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T S Sathyavathi , Lecture Concert on Mysore Vasudevachar @ Nadasurabhi 21st Aug 2016

Vocal : T S Sathyavathi

Vocal Support : Lavanya & Anjana

Violin : Charulatha Ramanujam

Mrdangam : Tumkur Ravishankar

Ghatam: G Omkar Rao

Lecture on Compositions of Mysore Vasudevachar

01. shLOkam ( yo’ntaH pravishya mama vAcam imAm prasuptAm)

Dr.Sathyavathi, started her evening lecture with explaining the importance of understanding the composer in appreciating his music. Knowing the musical vision and the musical acumen of the composer can enhance our ‘joy’ of listening to his compositions. Getting closure to the composer, his sensitivity and sensibility in creating ( and our ability to interpret ) each sangati, is an experience to the listener. Vasudevachar’s 150 odd compositions with notation is available in Kannada, and now in English ( compiled by Sri Bangalore S Shankar and released recently) for everyone’s access. By following the notation you can only repeat what is created, but by studying the composition closely, you can give it a new dimension.

Mysore Vasudevachar is one of the most illustrious composer post trinity. In fact, he was one of the ‘Mysore Trinities’ of the 20th century – Sadashiva Rao and Muthaiah Bhagavathar being the other two, patronised by the Wodeyars. During Wodeyar’s time, all types of music was thriving in Mysore. Western Bands and Hindustani Music was also popular and had great influence on the carnatic music. The evident is in the increased use of hindustani originated ragas in carnatic music. Importantly, these hindustani ragas weren’t used as is, but were given a “new personality, new life and new shade” by Vasudevahar. He studied Sanskrit and Music were his elective during his education at Maharaja College. His Sanskrit was akin to Dikshitar’s. His music had a lot of influence from both Dikshitar and Thyagaraja. From Dikshitar, he followed the ‘madhyamakAla model’ and ‘the bhAva’ aspect and the use of ‘colloquial’ Telugu from Thyagaraja. He did not copy them , but created his own original versions. From Dikshitar, he also imbibed the use of variety of tALa. He composed in large number of irregular talas like chaturashra dhruva, khanda ata, mishra mathya, mishra jhumpa, khanda jhumpa, tisra triputa, mishra triputa and also in tisra roopakam ( different from khanda chapu and probably the only thillana in this tala).

Use of Chitta swaras ( Chitraswara)

He had composed 4 varnas in Sanskrit, including one in praise of Ganesha (probably the only one). Vasudevachar’s use of chitraswara (  she preferred the word chitraswara in stead of chittaswara , gave an explanation of the former and the possibility of the change over the period of time) were special. Each of them were beautifully designed and incorporated. They could have been the result of spontaneity or a deliberation from the composers part. She went on with few examples by singing them and explaining the nuances.

02 chittaswaram from kAnaDa varnam ( vAraNAsyam pranamAmi )

       She mentioned this as ‘sarva svara svarAnga??’ ( do correct me) where every swara takes one akshara.

03 chittaswaram from naLinakAnti varnam ( evarunnAru)

       She explained this can be sung in two modes, in ‘Ghana’ and in ‘naya’, singing the same set of swaras in two style with and without emphasis to give it a different feel.

She made parallel to the ‘Kadambari’ of Banabhatta here. Banabhatta after completing the epic, wasn’t happy with the ending and had requested his sons’ help. The story goes like this, he asked each of them to describe the dry tree. The elderly one came up with something like “shuSkaH kaSTaH tiSThaty agrE’ and the younger one came up with ‘NIrasa  tarUriha vilasati purataha’ and he supposed to have chosen the latter, even though both has the same meaning.

Note : I am gravely erred here to my confession, but it was nice way to describe the nuances of the changes in the way one can perceive and practice the swaras without any differences to the original meaning. I will seek help from ‘knowledgeable’ people and correct it soon.

04 chittaswaram from mandAri varnam ( vanajAkSA )

     This chittaswara traverse in 3 octaves, singing this is a good exercise to the voice.

