Lecture on MDR by Prof. P.P. Ramakrishnan

Prof. P.P. Ramakrishnan, disciple of Sri M.D. Ramanathan (MDR), presented a lecture demonstration on the maestro and his compositions at the Narada Gana Sabha Mini Hall in Chennai today. He was accompanied by his son Vid. Easwar Ramakrishnan on the violin and by Vid. Kallidaikurichi Sivakumar on the mrudangam. The 1.5 hour lec dem was organized by Narada Gana Sabha as a part of its golden jubilee celebrations and to mark the 23rd anniversary of the demise of the maestro.

Sri Krishnaswamy, Secretary, Narada Gana Sabha, introduced Prof Ramakrishnan and spoke at length about his own association with MDR. He said he had handled two legal cases for MDR as his lawyer and had the opportunity to move closely with the maestro. He said the way MDR used to speak in Palakkad Brahmin language and address him as “Oy” was still ringing in his years. He introduced Sri Ramakrishnan as a senior violin artist, a former professor of violin in SST College of Music, Trivandrum and former Principal of Chembai Memorial Government Music College, Palakkad and said that he was serving currently at Kalakshetra Chennai, the same place where his guru MDR taught for a number of years.

The lec dem started with a composition composed by Prof. Ramakrishnan on his guru MDR in the rAgA rItigauLa, rendered by the professor’s student Vid. Shilpa Shankar. The song went like this (noted down while the song was being rendered; corrections welcome):


vAggEyakAram lakshya lakshaNa sangItagyam

bahu bhAshA panDitam mahA gAyakam


dEvEsha putrau vyAghrasya shishyam

kEraLa sutam bhArata padma shrIyam


ghana shArIram AjAnu bAhum

guru rAmanAtham shishya krishnadAsoham

manasA smarAmI

shirasA namAmI

vacasA vacAmI

Prof. Ramakrishnan started by addressing Sri M.D. Ramanathan as ‘Majestic Dexterous’ Ramanathan, ‘Maha Divya’ Ramanathan and ‘ManoDharma’ Ramanathan. He presented the following songs:

1) vighnarAja ninnu cAla nammiti – srIranjani – Adi – m.d. rAmanAthan (ANS)

2) tyAgarAja gurum AshrayE – kEdAram – Adi (tisra gati) – m.d. rAmanAthan

3) saraswati sarasa vANi – khamAs – Adi – m.d. rAmanAthan

4) padayugamunu nammiti – janaranjani – Adi – m.d. rAmanAthan

5) sAgara shayana vibhO – bAgEshwari – Adi – m. d. rAmanAthan

6) dhIm nAdhrudhIm dhIm (tillAnA) – ranjani – Adi – m.d. rAmanAthan

I must confess that his voice was attractive and loud to the extent required and he pronounced the words clearly. Wonder why he doesn’t give vocal concerts.

Excerpts from the lec dem (which had content on MDR as well as advice to present day students) are as follows. This is based on notes I took while Sri Ramakrishnan spoke and there is a possibility that some errors might have crept in. Corrections, if any, are most welcome.

  • MDR was a great bhakta of Saint Thyagaraja, Lord Rama and his guru Tiger Varadachariar. He used the mudra “varadadAsa” (dAsa of Tiger Varadachariar) in his compositions. (Prof Ramakrishnan uses the mudra “krishnadAsa” as he is a devotee of Lord Krishna and also a disciple of veteran violin maestro Sri T.N. Krishnan, apart from being a disciple of Sri MDR)
  • A person gets one-fourth of his knowledge/education in any field from his teacher, one-fourth on his own by practice and by applying his own intelligence, one-fourth from fellow students, and the remaining one-fourth gradually over time through experience

AchAryAt pAdam AdattE pAdam shishya svamEdhayA

pAdam sA brahmacAribhyAh pAdam kAlakramENa ca

  • MDR started off by singing like his guru Sri Varadachariar and later evolved a distinct style of his own that suited his shArIram and his vidwat. Today’s students should not plainly copy the style of their guru blindly. They must adapt it to suit their own shArIram and level of knowledge. They must imbibe the style and as the shlOkA above says, refine it by observation and with experience
  • MDR bought sAhitya bhAvam into his renditions. There was once a period in carnatic music when sAhityA was not much stressed upon because it was not available like it is today through various channels (like books and the internet). Access to words and meanings was very limited and artists back then had to do a lot of hard work to get hold of the correct words and their meanings. Our ancestors have struggled a lot to bring the art to the form it is in today
  • The tradition of singing according to a particular school is slowly disappearing in Carnatic Music as these days gurukula vasam is almost non-existant and institutes/universities are the places of learning. Though students may get to learn from teachers belonging to different styles, they do not get training a particular bANi. They get patantaram of different styles. He sang the dharmavati kriti “bhajana sEya rAdA” as an example in Sri T.M. Thyagarajan’s patantaram
  • The first kriti sung in the concert “vighnarAja ninnu” is in the Thyagaraja mould
  • The second kriti “thyAgarAja gurum AshrayE” is in the Dikshitar mould, reflected especially in the madhyamakAlam used towards the end of the caraNam.
  • The fourth kriti “padayugamunu” has been composed in Syama Sastri style
  • The fifth kriti in the list above “sAgara shayana vibhO” was composed by MDR after getting inspired from a lec dem on Dhrupad style of Hindustani music which he attended one fine morning at the Music Academy, Chennai. He got so impressed that he came home and composed this composition on Lord Padmanabha in the rAga bAgEshwari (bAgEshrI) in the afternoon itself.
  • It is a common misconception that tillAnAs should only be fast paced. MDR has composed several gems in slow pace. The ranjani tillAnA (the last item in the song list above) is a masterpiece
  • Many people had this misconception that MDR was not strong in kaNakku (calculations) while singing. This is false. Though he did not use much kaNakku usually in his concerts, he made full use of calculations while composing ciTTaswarams for many songs. MDR had a passion for composing ciTTaswarams and he did this not only in his compositions but also for songs of other great composers like Sri Muthuswami Dikshitar. Prof Ramakrishnan sang ciTTaswarams composed by MDR for the three kritis “hariharaputram” (vasantA), “chandram bhaja mAnasa” (AsAvEri) and “divAkaratanujam” (yadukulakAmbOji) and also for MDR’s own composition “thyAgarAja gurum AshrayE“.

