Aalaap Aesthetics – A Unique Workshop at CNBG Campus

The School of Kalayoga organised a unique workshop ‘Aalaap Aesthetics’ focused on aalaap – a beautiful aspect of improvisation in classical and devotional music. It was held at the Chinmaya Naada Bindu Gurukula campus of Chinmaya Vishwa Vidyapeeth.

There were nine learning sessions, plus one bhajan evening, besides the inaugural and valedictory sessions. Three sessions were dedicated to aalaaps in devotional singing, and six were focused on aalaaps in classical music. The sessions were conducted by Smt. Pramodini Rao (Head, School of Kalaypga) and Dr. Swapnil Chaphekar (Assistant Professor, School of Kalayoga) respectively.

This one-of-a-kind workshop was offered in a blended mode. While four participants from Mumbai and one from Karnataka made it to the campus, people were attending online from New Delhi, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Australia and USA. Among these were connoisseurs, amateurs and serious students of music. Some MA students of CVV also joined online as well as on campus.

Classical Music Sessions:

The first session, ‘Aalaap – An Overview’, gave the participants an overview of aalaaps, a good understanding of past and present systems of aalaaps, how they are used in various song forms and what their significance is in those forms. Another session was focused on the structure of aalaaps. Some audios and videos were played, and students were asked to analyse the aalaaps. Then a common structure of aalaap was decoded out of them, which gave a fair understanding of a structure that is followed by maestro artists. The participants then learnt to create their own aalaaps in Raga Yaman. Two different compositions, namely, ‘Neha Kaise Laga’ (Madhyalaya Teentaal) and ‘Bhore Mat Kar Gumaan’ (Drut Ektaal), were taught, in which to implement the aalaaps.

One session dealt with aalaap and taal association, and the last session was on the methods of beautification of aalaaps.

Bhajan Sessions:

After initially discussing what bhajans are, due importance was laid on the bhava or emotions to be conveyed through bhajans, based on the lyrical content. These sessions dealt with the need and importance of understanding the proportion of aalaaps to be used in bhajans. The singing of aalaaps in a bhajan is not mandatory; it is to be used only if necessary. It can, on the other hand, be used freely to expand on the expression of the bhava, keeping in mind the right proportion, so as not to reduce the importance of the lyrics and feel of the bhajan. Different examples of bhajans were given, and participants were also asked to try out some aalaaps in a couple of bhajans. The feedback provided gave them an idea of how to treat aalaaps while singing bhajans.

The external students (13) and MA students (8) enjoyed the workshop and asked the organisers to conduct such engaging workshops regularly.