/* START Google Analytics Code*/ /* END of Google Analytics Code */ A home called "Parvathi": December 2010

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Manasuna Talaci Mai Maraci – The Wizardry of Vidwan Chittibabu

It is well known that in the sixties, Mysore was a paradise of regal beauty, verdant quietude and social graces that people from Madras and Bangalore would love to escape to. The quiet nights would be free from auto rickshaw noises. In fact we children could occasionally catch the distant roar of big cats from the Mysore Zoo! One so inclined could meditate, or listen to choice music, or read a book, and dissolve into sleep in a tranquil mood.

The home of "Parvathi", accustomed to the continual flow of great music, had a preference for aural treats, and many a great musician would be on hand to perform for the family in a soiree. Those fortunately present would later recall with a faraway look these musical experiences. So transpired also this episode that we are delighted to share.

[ Vidwan Chitti Babu in "Parvathi" 1960s ]

A young and handsome prince of a vainika started making waves in Madras during early '60s. Mr. Srikantiah's brother, Mr. K. Lakshminarayana Rao ( who in those days lived in Mylapore, Madras in the shadows of The Music Academy ), introduced him to the family and thus came the vainika to stay in Mysore for a few days. The gracious hospitality of the family to this charmer was rewarded by some veena music that was truly a treat for the gods. Hardly 30 years of age, Vidwan Chittibabu was different from run of the mill musicians. He was bold in his veena play, and emphasized melody uniquely. His music had instant appeal to the layman as well as connoisseur. During his stay, he would play inside the house, without accompaniment, for the delight of the family.

It was one of those quiet nights. Mr. Srikantiah and family were oblivious to their surroundings. Nobody looked at the clock. Vidwan Chittibabu was in his element. He played a glorious ragam tanam pallavi in Kambhoji. And proceeded with his famous songs- Kommalo Kokila, Veda... Mr. Srikantiah was highly impressed with his melodious playing, soft strumming, faultless notes and perfect laya gnana. Forcing himself out of his thrall, he whispered a blessing to the young maestro. He predicted a very bright future for him and said that there was no doubt that he would reach the peak of success and popularity in the music world. Just then, the clock struck twelve, and Time nodded its “Tathasthu” to the blessing.

This, luckily, has been captured on tape. And we are pleased to share this with rasikas.

When Saint Thyagaraja says, with envy, how Seetha and Lakshmana are fortunate to serve Rama, standing on either side, and as a result find themselves in enthralled reverie, we can relate to his sentiments. Pakkala Nilabadi, in the Kharaharapriya raga that is so intrinsic to Parvathi concerts, is the next item we feature. Vidwan Chittibabu, in the company of Vidwan Palghat Raghu, has excelled in this song. He has brought out the majesty of Kharaharapriya, as well as its rich melody. The song, with interesting swara dialogue, makes this a feast. What Thyagaraja says of the good fortune of Seetha and Lakshmana (Manasuna Talaci Mai Maraci) to lose themselves in devotion, applies to our feelings when we listen to Vidwan Chittibabu.

Vidwan Chittibabu was a rage in the Carnatic music world in later years. He played at Parvathi during various festivals more than a dozen times. His concerts drew full houses and the pandal had no standing space even. Unfortunately we do not have all those concert recordings. But we do have some more items on tape and we are happy to share some of them this time. More, later!

The audio in this posting

1. Informal recording during Chittibabu's first visit *** 02. Pakkala Nilabadi – Kharaharapriya – Thyagaraja *** 03. Govindam iha – Bageshri – Narayana Tirtha ***


Item 02: Palghat Raghu - K.S.Manjunath (Ramanavami -- 20-4-75)
Item 03: Vellore Ramabhadran - Vaidyanathan - H.P.Ramachar ( Ganesh Festival - 31.8.68 )

There is a beautiful article on the Mellifluous Veena by Mr. B.M.N. Murthy below (click to magnify). It explains the endless charm of this divine instrument.

And, who is author Mr. B.M.N. Murthy? The Hindu (click here) chooses to characterize him as "The man who knows everything".