Calculations for last avartanam of the ciTTaswarams in this song as sung by the professor were as follows:

  • 1 Avartanam of Adi tALam (tisra gati) = 48 aksharams
  • Last avartanam of ciTTaswaram had the kaNakku: 6 + 15 + 10 + 5 + 1 + 5 + 1 + 5 aksharams to make a total of 48 aksharams
  • It came like

tha dhi ki Na thom , (6)

tha ; dhi ; ki; Na; thom; (15)

tha, dhi, ki, Na, thom, (10)

tha dhi ki Na thom, (5 + 1)

tha dhi ki Na thom, (5 + 1)

tha dhi ki Na thom (5)

  • Equivalent swaram representation was sung as

S S M G M , (6)

G; R; S; N; P; (15)

G, R, S, N, P, (10)

G R S N P, (5 + 1)

R S N P M, (5 + 1)

M G R S R (5)

Prof Ramakrishnan felt that the time given to him to talk about a maestro of MDR’s greatness was very less. He said he had wanted to cover a lot more things but couldn’t for want of time. Hope other sabhas/organizations take a cue and invite him for similar lec dems.

Neyveli Santhanagopalan @ STSVS, Chennai

Venue: Sri Thiagaraja Sangeetha Vidwath Samajam, 5, Thiagarajapuram, Chennai

Date: 25 Apr 2007

Organizer: Sri Thiagaraja Sangeetha Vidwath Samajam (Sri Thiagaraja Jayanthi Concerts Series)

Vocal: Sri Neyveli Santhanagopalan

Violin: Sri M.A. Sundaresan

Mridangam: Sri Tiruvarur Bhaktavatsalam

Ghatam: Sri V. Suresh

List of songs:

1) sObillu – jaganmOhini – rUpakam – thyAgarAja (OS)

2) rAma bhakti sAmrAjyam – sudha bangALa – Adi – thyAgarAja (OS)

3) vADEra deivamu – pantuvarALi – Adi – thyAgarAja (ANS)

4) entani nE – mukhAri – rUpakam – thyAgarAja

5) krupaju – chAyAtarangiNi – adi – thyAgarAja

6) kadanuvAriki – tODi – Adi – thyAgarAja (ANST)

7) entamuddO – bindumAlini – Adi – thyAgarAja (O)

8 ) vinAyakuni – madyamAvati – Adi – thyAgarAja (S)

9) nI nAma rUpa mulaku (mangaLam) – saurAshTram – Adi – thyAgarAja

(Key: O=raga outline, A=raga alapana, N=neraval, S=kalpana swaram, T=taniavartanam)

A nice concert by Sri Neyveli Santhanagopalan and his team of experienced accompanists. tODi stood out. Sri M.A. Sundaresan was brilliant as usual.

Taniavartanam by Sri Bhaktavatsalam and Sri Suresh comprised chatusra and tisra naDais and a kuraippu. Kuraippu started like a kanDa kuraippu. First two rounds were played starting 2 beats (8 aksharams) after samam as 4 patterns of 5 aksharam each first in chatusra gati, then in kanDa gati and then again in chatusra gati (total = 2 beats gap + 14 beats of patterns = 16 beats = 1 avartanam of Adi tALam – 2 kaLai). The basic structure in the next round consisted of 3 patterns of 6 aksharam each with a one aksharam kArvai between the first and second and between the second and third pattern ( 6 + 1 + 6 + 1 + 6 = 20 aksharams). This was played starting 2 beats after samam, first time in chatusra gati, next in kanDa gati and then in chatusra gati (total = 2 beats gap + 5 beats in chatusram + 4 beats in kanDam + 5 beats in chatusram = 16 beats = 1 avartanam of Adi tALam 2 kaLai). The same structure was used in the next round except that the patterns were played now in double speed as “(6 x 1) + 2 aksharam gap + (6 x 2) + 2 aksharam gap + (6×3)” in place of the earlier “6 + 1 gap + 6 + 1 gap + 6″ in normal speed. The combination of slow and fast speeds went on for one more round. The next few rounds all followed the structure of the first two rounds, viz 20 aksharams taken after 2 beats from samam and played in chatusra, kanDa and then back in chatusra gati one after the other. The half avartanam portion was played starting one beat after samam (or mid-point of the avartanam) as 2 x 5 aksharams in chatusram followed by 2 x 5 aksharams in kanDam followed by 2 x 5 aksharams in chatusram (total = 8 beats). The quarter avartanam portion was played starting 0.5 beats after samam (or after each 25% point of the avartanam) as a 5 aksharam pattern in chatusram followed by kanDam followed by chatusram again. After this, normal patterns in chatusra naDai for quarter avartanam portions started.







Sangeetha Sivakumar @ Saraswati Vaggeyakara Trust, Chennai

Venue: Narada Gana Sabha Mini Hall, TTK Road, Chennai

Date: 24 Apr 2007

Organizer: Saraswathi Vaggeyakara Trust (Sri Thyagaraja Jayanthi)

Vocal: Smt. Sangeetha Sivakumar

Violin: Sri R.K.Shriramkumar

Mridangam: Sri Poongulam Subramaniam

Ghatam: Sri S. Karthick

Tambura: Sri Ganesan

List of songs:

1) vidulaku mrokkEdA – mAyAmALavagOwLa – Adi – thyAgarAja (ONS)

2) vAcAmagOcaramE – kaikavasi – Adi – thyAgarAja

3) bhaktuni caritramu vinavE – bEgaDa – Adi – thyAgarAja (AS)

4) raghuvIra raNadhIra – husEni – rUpakam – thyAgarAja

5) yajnAdulu – jayamanOhari – Adi – thyAgarAja

6) endu dAginADO – tODi – misra cApu – thyAgarAja (ANST)

7) ennaga manasuku – nIlAmbari – Adi – thyAgarAja

8 ) tava dAsOham – punnAgavarALi – Adi – thyAgarAja

9) jayamangaLam nitya shubhamangaLam (mangaLam) – ghanTA – kanDa cApu – thyAgarAja

(Key: O=raga outline, A=raga alapana, N=neraval, S=kalpana swaram, T=taniavartanam)

This is the second concert of Vid. Sangeetha Sivakumar I attended in the past 2 days. What impressed me most was the selection of songs, many of which are not heard much in the concert circuit today. I am hearing the bEgaDa composition and the mangaLam for the first time.

