For your viewing pleasure

Here is one of the greatest (?) heroes of Indian cinema, putting to shame all the Supermans, Spidermans, James Bonds and Tom Cruises of the world, just for your viewing pleasure ….. believe me … you don’t need to understand the language (I don’t understand it anyway) to appreciate this stuff. Just follow the links below:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A23CWRltQuw 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RxgoF5M0JHk&mode=related&search=

I am sure after watching these two classics you will be more than tempted to try out the other links available there.

Zidane – This year’s devil incarnate?

NDTV 24×7 has been airing this clip today that shows how a few idol makers in Kolkata are making idols for this year’s puja with Zinedine Zidane as the demon. I am surprised that it isn’t Jagmohan Dalmiya this year for having played with Dada’s career.

Wonder where this idea of Zidane as demon came from …… may be from rock singer Jean Louis Murat’s statement “‘Nobody knows if Zidane is an angel or demon …… He smiles like Saint Teresa and grimaces like a serial killer”.

Vision 2020

A few weeks back, Pratik, a batchmate of mine from ISB had written about where he thought a few guys from the batch would be 20 years from now. Here is my take on what a few guys would probably end up doing in 2020:

Alok: Owner of a video game shop laid out in a space equivalent to that occupied by a standard ICICI ATM, in one of the galis of Lucknow. One of the consoles there (or maybe the only console there) would be dedicated to Alok and he would be happily spending hours and days and months playing all kinds of (video) games.

Anoop: Still an Univeral consultant, he would be known more for his achievements as the (non-playing?) captain of his gali’s cricket team of 10-year olds in Mumbai.

ATA – Baba ATA: the world famous gay, spiritual guru with followers belonging to all religions in almost all parts of the world. Giks would be his events manager and would assist him in preparing those spiritual PPTs with the NxN matrices made by SK and Ferrari.

Bharani a.k.a Big B: Owner of http://www.bigBbloGjobs.com, the craze among the youth of the country (to create their blogs on and to get career counseling). Big B’s way2top would have got so many hits by then that all the counters in the world would have got tired of counting.

Dood: Professor of English at DSCS i.e. Dood School of Courtship Studies … would be teaching all those teens who didn’t get convent education on how to woo their girl/boyfriends using the power of the English language.

Ferrari & SK: Will own the famous “Pfaffers Den” in Besant Nagar, Chennai famous for its PPTs for B-School students and corporates with the patented “NxN matrices for everything” formula. Ferrari would also own a cycle repair shop in fond memory of the days spent at one of India’s well known motor companies.

Honda Raam (this is not me): would have set up a chain of shops that rents out musical instruments to struggling musicians with the headquarters in Dindigul, Tamil Nadu.

KP would be the well-known producer and no. 1 distributor of z-grade movies. He would also be the no. 1 consumer of Britannia Cheese spreads which Britannia would still be producing in 2020 because of its single customer (but huge) market.

KR would have already retired from his job and would spend his day reading newspapers and watching plays and attending concerts in Mylapore, Chennai.

Rajani (NBT): Celebrated author of the international bestseller – “How to Make Spelling Mistakes while Speaking”. The book would have required about 80 proof-readers to get rid of spelling mistakes in the text.

Ramki: would be the proud owner of a movie hall in Chennai that screens only Priyanka Chopra films and serials (that she would do when she gets older). He would spend most of his time eating popcorn and drooling over Priyanka.

Sallu: Still the universal brother … will get countless number of rakhis tied to his arms and what not on rakshabandhan day…. will be consulted by old aunts and uncles on how to keep their spouses happy and keep their marriages intact.

Talu would be the no. 1 customer of his own liquor shop in Mumbai. He would be meeting his and his shop’s expenses from his daily transactions on the stock market.

Vikram, the “Clickie”: Developing camera rolls in “Clickie Studios” in Adyar, Chennai. Most of his time would be occupied with shooting and delivering passport size snaps of his customers.

Dunkee and I: RJs, cracking and laughing at their own PJs in one of the FM radio stations. This would be the channel most heard by all those people who are frustrated with life and consider (before hearing the program) that there is no worser state to be in than they are currently, just to realize after hearing those PJs that there are two more junkies in the world living in deeper shit than they are. I would also be working part-time as a drummer in a band …. no .. no … not the band that you are thinking of ….. in one of the Asha or Amar Bands of the world that play moojik during the baraat in the north Indian marriages. Dunkee would be the owner of a huge swimming pool where he would dunk himself at midnight almost everyday, that too multiple times, in fond memory of those good old days, or should I say nights, spent in ISB’s swimming pool.

Way2top reaches 100000

Way 2 go for Way2top !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Visitor count on our very own Big B Baarney‘s fundu blog has reached 100000 !!! Ramki and I had the fortune of being shown on the blog as visitor no. 100000 (though Ramki was a few seconds ahead of me in seeing the count and informed me of the same)

Weeklong celebrations are being planned to mark this occasion. Please watch this space and Ramki’s blog for more on this.
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TNS – This year’s Sangeetha Kalanidhi

There was a happy news and a sad one that eclipsed the happy one for Indian Classical Music fans yesterday.

The happy news was that the Music Academy, Chennai will be conferring the “Sangeetha Kalanidhi” title, considered one of the greatest awards that a carnatic musician can receive, on maestro Sri T.N.Seshagopalan (got this news from my friend KR). It was an award he should have been given long long ago. It is a case of better late than never for the academy.

But the sad news was that Bharat Ratna Ustad Bismillah Khan, the shehnai maestro, passed away. He was 90. Though I have not heard him play that much, except for the mangal dhwani on doordarshan for many years and a couple of concerts in Delhi, the respect and admiration he got from the music fraternity speaks volume about his music and about him as a person. Three greats from the music world have now passed away in quick succession leaving a great void that will take a lot of time to get filled – Sri Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer (in 2003), Bharat Ratna Smt. M.S.Subhalakshmi (in 2004) and Bharat Ratna Ustad Bismillah Khan (in 2006).

The response given by the Ustad to a question on the future of Shehnai after him (source: Rediff): “Shehnai mere saath nahi maregi, insha allah koi dusra Bismillah paida hoga ….. Bismillah se waise bhi sirf shuruvaat hoti hai (shehnai will not die with me. You will see many more Bismillah Khans in future. Bismillah anyways means ‘the beginning’)

Shruti – The 24hr Carnatic Music Channel from Worldspace

I bought a Worldspace satellite radio receiver last month here in Bangalore, mainly to hear Worldspace’s 24×7 Carnatic Music Channel called Shruti. I must say I am satisfied with the investment I made (Rs. 1499 for the receiver without speakers and Rs. 500 for a three month subscription), after listening to the channel for whatever little time I got to listen to.

It is actually difficult to keep running a 24-hour channel dedicated to a genre of music without much repetitions and I think the people behind Shruti have done a good job when considering this. Of course there is so much to hear to in Carnatic Music and so much to be learnt which makes their task a bit easier. Worldspace broadcasts not only Shruti but also other channels dedicated to different genres of music in the world.