Madhyamakala Sahityam

Vasudevachar composed many kritis with madhyamakala sahitya, similar to Dikshitar, but it was not a regular feature in his compositions. She explained some of the highlights of his madhyamakala sahitya with these examples

05 madhyamakala sahitya from ‘praNamAmyaham’ in ranjani.

     She explained how he adjust the sahitya to the tAla ( mishra triputa). She said, even if you are listening to the composition in Radio, one should be able to put tala to it,  such should be the placing of the sahitya in a composition.

06 madhyamakala sahitya from ‘mAmavatu shrI saraswati’ in hindOLam

   He was very keen in using the zig-zag pattern – vakra sanchara, here.

Chittaswaras in viLambakAla Compositions

Vasudevachar, spent nearly 6 years at the Kalakshetra, setting music for Dance. Rukmminidevi Arundale was the beneficiary. This stay, however,  helped in his popularity. People came to know about Vasudevachar and his compositions and artists and musicians started singing them in the concerts. She mentioned her own personal experience of a Lec-Dem in Chennai on Sadashiva Rao. She said, very few people knew about Sadashiva Rao and his compositions, where Vasudevachar on the other hand was very popular.

07 chittaswaras from ‘rA rA rAjIva lOchana’ in mOhanam

  She explained the patterns of 3 and 5 in the mukthai in both rA rA rAjiva lOchana’ and ‘chAmuNDEshvai pAlayamAm’.

 She mentioned an anecdote on GNB singing this kriti in front of Vasudevachar. GNB was hesitant, to sing it for obvious reasons,  but in the end with tears in his eyes Vasudevachar was magnanimous to admit that GNB sang the kriti better than he himself has composed. He said some thing in the lines of ‘what I gave you was a ‘nirAbharaNa sundari’ ( help needed !) but you presented it as a ‘sAlankita bhUSita kanya’.

08 chittaswaras from ‘shrI chAmuNDEshwari pAlayamAm’ in bilahari

    She sang the chittaswaras a couple of times and said until you reach the ‘ri’ you don’t know where is he leading you.

09 chittaswaras from karuNisau tAyE in saraswati manOhari

Vasudevachar composed only one kriti in Kannada Language. This was after much request from the King. After all other composers yielded to the demand, and after much persuasion he finally composed one in Kannada.

10 chittaswaras from ‘manasA vachasA shirasA anisham’ in bEgaDa

She said, it was the beauty and duty of him to enhance the lyrical vision of the kriti here. Same notes takes a different approach. She explained this change of ‘bhava’  of the raga at the charanam line karuNAnvitam

11 chittaswaras from praNatArthi haram in chenchurutti

Vasudevachar has many compositions on Vishnu and a few on Rama. He had composed only one or two kritis on Shiva.  Pranatarthi haram is one of them.

Rare Ragas

Vasudevachar composed in many rare ragas, or new ragas like kadanakutuhalam, sudha sALavi ( not heard this before) etc and in hindustani ragas ( 3 in hindustani kApi and 2 in behAg).

She said the version of the hindustani kApi kriti she was taught by Doraiswami Iyengar was a different pAThAntaram from what is popular now. Her version, did not have kAkaLi niSAda or anthara gAndhAra. It was a janya of kharaharapriya. But, she said, the current version is different and the book of Vasudevachar’s compositions is also with the new version.

12 bhajamAdhavam anisham – hindustAni kApi

Bhava aspect in his compositions

Sensitive and subtle interpretation of the rAga is essential to bring out the bhAva in the compositions. She explained this with shAradE pAhimAm in yadukula kAmbOji

13 shAradE pAhimAm – yadukula kAmbOji

She said, her Guru was the best in singing this kriti and she is only making an attempt to go closure to his singing.

