Umayalpuram K. Sivaraman
A sense of rhythm that was inborn, recognised at a very eariy age and developed assiduously by a music loving father, and instruction in mridanga and laya at the hands of four successive preceptors all of them men of fame and standing in the profession—all these have been responsible for the rise of Umayalpuram Kasi Viswanatha Iyer Sivaraman to eminence in the field of mridanga.
Early recognition has led to many honours. The twenty first century started for him with the birudu of Sangeeta Kaianidhi of the Music Academy and this year has seen the Presidential accolade of Padma Bhushan.
Appreciation of Carnatic Music
There is considerable concern about the declining popularity of Carnatic music. The auditoria are rarely full. The problem is how to attract the common man who is a potential rasika. It is caught in a vicious circle. He will not go to the concerts until he develops a taste for them which he cannot unless he attends them. In this connection, a perceptive statement made by a leading musician, Sudha Ragunathan, when interviewed by children in one of the Tamil TV channels, should be noted. She was asked how she felt about singing for TV serials since she is basically a classical singer. She said that she had a feeling that her popularity through music for TV serials might attract the laymen also to her classical concerts. In that sense, films and TV serials with songs sung by classical musicians serve a useful purpose. If, of those film/ TV rasika-s who attend such concerts, because of their familiarity with the artists through the mass media, a few develop a genuine taste for Carnatic music, a useful purpose would have been served. Those who decry the practice have no convincing case for their stand. Such statements like that it would spoil the voice are not based on any scientific study,- nor are they borne out by any evidence of a musician damaging or losing his or her voice because of singing for movies or TV serials. K.J. Yesudass has successfully pursued a career both on the concert stage and in movie music. It is just one of the several superstitions afflicting the Carnatic music world. In fact, a playback singer for movies or TV who sings without sruti alignment cannot survive there; he/she can in classical music!