Sunday, December 26, 2010

Thematic Concerts - 2010 Season

Music Season 2010:
(The opinion expressed in this blog belongs to the author (Mukkai S. Krishnamoorthy) and does not reflect the views of Pallavi or its executive members)
With the howling cold wind, with sub zero temperatures and snow falling, luckily I have had some "free" time between semesters. During this time, I take great comfort in listening to the music season in Madras. One of the concert series I listen to is the Thematic music Concert series (Margazhi Mahotsavam series broadcast by Jaya TV). I think each artists takes up a theme and brings his/her music talents to amplify the theme.

I talk about music and concerts, not because I am an expert (I am a novice in music appreciation at best) but a sheer joy of sharing some of the pleasures of listening.
(Eminent author Sri R. K. Narayan has articulated this view here - Thanks to veeyens for sharing this)

Themes varied from "tatvam", "Ganesha", "Krishna", "bhajana pantha", "aayul, arogyam", "Hariyum and Haranam", "Kaalam or Time" and "All/Different Bharathi's compositions", "Namasivaya" , "Vel Murugan nama sankeerthanam", "Nine Types of Bhakthi", "Thyaga Ragas", "Krishna Leelai", "Utsava Sampradaya Kritis", "Oothukaadu Venkata Kavi".

While thematic concerts seem like a novel idea, there could be drawbacks. I now list one of the common criticisms raised by one rasika:

"To ask a musician to explain Tatvam Asi or advaitha concept is like asking for the recipe of badir bheni or bisi bela holi to a table waiter or expecting a bookshop salesperson to explain cardiac arrythmyas or principles of rocket propulsion. It is the fundamental mistake of the organizers of Margazhi mahothsav.It is unfortunate that the musicians are made the scapegoat with sheepish look. in public gaze."

Another rasika commented:

"From a ton of ore, you get a couple of grams of gold, rest mere dust"

My own feeling is more akin to the rasika number 2 (take what ever you feel is good and leave out the rest). Any way here are the music concerts for you to enjoy (Thanks to Mr. Venkata Kailasam )

1) Malladi Brothers

2) Nithyasree

3) Abhishek Raghuram

4) Priya Sisters

5) Vijay Siva

6) Ranjani Gayatri

7) Unnikrishnan

8) Sowmya

9) Sanjay Subramanian

10) Aruna Sayeeram

11) O. S. Arun

12) Sudha Raghunathan

13) Ganesh and Kumaresh

14) Visaka Hari

15) Sowmya and Group

16) Nisha Rajagopal

17) RaviKiran

18) Karnatica Brothers

19) Smt. Lakshmi Rangarajan and Ms.Subhiksa Rangarajan

20) Bhushani Kalyanaraman

21) Saketh Raman

22) Sankara Narayanan (Jr)

23) Savitha Narasimhan

24) Dr. Ganesh

25) Charumathi Ramachandran and Subasri Ramachandran

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Majestic Kambodhi

After listening to aru marundoru in Kambodhi (or Kamboji) by Sanjay S, I was mesmerized by this raga again. There are more qualified people or/and musically knowledgeable people who can take about the aarohanam, avarohanam and the subtle nuances. Instead I will provide video clips of songs composed by different composers on kambodhi in vocal, instrumental, experienced and the upcoming artists.

I will start with Raga Lahiri series with Vidhushi Ranjani Nagaraj and her mother Dr. Nagavalli Nagaraj. (with what else Sri.Subramanyaya by the Sanskrit Scholar and Composer Dikshitar on Kambhoji )


Dr.Nagavalli Nagaraj & Ranjani Nagaraj-Sri.Subramanyaya-Dikshitar-Kambhoji

Now we have Sanjay Subramaniyan singing Dhandapani Desikar's aDiyEnai kAdaruLvAi - in khAmbOji -

Prince Rama Varma is singing Swathi Tirunal's Sarasijanabha (Ata Thaala Varnam ) in Kamboji

Now violin rendition by Dr. Jyotsana Srikanth in different speeds of Ata Tala Varanams

Crescendo by the same artist

Violin Masteros Mysore Manjunath, Alapana

Maragatha Valli kriti


and Swaraprastharas in Kambhoji for Sri Dikshithar kriti: Violin maestros

An young violin player Kamalakiran Vinjamuri playing Evari Mata composed by Thyagraja

Kriti rendition

Same song sung by OSThyagarajan:

All women instrumental concert in pallavi 2009, had perfomed O Ranga Saye composed by Thuygaraja.