Detailed raga alapanas were done for bEgaDa and tODi. Both Vid. Sangeetha and Vid. R.K. Shriramkumar excelled in their raga delineations. All the kritis were sung very well to some explosive percussion support. Vid. Shriramkumar played with a lot of involvement for all the songs. Neraval and kalpana swarams were put for “vidulaku mrokkEdA” at “kamalA gaurI …” and for “endu dAginADO” at “alanADu kanakakashipu ….”. Kalpana swarams were put for the bEgaDa composition at “bhaktuni caritramu“.

Vid. Poongulam Subramaniam and Vid. S. Karthick played taniavartanam in misra cApu tALam with eDuppu at samam. It comprised of two chatusra naDai portions followed by a kuraippu.

Sangeetha Sivakumar @ STSVS, Chennai

Venue: Sri Thiagaraja Sangeetha Vidwath Samajam, 5, Thiagarajapuram, Chennai

Date: 23 Apr 2007

Organizer: Sri Thiagaraja Sangeetha Vidwath Samajam (Sri Thiagaraja Jayanthi Concerts Series)

Vocal: Smt Sangeetha Sivakumar

Violin: Sri M.A. Krishnaswamy

Mridangam: Sri Shertalai Ananthakrishnan

Ghatam: Sri Trichy K. Murali

Tambura: Sri Ganesan

List of songs:

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

2) tuLasI daLamulacE – mAyAmALavagowLa – rUpakam – thyAgarAja

3) vinatA suta – jayantasEnA – Adi – thyAgarAja

4) ETi janmamidi – varALi- misra chApu – thyAgarAja (A)

5) lAvaNya rAma – pUrNashaDjam – rUpakam – thyAgarAja

6) vara rAga layajnulu – cencukAmbOji – Adi – thyAgarAja

7) Emi nEramu nannu – shankarAbharaNam – Adi – thyAgarAja (ANST)

8 ) parulanamATa (jAvaLi) – kApi -rUpakam – dharmapuri subbarAyar

9) karpUram nArumO – khamAs – kanDa chApu – ANDAL

10) bhArE pAnDurangA (abhang) – mAND – Adi – tukArAm

11) nI nAma rUpa mulaku (mangaLam) – saurAshTram – Adi – thyAgarAja

(Key: O=raga outline, A=raga alapana, N=neraval, S=kalpana swaram, T=taniavartanam)



I love to listen to Vid. Sangeetha Sivakumar live in concerts and am so happy that the frequency of her performances in Chennai are on the rise.

Vid. Sangeetha started her concert with the sahAnA varnam “karuNimpa“. “tuLasI daLamulacE” was sung next with neraval and kalpanA swaram at “sarasIruha punnAga …”. Next came a beautiful rendition of “vinata suta“. Even the poor audio system couldn’t mar the beautiful way in which it was sung. Bhrigas seemed to flow so easily !!!!
The first alapana of the day was that of varALi. Vid. Sangeetha touched panchamam of normal octave only after about 2 minutes. Till then she doled out delightful patterns in the lower octave and lower half of the normal octave. She built the alapana step by step. The entire alapana lasted for about 8 minutes and every second of it kept me completely interested and involved. Vid. M.A. Krishnaswamy showed good control over his instrument while playing the alapana. His alapana was also very enjoyable. Special mention must be made of Vid. Shertalai Ananthakrishnan who played very well for the song “ETi janma“. Vid. Trichy Murali followed him well.

The main raga of the day was shankarAbharaNam. The number of “aahaa“s, “sabhAsh“s & “balE“s the 13.5 min raga alapana elicited from the audience was testimony to its brilliance. Neraval and kalpana swarams were put in the kriti “Emi nEramu” at “dIna bandhuvani dEvadEvuDani“.

Taniavartanam was played for eDuppu of 1.5 beats after samam in Adi tALam (2 kaLai). It comprised the chatusra and tisra naDais. There was a misra kuraippu. It started with the usual 7 aksharam pattern played 8 times to cover 56 aksharams (=7×8) within 14 beats starting with a gap of 2 beats after samam in the first round. In the second round, Vid. Shertalai Ananthakrishnan did tisram and played a pattern of 7 aksharam 12 times (7×12=84 aksharams) within 14 beats starting with a gap of 2 beats after samam. In the third round, instead of playing the 7 aksharam pattern 12 times, he played the following in tisra gati:

3 patterns of 7 aksharam each = 21 aksharams

3 patterns of 6 aksharam each = 18 aksharams

3 patterns of 5 aksharam each = 15 aksharams

3 patterns of 4 aksharam each = 12 aksharams

3 patterns of 3 aksharam each = 9 aksharams

3 patterns of 2 aksharam each = 6 aksharams

3 patterns of 1 aksharam each = 3 aksharams

adding to a total of 84 aksharams within 14 beats, started after 2 beats from samam.

The fourth round was an exact reverse of the third one.

Then started the half avartanam rounds, first with normal chatusram (4×7=28 aksharams started 4 aksharams i.e., 1 beat after samam or mid-point of avartanam) and then with the same played in slow speed tisram (3×7=21 aksharams started 3 aksharams i.e, 1 beat after samam or mid-point of avartanam). Then came the normal 4 beats and 2 beats rounds followed by a a few avartanams of normal chatusra gati leading to mOrA and kOrvai.

Next comes my plea to the organizers. Since the artists are only allowed about 2 hours time for the concerts and are asked to finish off by 8.30PM, it will be beneficial for rasikas if the organizers at the samajam curtailed their tendency to give long speeches after the main song of the day and allowed the artists and rasikas to enjoy 2-3 additional songs. It is extremely disheartening to see speeches that tantamount to almost nil value addition being made by the organizers who are musicians themselves. It would also be helpful if the audio system were a bit better. The amplification in this series sucks big time.

