Gamaka Box- the first ever Comprehensive Notation System for Indian Music.
Though Film music was his profession, Ramesh Vinayakam always had an ever thriving zest and love for Carnatic music. He has written krithis, varnams and other classical compositions in both Sanskrit and Tamil.
However, having been exposed to western music, its history and its documentation, he became particularly conscious of the need for a system of notation that depicts traditional Indian music truly.
His first attempt to find a notational system was around 25 years back. Every now and then he would try to device a methodology only to give up, but would always return to it.
In 2010, the urge to find a notational system turned from passion to an obsession. An inner voice kept telling him that he was on the verge of devising a system and the solution was round the corner.
Ramesh Vinayakam innovated and has devised ‘The Gamaka Box’ – a comprehensive Notational System for Indian Classical Music, which has attracted encomiums from great musicians and musicologists of Classical field including Shri Lalgudi Jayaraman, the great violin legend to Shri Pappu Venugopala Rao, Secretary, Music Academy, Chennai. Eventually, Gamaka Box was born by God’s bountiful grace.
Using Gamaka Box, he went on to do a lot of experiments with students and musicians of different levels, which included people from other cultures too. In these formative years, he is greatly indebted to Violinist Sri. Ragavan Murali, Sri V.S.Narasimhan, Sri N.Ramanathan, Smt. Geetha Raja, Sri Ramnarayan and Sri Unni Krishnan of Sruti.
From 2012, he started giving lecture demonstrations and conducting workshops in various Cultural centres including The University of Madras, The Music academy and Kalakshetra.
In 2015, Ramesh Vinayakam set up The Music Temple Academy, with the aim of furthering deeper research on Carnatic music through Gamaka Box.
Ramesh Vinayakam unlocks the gamaka
Ramesh has come out with an innovation that attempts to represent gamakas on paper.
Music, out of the box
A comprehensive notational sheet for Carnatic music? Music composer and singer Ramesh Vinayakam is aiming towards it with his innovative gamaka box
Curves and Lines of Carnatic Music in a Box
Gamaka is a challenging idea to comprehend in Carnatic music. Usually handed down from teacher to student, as a part of the guru shishya parampara, a gamaka, or a decoration added to a note, gives each raga its own identity. The embellishment can be implemented by stressing on the note or singing it on a higher or lower pitch by oscillating the swara.
“It is these gamakas, which come in innumerable varieties that have kept the common man believe Carnatic music as something he cannot aspire to practice or appreciate,” opines music composer Ramesh Vinayakam. “I went to meet the President of India in February 2014 during the screening of Ramanujam, for which I scored the music. That was my last contact with the outside world. From then on, I’ve been engrossed in doing research to capture gamakas with paper and ink through my notational system ‘Gamaka Box’. ”
Box of musical goodies
– With the various playing styles or banis explored, the box unveils a comprehensive picture of the structure of Carnatic music,” says Vinayakam, who is also excited that it can be a powerful aid to train the aurally-challenged in memorising the kritis.
You can make anyone play music by reading the gamaka box
Anything that is transferred orally keeps on changing. Though we have a strong system of gurukulam, where what is taught is learnt, there was this need to document music.
Parivadini LIVE – National Seminar on Music Notation
Music Temple Academy
Apart from its primary goal of de-mystifying gamakas and developing Gamaka Box as a tool of teaching and learning, Music Temple Academy undertook other projects of research applying Gamaka Box to realise the following goals:
- Conducting empirical studies on the efficacy of rote system and analysing the classroom atmosphere, by taking basic lessons from the Sangeetha Bala Padam series by Dr.Smt.R.Vedavalli and her students.
- Understanding different banis/styles, by transcribing same Geethams by many artists.
- Fine tuning and enhancing the Gamaka Box system by applying it in performance conditions.
- Analyzing and identifying swaras in the same raga and across different ragas.
- Comparative study between the Sangeeta Sampradaya Pradarshini and Gamaka Box.
- Testing the efficacy of Gamaka box with foreigners.
- Transcribing various basic lessons and Varnams.
- Creating a prototype of a first ever Gamaka dictionary.
“Two different styles of arohana-avarohana scales in Kamboji…”
This is Dr. Jeremy Woodruff playing the Kambhoji raga according to two different players using Gamaka Box after only after two days of familiarity with the system:
“It sounds like the raga that we know…”
This is Matt Bacon, San Francisco guitarist, currently based in Chennai, in his 3rd session with the notation:
“Hindolam is the name of the ragam…”
This is Professor Sebastian Gramss playing gamakam after only an hour of tuition at the Goethe Institute Chennai, Max Mueller Bhavan:
“Nobody takes on Todi only in the second class…”
Alice Barron, London violinist working with Ramesh to play the gamakas of the Todi ragam, usually reserved for advanced Carnatic students, in the firs
Prathidhwani – New Raga
Ramesh Vinayakam has discovered a Raga PRATHIDHWANI – named so by Dr S Ramanathan, the great Musician/Musicologist.