The Ragavibodha is a masterpiece on musicology from the 17th century. It was composed by Somanatha to address the existing contradictions between the ancientsê theory and prevailing performance practices; thus making it an indispensable treatise, to be included in the Kalamulasastra series of the IGNCA.
Somanatha is by far the most important and the most original of all the sixteenth and seventeenth century writers on music as he produced the Ragavibodha, an outstanding treatise on the subject. The Ragavibodha is a distinctive text because it is embellished with a contemporaneous autocommentary by the composer himself, making it easier to comprehend his theory and viewpoint. It also has the authorês music illustrations that reflect the music of the time and serve as a bridge between the music of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and that of the present-day. Moreover in this treatise, the author has invented twenty-three notational symbols and names for the Vadanabhedas that he has culled from the ancientsê legacy of gamakas etc.; thus rendering it as the first work in the textual tradition that has attempted the aural possibility of visible symbols.
Prof. Ranganayaki V. Ayyangar has painsta-kingly edited and translated this text and has supplemented the edition with a very scholarly introductory chapter, in which she has described in great detail the manuscripts, lithograph versions and printed versions of Ragavibodha as well as its contents, metres, etc. She has also critically analysed the compelling reasons that drove
Somanatha to compose this masterpiece. The translation rendered by Prof. Ayyangar is as masterly as the text itself. She has, for the first time, decoded and presented the musical notation of Somanatha, which constitutes Appendix of this volume reproduced here in a CD.
In the present edition of the Ragavibodha of Somanatha, Dr. Ranganayaki Ayyangar has given an authentic text and complemented it with a faithful and lucid English translation. She also has painstakingly illustrated the musical notations of Somangtha by herself, which are reproduced in the appendix.
About the Author(s)
Dr. Ranganayaki Ayyangar (25.12.1927). Disciple of the great masters such as Namakkal Sesha Ayyangar, Sangita Kalanidhi Thiruppamburam Swaminatha Pillai and Sangita Kalanidhi Mudikondan Venkatarama Aiyar, Ranganayaki became a concert singer of note, both in public platforms and the All India Radio. She won the scholarship awarded by the Government of India in the period 1957-59.
Ranganayaki did her Doctorate on Somanathaês Ragavibodha in the University of Philadelphia and later joined the University of Illinois and taught ethnomusicology to graduate students at Champagne, Urbana. She also had a stint of teaching in the University of Mysore during 1965-68. Seventies she joined the Banaras Music Department, retiring as its head. In the early eighties, she served for a couple of years in the Sangeet Natak Academi, New Delhi as its first documentation officer.
Going back to her roots in Chennai, Ranganayaki served with distinction as head of Sampradaya, a Ford-Foundation-aided institution, devoted to the cause of reserving the musical traditions of South India. Later, she was the Editor of the works of Swami Dayananda Saraswathi and brought out several publications till 2007.
She has brought out two important works titled (i) Analysis of the melodic, rhythmic and formal structure of Carnatic Krithis, as exemplified in the Krithis of Shri Syama Sastri, Shri Muthuswamy Dikshitar and Shri Thyagaraja (1965); and (ii) Composition in South Indian Music (1978).