Vijay Siva @ STSVS, Chennai

Venue: Sri Thiagaraja Sangeetha Vidwath Samajam, 5, Thiagarajapuram, Chennai

Date: 22 Apr 2007

Organizer: Sri Thiagaraja Sangeetha Vidwath Samajam (Sri Thiagaraja Jayanthi Concerts Series)

Vocal: Sri N. Vijay Siva

Violin: Sri R.K. Shriramkumar

Mridangam: Sri Manoj Siva

Khanjira: Sri B. Sreesundarkumar

List of songs:

1) sadA bAla rUpApi (slOkam) – hamsadhwani – Adi shankarAcArya

2) nAda tanumanisham – cittaranjani – Adi – thyAgarAja

3) ninnE nera – pantuvarALi – rUpakam – thyAgarAja (NS)

4) evarikai – dEvamanOhari – misra chApu – thyAgarAja (A)

5) srIpatE nIpada – nAgaswarAvaLi – Adi – thyAgarAja (AN)

6) graha balam Emi – rEvagupti – Adi – thyAgarAja

7) raksha beTTarE – bhairavi – Adi – thyAgarAja (AST)

8 ) nI dayacE – yadukulakAmbOji – Adi – thyAgarAja

9) Emani vEgintunE – husEni – Adi – thyAgarAja

10) nI nAma rUpa mulaku (mangaLam) – saurAshTram – Adi – thyAgarAja

11) swasti prajAbhyah paripAlayantAm (slOkam) – saurAshTram

(Key: O=raga outline, A=raga alapana, N=neraval, S=kalpana swaram, T=taniavartanam)

Attending a concert at the samajam sitting in front of the sannadhi of Saint Thyagaraja is a different experience. Listening to an exclusive Sri Thyagaraja compositions concert there is blissful. When such a concert is presented by a great singer like Sri Vijay Siva, the experience becomes almost divine. The only crib was the poor audio system which started singing on its own from time to time.

The concert was very enjoyable and left me craving for more when it ended rather soon after 2 hours. I especially loved the nAgaswarALi piece. Sri R.K. Shriramkumar was his usual self accompanying very well for all the songs.

Tainavartanam played by Sri Manoj Siva and Sri B. Sreesundarkumar comprised of the chatusra and kanDa naDais followed by misra kuraippu and mOrA and kOrvai in tisra gati.

Music Competition @ Rasika Ranjani Sabha, Trichy

Rasika Ranjani Sabha, Trichy, established in 1914, has been conducting music competitions since 1984 to encourage students learning both vocal and instrumental music. Apart from giving many prizes to the winners under each category in various groups, the Sabha has been conferring the coveted title “SANGEETHA SRI” to the outstanding competitor in senior group from 1991 onwards. Also, for the outstanding competitor in the Junior group “L. V .Memorial Prize” (in memory of the sabha’s former Hon. Secretary Late. L.Venkataraman) is being given every year from 1999 onwards.

This year’s competition is being conducted in the month of June. For more details and rules governing the conduct of the competition in different categories, please contact: Sri N. Sekar, Hon. Secretary, Rasika Ranjani Sabha, 146, West Boulevard Road, Tiruchirapalli – 620 002; Ph: 0431-2704736; email: rrsabha@dataone.in

General rules are as follows:

1. Applicants should submit age proof certificate. (01-07-2007 is the basis for age consideration).

2. Application (Vocal / Instrument) can be obtained in person from 1st May-2007, at the cost of Rs. 15/- from the Sabha office (5.00 p.m. to 8.00 p.m. on all days except Sunday). (To obtain through post, add Rs. 10/- towards postage).

3. Application form duly completed in all respects (along with age proof certificate for Sub-Juniors & Juniors) should reach the Sabha office on or before 8.00 p.m. on Thursday 31st May 2007.

4. Money orders / Demand Drafts are to be drawn in favour of the “Hon. Secretary, Rasika Ranjana Sabha (Regd.), Trichy – 2″, for the request of applications and/or for entrance fees along with submission of the filled in applications.

5. The likely dates & time of competitions are as under.

Sub-Junior (Vocal) …….. 3rd June’2007 ( Sunday – 3-30 p.m.)

Junior (Vocal) …………..9th & 10th June’2007 ( Saturday 10-00 a.m. & Sunday 2-00 p.m.)

Sub-Junior, Junior

Senior (Instrumental) 17th June’2007 (Sunday 3-30 p.m.)

Senior (Vocal) …………….22nd,23rd & 24th June’2007 (Friday,Saturday 10-00 a.m. & Sunday 2-30 p.m.)

6. No change in the songs will be entertained after the submission of application. If an applicant does not fill up the details of required number of compositions for any composer, the applicant will be debarred from participating in the particular division.

7. The contestants should be present in the Sabha atleast thirty minutes before the commencement of the competition.

8. The exact date and time of competitions will be notified in the notice board provided at the Sabha office at 6-00 p.m. on Friday, 1st June’ 2007.

9. The decision of the Judges and the Special committee constituted by the Sabha for the conduct of the Music Competition- 2007, shall be final.


I Prize: One who obtains not less than 60% and stands first among the competitors.

II Prize: One who obtains not less than 50% and stands next to I Prize winner.

III Prize: One who obtains not less than 40% and stands next to II Prize winner.

The contestants shall not be eligible for any prize inspite of their ranks unless they secure minimum percentage of marks as set out above.

11. Prize Distribution: A celebrated dignitary will award Prizes and Title to the winners at a special function.

12. Contestants for instrumental competitions have to make their own arrangements for prompting thalams.

13. In Sub-Junior category (Vocal) and in all caterories (Instrumental) those who had obtained the first prize in the earlier years are not eligible for contesting again in the same category.

14. The Sabha will provide lodging facilities for candidates participating from other states. Transportation and boarding are to be borne by the candidates. To & fro Second class conveyance charges, by train will be reimbursed for candidates securing a minimum of three (3) prizes, to facilitate them for coming in person to receive prizes.

