The songs of Annamayya, said Nedanuri, were meant to be sung as Sankirtanas. They are therefore not really meant for elaboration unlike the songs of the Trinity. In their structure we only have a pallavi and several charanas. In the process of tuning them, musicians have made a part of the pallavi into an anupallavi in some songs.
Nedanuri said that the first song he took up for tuning was Emako Chikuruta which he set in raga Tilang. But the first song that was demonstrated today was Sakala shanti karamu (set in Bahudari). It was a prayer for peace, which Nedanuri said is the only element missing in today’s life. Next came Purushottamuda Nivu in Revagupti. Emako was the third piece to be sung.
The musician then demonstrated how he had used various facets of Kharaharapriya in setting to music the songs Okapari kokkapari, Poleti javvanamu puvaka puce and Sadanandamu sarveshwara (a song which in its tuning used the potential for swarakshara). Sections of these songs were sung.
A similar exercise was done for Khamas with songs Avataru raghupate, Kolinilonamunu (a song on the rasakrida) and Podile punnamilendu being demonstrated.
Telisite mokshamu (set in Hamsanadam) and Nanati bratuku then followed.
The presentation was enlivened with humour right through. Nedanuri said that God’s grace was evident in Chennai’s traffic as so many people managed to reach home each night. He also said that a German in a factory in India first sneered at the workers worshipping Ganesha each morning as to him work was worship. But after two months he too joined the worship as he realised that nobody worked! The devotion and affection that the Guru and sishya shared came through very strongly throughout the lecdem. It was with evident reluctance that Dr Pappu drew attention to the time. And it was with reluctance that the audience saw the presentation ending.
Dr N Ramanathan remarked that the early 20th century had seen the resurrection of composers in all four states. Annamayya in Andhra, Swati Tirunal in Kerala, Purandara Dasa in Karnataka and Muthutandavar and others in Tamil Nadu. Have Annamacharya’s pieces made it as concert songs in which neraval and swaras can be sung?
Nedanuri said that while he had presented entire concerts comprising only Annamacharya songs, the pieces were more sankirtanas which meant that they were meant to be sung as such. Sangatis had not been developed for them as had happened with the songs of the Trinity. However he also said that it was all up to the singer and his capability. In the hands of some, songs can become main items, in the hands of others, the very same songs can be miscellaneous pieces.
Dr Pappu asked as to why Nedanuri had not used the ragas whose names are given in the copper plates for each song. Nedanuri replied that many were forgotten ragas and Annamacharya had used only 89 ragas. As many as 500 songs were set in Guntakriya and 100 were in Samantam which in today’s parlance are ragas with limited scope. So he had used ragas which he felt were appropriate to the mood of the songs.
TK Govinda Rao spoke and spoke for long. Dr Pappu wound up the demonstration and AKC did the honours with the covers.
Attendance today was at an all time high including expert committee members. Even the noticeable and regular absentees made it. People who were standing were invited by Dr Pappu to sit on stage. More people then came to fill the ranks of the standees. Next year I think Nedanuri’s lec dem must be held only in the main hall.
It was a wonderful morning and words cannot express the musical experience. Those who attended were lucky.