A River In Spate

Tiger was considered to be unique vidwans even at a time when Poochi Srinivasa Iyengar, Konnerirajapuram Vaidyanatha Iyer, Kanchipuram Naina Pillai and Veena Dhanammal dominated the scene of Carnatic music. Naina Pillai was younger in age but Dhanam was a senior contemporary of Tiger.

Tiger and Dhanammal made an interesting contrast. Dhanam offered encapsulated music, be it kriti or raga or whatever. A few phrases on the veena soaked in raga bhava were enough for her to give complete satisfaction. In fact, she admonished vidwans who indulged in elaboration. Tiger, on the other hand, took elaboration to awesome heights, though his renderings also were full of bhava and rakti. Despite the difference in approach, Dhanammal considered Tiger's music was sugar candy. She normally disapproved of elaboration of raga-s like Poornachandrika, Janaranjani and Darbar but if Tiger did it—and he frequently did because they were his favourites—she was full of appreciation. Both were fond of rendering Kshetragna's pada-s, but in totally different ways. The extra slow gait of the padam allowed Tiger to fill in the gaps with rare phrases of the raga and Dhanammal strove for a perfect but straight rendering of the slow gait. If Tiger's was a free hand drawing, Dhanammal's was a careful painting. Lakshanapoorva (grammatically correctly rendered) singing was Tiger's forte.