R.K.Shriramkumar @ NSTSS, Chennai

Venue: Ranjani Kalaikkoodam, NSTSS, Nanganallur, Chennai

Date: 19 Apr 2007

Organizer: Nanganallur Sri Thyagaraja Sangeetha Samajam (NSTSS)

Occasion: Sri Syama Sastri Jayanthi

Vocal: Sri R.K. Shriramkumar

Violin: Sri Mullaivasal G. Chandramouli

Mrudangam: Sri J. Vaidyanathan

Tambura: Sri Balaji

List of songs:

1) dayAnidhE mAmava (varnam) – bEgada – Adi – syAma sAstri (S)

2) pAhi shrI girirAjasutE – Anandabhairavi – rUpakam – syAma sAstri

3) ninnuvinaga mari – pUrvikalyANi – misra cApu – syAma sAstri (ANS)

4) dEvi brOva – cintAmaNi – Adi – syAma sAstri

5) janani natajanaparipAlini – sAvEri – Adi – syAma sAstri (A)

6) kAmAkshI (svarajati) – yadukulakAmbOji – misra cApu – syAma sAstri 

7) nannu brOvarAdA – gauLipantu – misra cApu – syAma sAstri

8 ) sari yevarammA – bhairavi – kanDa jampai – syAma sAstri (ANST)

9) mAyammA yani nE – Ahiri – Adi – syAma sAstri

10) karuNajUDa ninnunammina – srI – Adi – syAma sAstri

11) kAmAkshI lOkasAkshiNI (gItam) – madyamAvati – misra cApu – syAma sAstri

(Key: O=raga outline, A=raga alapana, N=neraval, S=kalpana swaram, T=taniavartanam)

Popular violin artist Sri R.K. Shriramkumar presented a nice 2.5 hr vocal concert on Sri Syama Sastri kritis. Special mention must be made of Sri J. Vaidyanathan who played well for all the songs.

Hindi Cricket Commentary – Unbeatable

If you ever feel depressed in life and think life could not have been worser, just hear Hindi cricket commentary (even if it is the highlights of an age old match telecast for the nth time on DD). You might end up laughing your heart out.

Take for instance the World Cup cricket match yesterday between Sri Lanka and Ireland. Ireland had appealed for a run out and third umpire was called into action. TV replays were showing M. Jayawardene cross over safely before the ball hit the wicket and the bails got dislodged. The Hindi commentator (a former Indian cricketer) tells something to this effect as his conclusion from the action replay: “aisa lag raha hai ki gend lagne ke bahut der baad bails aaraam se gir rahe hain (it appears as though the bails are getting dislodged slowly, a long time after the ball hit the wickets)” :-D :-) ….. and I am ROTFL !!!!

Amrutha Venkatesh @ Naada Inbam, Chennai

Venue: Raga Sudha Hall, 85/2, Luz Avenue, Mylapore, Chennai

Date: 18 Apr 2007

Organizer: Naada Inbam (SVK Birthday Concerts Series)

Vocal: Vid. Amrutha Venkatesh

Violin: Vid. Padma Shankar

Mrudangam: Vid. Tanjore Kumar

Ghatam: Vid. Pudukkottai Ramchandran

List of songs:

1) inta chAlamu (varnam) – bEgaDa – Adi – vINai kuppaiyer (0)

2) dhanyu devvaDO – malayamArutam – Adi – paTTaNam subramaNya iyer (OS)

3) nAma kusuma – srI – Adi – thyAgarAja (O)

4) rAmanAtham bhajEham – pantuvarALi – tisra Ekam – muthuswAmi dIkshitar (ANS)

5) tappaganE – sudha bangalA – rUpakam – thyAgarAja

6) pArthasArathI nI – yadukula kAmbOji – Adi – subbarAma dIkshitar (A)

7) ini oru kaNam – srIranjani – rUpakam – pApanAsam sivan (O)

8 ) jananI mAmava – bhairavi – misra chApu – swAti tiruNAL (ANST)

9) ? tuyaram tIra ayOddhi mAnagaril vandu (viruttam) – kalyANi

enakkun iru padam – rAgamAlikA – misra chApu – aruNAchala kavi

10) smara sundarAnguni (jAvaLi) – paras – Adi – dharmapuri subbarAyar

11) navasidhI peTrAlum – kharaharapriyA – misra chApu – nIlakanTa sivan

12) nI nAma rUpa mulaku (mangaLam) – saurAshTram – Adi – thyAgarAja 

(Key: O=raga outline, A=raga alapana, N=neraval, S=kalpana swaram, T=taniavartanam)

Sri SVK, when he was alive and in charge of Naada Inbam, ensured that he gave ample opportunities to youngsters who had talent and had attained a considerable level of expertise. In fact I have many times seen other sabha secretaries come to Naada Inbam concerts, listen to artists featured by Sri SVK and having convinced themselves of their talent, offer the artists a chance to perform in their own sabhas. One such artist who I think was encouraged a lot by Sri SVK is Vid. Amrutha Venkatesh. The young lady from Bangalore seems to be right on track to making it big in the field.

The fact that she has talent and has put in lots of hard work was evident right from the time she started the varnam. The pantuvarALi alapana only reinforced this. Vid. Padma Shankar played a nice alapana in reply. It would suffice to say that she handled every song with a maturity and confidence characteristic of singers with a lot of experience and that her alapana, neraval, kalpana swarams and kriti renditions underlined the fact that she is a great artist in the making.

Gayathri Venkataraghavan @ Naada Inbam, Chennai

Venue: Raga Sudha Hall, 85/2, Luz Avenue, Mylapore, Chennai

Date: 17 Apr 2007

Organizer: Naada Inbam (SVK Birthday Concerts Series)

Vocal: Vid. Gayathri Venkataraghavan

Violin: Vid. Mysore V. Srikanth

Mrudangam: Vid. Manoj Siva

List of songs:

1) vighnarAja krupA sindhO (slOkam) – hamsadhwani

2) yAkundEndu tushAra hAra (slOkam) – yamunA kalyANi

3) sAmI daya (varnam) – kEdAragowLa – Adi – tiruvOtriyUr tyAgayyA (O)

4) brOchEvArevarE – srIranjani – Adi – thyAgarAja (AS)

5) ANdavanE unnai – shanmukhapriyA – rUpakam – pApanAsam sivan (ANS)

6) inkevarunnAru – sahAnA – Adi – aNNAswAmi sAstri (A)

7) gOvardana girIsham – hindOlam – rUpakam – muthuswAmi dIkshitar (S)

8 ) dvaitamu sukhamA – rItigauLa – Adi – thyAgarAja (AS)

9) koniyADina nApai – kAmbOji – Adi – vINai kuppaiyer (ANST)

10) alivEni endu cheyvu – kurinji – misra chApu – swAti tiruNAL

11) peTra tAi tanai (viruttam) – hamsAnandi – rAmalinga swAmigaL

tandai tAi vEr evar ayyanE (viruttam) – behAg

irakkam varAmal – behAg – rUpakam – gOpAlakrishna bhArati

12) nI nAma rUpa mulaku (mangaLam) – saurAshTram – Adi – thyAgarAja

13) mangaLam kOsalEndrAya (slOkam) – madyamAvati

(Key: O=raga outline, A=raga alapana, N=neraval, S=kalpana swaram, T=taniavartanam)

For a second I thought I was listening to Smt. M.S. Subhalakshmi (MS) when the concert started. The first slOkam was rendered in MS style in exactly the same tune that MS used in many of her concerts. All this happened just when I was thinking about how Vid. Gayathri Venkataraghavan and her husband remind me sometimes of Smt. M.S. Subhalakshmi and Sri Sadasivam. I don’t mean to compare the two couples but Sri Venkataraghavan can be spotted in almost all concerts of Vid. Gayathri. He also seems to keep the PR stuff running with his face almost always sporting that million dollar smile.

