Pandit Shivkumar Sharma Questions the Time Theory in Indian Classical Music

‘Our ragas are based on time periods like the morning, afternoon, evening and late night hours. But the time slot now-a-days for concerts is 6pm to 10pm due to security reasons or whatever. If we exceed police will come and arrest the artists and the organizers. This means performances can be done only on a few limited ragas again and again. Morning and afternoon concerts are rare and late night concerts whether indoor or outdoor are impossible.’ Said santoor legend Pandit Shivkumar Sharma on 10th January, 2009 at a two-day seminar on ‘Reconsidering Fundamental Issues in Indian Art Music’ organized by ITC Sangeet Research Academy at NCPA, Mumbai. Panditji was speaking at the session on ‘Time Theory’.

While making it clear that he was speaking neither for or against the time theory Pandit Shivkumar Sharma elaborated further, ‘In old days we were closer to nature and most concerts were organized outdoor with nature manifested in full glory. Now in air conditioned auditoriums time becomes timeless. Of course, the biological clocks still works, but what happens when we go to US or Europe. At 9.30pm somewhere in Europe when the sun still blazes what ragas we are supposed to select?’

The eager discussion took up some other points too like while light classical songs based on particular ragas can be presented any time why time theory should apply only to pure classical form; and the double standards of the audiences—they listen to recordings of khayals in different ragas at home at any point of time without considering the time theory while they object to artistes at concerts singing a raga at the ‘wrong’ time. It was also pointed out that sometimes when lyrics become the dominant factor and ragas secondary in some compositions, such compositions should be freed from time theory.

Pandit Shivkumar Sharma summed up the healthy debate saying while no solutions could yet be found discussions could carry on.


Anonymous said…
A very useful article. I am against time theory as it is unreasonable now. Since I am a junior vocalist I do not want to give my name. Please excuse me. My pranam to Raginiji.

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