One of the good things about Shruti is that it plays recordings of old maestros which you generally don’t get to hear unless you are a real fanatic who has gone hunting around for old recordings and tapes. For example, I have a very few recordings in my possesion where mridangam maestros of yesteryears like Sri Palghat Mani Iyer or Sri Palani Subramania Pillai have played but I have already been able to listen to at least 5-6 songs on Shruti where Sri Palghat Mani Iyer played the mridangam accompaniment. I have also been able to regularly hear compositions sung by maestros like Sri Chembai Vaidyantha Bhagavathar, Sri Ariyakkudi Ramanuja Iyengar, Sri Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, Sri GN Balasubramaniam etc.

The two programs I usually try to hear in case I return home on time from office are Swara Sandhya from 7PM to 9PM and Swara Sandhya’s artist highlight section featuring a 2hr concert of a particular artist from 9PM to 11PM. On some days, recordings focused on a particular melakarta raga or very old recordings are broadcast from 9PM to 11PM. The Swara Sandhya program on Saturdays and Sundays is a request show where songs requested by listeners are broadcast. The program also features a ragam tanam pallavi almost everyday. Yesterday’s ragam tanam pallavi was one based in the raga mohanam by Dr. T.K.Rangachari. Yesterday’s artist highlight section featured Smt. D.K.Pattammal & Sri D.K.Jayaraman.

There is however one thing I wish the people at Shruti would do so as to make things even better. I would be happier if only they can at least indicate on the morning of a day (on their website) about the details of the programs that would be broadcast during the day with the name of the artist who will sing the ragam tanam pallavi in Swara Sandhya and the name of the artist whose recording would be broadcast in the artist highlight section. Though the names of the (standard) programs that are broadcast during the week are available, a few more details as requested above would really help.

Coming to Worldspace, there is one thing I wish they could do too …. though I am aware of some of the problems in doing this, if only they could convert the satellite signal reception to a terrestrial transmission and reception while still retaining their current revenue model, it would solve problems of portability of their radio set alongwith reception related troubles and increase their customer base by a huge number. Currently, you have to keep the Worldspace antenna pointed in a south-east direction with a clear line-of-sight to the sky (a glass pane in-between is fine but not a door or a wall) so that it can receive signals from their satellite up there. The reception though is very clear and of good quality.The receiver also, can’t be easily carried around along with you.

Though I have not encountered any issues till now with the radio set or with the service and I wish I don’t encounter any, it would be good if Worldspace’s call centre/technical staff is receptive and can solve the issue(s) fast just in case something crops up. Though every company these days claims to be customer-focused, its a pity to see the reality on the ground when the customer faces any issue with their product/service.

Concerts in Bangalore today

Today’s concerts:

1) 5:30PM – Carnatic Vocal by Ganesh (of Ganesh-Kumaresh fame … yes .. violin artist), accompanied by Kumaresh on the violin, V.Praveen on the mridangam and N.Amrith on the khanjira at Sri Ramana Maharishi Academy for the Blind, 3rd Cross, 3rd Phase, JP Nagar

2) 6PM – Bangalore Gayana Samaja – Carnatic Violin Duet by Mysore Manjunath and Mysore Nagaraj. They will be accompanied by Sri Srimushnam Raja Rao on the mridangam and Sri Vyasa Vittala on the khanjira. The flyer had the name of Sri T.V. Sankaranarayanan for today’s concert but may be he is unable to come.

3) 6PM – Carnatic Vocal recital by Maharajapuram S Ramachandran at Purandara Bhavan, 8th Main Road, HAL 2nd Stage, behind Indiranagar Club. Concert organized by Indiranagar Sangeetha Sabha

4) 6:30PM – Carnatic Vocal by S.S. Vignaraja at Sri Jayarama Seva Mandali, 492/A, 1st Main, 8th Block, Jayanagar. Concert organized as a part of “Krishnotsava” by Percussive Arts Centre.

5) 6:30PM – Carnatic Vocal by Kalavathy Avadhoot at MES College, 15th Cross, Malleswaram.

T.M.Krishna @ Bangalore Gayana Samaja

What a beautiful concert it was !!!!! Sri T.M.Krishna, as usual, gave yet another wonderful performance yesterday at the Bangalore Gayana Samaja.

Vocal: Sri T.M.Krishna (TMK)

Violin: Sri R.K.Sriramkumar

Mridangam: Sri K.V. Prasad

Ghatam: Sri Giridhar Udupa

List of songs:

1) karuNimpa (varnam) – sahAnA – Adi – tiruvOtriyUr tyAgayyar

2) varalakshmIm bhajarE – sOwrAshtram – Adi – muthuswAmi dIkshitar

3) karuNa ElAgaNtE – varALi – Adi – thyAgarAja

4) srI rAmam – nArAyanagOwlA – Adi – muthuswAmi dIkshitar

5) rAvE himagiri (swarajati) – tOdi – Adi – syAmA sAstri

6) himagiri tanayE – sudha danyAsi – Adi – harikEsanallUr muthiAh bhAgavathar

7) karacharanakrutam (viruttam) – rAgamAlikA

pranatArti hara – chenchurutti – kanda triputa – mysore vAsudEvAchAr

8 ) OsOsi – mukhAri – misra chApu – muddu natEsa

9) muttavadurA – sAvEri – Adi – dharmapuri subbarAyar

10) thillAna – chenchurutti – Adi – vInA sEshannA

11) pavamAna (mangalam) – sOwrAshtram – Adi – thyAgarAja
When the concert was about to start, TMK started signalling to the microphone guy to increase the volume of microphones for all the artists on stage. One of the older guys sitting in the front row I think asked TMK to come forward a bit more (near the mic) to which TMK replied: “If I come still closer, I will eat it (refering to the mic)” :-)

TMK started the concert with a varnam and it was good to see that because of two reasons – 1) I have not seen him start his concerts with varnam for quite some time now (may be I haven’t attended the ones that he started with a varnam in the recent past) & 2) The way he renders the varnams with clarity and azhutham with the swarams/sAhitya starting exactly from where they should is a treat to hear.

The highlight of the concert was the tOdi swarajati of Sri Syama Sastri. The tOdi rAga Alapana was so beautifully done. TMK is so effective with the slow kritis and he once again proved this with his excellent rendition of the swarajati itself. A portion I like a lot in his concerts is the one when he nears the end of either he neraval or the kalpanA swaram and sings neraval portion/swarams continuously and in a full-throated way, if you could call it, with the violinist playing just the ‘sa’ and the mridangist playing simple sarva laghu. His voice just weaves magic during moments like that.

