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Vol. XXIX No. 10, September 1-15, 2019


A fun way to learn more about music

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Sukrtam Foundation, a non-profit trust founded by Sangita Kalanidhi elect Vidushi Dr. S. Sowmya, presented the first edition of Musicarnival on August 3rd and 4th in Chennai this year. Inaugurated by N Murali (President, The Music Academy), the event aimed at bringing Chennai’s music community together to share & exchange their knowledge of music from refreshingly new perspectives – participants were regaled by musical puzzles, skits, performances and even a musical treasure hunt. The city’s prominent musicians like Nithyasree Mahadevan, Sudha Raghunathan, Anantha R. Krishnan, N. Vijay Siva, the sisters Ranjini-Gayatri and more lent their support to the initiative, by participating in the event alongside music lovers and artistes of all ages.

Meena, a member of the organizing committee, says that the idea was conceived around 20 years back, when present-day eminent musicians were children. They would play with and challenge each other by creating and solving musical puzzles, learning more while having fun in the process. Sowmya, now a faculty member at the Music Academy, carried forward the tradition with her class, sending a musical riddle each day for her students to solve – a jumbled kriti, for instance. Recognizing the potential of the format to study music from a different point of view and also encourage students to find the fun in learning, she decided to open the game to the public under the aegis of the Sukrtam Foundation. The team worked for three months on the project, baptizing the event ‘Musicarnival’. Apart from their immediate peers and professional circles, the organizing team also personally invited schools and colleges such as Vidya Mandir Mylapore, PSBB (TP Road & KK Nagar), Queen Mary’s College and Madras University to participate in Musicarnival.

The attending teams put up stalls, bidding visitors to try their hand at solving the unusual music puzzles and tricks they had each devised. The Music Academy’s stall, for instance, included a novel raga-based maze made of swarasthanam paths which one had to solve by identifying the key swaras and the sthanas they occupied (spoiler: the answer was shankarabharanam!). The students of MOP Vaishnav college challenged participants with their ‘Sapta Thala’ quiz and ‘Math in Music’ puzzles; Kalakshetra pupils invited them to play their special version of Dumb Charades, ‘Abinaya Charades’; and the team from Shankara Gana Vidya Nilayam challenged stall visitors to ‘Find the Pallavi’. Team Rhythm, a set of enterprising youngsters who formed their own group, bade participants to ‘Match the Thalam’ and ‘Guess the Artiste’. All in all, Musicarnival had 93 games across 15 stalls, with participants collecting coupons for every right answer. They took home prizes depending on the number of coupons they bagged. The skillful who gathered more than 70 coupons qualified for a lucky draw with a secret bumper prize – music playing device Carvaan from Lakshman Sruti. For the adventurous, Musicarnival took them on a treasure hunt across Chennai, based on the city’s musical history.

Apart from games and puzzles, Musicarnival also invited interested participants to put up performances of their own. A group of young children entertained the audience with a charming puppet show on Bharathiyar, ‘Meesa Maama Enna Sollirkaaru?’ The older kids put up a skit, narrating stories of vaggeyakaras like Purandaradasa, Dikshitar, Tyagaraja and Syama Sastri.

An open mic stage was also set up for anyone to showcase their talent, sparking impromptu as well as polished performances. The creative tried their hand at jamming together, making musical instruments out of kitchen utensils like forks and spoons, tins, paint dabbas and rattles. The two-day fest also had just-for-fun stalls like mehendi, goli soda, filter coffee and chaat, leaving music-lovers with happy hearts and full stomachs.

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