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Sruti:
India's premier Music and Dance magazine

October 17, 2003


Sruti celebrated its 20th anniversary on 11th October 2003 at the Narada Gana Sabha in Chennai. Here’s a background note about Sruti magazine and the Sruti Foundation.

Who started Sruti:
Sruti was started by Dr. N Pattabhi Raman, together with his brothers P N Sundaresan (a veteran sports journalist) and P N Venkatraman (banker) and with the cooperation and assistance of a few other members of the family and some friends. The start-up funds were provided by Pattabhi Raman, an ardent music enthusiast, with deep interest in Carnatic, Hindustani and Western classical music, as well as in jazz.

Why Sruti was started
Pattabhi Raman returned to India in 1980 after 25 years in the U S where he had studied for his doctoral degree in economics and served the UNDP as a senior official for 14 years. He had a background in journalism - he had written about music and dance even in the early fifties - but it was not the ink in his blood that inspired him to start Sruti. He was actually prompted to do so when, over three years, his observations led him to the conclusion that Indian classical music, as well as dance, was beset with several problems which did not seem to bother anyone else. He felt that there was a need for a magazine to arouse consciousness.
Pattabhi Raman elaborated the reasons for starting Sruti in a statement captioned ‘We care and we believe’ which was carried in the inaugural issue of Sruti.

Sruti - October 1983
We care and we believe

We care. Therefore we exist. This is one aspect of the simple explanation for starting this magazine.

We care about the present state and the future of Indian classical music and dance.

We care about our great tradition and the need to harness its riches to meet the challenge of the changing times.

We care about the musician, the dancer, the guru and the many others who have a vital role in the preservation and development of these fine arts.

We care about the men and the women, the old and the young, who seek enjoyment, and possibly solace too, in classical music and dance and, by so doing, provide vital support to them.

We care about quality in performances, equity in management, acuity in appreciation, and good taste all around.
And we care too about the viability of the economics of classical music and dance.

And we believe. Therefore, too, we exist. This is the other reason for Sruti coming into being.

We believe there is a crying need to establish a forum for the exchange of ideas and experience among those involved in the development, presentation and enjoyment of classical music and dance.

We believe a new and unique medium is needed to gather news and prepare interesting and informative articles on classical music and dance and those involved in it, based on careful investigation of facts, and to present them in a style which is immensely readable and easily understood by the layperson.

We believe the time is now to mobilise opinion and action in support of efforts aimed at promoting excellence, preserving valued traditions and encouraging innovation and adaptation.

We believe there is an obvious case for developing greater mutual awareness and a more dynamic interaction in the fields of music and dance among the peoples south of the Vindhyas who share a distinctive cultural heritage, and among the peoples of the South
and the North.

And we believe there really is a demand for an alternative to the present state of music and dance criticism, an alternative that focusses on providing guidance on the proper enjoyment of classical music and dance to those who patronise it, on the basis of a systematic and constructively critical approach to the evaluation of performers and performance.

We are convinced therefore Sruti has an important role to play and a deeply-felt void to fill, which none of the magazines that already exist do adequately. Equally we are convinced we can fulfil this role artistically, tastefully and with dignity.

We do take our public service role seriously, but we do not see ourselves apart from our reader, as some sort of crusaders or self-appointed taste-makers. Nor do we feel we can fulfil this role only by offering pedantic, pompous or plain dull fare. We promise to offer good reading, enjoyable reading, even exciting material. And now and then some amusement as well.

We care and we believe and therefore we have started Sruti. We will do our best to justify its existence and earn your support.

Goals of Sruti
The goals of Sruti are implicit in the statement cited above. In essence, Sruti aims to help the promotion of excellence, preservation of traditions of value and encouragement of innovation and adaptation with awareness.

Why Sruti is published in English
The statement explained too the choice of the English medium for Sruti. There was - and still is - indeed an obvious case for developing greater mutual awareness and a more dynamic interaction in the fields of music and dance among the peoples living in the different States of the South and among the peoples of the South and the North.

Originally, Sruti focussed on South Indian music, insofar as music is concerned, and this was done for purely practical reasons. However, the focus has since been expanded to include the music of the North as well.

From the beginning, however, Sruti has covered all classical dance-forms. Events staged in different countries are also given coverage. Today Sruti is really pan-Indian in outlook and character, and its coverage of Hindustani music is being progressively expanded.

Target audience
The target audience of Sruti comprises several groups. These include:
* lay listeners of music
* lay dance enthusiasts
* connoisseurs
* musicians, dancers, teachers
* scholars and students of the fine arts
* institutions and organisations active in the field
* officials of Government agencies concerned with the arts.

Sruti is read all over India and in virtually all parts of the world. It has wide readership.

Sruti is not an academic journal, even though it carries scholarly and technical articles from time to time.

Orientation
Sruti is a news and feature magazine. Each issue contains news reports and notes on events and developments, pertaining to Indian music and dance, from all over the world. From time to time, it also carries reports and articles on music and dance of other cultures, in order to provide its readers a global perspective.