If the starting slOkam reminded me of MS, the main alapana of the day – that of kAmbOji had Sri K.V. Narayanaswamy (KVN) written all over it. Or may be its just my ears that have become so accustomed to hearing KVN’s kAmbOji that they keep going back to KVN’s version even when someone else sings the raga. kAmbOji was surely a gem. The reply from Vid. Mysore Srikanth was also very satisfying. The other alapana I liked a lot was that of sahAnA. The kriti “inkevarunnAru” was rendered so beautifully with Sri Venkataraghavan joining the action from the first row, moving his lips in sync with the lyrics !!! The chiTTa swarams in the kriti were very beautiful and seemed to cover swarams from the lower octave madhyamam to the higher octave madhyamam. The very range covered by the chiTTa swarams soaked in the beauty of sahAnA impressed me a lot in this very first time that I am listening to this composition. On top of this, “dvaitamu sukhama“, so full of rItigauLa, was served soon after and my happiness knew no bounds !! I somehow feel that one can always expect Vid. Gayathri Venkataraghavan to do a fantastic job with slow kritis that need a lot of bhAvam and azhutham. For that very reason I think I can spend days together just listening to her sing Sri Syama Sastri’s compositions.

Taniavartanam was played by Sri Manoj Siva in Adi tALam 2 kaLai and comprised primarily the chatusra and tisra naDais. The tisra naDai was played in both slow as well as faster speeds with patterns of 7 aksharams + 5 aksharams ( = 12 aksharams) coming within 2 beats in the latter part of the naDai in place of the usual 6 aksharams per beat patterns.

R.Vedavalli @ Naada Inbam, Chennai

Venue: Raga Sudha Hall, 85/2, Luz Avenue, Mylapore, Chennai

Date: 16 Apr 2007

Organizer: Naada Inbam (Sri SVK’s birthday concert)

Vocal: Vid. R. Vedavalli

Vocal Support: Vid. Sumitra Vasudev

Vocal Support & Tambura: Vid. Sumathi Krishnan

Violin: Vid. Embar S. Kannan

Mrudangam: Vid. Manoj Siva

Ghatam: Vid. S. Karthick

List of songs:

1) nEra nammiti (varnam) – kAnaDA – kanDa aTa – rAmanAthapuram srInivAsa iyengAr (O)

2) chintayE mahAlinga mUrtim – paras – Adi – muthuswAmi dIkshitar (S)

3) nijamukha rAmA – kIravANi – Adi – rAmanAthapuram srInivAsa iyengAr (ANS)

4) charaNam charaNam – asAvEri – misra chApu – aruNAchala kavi

5) mAmava satatam raghunAtha – jaganmOhini – Adi – thyAgarAja

6) eTula brOtuvO – chakravAham – misra chApu – thyAgarAja (S)

7) rAgam tAnam pallavi – Adi (2 kaLai)

rAgam – shankarAbharaNam

tAnam – shankarAbharaNam, rItigowLa, srI & back to shankarAbharaNam

pallavi – shankarAbharaNam, wordings: “manda hAsa vadanA, harE krishnA”

8 ) kalyANOllAsa sImA (slOkam) – sAvEri, varALi, nIlAmbari, sindhubhairavi

9) dAsara nindisabEda – tilang – Adi – purandaradAsa

10) nI nAma rUpa mulaku (mangaLam) – saurAshTram – Adi – thyAgarAja

11) swasti prajAbhyah paripAlayantAm (slOkam) – madyamAvati

(Key: O=raga outline, A=raga alapana, N=neraval, S=kalpana swaram, T=taniavartanam)

Smt. R. Vedavalli presented an impressive concert in memory of Sri S.V. Krishnan on the occasion of his birthday. Sri Embar S. Kannan is one of my personal favorites when it comes to violin accompaniment and so is Sri S. Karthick when it comes to playing the ghatam. They teamed up with Sri Manoj Siva to provide some fantastic, soothing accompaniment that only served to beautify the concert even more. To describe it in Sri S. Karthick’s own words, they were playing a defensive game (heard him tell this to someone outside the hall in response to her statement that his playing was like lightning and thunder).

The first alapana of the concert was of kIravANi and lasted for about 9 minutes. Every second of the alapana was enjoyable. I was sitting on the edge of my seat anticipating some very good and rare sancharams to come out and mami kept rewarding me from time to time. The portion I liked a lot was the one where mami sang a pattern to end in rishabham of the upper octave and immediately came to rishabham of the normal octave to begin another pattern. She did this a couple of times. There was an extended lower octave elaboration towards the end of the alapana which was also very enjoyable. The 6 minute alapana from Sri Embar S. Kannan in response was a gem as well.

I have been hearing rare compostions in every concert of mami’s that I have attended till now. Today it was the turn of “charaNam charaNam” and “mAmava satatam raghunAtha“. During the kalpanA swarams in “eTula brOtuvO“, Sri Embar Kannan, in response to a 2nd kAlam set of swara patterns, played his turn punctuated by sets of lightning fast patterns. When her turn came, Vedavalli mami got inspired and sang a few patterns similar to what Sri Kannan played earning “sabhash”/”balE”s from the audience.

shankarAbharaNam was the main raga for the day. Mami elaborated it quite well despite a bad throat that seemed to be imposing constraints in addition to those imposed by her old age. It is amazing how veterans like mami manage to give a great concert even if they have a bad throat, without letting the audience get a feel of their throat problems. Sri Embar Kannan’s shankarAbharaNam alapana was spot on and got applause from Vedavalli mami also. A ragamalika tanam came next followed by the pallavi in shankarAbharaNam. The pallavi was on Sri S.V. Krishnan (mami pointed to his framed photograph as she sang the pallavi line the first time). It was structured as follows (B=beat, 1 Avartanam of Adi tALam 2 kaLai = 16 beats) (starts 1.5B after samam): man (1B) da (1B) hA (1B) sa (2B) va (0.75B) da (0.75B) nA (+ gap = 3.5B) ha (0.5B) rE (2.5B) kri (1.5B) shnA (1.5B).

