/* START Google Analytics Code*/ /* END of Google Analytics Code */ A home called "Parvathi": The Mojo of Laya in Carnatic Music

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 ***