Sruti is the only single source for events and developments pertaining to Indian music and dance taking place in different States of India and different countries.

Besides news and notes, Sruti carries other materials like:
* articles on major issues, including debates on specific issues;
* articles on special subjects, like Indian music or dance in Europe, America, etc.;
* analytical articles on major events, like the annual festival season in Madras;
* critiques on artists; guidance notes on music and dance
* reviews of books and recordings;
* technical notes;
* opinion columns;
* investigative reports, such as the expose' of the unethical aspects of a Ph.D. thesis on epoch-makers in Carnatic music; and
* humorous articles and cartoons offering deep insights;

Sruti Box is the title of the regular section devoted to letters from the readers. This is considered by many as one of the most interesting and valuable sections of the magazine. Sruti Box provides an opportunity for exchange of information and interaction among readers themselves.

The highlight of each issue of Sruti is the special feature, which is focussed usually on either a music or dance personality and occasionally on an institution or an issue. Each special feature is the result of painstaking research and careful scrutiny and analysis by experts. Typically, personality-focussed special features present a basic and comprehensive profile, accompanied by a number of `satellite' articles on aspects of career, achievements and contributions briefly mentioned in the main article.

Over the last 20 years, Sruti has carried features on more than 200 musicians (including Hindustani musicians), dancers, composers, gurus, institutions and as well as more than 75 on topics. It has also published numerous interviews.

Photo features, which are published from time to time, are quite popular too. Appearing in this series are Dancer's Choice, in which a selected well known dancer explains why she considers a particular item her favourite. Montaged photographs complement the narrative.

Standing of Sruti
Sruti receives financial assistance from some enterprises and institutions, which, under the banner of The Sruti Alliance, provide special advertisement support. It also enjoys the support of leading organisations in the field of music and dance. The central Sangeet Natak Akademi has also been giving an annual grant.

Support from these sources has made it possible for Sruti to maintain high standards of production and yet fix a sale price in India at roughly half of what it costs to produce each copy. It has stayed clear of camps and factions. It has sought to be fair to one and all even while letting the chips fall where they might. By now the independence and integrity of Sruti are well - recognized.

Not-for-profit venture
Even though Sruti was started under private auspices, it was promoted as a not-for-profit venture and the intent from the very beginning was to create a Trust and place Sruti under it. This was done in April 1985 when the Sruti Foundation was established with N Pattabhi Raman as its Managing Trustee. Sruti, is its `flagship' endeavour.

Special projects were launched from time to time to analyse and document various aspects of music and dance:
** National Seminar on Bharatanatyam Dance Traditions;
** Analysis of the music of violin maestro Lalgudi G. Jayaraman;
** Analysis of the music of Carnatic vocal maestro G N Balasubramaniam;
** Bridging the North-South Divide - discussions on Carnatic & Hindustani music; and
** Seminar on E. Krishna Iyer's role in the Renaissance of Bharatanatyam.

The Sruti Foundation has published three books:
** Bala on Bharatanatyam;
** Semmangudi - A Mosaic Portrait; and
** Thakur Jaideva Singh - A Great Savant.

The Sruti Foundation instituted the E Krishna Iyer Medal in 1989, to be awarded to an individual or institution who has made a significant contribution to the preservation and promotion of Bharatanatyam traditions. The Medal is presented every alternate year.

The Sruti Foundation has also been entrusted with the task of administering TWO awards:

-- The Vellore Gopalachariar Award instituted by mridanga vidwan Vellore Sri Ramabhadran, in memory of his father Vellore Gopalachariar. This award is given to a deserving musician every year.

-- The M Venkatakrishnan Memorial Award instituted by Bharatanatyam & Kuchipudi exponent Ramaa Bharadvaj of California, in memory of M Venkatakrishnan, the head of the cultural organisation called Sankarabharanam. This award is to be
presented to an organiser of cultural events every alternate year.

-- The Indira Memorial Scholarship instituted by her family members, to be awarded to a talented but economically backward music student.

Voluntarism in action
As valuable as the support Sruti receives is the spirit of voluntarism, which has motivated those who have been contributing reports and articles to Sruti. The Editor-in Chief, the other Editors, and the Critics & Correspondents in various centres in India and abroad, have been serving Sruti more as volunteers, without receiving any substantial compensation for the work they are doing. This is indeed a shining example of voluntarism.

20 Years of publication
Sruti has completed 20 years of publication with its September 2003 issue.

After the demise of the Founder-Editor Pattabhi Raman on 23 December 2002, Mr. K V Ramanathan, has taken over the mantle of Editor-in-Chief. He is a retired member of the Indian Administrative Service, who was later the Resident Editor of the Southern editions of the Indian Express from 1988-91. Sruti magazine continues in the same vein under the leadership of Mr. K V Ramanathan, ably assisted by Deputy Editor Ms.S Janaki. The Trust Board is now headed by Sri M Subramaniam, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of The Sruti Foundation.

Sruti has its own website - www.sruti.com
e-mail: sruti@eth.net.