Taniavartanam comprised the chatusra and tisra naDais, a kuraippu in tisra naDai and then in chatusra naDai which was followed by mOrA and kOrvai.

Trivandrum Venkataraman @ Naada Inbam, Chennai

Venue: Raga Sudha Hall, 85/2, Luz Avenue, Mylapore, Chennai

Date: 15 Apr 2007

Organizer: Naada Inbam (SVK Birthday Concerts)

Veena: Vid. Trivandrum R. Venkataraman

Mrudangam: Vid. Kamalakara Rao

List of songs:

1) viribONi (varnam) – bhairavi – kanDa aTa – pachimiriyam Adiappa

2) praNamAmyaham srI – gowLa – Adi – mysore vAsudEvAchAr (OS)

3) mAmava sadA janani – kAnaDA – rUpakam – swAti tiruNAL (S)

4) sAmaja vara gamanA – hindOLam – Adi – thyAgarAja (AS)

5) pankaja lOchana – kalyANi – misra chApu – swAti tiruNAL (AN)

6) Emi jEsitE – tODi – misra chApu – thyAgarAja (AtNST)

7) sAramaina (jAvaLi) – behAg – rUpakam – swAti tiruNAL (A)

8 ) aligitE (?) – husEni – misra chApu – kshEtragna

9) visvEshwar – sindhu bhairavi – rUpakam – swAti tiruNAL (A)

10) nI nAma rUpa mulaku (mangaLam) – sowrAshTram – Adi – thyAgarAja

(Key: O=raga outline, A=raga alapana, N=neraval, S=kalpana swaram, t=tAnam, T=taniavartanam)

Veteran vainika Sri Trivandrum Venkataraman delighted the small group of people assembled at Raga Sudha Hall with this beautiful concert. Accompanying him was veteran mrudangam vidwan Sri Kamalakara Rao. It was a great experience watching them play together. They made it appear as though they have been playing together for ages (they may have actually been doing that).

The concert started on a great note with Sri Venkataraman playing the bhairavi aTa tALa varnam to some beautiful accompaniment by Sri Kamalakara Rao. Some of the sollus he played for the varnam reminded me of Sri Umayalpuram Sivaraman. He almost anticipated everything that was going to be played on the veena correctly.

All the alapanas were detailed and done well. I especially liked the behAg alapana that was done towards the end of the concert. The tODi alapana was the longest of them all and lasted for about 17 minutes. It was followed by a 6 minute tAnam. Then came “Emi jEsitE” which, Sri Venkataraman announced, was Sri SVK’s favorite composition in tODi. Sri Venkataraman also announced that the veena he was playing was gifted to him by Sri SVK years back and that he had used it successfully in many of his concerts.

This is the first time I am visiting Raga Sudha Hall after SVK mama’s demise and I was feeling quite uncomfortable in the beginning, especially on seeing SVK mama’s garlanded photos on either side of the stage. This is probably the reason why I did not occupy my usual sitting place in the hall (the bench like structure on the sides) as I am quite used to seeing SVK mama walking around that area. There was also no “sabhayOrgaLE” to be heard. Guess I will get used to his absence in due course of time.

SVK mama’s daughter is continuing his legacy by organizing good concerts with almost the same frequency as done by him. Wishing her all the very best !!!!

R.Vedavalli @ Narada Gana Sabha, Chennai

Venue: Narada Gana Sabha Mini Hall, TTK Road, Chennai

Date: 14 Apr 2007

Organizer: Narada Gana Sabha (Golden Jubilee Celebrations)

Vocal: Vid. R. Vedavalli

Vocal Support: Vid. Sumitra Vasudev

Vocal Support & Tambura: Vid. Sumathi Krishnan

Violin: Vid. Charulatha Ramanujam

Mrudangam: Vid. Manoj Siva

Ghatam: Vid. Sukanya Ramagopal

List of songs:

1) praNavAkAram – Arabhi – Adi – UthukkADu venkaTa subbaiyer (S)

2) kOrinavara – rAmapriyA – tisra Ekam – pattanam subramaniya iyer (NS)

3) brOva samayamidE – gaurimanOhari – Adi – garbhapurivAsar (O)

4) shaDAnanE sakalam arpayAmi – khamAs – Adi – muthuswAmi dIkshitar (A)

5) mugathai kATTiyE – bhairavi – misra chApu – pApavinAsa mudaliAr (ANS)

6) nI dAsAnu – hamIrkalyANi – Adi – thyAgarAja

7) rAgam tAnam pallavi – shankarAbharaNam – kanDa tripuTa (2 kaLai) (T)

pallavi wordings: “nArada gAna rasa, bhArati sutO jayati”

kalpanA swarams in shankarAbharaNam, aTANA, srIranjani, danyAsi, jaganmOhini, behAg & suruTTi

8 ) krIDati vanamAlI – dEsh – Adi – sadAsiva brahmEndra

9) nI nAma rUpa mulaku (mangaLam) – saurAshTram – Adi – thyAgarAja

10) swasti prajAbhyah paripAlayantAm (slOkam) – madyamAvati

(Key: O=raga outline, A=raga alapana, N=neraval, S=kalpana swaram, T=taniavartanam)

The name “R. Vedavalli” stands for pure classical music. Every time I attend Vedavalli mami’s concert, I am taken on a joyous, jerk-free ride of the world of carnatic music and there is this bliss that envelops me. Needless to say, she presented a thoroughly enjoyable concert on the occasion of the Golden Jubilee Celebrations of Narada Gana Sabha.

Smt. Vedavalli started the concert with the kriti “praNavAkAram” in which kalpanA swarams were initially put at “praNavAkAram” and later at “abi samvrita shiva gaNa … “. Then came the rAmapriyA kriti “kOrinavara” in which neraval and kalpanA swarams were put at “parichara vAnara samUha“. A short outline of gaurimanOhari gave way to “brOva samayamidE“. Then came a beautiful alapana of khamAs. While Smt. Vedavalli built up the alapana steadily, she let her disciple Smt. Sumitra Vasudev finish it off nicely.