Sri R.K.Sriramkumar, who is no stranger to playing for TMK accompanied really well. Sri K.V. Prasad and Sri Giridhar Udupa also played well. Giridhar Udupa’s performance during the tamiavartanam was really good. Originally, mridangam maestro Sri Palghat Raghu was scheduled to perform, but he couldn’t make it. Though I was waiting to hear Sri Palghat Raghu play for quite sometime now and was rather disappointed initially upon not seeing him, I must say that Sri K.V. Prasad played really well and compensated for Sri Raghu’s absence.

As usual, when the taniavartanam started, a section of the audience promptly got up and started walking outside slowly. TMK and all the artists were silent for some time after which TMK said:”Those who want to leave may please leave quickly. We are waiting for you to leave so that we can start performing …. for others who are sitting here to listen”. I hope it drives the message home to at least a few of those who have made this a regular habit.

TNS on Muthiah Bhagavathar (Part 2)

(Continued from part 1 of this post)

Notes from the session on Muthiah Bhagavathar (as spoken by TNS):

  • In kritis, he did new things in old songs and incorporated old usages in new songs. Example: kaligiyuntE in kIravAni is by thyAgarAja swAmi. His student pattanam subramaniya iyer created “varamulOsagi brochutanI” as “P M1 G2 R2 S D1 N3 S R2 R2″. pUchi srInivAsa iyengAr created “nijamukha rAmA” as “P D1 N3 S N3 D1 P M1 M1 G2″. muthiAh bhAgavathar started and ended in panchamam – “amba vAni nannu AdarimpavE” “P P M1.P M1. G2 R2 S R2.G2 M1 M1 P”
  • “(Thyagaraja) Swami’s kritis drAkshArasam …..means drAkshai (grapes) will taste sweet superficially (and will be rich in technicalities too); but if you go to look into technicalities, like for example for finding ArohanA avarOhaNa for a rAgA in which a kriti is based, we need not have a conference like this to find that out. “Paluku kaNDa” in navarasa kAnnaDa  – S G2 M1 P P S, N2 D2 M1 P D2 M1 G3 R2 S. Swamigal has told us to say it not as S G2 M1 P S but as S G2 M1 P P S (extra P) to bring out the beauty of the rAgA. Muthiah Bhagavathar has similarly composed “lambOdara mahA gaNEsa varadA” – “S N2 D2 M1 G3 R2, S G2 M1 P P S”. There are lot more pearls and gems that can be got from the vast ocean of Muthiah Bhagavathar’s compositions. It is difficult for me to decide which ones to tell you about and which ones to skip, given the limited time.
  • Muthiah Bhagavathar popularized many of the ragas. There is a difference between discovering a raga and popularizing it. If you give a shape or life to a raga that exists in theory/textbooks by composing songs/varnams or any other types of compositions and if it stands the test of time, then the credit goes to you. Muthiah Bhagavathar’s daugher passed away during the time he came to Mysore as a “samasthAna vidwAn”. In the sorrowful mood that he was in during that time, he went to Banaras and stayed there for some time. He moved along with a Hindustani Music Vidwan called Krishna Badji(?) during that time and got involved more in Hindustani Music for some time. Before the bifurcation of carnatic and hindustani systems of music took place sometime during the invasion of India by the Mughals, there was only one system of music. This can be understood from the architecture and sculptures in a place called “kudumayAmalai” near pudukkOttai, down south in Tamil Nadu, where a sArangi is shown to be played for thEvaram songs. In early days, many vidwans were well versed in both systems. When Muthiah Bhagavahar heard the rAgA sOhini in the Hindustani system of music, he adapted it to Carnatic music as rAgA hamsAnandi and made it easy for everyone to sing by making a simple ArOhana and avarOhana for it. He was the first person to compose a kriti in this rAga. He composed the kriti “nIdu mahima pogada nA taramA”. When he was invited by the Raja of Travancore to tune and popularize Maharaja Swati Tirunal’s compositions, he chose the rAgA hamsAnandi for the kriti “pAhi jagajjanani“.
  • He also invented rAgAs. To invent rAgAs or to create something new,one should be knowledgeable enough about what all old things are there. If you term something old as new, it is only new to you :-) . It is not new but is already there. Our great ancestors have already formulated a very good system with an exhaustive permutations and combinations set …….. Muthiah Bhagavathar took the clue for karnaranjani from the song padavini in sAlakabhairavi. ” S R2 M1 P , M1 G2 R2″. Karnaranjani – “S R2 G2 M1 G2 P”. Instead of going like “S R2 G2 M1 P”, he added an extra G2 and held the note for sometime ….. Take the case of durgAsudha sAvEri is “S R2 M1 P D2 S, S D2 P M1 R2 S”. durgA is “S R2 M1 P M1 D2 S, S D2 P M1 R2 M1 S”.
  • He has also put very good chitta swarams for many kritis. Example is his kathanakuthUhalam kriti “giripriyam gangAdharam” by hearing which we can see how far sighted he was. He has composed chitta swarams which even today stand the test of time and appeal to us.
  • We usually do vAdi samvAdi in swarams. He has done vAdi samvAdi in prayOgAs too. The raga budhamanOhari has a kriti “samayamithE nannu brOchutaku” based on it. “S R G M G P S, S P M G R S”. I had been thinking how he would have thought about this rAgA. It struck me that kuntalavarALi is “S M1 P D2 N2 D2 S, S N2 D2 P M1 S”. If you take M1 as S and sing, you get budhamanOhari. So budhamanOhari is the madhyama mUrchana of kuntalavarALi. Such has been the kind of research he has done into rAgAs.
  • He has created thillAnAs in Kathak style. Take the case of the hamsAnandi thillAna created by him.
  • He was a great exponent of harikatha. He used to share a lot of pearls of wisdom through his harikathas which used to last for 4-5 hours easily those days.
  • He produced a lakshana grantha called “sangIta kalpadrumA” for which he was conferred with a doctorate degree. He was the first musician in India to be awarded doctorate for music.
  • He had a very open mind and was very appreciative of talent too. He wanted to bring good talent to limelight.

TNS on Muthiah Bhagavathar (Part 1)

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Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagavathar (15 Nov 1877 – 30 Jun 1945)

Sri T.N.Seshagopalan (TNS) gave a lecture demonstration on Sri Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagavathar and his compositions on the 15th of Aug 2006 at the Bangalore Gayana Samaja auditorium as a part of the Gayana Samaja’s 38th Music Conference. Sri Ramanathapuram C.S. Sankarasivam, who was the guru of TNS, was the foremost disciple of Muthiah Bhagavathar.

The lecture demonstration was very educative and showed how much knowledge TNS has about both the theoretical and the practical aspects of music. I am including the notes I took during the lec dem below.

