Nama Sangamam: A song for the well-being of the world

A group of 24 musicians from South India have come together for a unique initiative: These 24 artistes have come up with a song for the well-being of the world. The song, Kshemam Kuru Gopala, is a 17th century composition by legendary saint-poet Narayana Theerthar.

Speaking about the 10-minute rendition, titled Nama Sangamam, which is an initiative of Nama 2020 and the brain-child of Carnatic singer Savita Sreeram, says, “The song says we need 'loka kshemam', which means 'peace in the world'. And, Nama Sangamam is a culmination of all artistes with one unified mass prayer for peace in the world. In Hindu dharma we believe chant and prayer reach God faster. And, no other prayer better than 'nama'--'nama' is nothing but the name of God.”

Taking us through the whole process and what behind the making of the song, Sreeram says, “We consulted with all the artistes and chose a Sanskrit composition because to some extent many understand Sanksrti. If we were to take a Tamil or a Marathi song it would have gotten limited to fewer audience. We then assigned one line from the song, Kshemam Kuru Gopala, to each singer. They made an audio-video of themselves and sent their respective renditions of those lines to us. We then stitched everything together and released it recently one rendition.”

But, given the lockdown and limited resources, it wasn't easy for Sreeram to bring the song together. It took her almost a month to make the 10-minute rendition perfect for release. The work though started from allocating the lines to the singers, the pitch and tempo had to be right too. “The voices of the artistes have to be right too, because it all comes down to the technology they are using. The audio would be sharp from the ones using good devices, but the ones with a standard phone, we would have to ask them resend it because the voices weren't sharp enough. See even if it simple technology not everybody is familiar with it. The artistes by themselves are quite capable. If I were to ask them to record one whole song and send they would have done it. But singing one line then attaching another singer was difficult,” Sreeram adds.

Not just this, there was also a lot of to and fro between Sreeram and the sound editor. “Because we are all working from our respective homes, he would do the work and send the piece to me. Then we we would realise the sound is very low or not that good and we would have to redo it again. See if it was normal time I would have gone to the studio got everybody together and recorded the song. But given the circumstances this wasn't possible. And that's what took a lot of time,” Sreeram says.

“Amritha Sekhar, carnatic vocalist also a qualified MCA, equally helped me on overall co-ordination. She also made the posters and the promo videos for the song,” Sreeram adds.

And given the kind of positive response Nama Sangaman has received, ask her if she plans to take this ahead and she is quick to add, “A lot of people started approaching me thinking I am the architect, but I am not. Sudha Ragunathan, a very popular Carnatic singer, did this a month ago with 47 artistes. And I was a part of that group and that's how I was inspired. So I decided to come up with something similar but with 24 senior artistes...We want to take it ahead...but it is very time-consuming and takes a lot of effort doing it from home. We as Nama 2020, are looking at doing more innovative things, because in our field we have to be in the minds of the people. Tomorrow when things go back to normal people might not even remember we are keeping in touch and we are happy to sing.”

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