Karaikudi R. Mani’s “Sun and The Rays”

Renowned mridangam maestro Sri Karaikudi R. Mani and his disciples presented a one hour taniavartanam concert titled “Sun and The Rays” at the Asthika Samajam, Venus Colony, Alwarpet yesterday. Sri Karaikudi R. Mani (KRM) said that the idea behind the concert was the following:

  • to showcase the quality of the disciples of his who were performing with him. He said that getting popular or playing for concerts was a different thing.
  • it had been a long time since he had performed something like this in Chennai.

He cautioned the audience before starting that this taniavartanam concert was not about entertainment and was meant to be pure technical stuff. The disciples who performed along with him were S.Arvind (Hyderabad), R. Ramesh (AIR, Chennai), M.T. Rajakesari (AIR, Bangalore) and N. Sudarshan (Mysore). KRM also requested the audience in a humble tone to excuse the group for any errors that might creep in as they had not been able to do many rehearsals because each artist on stage was from a different city. He also appealed to the audience that taniavartanam is as important to Carnatic Music as a raga alapana, neraval or kalpana swaram is. He said that taniavartanam is now considered by many to be tea-break time. He appealed to the audience to listen more to taniavartanams. He made an interesting observation when he said that a rasika learns to appreciate a raga more by hearing it more. Similarly, he said that the more number of times rasikas listened to taniavartanams, the more easier it would become for them to understand and appreciate the same.

Coming to the actual taniavartanam concert, the mridangams used were set to different pitches. KRM’s mridangam was set to ‘sa’ (1 kaTTai) , Sri Arvind’s was set to ‘ri’, Sri Ramesh’s was set to ‘ga’, Sri Rajakesari’s was set to ‘pa’ and Sri Sudarshan’s was set to ‘dha’ so as to get a feeling of the raga mOhanam when they played. There was no wind or string instrument used and the melodic start was also provided through the mridangams by playing a short tune in the raga mOhanam. After this short tune, Sri KRM played chatusra naDai solo for about 5-6 minutes followed by Sri Arvind who played the tisra naDai, Sri Ramesh who played the misra naDai, Sri Rajakesari who played the kanDa naDai and Sri Sudarshan who played the sankIrNa naDai. They then played a kuraippu in kanDa naDai. This was not a misra kuraippu but one where Sri KRM played patterns of 5, Sri Arvind played patterns of 6, Sri Ramesh played patterns of 7, Sri Rajakesari played patterns of 8 and Sri Sudarshan played patterns of 9. After this, they played a mOrA ending with “thaLAm ka thom ka thAm” played thrice first, twice the next time and once finally followed by a arudhi. The ending kOrvai was a beautiful one that encapsulated all the five naDais within it.

Video recording of the concert was done. I hope Shruti Laya Kendra of Sri KRM releases a video or audio recording of the concert soon. I also hope that Sri KRM performs more such tala vadya concerts for the benefit of his rasikas and for making the art reach out more and more to the common masses.

As what I have written is based on observations made during the very short time each sollu pattern or kuraippu was played, errors could have crept in due to wrong observation on my part. I would request readers of this post who were present in the concert to excuse such errors and point out the same, if any.

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