the country. I am happy to help in translating the little that I know into a form that may ignite the spirit of understanding and creativity in the next generation.”
IIT Kharagpur has embraced this collaboration with great enthusiasm under the patronage of its Director, Prof P P Chakrabarti. A team of researchers cutting across departments has been formed to work with Pt-ji.
“What separates Indian Classical Music from other forms of music in the world is the wonderful co-existence of the grammatical fabric of a raga and the artistic freedom of rendering the raga without a set notation”, says lead researcher, Pallab Dasgupta, Dean of Sponsored Research and Professor of Computer Science, “And this freedom is precisely what makes it difficult to objectively define the deep structure of a raga. Pt-ji is helping us to create wonderful multimedia content for our endeavor. We may also need to look at artificial intelligence techniques to understand the way to learn the deep structure.”
“A conscious understanding of the deep structure of a raga enables a musician to address its appropriate emotional content”, says lead researcher, Priyadarshi Patnaik, Professor of Humanities, “Documenting and archiving the finer nuances of the deep structure of ragas is essential for preservation of this unique heritage of India.”
“We are very excited about the collaboration with Pt Ajoy Chakraborty and the overarching objectives of the project”, said Prof Partha P Chakrabarti, Director, IIT Kharagpur, “While we have germinated this activity using our internal resources, we welcome external funding for this unique heritage initiative. We wish to set up a Center of Excellence on Classical and Folk Arts in the institute to carry out such types of research and outreach programs.”
While delivering an Institute Lecture titled, Indian Classical Music and World Peace, at IIT Kharagpur, Pt Ajoy Chakraborty explained how a renaissance of Indian Classical Music at the global stage could serve as a key enabler for cultural unification and world peace.
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