TNS started the lec dem with Sri Vedanta Desikan‘s slOkam on Lord Hayagriva “gyAnanda mayam dEvam” sung in the rAgA yamunAkalyAni. The day being the Indian Independence Day, he then sang Subramanya Bharati’s composition “pArukuLLE nalla nAdu” in rAgA jOnpuri. Here are excerpts from the lec dem (as delivered by TNS):

  • The tamil work “silappadigAram” depicts the well developed music in India as early as 4 BC/2 AD.
  • In the 18th/19th century, there were many seats of music and among them Mysore played a vital role in patronising music and musicians …… Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagavathar was born in Tirunelveli district down south in Tamil Nadu. He was a great exponent of music and outstanding “harikathA” exponent of distinguished merit … the most exemplary contribution made by him through his compositions was when he was in Mysore.
  • Muthiah Bhagavathar was a prolific composer …. he has composed many different types of compositions …. he composed many swarajatis, gItams, lakshana gItams … some of them are not there in print and are available only in parts. We have had to collect them and try to make a reasonable composition. Many compositions of his are scattered and available with different shishyAs (students) of his at different places.
  • The varnams of Muthiah Bhagavathar were composed on traditional lines
    • At the same time, he introduced new, innovative techniques of vAdi samvAdi (consonant dissonance) …… vAdi samvAdi in prayOgA too and not in swaram only. Example of vAdi samvAdi:In sAvEri Adi tala varnam sarasuda‘s charanam “dAnIpai nEnarUna IvEla“, the composer has started in dhaivatham (at dA of dAnIpai) and landed in rishabam (at rU of nEnarUna) in vAdi samvAdi
    • In the sudha dhanyAsi varnam “shrI rAjamAtangi“, the third ethukadai “M G S, S N P M G, S G M P N S G, N S, P N, M P, G M P N S G, G S N P M” the next starting point of each swara combination is the sthAyi swaram of the very same swara where it ends (not like M G S, P M G, N P M, S N P …). The music flows very well this way. There are so many beauties of each such composition of Sri Muthiah Bhagavathar.
    • He has composed many ata tAla varnams. The speciality of his ata tala varnams is that he has incorporated the swaras in the sAhitya too. In the anupallavi of mOhana ata tAla varnam “manamOhana” which was composed during my guru’s (Sri Sankarasivam) arangEtram before the Raja Muthuramalinga Sethupathi of Ramnad, the sAhityam comes like this: “gAnalOla muddu rAmalinga rAjarAjEshwarA sEtupatIndrA”. In the third ethukada swara, sudha swarAksharam comes: “dAdA (great person .. not today’s dada :-) ) , sagasa dAdA (easily approachable great person), pAri dAdA (pAri = pAril = in this world …. you are the patron of this world), sagA (friend to everybody), sariga pAgadA (wearing pagadi decorated with zaris), paridA (between the horses?), garidA (inbetween the elephants?), padA gadA (riding a palanquin?), dArIda, rIga.. dA, pA da parigari (friend to me in all ways, to share the happiness and sorrows), pAda
    • He made daru varnams famous. Pada varnams were already famous because of their usage in regular dance performances in the palaces. Daru varnams are special type of varnams in whose mukthAyi swarams, there are first the swarA passages, followed by the jatis which are then followed by the sAhitya. An example is the daru varnam “mAtE malayadvaja” in rAgA kamAsu (which when repeatedly spelt becomes sukama = sugama !!):
      • Swara: DaDa NDDN DDND DNPM’ | DaDa NRSN SDNS DPMM ||
        DaDa NGRN RSND PNDM | DaDa MGMP MPDD NNDM ||
        DaD RSNDN DaD MDNMN | DaD SSPDN DaD MGRSN ||
        DaDP DaDN DaDS DaRD | .MGR SNDa NSNN DDPM ||
      • Jati: thAmthAm thakajoNu dadanida dimithaka | dAdA kukuthari thajaNutha dapamama ||
        dAdA nigarini risadhimi tharikita | jamjam thakitatha kukuthari Namthari ||
        dAthathin ginathari jEkumada nithaka | Namthasa sathimitha thomthadi mithakita ||
        dAdapa dAdatha rEkusa dArijam |.magari sanidA nisanini dadapama ||
      • SAhityA: dAdA sakalaka lAnipu Nachatusa | dAdA vividama dasamaya samarasa ||
        dAdA sulabhahru dayamadu ravachana | dAdA sarasaru chirathara swaralaya ||
        gItasu kadanija bhAvara sikavara | dAdama hisU.ra nAdanAl .vadisri ||
        krishnarA jEndrara dAyEsa dA.bO | rEmahithE harikE samanOha rasadayE ||

      You have to sing 2nd kAlam for all this – that is the gAna kramA, else it will become gAna akramA :-)

    • When it comes to varnam, his compositions have so many colors !!!!

Part 2 of this post is available here.

TN Seshagopalan @ Bangalore Gayana Samaja

Vocal: Sri T.N.Seshagopalan (TNS)

Vocal Support: Sri T.N.S. Krishna

Violin: Sri H.K.Venkatram

Mridangam: Sri Umayalapuram K. Sivaraman

Khanjira: Sri N. Amrit

List of songs:

1) vanajAkshi (varnam) – kalyAni – kanda ata – pallavi gOpAla iyer

2) angAraka – surutti – rUpakam – muthuswAmi dIkshitar

3) mANikka vInA (viruttam) – sudha tOdi

mAtanga kanyAm – sudha tOdi – kanda triputa – jayachAmarAja wodeyAr

4) taramu gAdurA – sahAnA – Adi – mysore vAsudEvAchar (?)

5 ) marivErE – shanmugapriyA – Adi – pattanam subramaniya iyer

6) enduku peddala – shankarAbharanam – Adi – thyAgarAja

7) rAma mantrava – jOnpuri – Adi – purandaradAsa

8) shanka chakra (viruttam) – rAgamAlika

thillAnA – hamsAnandi – Adi – harikEsanallUr muthiAh bhAgavathar

9) vachanamiga (thiruppugazh) – behAg – chatustra jampa – arunagirinAthar

10) pavamAna (mangalam) – sowrAshtram – Adi – thyAgarAja

mangala slOkam – srI

Needless to say, TNS performed really well and was ably supported by all accompanying artists, especially by mridangam maestro Sri Umayalapuram K. Sivaraman. If it was tOdi‘s turn to be elaborated at the Odukkathur Mutt a few days back, it was shankarAbharanam‘s turn yesterday. Words cannot describe the way the detailed AlApana of the rAgA was done beautifully by TNS. I also got a chance to hear two kritis “mAtanga kanyAm” and “taramu gAdurA” that I haven’t heard before.

Sri T.N.S. Krishna (TNSK), son of TNS, sang along with him. I am a fan of TNSK too and have a feeling that he will also become famous as one of the greatest singers of carnatic music one day. The first time I listened to him was in New Delhi in a concert organized by Sree Shanmukhananda Sangeetha Sabha about 6-7 years back. I have been hooked to him since then, though its been a while since I saw him perform. I think he was pursuing his PG in management from IIM, Lucknow last year.