Before concluding her lecture on the specialties of his compositions, she did give the statistical highlights for the record ( 8 jati swaras, 16 varna, 150 kritis, 10 thillanas,6 javali and 8 ragamAlika compositions including those in praise of each of the trinities). She said it is important to understand the composition and know the meaning for one to appreciate the composer. Otherwise, one will say ‘music is good’ but will not be ‘special’ to him. Grammar alone can’t help. Mere grammar is not poetry, it had to come from within. Its the same with music.

Note 2 : These are some of the points I ‘noted’ from a running lecture. There are many short comings in this update and it is my own limitation in capturing the essence of what was spoken. There are few mistakes above and I welcome anyone correcting me here.

Concert

01 evarunnAru ( varNam) – navarasakannaDa

02 mama hrdayE – rItigauLa  ( S )

03 bhajarE rE bhaja mAnasa shrI narasimham – mOhanakalyANi  ( A,N,S )

neraval & swara @’paramAtbhuta rUpadharam karuNAkaram harim’

04 palukavadEmirA – dEvamanOhari

05 bhajarE rE mAnasa shrI raghuvIram – AbhEri ( A,S,T )

06 tillAna ( nadru dhIm nAdru dhIm dhIm taraNa dhIm) – kAnaDa

07shLOkam ( mangaLam kOsalEndrAya)

Concert was the continuation of the lecture. She explained each compositions ,its nuances, the specialties as she moved on. The selection of varnam, made my day. Beutiful reetigula came in with some memorable swaras to accompany.  But the highlight of the evening was the mohanakalyani kriti. A classy  alapana, allowing one of her disciples to pitch in occasionally, followed by probably the best kriti in mOhanakalyani ( my personal preference). An elaborate neraval at ‘paramAtbhuta’ was brilliant. I’ve heard this kriti from TNS (and fallen for its beauty ) many years ago at Gayana Samaja ( he sang neraval at ‘paramabhakta prahLAda) and again last year at Sanjay Nagar. The kalpana swaras were impressive too. Abheri was the main, and it had to be his masterpiece ‘bhajarE rE mAnasa’. Alapana was short, there was no neraval but had a detailed kalpana swaras.  Tumkur Ravishankar and Omkar played a delectable tani avartanam post main. The percussion, especially Ravishankar, was very good through out the evening. So, was Charulatha on violin. Her following for Abheri and Mohanakalyani was very good. She concluded her concert with the tillana in thisra roopakam set in kAnada. Very  informative session followed by a sweet and short concert.

 
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Posted by on August 22, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Pavan Rangachar, Karnataka Vaibhava, Nadasurabhi 20th Aug 2016

Vocal : Pavan Rangachar

Violin : Nagaraj Mandyam

Mrudangam : Renukaprasad

List

01.  siddhivinAyakam sEvEham – mOhanakalyANi – Muthaiah Bhagavathar (A )

02. chintayAmi jagadamba – hindOLam – Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar ( A,S )

03. varalakSmi namOstutE – gaurimanOhari – Mysore Vasudevachar ( A,S )

04. kEshavanolumeyu Aguva tanakA – thODi – Kanaka Dasa (A,N,S,T)

neraval & swara @ ‘varavElApurAdi kEshavana smarisuvavanigE mOkSavu tappitE’

05. harihara ninnanu mechisa bahudu – sindhubhairavi –  Purandara Dasa

06.  shLOkam ( mangaLam kOsalEndrAya) – mdhyamAvati

First time listening to Pavan Rangachar in a concert. He has a very sweet, mellifluous voice, very similar to a play back singer or one used to hear in ‘light music’. His singing style is also matching to his voice. Not a typical open throat-ed powerful and stressing at appropriate places as we see in the classical singers. However, his ability  and manodharma is at par with the leading artists of the day and he presented a scholarly concert yesterday at Nadasurabhi.

First of all, he stayed to the theme of the concert, selecting and limiting his choices to ‘karnataka composers’. Even in that, he picked some interesting mix  and presented them very well. Concert did have a feeble start, with both mOhanakalyani and hindOLam did not really appeal to me. But, with the gowrimanohari kriti onwards, he seems to have found his rhythm. Short alapana, the kriti and the kalpana swaras are presented with such a command and it was pleasing to listen. Swaras were top class,too.