Here are two segments of that in audio

We have Shyama Sastry's dEvI nI pAdasArasamulE by TN seshagopalan in audio clip.

I will end with a segment on Isai payanam by Charulata Mani. ( A lot of Tamil movie songs as examples)

Muthu Thandavar - a great composer (in Tamil)

After repeated listening to a beautiful rendition of aru marundoru (by Sanjay S), I get caught up on the lyrics. Mrs Janaki Krishnamoorthy not only got me the lyrics, but also his biography written by a few people. Neither the wikipedia nor the book ANOTHER GARLAND (Biographical Dictionary of Carnatic Composers & Musicians) By N. RAJAGOPALAN, I.A.S. (Rtd.) nor this blog can give justice to the suffering, devotion, spirtuality and creativity of Muthu Thanadvar. Here is a brief life history of Muthu Thandavar as

Written by Shyama Priya on Muthuthandavar:


Trinity of Tamil Music - Muthuthandavar, Marimutha Pillai and Arunachala Kavirayar

Muthuthandavar - lived during 1560-1640

Very early in his life, Thandavan was afflicted by a dreadful disease and because of this, even his close relatives neglected him. He was living on the prasadam offered in the temple. Oneday, unable to bear the pangs of hunger, he prayed to God to come to his rescue. Goddess Uma appeared in the guise of the ten year old daughter of the temple priest and offered him food. She advised him Thandavan to go and worship Lord Nataraja in Chidambaram to get cured of his disease. She advised him to compose songs on Him using the first word heard by him in the temple as the opening word of his song. After he sung his first composition, "Bhooloka kailasagiri chidambaram" (using the above cue), Lord cured him of his dreaded disease.

Once he was bitten by a poisonous snake. He immediately sang, "Aru marundoru thani marundu ambalaththe kandene". The effects of the poison vanished.

Muthuthandavar composed numerous kritis and padams in popular ragas and talas, of which 84 are available. Perhaps he is the first to compose padams.

While singing his last composition, "Manickavachagar per enakku thara vallayo ariyen", he became one with God....

Here are the lyrics of aru marundoru that started my exploration.

aru marundoru. rAgA: kAmbhOji. rUpaka tALA.

P: aru marundoru tani marundidi ambalattE kaNDEn

A: tiru marunduDan pADum marundu tillai ambalattADum marundu
iru vinaigaL arukku marundu Ezhai aDiyArkkirangum marundu

C1: konrai tumbai aNinda marundu kOdai mIdil paDarnda marundu
manruLE ninrADum marundu mANikka vAcakar kaNDa marundu
2: indiranAnavar vAnavar pOTrum iruDigaL tamakkeTTA marundu
candira sUriyar kANA marundu tAnE muLaittut-tazhaitta marundu
3: tiritti tittiyenrADum marundu dEvAdi mUvargaL kANA marundu
karuttait-tirutti irukkum marundu kAlanaik-kAlAl udaitta marundu

Here is Suryaprakash singing Aru Marundoru in youtube (Thanks to Mrs. Janaki Krishnamoorthy for showing me this link)

Listening to all these songs make me forget all my worries and problems (and realize they are nothing compared to what Muthu Thanadavr had)

Sanjay Subramnian is perhaps one of the singers who is popularizing Muthu Thandavar
songs on various avenues. Here are his rendition of darisitaLavil mukti in latAngi

Next we have Nithyasree singing Eeshane Kotisuriya in nalinakanthi

Ms. Dhanya Subramaniaa sings thandhye thAi in Shanmugapriya

Next we have a young artist Kashyap Mahesh from Trichy (Tamil Nadu) singing Adi kondAr in maayamala gowla

Sunday, January 24, 2010

M & M

Astronomers chase around the world to observe rare events such as solar and lunar eclipses. Last past new moon (January 15, 2010) astronomers went to India, Uganda and China) to watch the annular solar eclipse (longest on record - it seems)

Likewise Music Rasikas chase their favorite singers to listen to their concerts (Rasikas who follow artists from concert to concert are called groupies in the US). People like me, on the other hand chase after a particular song. Normally in each concert (especially in Carnatic music), there is a main piece in which artists play a raaga aalapana, violin player play a solo piece, sing a kriti, do kalpanaswaram (do swarams) and a niraval (picks a line of lyric from the kriti piece and is played in different tempos and the artist shows his/her imagination and artistic mettle). According to Wikipedia
Improvisation in raga is the soul of Indian classical music - an essential aspect. "Manodharma sangeetham" or "kalpana sangeetham" ("music of imagination") as it is known in Carnatic music, embraces several varieties of improvisation. The main traditional forms of improvisation in Carnatic music consist of alapana, niraval, kalpanaswaram, ragam thanam pallavi, and thani avarthanam

We will try to illustrate with three videos and an audio files by two different singers singing the same song. First by Priya Sisters.