Earlier in the day, Sri T.N.Seshagopalan presented an expert session on Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagavathar, following which Sri Umayalapuram K. Sivaraman hosted a question and answer session on mridangam and laya in general. I will try to post the notes I took during these two sessions soon.

Bombay Jayashri @ Bangalore Gayana Samaja

215706193_14da8ea8af.jpg

(Photo courtesy Gayathri, http://www.flickr.com/photos/40655946@N00/215706193/)

Smt Bombay Jayashri sang yesterday at the Bangalore Gayana Samaja as a part of its ongoing 38th music conference. She was accompanied by Sri Mysore V Srikanth on the violin, Sri Poongulam Subramaniam on the mridangam and Sri Rajagopalan on the khanjira.

List of songs:

1) mAyAtIta – mAyAmAlavagowla – rUpakam – tAnjOre ponnaiyyA
2) mundu vEnu – darbar – Adi – thyAgarAja
3) smaranE ondE – malayamArutam – Adi – purandaradAsa
4) shankari nIvE – bEgadA – rUpakam – subbarAya sAstri
5) ranjani niranjani – ranjani – Adi – g.n.bAlasubramaniam
6) bhajarE rEchita – kalyAni – misra chApu – muthuswAmi dIkshitar
7) karunAnidhiyE – bouLi – misra chApu – pApanAsam sivan
8) rAgam tAnam pallavi (RTP) – kEdAragowlA – Adi (2 kalai)
pallavi words: “vEnugAna ramanA, jaganmOhana nardhana krishna”
kalpanA swaram in rAgAs kEdAragowla, kAnadA, chandrajyOti and dEvagAndhAri
9) sarvam brahmamayam – darbAri kAnadA – Adi – sadAshiva brahmEndra
10) rAgi tandIra – rEvati – Adi (tisra gati) – purandaradAsa
11) adharam madhuram (viruttam) – yamunAkalyAni
krishnA nI – yamunAkalyAni – misra chApu – vyAsarAya
12) thillAna – dEsh – Adi – lAlgudi g. jayarAman
13) pavamAna (mangalam) – sOwrAshtram & surutti – Adi – thyAgarAja

As usual, Smt Bombay Jayashri sang very well. The main kriti was the kalyAni one “bhajarE rEchita“. Sri T.N. Seshagopalan, who is scheduled to give a lecture demonstration as well as a concert at the same venue today, was there in the first row listening to the concert. He was present there almost till the very end. While in the middle of her detailed kalyAni rAga AlApana, Smt. Jayashri stopped for a few seconds and said: “It is extremely difficult to sing in front of the giant called Sri Seshagopalan sir. I normally keep my eyes closed while singing and even with my eyes closed, I am only able to hear his kalyAni exposition in my mind. I seek your blessings sir”.

The rAgam tAnam pallavi (RTP) in kEdAragowla was rendered very well right from the start of the rAga AlApana. The pallavi line was structured as follows (A = aksharam): vEnugAna started 1.5A after samam and was for 5A (vEnu = 1.5A, gA = 2A, na = 1.5A), ramanA started immediately afterwards and was for 1.5A till the lagu part of the tAlam ended; jaganmOhana started 2.5A after the lagu part ended and was for 3.5A (jagan = 1.5A and mOhana = 2A) , nardhana started immediately afterwards and was for 2A and krishna started after nardhana ended i.e, from samam and was for 1.5A. Total = 1.5A + 5A + 1.5A + 2.5A + 3.5A + 2A = 16A = total akshara count of one Avartanam of the tAlam.

Sri Mysore V Srikanth accompanied very well on the violin, playing the rAga AlApanas and the songs very melodiously. However, the mic volume for violin was set very high and Sri Srikanth was sitting very close to the mic which many a times led to shrill sounds emanating from his violin, especially when he played a string of notes very fast, which were not very pleasant to hear.

Apart from Smt. Bombay Jayashri, who rocked with her music, there was a Goliath sitting in my row who rocked almost all the seats in the row with his movements :-) . He was putting the tAlam wrongly but very loudly. For each song, he would put at least 6-7 different tAlams and would suddenly look at the singer and put the correct one. He would again revert back to a few other tAlams before correcting himself again. While he was doing all this, any movement of his would be so strong as to shake almost all the seats in that row. Unfortunately, I was just 2 seats away from the epicenter :-( . The sad part was also that though whatever he himself did was quite disturbing to others around him, he wouldn’t miss a chance to give a piece of his mind to anybody who even whispered to his/her neighbour about anything, as though conveying to them how much disturbance they are causing to others. Some strange character !!

Today’s concert is by Sri Madurai T.N.Seshagopalan. More details on this and on other concerts in the conference are available here.

Bangalore Gayana Samaja Music Conference

Bangalore Gayana Samaja’s 38th music conference starts today at the Bangalore Gayana Samaja Auditorium, K.R. Road, Bangalore (Ph: 26506049, email: gayanasamaja@vsnl.net) . The theme of the conference is “Karnatakada Vaggeya Vaibhava (Splendor of Compositions of Karnataka Composers)”. The following are the expert sessions and concerts scheduled:

13th Aug 2006 (Sunday)

10:00AM – Inauguration

6:00PM – Saxaphone: Kadri Gopalnath, Violin: A. Kanyakumari,Mridangam: V.Praveen, Ghatam: Vaikkom Gopalakrishnan, Khanjira: A.S.N.Swamy, Morsing: B.Rajasekar

14th Aug 2006 (Monday)
9:45AM to 12:15PM – Invocation: Compositions of Purandaradasa – Saralaya Sisters; Inauguration of expert sessions and keynote address – Dr. V.V. Srivatsa; Aesthetics in Music – Bombay Jayashri Ramnath

6:00PM – Carnatic Vocal: Bombay Jayashri Ramnath ,Violin: Mysore Srikanth, Mridangam: Poongulam Subramanian, Khanjira: Rajagopalan

15th Aug 2006 (Tuesday)
9:45AM to 12:15PM – Invocation: Compositions of Mysore Sadasiva Rao – Renuka Rudrapatna; Muthiah Bhagavathar – T.N.Seshagopalan; Q&A session – Face to face with Umayalapuram K. Sivaraman

6:00PM - Carnatic Vocal: Madurai T.N.Seshagopalan, Violin: H.K.Venkatram, Mridangam: Umayalapuram K. Sivaraman, Khanjira: N.Amrith

16th Aug 2006 (Wednesday)
9:45AM to 12:15PM – Invocation: Composition of Venna Seshanna – Dr. Hamsini Nagendra; Jayachamaraja Wodeyar – Dr. Sukanya Prabhakar; Mysore Sadasiva Rao – Dr.R.K.Srikantan, demonstration by M.S.Sheela and T.S. Satyavati

6:00PM – Veena & violin samvAda: Jayanthi & Kumaresh, Mridangam: Arjun Kumar, Ghatam: Sukanya Ramagopal

17th Aug 2006 (Thursday)