After “shaDAnanE” came a classic alapana of the raga bhairavi. It was just awesome stuff. It was as though mami was offering her rasikas spoon after spoon of highest quality bhairavi to taste with every spoon making us want more of it. Towards the end of the alapana, mami suddenly surprised us with different short sancharas from panchamam to the higher rishabham. Mami kept alternating between the lower octave and the normal octave while singing them and this produced a very good effect. The series of not-so-often-heard songs continued for me with mami singing “mugathai kATTiyE” with neraval and kalpana swarams at “sAyarakshayil vandu salikka pArpOm enrAl“.

nI dAsAnu” was followed by a pleasant surprise – a RTP in shankarAbharaNam. Mami is famous for her RTPs. But its been quite some time since I heard her sing one and so I happily lapped up whatever was on offer.

The structure of the pallavi was as follows (B=beat, 1 Avartanam of kanDa tripuTa 2 kaLai = 18 beats) (starts 1.5B after samam): nA (2B) ra (1B) da (2B) gA (1B) na (2B) ra (0.5B) sa (+ gap = 3B) bhA (1.5B) ra (1B) ti (1B) su (0.5B) tO (1B) ja(0.5B) ya (0.5B) ti (0.5B).

The accompanying artists played with a lot of sowkhyam. Smt. Charulatha Ramanujam, who plays for Smt. Vedavalli quite often, was quite good in her alapanas. Sri Manoj Siva and Smt. Sukanya Ramagopal played along soothingly providing just the right percussive support to go along with mami’s singing. They even shortened the taniavartanam just to include the final mOrA and kOrvai.

The Namesake

I watched the Friday night show of Mira Nair’s “The Namesake“, the on screen adaptation of the novel by the same name written by Jhumpa Lahiri, at INOX theatre here in Chennai. “The Namesake” tells the story of immigrant parents Ashoke & Ashima Ganguli (played by Irfan Khan & Tabu) who raise their two kids Gogol a.k.a Nikhil Ganguli (played by Kal Penn) & Sonia Ganguli (played by Sahira Nair). The movie depicts Gogol’s struggle with his Indian heritage and American upbringing. Actually it also seems to depict a lot more things. A Google search on ‘The Namesake’ would throw more light on the story.

Had it not been for

a) extensive sittings I have had in the past with my best friend trying to discuss different kinds of people, why they behave the way they do etc ,

b) my exposure to Hindi, English and Bengali quite early during my childhood which had developed in me a fondness for all three languages (though I can now only understand a very small subset of the Bengali words I could back then),

c) good portrayal of characters by Irfan Khan & Tabu (who I felt have acted very naturally),

d) good camera work during many of the scenes (especially, a sequence of the family visiting the Taj Mahal, which I felt was very well shot), and

e) the quote “books are for traveling without moving an inch”

it would have been kind of impossible for me to sit through the movie. It just dragged on and on and on. I haven’t read the novel but from the way the movie has been made I thought that the director might have tried to fit each and every word that appears in the novel into the movie. It is that painfully slow. I felt the movie could have been easily made much shorter without compromising on whatever was being conveyed.

The movie might be enjoyed by the serious types who can try and fit themselves into or identify with a character and try to analyze it. It might also resonate well with people who moved to some place outside their country of origin and have been there for more than a generation. But the movie was a let down considering the enthusiasm with which I had gone to watch it. The theatre staff, as though quite used to crowds rushing out of the hall during the interval, seemed to hold the doors at the exit wide open to allow easy escape. The movie hall, which was supposed to be house full at the beginning, lost many bodies during the interval itself. In fact, my friends and I were not even willing to pay our share to the guy who bought the tickets and in fact were asking him to compensate for having made us go through the ordeal.

ISB placement stats out

Indian School of Business (ISB), my alma mater, declared placement results for the recently graduated Class of 2007. Details can be found here. What pleases me more than the records that ISB continues to break every year is the following statement made by the Dean in the announcement: “We need to take a balanced view of international offers given by multinational companies. I urge everyone to use these figures in the proper context so that potential students may get the correct picture of what they can achieve in a management institution” and the fact that the report also stresses on students not just looking at money alone.

Let me try to expand on this and write quickly about what I think is important for every prospective B-School applicant to keep in mind. Placement information released by top Indian B-Schools gets splashed in the media every year and it won’t be long before this year’s ISB salary stats are the talk of the town. It is true that B-Schools try to and have to market themselves and media have to publish something sensational to grab public attention. In fact reports comparing ISB stats with IIMA stats have started to appear. What is important however is that prospective applicants, and the people who influence their decision to do an MBA and the school to do it from, read the placement information released by the institutes and associated media reports with the right perspective.

Decision to join a B-School should not be based only on the domestic/international highest salary, the average salary, the number of international placements etc. Agreed that these statistics show the respect a school has in the industry and to a great extent reflect the faith expressed by recruiters on the students of the school. What should be kept in mind however is that not all students can fit into all the job profiles offered in a B-School. This essentially means that just because someone got a salary greater than Rs. 1 crore this year doesn’t necessitate that you will be the one to get an equivalent or a higher amount next year.

Every person who joins a B-School (especially a B-School where people come in with good work experience backing them) has a particular background. Expecting that, just because one has joined a top B-school, one will be able to get any job he/she wants in any of the fields that companies come to recruit in is nothing but foolishness. It all depends on what is required to get that job and that position and whether one is qualified enough to get the same. Other things to be thought about are whether one would be happy in a job just because it pays him/her a lot of money. Is the job one that he/she would be happy doing for a long time? Money is important. But what is more important is a good role and by good role I mean a role that one considers good for oneself, not one that makes everyone feel good about him/her by virtue of the designation or the name of the organization.

In short:

  • Evaluate a B-School not just by the financial metrics but using the non-financial ones as well
  • Keep your expectations reasonable and in line with what you want to do. Do not just try to get into something only because that is what the world around you seems to be rushing into
  • Most importantly, do not do an MBA just because the world seems to be doing it. That being said, not every B-School admit is clear why he/she wants to do an MBA. But the clearer one is, the better it is for him/her.