Thursday, November 30, 2006

Once more?

Someone told me this anecdote about how a singer was singing Sabhapathiku veru dheivam (composition of Gopalakrishna Bharathi in the raga Abhogi) in a concert. The charanam of the song goes like this:

'Oru tharam Sivachidambaram endre uraithal podhume'

Translation: It's enough to utter Sivachidambaram once (to attain salvation).

There are a number of sangathis (subtle variations) in this line and it's repeated a few times. The mridangam vidwan whispered "Oru dhadava sonna podhumnu sollitu naal anju dhadava sollitele". (You said it was enough to utter it once but you have already uttered it 4 to 5 times).


At SIFA, we recently had a T.N.Krishnan concert a few weeks back. It was in fact the final concert for 2006. After the concert, we were having dinner at one of the committee members' house and I had a chance to talk to Shri TNK. I was naturally curious about MDR since MDR was supposed to have admitted in private that TNK and UKS were his favorite accompanists.

TNK revealed something that increased my already high regard for him a few thousand notches higher. Apparently, Mali was supposed to play in a concert with TNK as an accompanist and he played truant as usual, not showing up for the concert. It was TNK who recommended MDR as a replacement!! I was like whoa. Mentally I was thinking, "May God keep you alive as long as possible". Apart from that he told me that MDR lived and breathed music and was a simple man.

Even if TNK had done nothing else in his whole life, he'd still be the person I'd respect the most among living musicians.

We speak the bad of the English

I was chit-chatting with a lady in a gas station on my way to LA and was generally enquiring about the city. While I was leaving, she said "Nothing don't close in LA".

I also happened to come across a comment while reading an article about an Indian guy who has come up with a scheme for storing 450 GB of data on a sheet of paper.

"He can store so much information, because he leaves out all the important words and grammatical conventions of standard english, like so many other Indians."

Here is the link to the article -

Go figure!!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Frog in a well

I've not written in a long while which is so typical of me. I've been quite busy being lazy that I couldn't find time to blog though I've had quite a few interesting thoughts come to my mind in the past few months.


MDR - M.D.Ramanathan

MMI - Madurai Mani Iyer

GNB - G.N.Balasubramanian

Ariyakudi - Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar

SSI - Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer

KVN - K.V.Narayanaswamy

TMK - T.M.Krishna

TRS - T.R.Subramaniam

I think I may be a little too prejudiced when it comes to Carnatic music possibly influenced by my propensity to sing along with the music most of the time. I'm at a stage in Carnatic music where I'm not 'qualified' enough to understand the greatness of GNB, Ariyakudi or Alathur's music but have gained sufficient listening experience to abhor (extremity is a passion of mine) the music of Yesudas, Aruna Sairam et al. The latter stems from being a passionate listener of MDR, MMI with frequent visits to SSI, TRS, KVN, S.Balachander to name a few. MDR and MMI were stalwarts in their own right with MMI having a mass following then and now. MDR, on the other hand, has come to be appreciated only recently though he did have a few dedicated fans then. Regardless, both these musicians were unorthodox in their own right. MMI developed a distinct style of his own, introducing 'la la' phrases in his alapanas, predominantly singing sarva laghu swarams and from my observation, not laying too much emphasis on the krithi rendition. MDR distinguished himself by his slow pace (when speed was the name of the game), nonchalant and laidback approach to music using the krithi itself as a vehicle for manodharma.

This is just a theory and I'd be glad if people can prove me wrong. The common factor in both their music is that, from a musician's perspective, it's difficult to learn from them. Though MMI was successful as a performer, his success was primarily due to his ability to present complicated music in a simple manner thereby making it appealing to the layman (depends on the layman though :-) ). It is difficult for someone to mimic his style and become as successful. The fact that TVS has done a fairly good job of it is laudable but he is still considered by some to be a poor copy of his uncle. Again, I don't blame him given that he had the unenviable task of carrying on his uncle's bani and trying to be different at the same time. The same logic applies to MDR and in his case it's fairly obvious that no musician is going to succeed singing at his pace. I have heard people criticizing TMK for singing too slowly. (D'oh!! Just when I was thinking that that was the best part of his music).

So, this alienates me from people who are learning/have learnt music since they tend to listen to say GNB, Ariyakudi more. But having listened to MDR, MMI, I also cannot listen to Yesudas, Santhanam since they don't sound very good to my ears. This alienates me from a lot of newbies and people who seek less from music than me. Understandably, it's difficult for newbies to appreciate MDR or MMI. Due to the reason mentioned in the beginning of this post, I also do not tend to listen to female artistes much except MLV. This puts me in a position where the number of people I can relate to, in terms of music, is a handful.

Well, I forgot the point I was trying to make. I leave it to the reader to make his own conclusions. :-)