The main, thodi alapana was again done very well, especially some of the long fast paced , bhriga laden sangatis in ‘akara’. Couple of instances of improper breath breaks (he had a trouble during gowri manohari swaras as well) could have been avoided, especially  since he was on a smooth flow at that instance. Otherwise,his thodi was again of very high caliber. Kriti was a very pleasant surprise. I am a ‘sucker’ for long neraval lines and he did a wonderful job here. So was the kalpana swaras, which brought Sri Renukaprasad to limelight with some impressive accompaniment. He played a short tani avartanam suiting to the occasion. Concert concluded with a devarnama, post the main.

 
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Posted by on August 21, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Yogavandana , Veena Concert @ Nadasurabhi, 20th Aug 2016

Veena : Smt. Yogavandana

Mrudangam : Smt. Ranjani Venkatesh

Morsing : Bhagyalakshmi Krishna

List

01. mAtE malayadhvaja ( daru varNam) – khamAs – Muthaiah Bhagavathar ( O )

02. jaya jaya jaya jAnakI kAnta – nATa – Purandara Dasa (O,S)

03. orAjUpu chUseDi – kannaDagaULa-  Thyagaraja

04. pAlayamAm pArvatIsha – kannaDa – Dikshitar ( A,N,S )

neraval & swara @ ‘gAnAmrta rasapAna’ ??

05.  nEnendu vedakudurA – karNatakabehAg – Thyagaraja

06. rA rA rAjIvalOchana – mOhanam – Mysore Vasudevachar ( A,t,S,T)

07. tungA tIra virAjam  – yamunAkalyANi – Kamalesha Vittala

08 thillAna – chenchurutti – Veena Sheshanna

First concert of this years ‘Karnataka Vaibhava’ series started with a beautiful concert by Vidushi Yogavandana.Very rich music, easy and elegant way of playing the instrument and the mannerisms on stage. She received tremendous support from the supporting crew on the stage. An all women ensemble, played very well in tandem.

Concert started brilliantly with the daru varNam of Muthaiah bhagavathar and the nATa kriti of Purandara Dasa, strumming a short raga sketch in both the cases. Kannada was the first detailed alapana, which was done with some style. Palayamam parvatheesha ( announced as Dikshitar kriti, but doubtful) was unexpected, but was welcome. She played short neraval and few rounds of kalpana swaras. Concert until now was mic-less.Late arrival of the mic and amplification came in as a blessing in disguise as one could listen to the artist in close quarters with out artificial amplification. She played another short piece before the amplification was installed.

Main mohanam alapana was very good, tanam was even better. After ‘ra ra rajeevalochana’ , she played some brilliant kalpana swaras first in mOhanam itself and later in as I could gather bhauLi and shivaranjani ( was there a fleeting rEvati as well ?). This part we the best of the concert. The lady percussion duo played an impressive tani avartanam, with Bhagyalakshmi producing some exquisite sounds from the tiny instruments.

Beautiful concert by the vidushi despite the lack of amplification and the distraction in the middle as they were trying to set things up.

 
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Posted by on August 20, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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T M Krishna @Unnati Center, Gokulashtami Festival 06 Aug 2016

Vocal : T M Krishna

Violin : H K Venkatram

Mrudangam : Arun Prakash

Ganjira : Anirudh Athreya

List:

01 sarasa sAmadAna – kApi nArAyani – Thyagaraja (O,N,S)

neraval @ ‘hitavu mAtalentO bhAgabalkitivi’

02 yArukkAkilum bhayamA – bEgaDa – Subbarama Iyer? ( A,S )

03 vallabha nAyakasya – bEgaDa – Dikshitar ( Tanam, S)

04 chANarO ee mOhamu – khamAs – Ramanathapuram Srinivasa Iyengar ( O )

