Some fresh music amidst predictable fare
Charsur is known to feature promising young artists with senior accompanists. Will they also complement it by featuring senior stars with promising junior accompanists? Hope they do it next year—after all, accompanists do contribute to the making of a successful concert.
Charsur showcased Ashwath Narayanan in the company of M. Narmadha (violin), Mannargudi A. Easwaran (mridangam) and Nerkunam Sankar (khanjira). Ashwath’s elaboration of Ranjani (Dunmarga, Tyagaraja) started well, he had good ideas but meandered into swara-based stretching towards the closing stages. Narmadha’s style of alapana suited this raga well. Easwaran and Sankar lifted the niraval and swara sessions with their lively support. It was good to see Ashwath paying careful attention to the lyrics, singing niraval fluently and providing sharp landings to his short swara passages.
Lecdems on Tyagaraja
The Music Academy dedicated its morning lecture demonstration sessions to Tyagaraja, to commemorate his 250th birth anniversary. In order to highlight the richness and nuances of his compositions, the Academy conducted more than ten lectures and one panel discussion, centering on the theme. While some sessions focussed on analysing the musical aspects of Tyagaraja’s compositions, others examined the transformations that have occurred in current practice. The amount of research and effort the scholars had invested in their sessions was commendable. However, 45 minutes seemed too short a duration, considering the vast scope of some of the topics.
MANNARKOIL J. BALAJI
Concertgoers during the 1930s and 1960s would have encountered “full-bench” Carnatic music concerts, which included violin, mridangam, ghatam, khanjira and konnakol artists on stage apart from the vocalist. Concerts went on for about four to five hours and the tani avartanam alone was played for about 45 minutes. Konnakol is the art of vocalising rhythmic syllables, and konnakol wizards like Mannargudi Pakkiria Pillai, Mannargudi Vaidyalingam Pillai, Vellore Gopalachariar, Mannargudi Arumugam Pillai, Tiruvarur Nagarajan and Dharmapuram Abhiramasundaram Pillai ruled the rhythm world with their inimitable konnakol styles and had a huge following. Not to mention vidwans T.K. Murthy and T.H. Subhashchandran of our times who have been teaching konnakol (apart from other percussion instruments) to students.
Among konnakol giants, Trichy R. Thayumanavar is a living legend who has carved a niche for himself in the realm of Carnatic rhythm. He is 86 and has done yeoman service by enriching the art with his expertise in mridangam, khanjira and konnakol. He keeps himself fit by practising yoga, swimming and floating in the water in order to improve his focus and concentration. You must listen to his konnakol renditions to realise his artistry, especially the expressions in his recitation of “ta dhi ta ka jo nu tam” with accents on dhi and jo which make you aware of the aesthetics of the lilt in rhythmic expressions. He has made several improvisations and has adapted various teaching techniques to popularise the concept of konnakol in concerts and also in percussion ensembles.
Carnatic music has lost a luminary in the demise of Dr. S.A.K. Durga. Founder of the Centre for Ethnomusicology in Chennai, Durga encouraged studies in this area, leading the way as a researcher and musicologist.
Durga was research advisor for many a student of doctoral studies in the field of music and contributed to the training of performing musicians in the correct usage of their voice through workshops and training sessions. She learnt music from giants like Maharajapuram Viswanatha Iyer, Madurai Mani Iyer and T. Viswanathan.