9:45AM to 12:15PM - Invocation: Composition of Mysore Vasudevacharya – Manasi Prasad; Mysore Vasudevacharya – S. Rajaram; Music in dance – Maya Rao and demonstration by artists of Natya Institute of Kathak and Choreography

6:00PM – Carnatic Vocal: R.K.Padmanabha, Violin: Mysore Manjunath, Mridangam: C. Cheluvaraju, Ghatam: G.S.Ramanujan

18th Aug 2006 (Friday)

9:45AM to 12:15PM – Invocation: Compositions of Muthiah Bhagavathar – Kalavathi Avadhooth; Veena Seshanna – Mysore V. Subramanya with demonstration by Rajalakshmi Tirunarayanan; Lakshya & lakshana in karnatic music – T.M.Krishna

6:00PM – Carnatic Vocal: T.M.Krishna, Violin: R.K.Sriramkumar, Mridangam: K.V.Prasad, Ghatam: Giridhar Udupa

19th Aug 2006 (Saturday)

9:45AM to 12:15PM – Invocation: Composition of Jayachamaraja Wodeyar – Sumana Vedanth; Ganapathi in Music – M.S. Sheela; Pada & Javali – Dr. Nagamani Srinath; Concluding Remarks – Mysore V. Subramanya

6:00PM – Violin Duet: Mysore Manjunath & Mysore Nagaraj, Mridangam: Srimushnam V. Raja Rao, Morsing: Vyasa Vittala

20th Aug 2006 (Sunday)

10:00AM – Conferment of the title “Sangeetha Kalaratna” to Conference President Mysore V. Subramanya

6:00PM – Bharatnatyam: Sridhar & Anuradha (Compositions of Karnataka Composers)

The season ticket for the complete conference is Rs. 150 for non-members and Rs. 120 for members. Alternatively, once can buy tickets for the individual concerts for Rs. 30.

All concerts are from 6PM to 9PM.

TNS is the best !!!!

In the field of Carnatic music, there are amateurs, there are good artistes, there are top class artists and then there is Sri Madurai T.N.Seshagopalan (TNS). I have been hooked on to his music ever since I first heard him sing a rAgam tAnam pallavi in rAgA dharmavati when I was about 13. I had not heard anything like that till then and even till date have not heard a better rAga Alapana or tanam or pallavi in that rAgA by anyone else ….. and its not just about the rAgA dharmavati. It is my humble opinion that take any rAgA and/or any song in any rAgA and no one can do better justice to it than TNS. It isn’t a big surprise then that he is my all time favorite carnatic vocalist.

The speciality of TNS’ music is that it has so many specialities. It is so rich in terms of its content that there is so much for everyone to take away. Whether you love elaborate rAga AlApanAs, detailed neravals, melodious, bhAva laden renditions of compositions, lightning fast bhrigas, kalpanA swarams rich in their mathematical and melodic content, well executed tanams and/or difficult pallavis - you get them all in his music.

TNS gave the best concert so far in the Gokulashtami concerts series at the Odukkathur Mutt yesterday. So many singers have sung before him, all top class artistes of today, but then TNS dwarfed them all. And, what a combination it was on the stage !!!! Two Sangeetha Kalanidhis and one of the finest artists in their own respective fields – Sri M.Chandrasekharan (MC) on the violin and Sri Umayalapuram K. Sivaraman (UKS) on the mridangam and also one of the seniormost ghatam artists today, Sri E.M. Subramaniam (EMS) on the ghatam (The Sangeetha Kalanidhi is an award given by The Music Academy, Chennai and is considered to be one of the highest awards a Carnatic musician can get).

List of compositions rendered is as follows:

1) srI varalakshmi – srI – rUpakam – muthuswAmi dIkshitar
2) padmAvati ramanam – pUrvikalyAni – misra chApu – UthukkAdu venkatasubbaiyer
3) ranganAyakam – nAyaki – Adi – muthuswAmi dIkshitar
4) sonnAl ozhiya – kannada – Adi – UthukkAdu venkatasubbaiyer
5) srI krishnam – tOdi – Adi – muthuswAmi dIkshitar
6) krishnA (viruttam) – madhuvanti
narajanma – madhuvanti – Adi – purandaradasa
7) sAyankAlE (viruttam) – rAgamAlikA (rAgAs kAmbOji, vasanthA, hindOlam, chandrajyOti, mOhanam, kamAs, atANA, sAmA, Ananda bhairavi, Ahiri, amrutavarshini, subapantuvarALi, kuntalavarALi, kathanakuthUhalam, nIlAmbari, bilahari, kApi, surutti, bOuLi and sindhubhairavi)
thillAnA – sindhubhairavi – Adi – ?
8) pavamAna (mangalam) – sOwrAshtram – Adi – thyAgarAja
mangala slOkam – srI

The concert was generally slow paced. The last time I heard the purvikalyAni kriti padmAvati ramanam was about 6 years back from a recording of TNS in his hey days. The recording was released by Coney as a part of a two cassette pack and if someone wants to listen to what TNS was in his youth, he/she should definitely hear the audio cassettes. The kriti ranganAyakam was slowly and beautifully rendered. Todi rAga Alapana was so detailed that it seemed that he had covered everything that possibly could be covered. At the end of the AlApana, the audience clapped continuously for about 30 sec with both Sri M. Chandrasekharan (MC) and Sri Umayalapuram Sivaraman (UKS) saying “aaha aaha” in complete admiration. When the clapping almost ended, UKS said something to MC which got lost in the midst of the loud claps but MC replied saying “appadi irunthuthE … adhu response lendE theriyardE (it was so great … it can be seen from the response)”. The muthuswAmi dIkshitar kriti srI krishnam that followed was again a treat to the ears, not to mention the kalpanA swarams at the end which included beautiful mathematical calculations. MC accompanied TNS on the violin so beautifully. When TNS ended the kalpanA swaram with a beautiful korvai, the audience again clapped for an extended period of time and when MC played a small ending piece to let UKS start the taniavartanam, UKS said to MC:

UKS: “ivvalavu nanna pAdirukka, nInga vAsikkama mudichA eppadi (he has sung so well, how will it be if you finish without you also playing”)

MC: “inda mAdiri sollaravAlE korachal (there are so few people who say like this)”

UKS: “nAn othan irukkEne (I am here, right)”

The taniavartanam played by UKS and EMS that followed after sometime was just awesome. At the end of the song, the organizer who usually speaks about the all the artists who have performed on the day said about TNS: “Today’s concert has a speciality that was not seen in other concerts in this series before ………. the person sitting on stage today is a Sangeetha Kalanidhi in the waiting. Why he has not been given the title is not because his music is not worth it but because he has not reached the (old) age (required for the same). Everytime there is always a discussion among musicians and connoisseurs that why was he not given the title this year. The answer is that he is still young for it”. After praising and introducing the other artistes briefly, he handed over the microphone to UKS saying:“for speaking about such a great combination and such a beautiful concert, I as usual, hand the mic over to our ambassador Sri UKS”. Here is what followed for about 25 minutes after that (I am including excerpts mostly in English. The maestros spoke a lot of good things with a lot of humor too. They spoke in tamil and it is difficult at many places to find an exact translation of what they said. I have included the tamil text also in such places):

TNS (refering to UKS): “Avarukku kai evvalavu pEsudO adhukku mEla vAyum pEsum ;-) ” (his hands talk a lot and his mouth talks even more than that)

UKS: “Chinna tiruttam … venUngara mOdhu thaan pEsum :-) (small correction …. talks only when required)”

UKS: “Can you please increase the volume; though the microphone guy can hear me, I want others to hear me too :-) . As usual after finishing playing the mridangam, I have been handed the mic for a good cause :-)”

He spoke a lot of good things about the organizers, Sree Guruvayoorappan Bhajana Samaja and said about the samaja: “we have a few special places of our own and this is one such place”.

