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.