When one goes through the book Forgotten Composers, it’s easy to see why the book which was initially published as an ebook went into the Amazon Kindle Bestsellers List in the Music Category for the first few weeks – it is an insightful and exhaustive work which encompasses a whole lot of information about Carnatic music.
Author Aruna Chandaraju, a writer, musician, photographer, translator and a traveller has done justice to composers in Carnatic music who have, so far, been largely forgotten in her book. Encapsulating every composer’s style, technical calculations, anecdotes explained by the musical legends, she writes in a manner with a simple and telling effect that can be read and understood by both students and gurus.
The book features 15 forgotten composers, their lives, hometowns, and interviews with their family members, and also YouTube links of the padam and kriti which some of the Carnatic classical artists have sung in their performances as hearing is believing. The author dedicates this book to her parents, C Ramalakshmi and father CS Venugopla Rao, who had a thorough knowledge in classical music.
“My mother was my first music guru, and I grew up listening to her. She used to sing many rare compositions that she learnt in her childhood. When I started to learn music from other music teachers, she once requested the teacher to teach me ‘Balakrishna Mohana’ a Swarajathi composed by great composer Kocherlakota Ramaraju. The teacher said that she had never heard about him. Later, as well, there were many such incidents which happened very frequently. It was surprising that such knowledgeable and brilliant teachers would not know about that particular composition. It got me thinking what would happen to such beautiful compositions in future. The seed for the book took root when I was around the age of 12-13 years,” says Aruna, whose curiosity to these questions led to her writing the book. She also visited all the native places of the composers, to understand the subject on a deeper level.
The near final draft of the book was seen and appreciated by the legendary Carnatic vocalists Nedunuri Krishnamurthy and Mangalampalli Balamuralikrishna. Aruna reveals: “Balamurali garu said the book looked very promising and useful. Nedunuri garu felt very happy when I showed this draft, and he knew about every composer that I wrote. He said, ‘such books are needed in the Carnatic classical music world, as in the near future, there are chances that, such good compositions will get erased permanently fifty years or one century down the line and at least, now there will be a good record of it because of this book . It’s a very good work on Carnatic music that should be on the shelves of a musician–both students and teachers.”
If another good subject comes along, Aruna plans to write her second book in the future.
Book name: Forgotten Composers
Author: Aruna Chandaraju
Publisher: Notion Press
Price: Rs 720