UKS: “Organizer Ramesh said that TNS should have be given the Sangeetha Kalanidhi title. He should have been given the title long back. Like they say pUrnAth pUrnam, whatever you keep adding or take away from pUrnam (complete, fullness), it still remains pUrnam. The way TNS is singing today was how he was singing when he was 13 too when he came into this field like a meteor. The reason is that he is supported only by his vidwat (knowledge?). They say that knowledge is always a weapon. TNS’ weapon is his knowledge.

People say that he is not aged enough for the award. If age was the criteria for the award, they should give it to Qutb Minar because it is probably the one monument that has been standing tall for so long :-) The time/age when a person is excelling and ruling is when he/she should be honored and this is the precise condition to which Music Academy has come to ever since Hindu Murali has taken over recently. There have been a lot of changes since then. Please clap for Murali. I have complete belief in the fact that Seshagopalan will get the award this year.

Let me talk about Seshagopalan’s vidwat …reason is ….. Konerirajapuram Vaidyanatha Iyer, Pushpavanam Iyer, Ariyakkudi Iyengar-val, Maharajapuram Viswanatha Iyer, Alathur Brothers, Madurai Mani Iyer,GNB, T.R. Mahalingam, T.N. Rajarathinam Pillai – if all the goodness and greatness in these great vidwans is accumulated and sitting personifed on stage today, it is no one else but T.N.Seshagopalan. His music is chaste carnatic classical. He is the response to the humbug that makes rounds sometimes at some places that only Hindustani music can be sung slow. To falsify that only he has sung in a slow pace today ……in sawaal jawaab (question answer), he is the jawaab to their sawaal and the sawaal to their jawaab …..

You should hear his music often, coz it might not be possible to hear this if he becomes too old. What a beautiful tOdi he sang today … the modulation, the paani, the bhrigAs … what a shruti bhEdam …. one artist whom we all admire for his music and happily accompany is Seshagopalan. His repertoire of kritis is amazing. The sanchArAs he has done in tOdi today is unimaginable. The reason is that he knows at least 200-300 kritis in tOdi. He is a lion in rythm too. He is an expert in everything. He is a repository of everything … like a departmental store in the US where you get everything from a safety pin to a Rolls Royce car. Not just this, he is also an exponent of harikatha. He is a very good veena player too and the ghamakas he did in tOdi today are a reflection of that. There is so much he has accomplished in the field today, the reason being that he has not stopped at anything thinking this is enough”

MC: “Sorry for the interruption …. he plays the keyboard very well. The ranganAyakam song that he sang today …. anda ranganAyakatha nAn keyboard la kettu mayangittEn (I got smitten? by hearing him play the ranganAyakam song on keyboard)”

UKS: “Oru AmbaLai mayangittAr nA adhOda enna vEnum :-) :-) (if a male has been smitten, what more do you require). He can do so many things … it is very difficult to see such a wholistic vidwan … our duty is that we should attend many of his concerts. I pray to thyAgabrahmam that he keeps doing a lot of concerts, keeps good health, sings with the same shArIram and quality voice and always remains as a trendsetter in this field. I have played for him with so much ecstasy today”

UKS: “Like Lord Shiva has a crescent (moon) on his head, so does Seshagopalan have Chandrasekharan. He is more complete in the sense that he is actually more like music’s knowledgeable Sun that always gives out its knowledge through its rays. So, if we want to call him an appropriate name in tamil, it would be madhiazhagan.

There was once a great vidwan who used to be the storehouse of knowledge about all aspects of carnatic music called ThiruvalangAdu SundarEsa Iyer. If anybody has any doubts in the Central College of Music, Musiri (Subramaniya Iyer) used to refer him/her to SundarEsa Iyer. His reincarnation is Chandrasekharan. What needs to be played, what shouldn’t be played; how something should be played and more importantly how something should not be played is all so well known to him ………

I have played so many concerts with him ….. he has a terrific sense of rythm too … he is like a blotting paper … whatever pallavi Seshagopalan sings, the same Chandrasekharan can play it in seconds. He is a great vidwan who was appreciated a lot by the great Rajarathinam Pillai himself.

Such a great vidwan Chandrasekharan should play for at least a 100 more years .. and I should also play along with him :-) …. Seshagoplan should also sing along :-)”

UKS: “A few words about E.M. Subramaniam (EMS). There was EMS Namboodripad who made Kerala famous. E.M. Subramaniam is another EMS who has made Kerala famous. The important quality in Subramaniam is that just like violin should provide good accompaniment to vocal in the concert, ghatam should accompany the mridangam well and if there is one person who understands this perfectly, it is Subramaniam …….. Chembai said to me long back when Subramaniam was 9 years old … there is a ‘kutti’ that plays ghatam very well; you have to bring him up well in this field …. that kutti is a ‘kuttan’ now. He knows all the gimmicks but does them only at appropriate places … he has lot of knowledge about melody, rythm etc …. his 10 fingers should play the same way for at least another 100 years.”

UKS: ” … I don’t have much to say about myself, I am your very own ……. thank you”

TNS then spoke about all the artistes …..

TNS: “He(UKS) has not just taken the mic to speak about nanmai (good) but about unmai (truth) too. The truth is that getting awards and titles is of course very encouraging and needed for people, but what is more important and required is what he wished about my being active for at least another 100 years and sing the same way. These kind of good wishes are what are more important.

Best audiences drag the best from a performance … to give that best, be it a very good coffee or a fair one, when served in a sparkling silver tumbler, even a not so good coffee tastes good. That is what you witnessed today. On one side is Sivaraman and on the other side is Chandrasekharan. I am just a small ornament in addition. It is they who performed so well, conducted the concert and made me sing. In addition to this silver tumbler and cup, there is also a silver spoon behind me (refering to EMS) :-) . There is a good coffee preparation, but how much sugar is required so as to make it taste best is what was controlled by EMS today. Ghatam accompaniment needs not only to be supportive to the mridangam but to all the other artists on stage as well.

