/* START Google Analytics Code*/ /* END of Google Analytics Code */ A home called "Parvathi": May 2013

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Mojo of Laya in Carnatic Music

Vid. Abhishek Raghuram, Parvathi 2012

In a recent DD-televised panel discussion featuring notable Carnatic and Hindustani musicians, a statement was made how Carnatic music has created a special place for laya. The important role played by mridangam and other percussion instruments, the special place for tani avartanam, and the matchless treasure of krithis that embody the best confluence of melody and rhythm in myriad ways…all this gives a unique mojo to Carnatic music. There is no wonder that mridangam vidwans and other laya vidwans occupy a special place in our hearts. Vid. Abhishek Raghuram has taken this a step further, transitioning from the role of a percussionist to a leading young vocalist today, and creating a new brand of Carnatic vocal music suffused with laya ornamentation. Abhishek recently won the Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar of the Sangeet Natak Akademi.

L to R: Tumkur Ravishankar, Tumkur Shashishankar, Abhishek Raghuram, Charulata Ramanujam

Abhishek comes from the “garadi (akhada)” or percussion school of the incomparable late Vid. Palghat Raghu, his grand-father. When Vid. Raghu was conferred the Sangeetha Kalanidhi title in 2007, his since-famous lec-dem on aspects of rhythm featured his two young grandsons Abhishek and Anand in performance. Abhishek has also honed his music skills under the tutelage of Sangeetha Kalacharya Vid. P.S. Narayanaswami.

This time we are happy to feature Abhishek’s concert from the 2012 Putturao Memorial series held at Mysore.

The accompanists have ably travelled the scintillating course of the concert with Abhishek. After a delightful “Ee Vasudha” in Shahana dedicated to the Kovur Sundareshwara by Saint Thyagaraja, he takes up Poorvi Kalyani for a most elaborate treatment. He paints its contours in a kaleidoscope of colours, much like a Windsor Manor Mango Festival featuring a surprising variety of dishes all with the mango theme (including one with mango marinated in champagne!). We can infer its overall impact on the audience when we read the critic Mr. Krishnamurthy’s words in his review for the Star of Mysore, ”the unprecedented Birkas, unimaginable sancharas were the highlight of Ragalapane”. The following song Parama Pavana Rama gives full rein to Abhishek’s laya prowess, and the violinist Charulata and the percussion duo of Ravishankar and Shashishankar as well, acquit themselves creditably.

In fact this song is mentioned in an incident narrated by Mysore Vasudevacharya in his memoir of his visit to the house of Ramnad Srinivasa Iyengar (his guru bhai). It was a meeting between two vaggeyakaras, and the occasion was graced also by the presence of Veena Sheshanna and Subbanna. Vasudevacharya writes how Poochi (nickname) looked after his students and made sure they mastered each song. Once, Poochi’s student Salem Doreswamy Iyengar was reprimanded by the guru for not rendering Parama Pavana Rama perfectly. That night, with Vasudevacharya looking on as a guest at his home, Poochi discovered that the student was not asleep but gone missing from his room. An alarmed guru went in search and finally discovered him beside the pond at the back, practising the song fervently through the night. The guru ran down the steps and placing his hands affectionately on his pupil's shoulders, exclaimed: "Dore! What is all this?" Doreswamy Iyengar was totally immersed in his singing, not aware of anything else. He was singing his guru's composition in Poorvi Kalyani, Parama Pavana Rama, his voice filling the serene night with ineffable sweetness, each note of the raga throbbing with life.

After the main item, we have a real feast of manodharma-soaked melodic pieces – in Kapi, Yamuna Kalyani and Sindhu Bhairavi. Abhishek offers his tribute to his grand-father (as well as grand-uncle Lalgudi) in his rendition of Krishna Nee Begane, in the typical Lalgudi style.

So welcome to a great concert!

Details – K. Putturao Memorial Concert, Jaganmohan Palace, Mysore – Sep. 1, 2012

Abhishek Raghuram – Vocal
Charulata Ramanujam – Violin
Tumkur Ravishankar – Mridangam
Tumkur Shashishankar – Ghatam

Song List

01. Abhogi varnam – Patnam Subrahmanya Iyer*** 02. Tulasidala – Mayamalavagowla-Thyagaraja *** 03. EE Vasudha – Shahana- Thyagaraja*** 04. Parama Pavana Rama – Poorvikalyani-Poochi Srinivasa Iyengar *** 05. Janaki Ramana – Kapi – Vanamaamalai Jeeyar **06. Krishna Nee Begane – Yamuna Kalyani- Vysasaraya *** 07. Bhavani Dayani – Sindhu Bhairavi *** 08. Piraviyalai – Thiruppugazh Sindhu Bhairavi and Mangalam ***

Monday, May 13, 2013

Music's Bylanes VI – Interludes with a Maestro

A memory in B&W – Vidwan Lalgudi Jayaraman

It has been a grieving few weeks for the multitudinous fans of the maestro Sri Lalgudi Jayaraman.

While the grief phase might be somewhat on the wane, we presume many would still be reaching out somewhere for a few quick clips of the great man, or indulging in some quick minutes of a strapped life for a favorite portion of his music, or even doing a quick scan of news items to see what might have been missed out on his life.

It is sort of hard for a human to reconcile themselves to a situation on someone, who till just yesterday was such a living presence and who by some quirk turn of fate, we are now told, is no more.

While this writer has had no competency in going to the forum groups and rejoicing with the many astute Rasikas who linger there with their finer impressions of his playing, he did savor the few precious moments afforded to him as a young teen, when he could wander freely in the house armed with a somewhat effortless Kodak Brownie.

That simple contraption would yield for contemplation, half a century later, a couple of black @ white moments of frozen time (re-posted above) with the Vidwan in the company of the other giants - UKS, AR and some of “Parvathi's’ own elders held young by time. They had found themselves coming together on a particularly memorial Puja day dedicated to the Goddess Gayatri.

And then that momentary interlude, also framed in time, by the same teenager who happened to express a certain regret to the great man (having been mesmerized earlier by the violin play) that he had never been lucky in visiting the sacred Thiruvaiyyaru. He subsequently found himself gazing into two mirthful liquid pools that surprised him somewhat with their answer “Why don’t you come with me. Stay with me. I will look after you”.

Even after so many years, there never has been cause for doubt that those words were uttered by a man evolved in abject sincerity.


In speaking of things “Parvathi”, ours has been a metaphor only to capture a certain era.

To some of us, the fortunate few, who were present then and who are present today amidst the newer generations, it provides for contrasts. The word ‘value’ has a certain value only when you can compare things in light of contrasts.

That such an era is passing us by, continuously, has come about more as reminders in recent times , as we have stood by in homage through these pages to a Parur M.S. Gopalkrishnan, a Vellore Ramabhadran, a beloved actor in Karnataka’s Vishnuvardhan or the V. Shantaram documentary producer winner M.V.Krishnaswamy. Also, included in this circle as a finger count have been some of Parvathi’s own members.

The K. Puttu Rao tree – branching off into five generations

At home to the MahaSwamiji of Sringeri