Starting with Alaapanaa with a violin solo

Now come the kriti

and continuing

Now we have an audio recording of Smt. Vidya Subramnanian's rendition of the same song during her 2005 Pallavi Concert.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Carnatic Music in 2060

As scientists, engineers and sociologists, we are interested in predicting the future and understanding how the life form started. That is why Large Hadron Collider work makes it so interesting as we may one day know how our universe started. Then there is the book Future Shock written by Alfin Toffler, a sociologist, who describes about "too much change in too short a period of time". Then there is Nostradamus a French Seer who published a collection of prophecies. He predicted that the world will end in 2012.

What I want to do in this blog is to look at the past and current Carnatic music concerts and see whether our readers can predict which type of concert will be liked in 2060 (50 years from now - of course assuming that the world does not end according to Nostradamus's prediction). I am not passing any value judgment here (Taste in music is highly individualistic). All I am wondering which of the five (5) scenarios will be remembered the most popular in 2060. I will let the readers choose one and argue why they think that is good. It is difficult to predict the future (even with differential equation and Bayesian Theory), but we can certainly speculate about the future (no matter whether it is right or wrong).

1)As you can see from the past concert by TN Seshagopalan (who gave a concert supported byPallavi around 1997), there is quite a bit of informality of people running around the stage.

2)Next we see a more recent concert by Sanjay Subrahmanyan (Please click here to see the youtube video (it will appear ina new window or new tab) in a Swathi Thirunal Concert Trivandrum and the stage is rather quiet. Sanjay's rendition of Kuntala varali nicely rhymes with Pantuvarali of TN Seshagopalan! In 2001 and 2004 Sanjay Subrahmanyam gave concerts under the auspices of Pallavi.

3)Next We see a fusion concert by Ganesh and Kumaresh in recent Jaya TV broadcast in Bilahari.

4)Then there is a recent rendition of Thiruvempavai (composed by Manika Vasagar praising Lord Siva, presiding diety in Thiruannamalai) rendition by an Avant-garde musician Sushila Raman (click here to read her biography in a new tab or in a new window) accompanied by

5)There is also classical music in Indian Film music. Here is a song in Kunthalavarali ragam (and dance scene) from Manichithrathazhu (a Malayalam movie). There are Telugu, Tamil, Hindi and Bengali versions of this movie.

So dear readers and lover of music, please make your predictions. (Probably, most music listeners will prefer type 5 the most and most classical/Carnatic musically inclined people prefer type 1 or 2 at the current time - Will this change in 2060?) - I am asking what is your prediction about the likings of all musically inclined people
and classical musically inclined people (I understand that music taste is individualistic)

Thanks to Dr. Janaki Krishnamoorthy for her help.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Homage to MS Subbulakshmi

Smt. M. S. Subbulakshmi is considered the nightingale of Carnatic Music. Her Bhakti Bhavam can melt even a cold heart. In this blog post, I want to mention about a movie based on her life, Jaya TV broadcast of a tribute to Smt MS Subbulakshmi and a book published on MS&Radha: Saga of Steadfast Devotion.

The tile of the DVD is SWARARCHANA
SARE GAMA Videos (Home Video) D 47003
Saregama India limited

You can see the preview in

This year in MM (broadcast by Jaya TV), Ms. Gowri Ramnaryan hosted a show paying tribute to Smt. M. S. Subbulakshmi. The singers are Vijayalakshmi S, Gayatri V and Lakshmi R. These are well known singers. Vijayalakshmi S has given a concert in Pallavi on September 2008. Here are the Jaya TV broadcast videos.

Sruti Magazine, September 2009 has an article (excerpts from the book MS & Radha: Saga of Steadfast Devotion written by Smt. Gowri Ramnarayan) about MS Subbulakshmi
M.S. Subbulakshmi was born on 16th September 1916. This month, on the occasion of Subbulakshmi's 93rd birth anniversary, we reproduce another excerpt from the book MS & Radha: Saga of Steadfast Devotion written by GOWRI RAMNARAYAN and published by The Suswaralakshmi Founda tion for Carnatic Music and Performing Arts.