05 RTP – mukhAri – khaNDa tripuTa x 2 Kalai , 1.5 eduppu

pallavi line ‘ kAdalippOm nAm anaivarum ‘aridAna?’ manita vAzhvai’

pallavi in rAgamAlika kIravANi, shrI,nAyaki, sahAna, sindhubhairavi

No swaras

tani Avartanam

06 cherarAvadEmirA – rItigauLa – Thyagaraja ( A )

07 hE gOvind. hE gOpAl. – kAmbOji – Surdas

08 pagh gunghurU rE (mIrA bhajan) – pIlu

Hmm.. What would you call the listener (me,in this case) who is confused between Bhairavi and Mukhari ? My friend AG came with an apt answer; Bhairavi+Mukhari = Bhikhari.

MukhAri, I said to myself, as soon as he started the alapana. Wait, am I hearing bhairavi ? No, there is clear mukhari phrases. Oh, tanam is sounding bhairavi. Could this be mAnji, no way. No, it is mukhari. Or should we wait for H K Venkatram to come to our rescue when his turn comes. Oh,no. There wasn’t a violin turn. Krishna is starting the pallavi. Let me freeze it on mukhari.

I am not the only one confused. The organiser’s mail came in the morning, which announced the pallavi is in bhairavi. Was I wrong then. Hold on, what is the second mail all about. Ah, they have corrected it. It now says, mukhari. Stop it Jayan, no more debate. Mukhari it is.

A couple of years back Sri Neyveli Santhanagopalan gave a concert at Nadasurabhi on Allied ragas. And to his merit and credit,he chose to sing the pallavi in bhairavi+mukhari. I had no confusion then, between bhairavi and mukhari. Probably, it wasn’t my day. Or one should blame MDR, whose ‘eLAvatAram’ was playing in my car for the entire day.

This summarises my evening yesterday. The confusion did not end there. Ask about the Surdas bhajan. I am for kAmbOji, or was it harikAmbOji ? Did I hear traces of khamAs as he twisted the corners of the brief alap he did before the song?

Pardon me. I am lost. The blame is entirely and squarely on me. Krishna started majestically with a short kapi narayani sketch. Slightly stretched the neraval at hitavu matalento, but was top class, which he did alone, without a reciprocation from violin. However, the kalpana swaras was done by H K Venkatram, after a brisk start from Krishna.

Begada alapana started with some exquisite phrases, and this time he did announce it as begada to those who were looking perplexed. After the impressive start, he mostly did long slow phrases in middle and upper octaves. Yarukkakilum bhayama, popular in the bharatanatyam circuit was sung very leisurely, apt for a dance performance, way. Added to it a few rounds of lovely swaras. Some great great rounds in the upper octaves. Begada isn’t over. After mulling for a while, he started tAnam, mumbled ‘same one’ as he started. Dikshitar’s masterpiece was sung in much pleasing tempo followed with some faster rounds of kalpana swaras.

Khamas jAvali was to follow. This time pronouncing it as ‘chANarO’ with a clear ‘chh’ syllable to start. I have been listening to this as ‘jANarO’ for a long time, including that of Krishna. Probably a correction from his side. Interestingly, the karnatik.com site has the lyrics as ‘sAnarO’. Ramesh Swamy spoke after this and was followed by few felicitations to the new Magsaysay winner.

It is now the pallavi started. I have said enough about this. There was no swaras, but he sang the pallavi line in ragamalika. Looked like he got hooked on to sindhu bhairavi as he elaborated it for a while. There was no trikalam too, as he pointed to Arun Prakash for tani avartanam. Arun Prakash and Anirudh started with very slow pattern around the time division, doubling up as it progressed to greater speed. Except for some fabulous pattern he played towards the end, by and large it wasn’t very appealing.  There was  a large exodus post the tani avartanam, people seems to have taken the advise of Ramesh Swamy well, delaying the departure post tani.

HK Venkatram played a very nice alapana in reetigaula and TMK added to the impact with an impressive cheraravadEmirA, adorned with sangatis after sangatis of the pallavi line. This definitely was beautiful. The Surdas bhajan, spoke above, and a meerabhajan concluded the concert.