I also thank the tambura artist. A bad tambura artist can just spoil the mood of the concert in 5 minutes by not stringing the instrument or by not playing the instrument properly. I need to thank him a lot for having provided a good tambura accompaniment too.”

TNS then spoke about UKS and MC …..

TNS: “Singing with anna (UKS) on the mridangam and anna (MC) on the violin is like sitting on a float that enables you to glide to new heights. Everybody knows that UKS plays so well. I am telling this both out of knowing this as well as having experienced this. Chandrasekharan anna is such a great encouragement … be it an accomplished artist or a newcomer, if he sings really well, words of encouragement would surely come out of anna’s mouth …….. he is able to bring out the best out of all the artists.

The same way, my guru used to praise anna (UKS) a lot. Everybody knows about the way his fingers weave magic on the mridangam and how well he plays for songs. But my guru used to say – azhaganambi’s thoppi (left side of the mridangam) is there only with this lad … such a beautiful sound it is (Kumbakonam Azhaganambi Pillai and Dakshinamurthy Pillai used to rule the field two generations back i.e., before the Palghat Mani Iyer and Palani Subramaniya Iyer days. They were supposed to be the best percussionists back then). The quality in what he plays and the way he plays cannot be described in words …. some people have clarity and others have quality. In him, which one excels is difficult to say, with each one trying to exceed the other. Both exist in combination like Sivan and Raman (Sivaraman) and like valangai and thoppi (the right and the left sides of the mridangam respectively).

Beyond this, if you want me to speak more and you want to hear more, please keep a harikatha for 10 days or so. :-) I will speak there. I should not continue speaking for long today getting engrossed in this as we all have to catch the train back (to Chennai). But I have to say a few words about (Chandrasekharan) anna also. From head to toe, he is kulirchi (chillness?) but he is not cold … he is warm. He is a delight to sing with. It is a great fortune to sit and sing with such a great artist ……

I pray to Lord Guruvayoorappan ……”

UKS: Can we also play with you for the harikatha that will be organized? :-) :-) (in response to the reference to harikatha made by TNS before)”

TNS: “I can’t ask for a better fortune than that”

OST @ Odukkathur Mutt, Bangalore

I simply do not have words to describe the quality concert I attended yesterday at the Odukkathur Swamigal Mutt, Bangalore. Every artist on stage was an accomplished one and each one had his own unofficial fan club, if you could term it so, in the audience. The concert was a Carnatic Classical vocal recital by Sri O.S. Thyagarajan (OST). He was accompanied on the violin by Sri. Mysore M. Nagaraj, on the mridangam by Sri Karaikudi R. Mani and on the ghatam by Sri V. Suresh.

List of compositions sung by OST is as follows:

1) viribOni (varnam) – bhairavi – kanda ata – pachimiriyam AdiyappA
2) mudumOmu – sUryakAntam – Adi – thyAgarAja
3) nI bhakti – jayamanOhari – rUpakam – thyAgarAja
4) nEmamu tO – latAngi – Adi – tiruvotriyUr thyAgaiyyer (?)
5) srI rAma pAdamA – amrutavAhini – Adi – thyAgarAja
6) dIna dayAlO – varALi – misra chApu – bhadrAchala rAmdAs (?)
7) paTTi viDuvarAdU – manjari – Adi – thyAgarAjA
8) smara sadA – bilahari – Adi – swAti tirunAl
9) sadA yenna – behAg – rUpakam – vijaya vittala dAsa
10) pavamAna (mangalam) – sowrAshtram – Adi – thyAgarAja
followed by mangala slOkam in rAga madhyamAvati

Both Sri OST and Sri Mysore Nagaraj excelled in the rAga AlApanas, neravals, kalpana swarams and kriti renditions. Incidentally, OST chose varAli rAga for the sub-main piece at his previous concert a few days back in Bangalore Gayana Samaja too, though he sang a different composition Eti janma there. One more good part was that except for sadA yenna in behAg, there was no repetition of kritis in this concert, when compared to the previous one. In fact, I would rank this concert of OST higher than his Bangalore Gayana Samaja concert.

The organizer said “while organizing a concert series, organizers try to think of a combination of artistes that can take the listeners to exotic heights and today’s concert has one such combination”. While praising Sri Mysore Nagraj the organizer said “In the words of O.S.Thyagarajan, innikki Nagaraj madhiri vAsikkarthukku yaar irukka (who is there today who can play like Nagaraj)”.

But for me, the artist of the day was Sri Karaikudi R. Mani on the mridangam. Though there were so many accomplished artists in today’s concert, he was the main reason behind my attending the same. There were at least 9 pairs of eyes around me in the concert just watching how he played the mridangam. Many youngsters learning the art came to watch the master perform.

Generally in carnatic concerts, the percussionists are given a chance to show their mettle in what is called as a taniavartanam. This usually happens either after the main composition and/or after a ragam tanam pallavi, if it is sung. The taniavartanam, unfortunately, is usually also the point in time where many people in the audience suddenly get nature’s call or leave for their homes. I have read that when Sri Palghat Mani Iyer, considered as one of the greatest mridangists of all times by many, used to play the taniavartanam, the audience used to be spellbound and would stay glued to their seats. I witnessed the same today. The entire auditorium/hall was watching Sri Karaikudi Mani and Sri V. Suresh play the taniavartanam and was enjoying every bit of it. After the taniavartanam got over, the audience clapped for Sri Mani and Sri Suresh for more than 1.5 minutes continuously. When the organizer took Sri Karaikudi Mani’s name while talking about all the artists one by one, the audience again clapped non-stop for about 30 sec. When Sri Mani signalled to the organizer to continue talking and not praise him, the organizer said “ennoda azhaga avaa solra illiya {aren’t the audience (through) their claps conveying everything more beautifully than I am?}”. Such is the respect and admiration Sri Mani commands. The organizer summed up Sri Mani by saying “Creativity and perfection are the two sides of Sri Karaikkudi Mani”.

When the concert got over, many people went to the stage to say namaskaaram and congratulate Sri Mani. I heard him addressing a few young musicians who had come up on stage to talk to him. He said “Show your creativity not through the dress you wear or through your hairstyles but through how you perform. That is what is more important”. How true !!

Today is yet another one of those concerts that promises to be just too good. Like yesterday’s concert of Sri OST, all artists in today’s concert are also very famous and greats in their field. My all time favorite singer, Sri Madurai T.N.Seshagopalan (TNS) is scheduled to sing. He will be accompanied by all veterans – Sri M. Chandrasekharan on the violin (unfortunately, he can’t see as he is blind but you should hear him play … he is too good), Sri Umayalapuram K. Sivaraman on the mridangam (another one of the all time greats) and Sri E.M. Subramaniam on the ghatam. Though TNS is no longer in the form he used to be in his younger days, I just hope his voice is in good form today so that he can again deliver a gem of a concert.