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Saturday, July 8, 2023

The strings that resound in heaven - Vid. Chitti Babu - Veena Excerpts

Parvathi Finale

Vid. Chitti Babu - Sri Ramanavami at Parvathi - 1982 - Concert Excerpts

In heaven, there is said to be music always. Remember that the gods are blessed to listen to the greatest of musicians. If I imagine what music from here would hold even the gods in thrall, it would be the Veena music of Vid. Chitti Babu. Unlike the modern sounds of Veena, which mimic an electric guitar, his Veena resonated with a strange charm of pure, golden, metallic and acoustic vibrational soundscape. It was rich, melodious and invigorating. 

Yajnavalkya says,
वीणावादनतत्वज्ञः श्रुतिजातिविशारदः तालज्ञः अप्रयासेन मोक्षमार्गं नियच्छति
"The expert Vainika who knows ragas and talas well attain the path to liberation easily."

Vid. Chitti Babu arrived with his heavenly Veena music on the Mysore scene in the sixties. He enthralled audiences and even won the honour of getting the royal medallion. 

In this 1982 concert, he was accompanied by Vid. Palghat Raghu and Vid. Manjunath. Unfortunately, we could not retrieve the entire concert recording but only an excerpt of his Tanam and the Javali that followed. The Tanam is a bouquet of ragas which simply steal our hearts with their melody. The instrumental technique is something extraordinary by any standard. The purity of sound and the resonance of the plucking endorse the idea that Tanam was created only for the Veena!

The ragas are Shubhapantuvarali...
Followed by the delectable Javali in Kapi, "Sarasamulade" by Poochi Srinivasa Iyengar.

Then comes a Tillana in Tilang... 

While listening to all these ragas pouring out, one thought of Kalidasa's Shyamaladandakam. He begins by saying how the Devi holds the Manikya Veena tenderly. He mentions how she holds the Veena called Vallaki and thoroughly enjoys its music. This comes again and again. And finally, he says she is being regaled by the celestials-
श्रवणहरदक्षिणक्वीणया वीणया किन्नरैर्गीयासे "You are being praised by Kinnaras accompanied expertly on the Veena that steals ears and hearts"... Did Kalidasa hear Vid. Chitti Babu?

Concert Details

Chitti Babu - Veena
Palghat Raghu - Mridangam
Manjunath - Ghatam
Sri Ramanavami Festival, Parvathi, Mysore held on 4 April 1982.

Chitti Babu = Veena Palghat Raghu - Mridangam Manjunath - Ghatam Date 4 April 1982