Personally, I have mixed feelings about this concert. It was brilliant at patches and was confusing and sluggish at places. I’ve heard better concerts of his.

 

 
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Posted by on August 7, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Kunnakkudi Balamuralikrishna @ Nadasurabhi, 19th June 2016

Vocal : Kunnakkudi M Balamuralikrishna

Violin : Vittala Rangan

Mrudangam : B C Manjunath

Ganjira : G Guruprasanna

List:

01.  chalamEla jEsE ( varNam) – nAtakurinji – Rangaswamy Nattuvanar ( O,S )

02.  shrI pArvati paramEshwarau – bhauLi – Dikshitar

03.  birAna brOva idi – kalyANi – Tarangampadi Panchanada Iyer ( A,N,S )

neraval & swara @ ‘ nI pada pankajamu neranamminavAda’

04.  marivErE gati – Anandabhairavi – Shyama Shasthri ( O )

05.  ninnADa nEla – kannaDa –  Thyagaraja ( S )

06.  rAma bAna trANa shaurya – AvEri – Thyagaraja (A,S,T )

07.  RTP – brinAvana sAranga – trishra jhampa , khaNDa gati , samam eduppu

tAnam  in brindAvana sArang, varALi, chandrajyOti?, madhuvanti?

pallavi line ” manam koLLai koNDa kaNNA, maNivaNNA en- ”

No rAgamAlika swaras

08.  narajanma bandAga – madhuvanti – Purandara Dasa

09.  tirupugazh ( Erumayil) – rAgamAlika-

10.   mangaLam – saurAStram , madhyamAvati – Thyagaraja

Brilliant concert with rich, energetic and engaging musical fare by the young vidvan at Nadasurabhi yesterday. I haven’t heard him for a long long time and how strongly has he reemerged to the scene. Very strong SSI school effect in the way he presented the kritis and in the swara prasthana. Only the other hand very distracting and overtly expressive hand and facial gestures and the tendency ( we see in most of the young artists) to rely on speed and verve to add exhilaration.

Two distinct features of this concert which attracted me. One the way he approached alapanas. While Kalyani was just good, both sAveri and brindavana sarang were out standing. Saveri was started at very slow lower octave phrases and superbly build to some awe inspiring higher octave ‘sancharas’, getting into the ati tArasthayi range. He probably would have covered all three octaves from lower sA to the upper sA with ease ( a bit falsetto at the very very high range though). The dwell at the ati tArasthayi range for a considerable amount of time. And it was not just the skill that he exhibited, but the wy he went about the whole alapana phase for saverri was excellent. Similarly, in brindavana sarang alapana, the focus was on parleying some delectable hindustani-ish passages, which he did with some incredible effect.

The other one was the way the kalpana swaras were sung. Both for kalyani and saveri he made it interesting by deploying some impressive variations in the nadai in the initial phase or the two speed kalpana swara. The others too were noticeably had the stamp of SSI-PSN stamp all over. Great stuff.

Speed was the essence in general, but he can switch back to the slow kritis.  Marivere was sung with such effortless, unhurried way as one would love to hear that song. A tempo that can be compared to the way TMK sing this kriti. Some impressive selection of other pieces in bhauli and kannada. Pallavi had tanam in ragamalika, decently coined pallavi line and tala structure. Well executed trikalam as well.The supporting crew were equally good, measuring up to the main artists. Vittala Rangan was once again very very  impressive.  The percussion duo too added their flavour to the concert, apart from playing a commendable tani avartanam.

Absolutely dull and not innovative post main kritis. One can give the benefit of doubt to the time, but I am a strong supporter of planning the post main/pallavi pieces in a concert. Most often, we see this section is taken for granted and artist decides to get it over with a customary devarnama and quickly winding up.

Not taking any credit away from the young vidvan for presenting a brilliant concert yesterday.

 
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Posted by on June 21, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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