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Role of Introspection in Carnatic Music – K. V. Narayanaswamy

[ Courtesy: Narada.Org ]
The 2010 December Season is upon us. Venerable newspapers are filled with concert reviews, reports of awards and speeches, as well as scholarly articles and discussions about topics such as the monetization of Carnatic music. We also read with fascination that jet-setting Carnatic music stars are busy tweeting on their smart phones from airport departure lounges. Perhaps that is when they are not appealing to the PM for remedying neglect of classical arts(!). We also hear that some have Facebook pages to shepherd their flock of fans. Of course there is no gainsaying that art cannot exist without an audience. But during a season reminiscent of the Kumbh Mela, it is a delightful task for us to sit back and wonder: What is the role of introspection in Carnatic music? Is Carnatic music only to feed audiences and hence on its way to head-banging rock cult status - a metamorphosis aided by media frenzy, or does it still retain some roots to nourish its avowed inner spiritual quest? Does a Carnatic music artiste introspect in the quest for reaching things beyond mundane success? The concert we feature this time in the sanctified precincts of Parvathi gives some answers. First let us look at the artistes. We have some astounding musicians. They would be called diggajas in Sanskrit. Palghat K.V. Narayanaswamy, Lalgudi G. Jayaraman, Palghat R. Raghu and T. H. Vinayak Ram. We don’t need to preface their names with titles or honorifics. Simply put, they are the lords of their art. They have given more than six decades of musical largesse to millions of ears. A piece of history: when Raghu, born in Burma, went as a very young man seeking discipleship to Palghat Mani Iyer, Mani Iyer was teaching mridangam accompaniment to a varnam being rendered by another student- KVN. Thus began their famous life-long association as fellow travellers in Carnatic music. And that self-same eternal effulgence of a varnam in Bhairavi sung on that day is the one that begins this concert, with the same musicians. And Raghu's unique way of enhancing KVN's music is the stuff of legends. Another piece of history: a newcomer Lalgudi Jayaraman performed first in Madras Music Academy when he provided violin accompaniment to another rising star: KVN. This was in 1948 and launched Lalgudi’s career (his first fan after that concert was GNB). These same two-some regale us with Ananda Bhairavi, Thodi and Bilahari here in this concert. You will remember their renditions for a long time. So KVN-LGJ-PRR. What a Trio indeed, ladies and gentlemen! But let us come back to the question of introspection. In this concert, we have a series of introspections by Carnatic composers. Music uniquely aids meditation. Hence it is called food for the soul. Carnatic music as a performing art is basically not demonstrative. It is introspective. And Carnatic music is replete with lovely krithis, all in the mould of introspections and conversations with God. It is fascinating to just think about the lyrical import of each song in this concert :
1. Shobhillu Saptaswara : Oh mind, meditate on the beauty of the seven notes that will lift you to the divine through your body: navel-heart-throat (Mainpura-Anahata-Vishuddhi chakras, Kundalini Yoga) 2. Manasa Guruguha : Oh mind, meditate on the divine, do not waste your precious human journey with outward distractions, surrender to your guru! 3. Entanuchu Sairintunu - Oh Rama, meditated upon by sages! Won’t You condescend to come near me even now? 4. Dasharathi - Oh Rama, how can I repay your debt? You have given me musical fame, and you’ve also given me the wisdom that liberates! 5. Sri Chamundeshwari: Oh Goddess of the (Chamundi) Hill, your divine deeds are worshipped by gods and mystics. I seek your grace! 6. Maataa Raamo, Jaanaati Raama – Rama, you're my mother, father, and everything – oh, for your glories! 7. Yake Bandi Jeeva – Oh soul, why did you give up the communion with God and take birth in this world of wretched goings-on? 8. Kandu Dhanyanaade – I have been blessed with the vision of the Lord! 9. Vanga Kadal – The last pasuram in Andal’s Thiruppavai wherein she describes the liberating power of loving worship of the mighty Lord who set up the churning of the sea.
If you think that we are reading some abstruse but unintended meaning into this concert repertoire, think again. K.V. Narayanaswamy was singularly meditative in his music. His interview and profile linked here are ample proof of a rare man who sought a higher realm through music. The Parvathi Concert Ramanavami Festival 1 April 1974 Palghat K.V. Narayanaswamy - Vocal Lalgudi G. Jayaraman – Violin Palghat R. Raghu – Mridangam T. H. Vinayak Ram - Ghatam Song List 01. Viriboni – Atatala Varnam – Bhairavi – Pachimiriyam Adiappaiya *** 02. Shobhillu Saptaswara – Jaganmohini – Thyagaraja*** 03. Manasa Guruguha – Ananda Bhairavi – Muthuswami Dikshithar*** 04. Entanuchu Sairinchunu – Yadukula Kambhoji – Thyagaraja*** 05. Dasharathi – Thodi – Thyagaraja *** 06. Sri Chamundeshwari – Bilahari – Mysore Vasudevachar *** 07. Maataa Ramo – Shloka – Kapi- Traditional *** 08. Jaanaati Raama – Shloka – Dwijavanti, Sindhu Bhairavi - Traditional *** 09. Yake Bandi Jeeva – Sindhu Bhairavi- Dasarapada *** 10. Kandu Dhanyanade – Behag – Kamalesha Dasa*** 11. Vanga Kadal – Suruti- Andal Thiruppavai***