Tag Archives: Sumitra Nitin

Sumitra Nitin @ Ranjani Fine Arts, 26th Nov 2017

Vocal : Sumitra Nitin

Violin : Sowmya Ramachandran

Mrudangam : R S R Srikanth

Ganjira : Kiran Kumar

Theme : Triveni, Shyama Shastry compositions


01 mAyamma yani nE – Ahiri – Adi x 2 – Shyama Shasthry

02 parAkELa nannu paripAlimpa – kEdAragauLa – Adi – Shyama Shasthry ( A,S )

03 pAravti ninnu nE – kalgaDa – Adi tisra nadai – Shyama Shasthry ( A )

04 ninnE nammi nAnu – thODi – mishra Chap – Shyama Shasthry ( A,N,S,T )

neraval & swara @ kAmAkSi kancadalAyadAkSi’

05 kAmAkSi lOkasAkSiNi – madhyamAvati – Trishra triputa – Shyama Shasthry

Leave a comment

Posted by on November 27, 2017 in Uncategorized


Tags: , ,

Sumitra Nitin, “Harnessing the Power of the Varnam” – lecture- demonstration @ Ranjani Fine Arts , 13th Sept 2014

Vocal: Vid Sumitra Nitin

The idea of this lecture, Sumitra said, is largely addressed to the students, to help them understand, learn and practice all the attributes of carnatic music ( raga alapana, neraval, singing kalpana swaras, tanam, kalapramanam etc) through appropriate practice of the varnams. Varnam, an integral part of every students learning curve and his or her performance at the concert stage. This attempt is not to look at thearray of varnams and its specialities, but to look at the concert singing attributes through varnams. She mentioned all the aforementioned attributes of concert singing can be practiced through varnams at the early stages of the learning.

Varnam, as a form, is a late entrant to the scheme of classical music. The earliest varnam reported to be identified as the ‘mOhanam’ varNam of Sri Govinda Samayya, composed in the late 16th or early 17th century. Thus it is not an old compositional form, but one of the most used in the concerts and most useful for the students. In the teaching methodology a great emphasis is given to the learning of varnam and Sumitra said a student should learn at least 25 varnams during his learning phase. Citing the Ilayaraja’s song ‘ninnukOri’ from the film music, she said she will use the popular mohana varnam ‘ninnukOri’ for the rest of the evening to demonstrate the aspect she mentioned above.

Tana varNam

Ninnu kOri, is a tAna varNam. Tana varnams are called so because they are set in the tempo of tanam singing. She demonstrated this by singing the pallavi line of the varnam replacing the sahitya with tanam syllables. Effective practice of varnam can help a student to eminently perform tanam singing.

While singing alapana for a ragam, you have enough time to form your phrases and are sung in all three speeds. However, while singing tanam, one has to have a continuous flow and are usually sung in madhyama kalam. Varnams are also composed in madhyamakala tempo. She demonstrated these aspects singing alapana and tanam for mohanam in line with the ninnu kOri varnam.

Earlier days, there was something called ‘chittai tAnam’, a model tanam or tanam guides. Practicing chittai tanam helps you to sing tanam during concerts. However, this is not in practice now. Instead, she said, we can use the varnam to practice the tanam singing.

Pada varnam

Padams are the slowest of the compositions. One need a certain musical maturity to sing pada varnams as it is slow paced and with a lot of artistic and aesthetic appeal. One need a lot more practice to perform pada varnams. She said, Sri T M Krishna, had recently taken pada varnams to the main stream of the concerts.

* manavi kai konna rA dA – SankarAbharaNam – Tanjavur Quartette

Singing neraval for pada varnams are used during dance programs. They are very challenging as their tempo is very very slow. Learning pada varnams are of immense value to the students of music and she said every students should learn at least 2 pada varnams in their repertoire.

Since the focus is not on types of varnam, she said we will get back to tana varnams for the days discussion. She said a varnam is like a sari. A sari can be worn in many different ways. As in the case of sari, a 6 yards of cloth that can be worn as many ways, one can use the varnam during the learning period in many ways to enhance the knowledge of the musical attributes.


The first problem she will address, she said, is that of kalapramanam. How to maintain the tempo during the singing. She said, unless one is a master of laya, a student can use the metronome to steady their kalapramanam. Keeping the metronome at a constant beat, one can sing the varnam in 2 speeds and 3 speed. She demonstrated the same with the mohanam varnam.

‘Akaram’ singing

One should also practice the varnam by singing it in ‘akaram’ replacing the words.Olden times they used to practice with all vowels. However, she noted, there are two schools of thoughts in this. One school restricts the practice only to ‘a’karam, while the other schools are open to all the vowels. This will also help the students in singing the alapana for the raga.

Arohana – avarohana phrases

All the varnams, include the arohana and avarohana (ascend and descend) phrases in the composition. This would also help the students to get the grip on these phrases by practicing the specific phrases in the varnam. She demonstrated this using the Sankarabharanam varnam singing ‘daya judara rajakumAra’.


Varnam also teaches you to pronounce the words correctly. It is important for the teachers to emphasize on the right pronunciation and punctuation of the lyrics at the early stages of the learning. However most of the lyrics are in Telugu, and it might not be easy to explain the meaning to the student. Some of them are also ‘srngara rasa’ based which makes it difficult to explain the complete meaning to the students. But students should be taught to use the right words ( she quipped the use of ‘mira’ instead of EmirA’ ).

Also, most of the varnams are with out the bhAva or the emotive content in them. While there are abundance of ‘rAga bhAva’, there is no emotive bhava, especially the tana varnams. Pada varnams are definitely an exception.


One can learn to deploy various tala and laya combinations with the appropriate practice of varnam. An experienced student should practice with various tala structures, different take off points etc with varnams to equip him in future.

She demonstrated the various ‘eDuppu’ using the ninnu kOri varnam. Singing at ‘samam’ is easy but singing atheeta (one before samam) or anAghata ( one , two or 3 akshara after samam) will help the student to face any ‘laya’ and rythm based challenges. Explaining this with ‘taka’ and ‘takita’ before the kriti she explained these nuances.

One can also do trikalam and tisram, essential attributes of pallavi singing , through methodical practice of varnam.

Changes in Gati

One can also practice the changes of gati or naDai through varnams. Most of the Adi tala varnams are with 4 aksharas per beat ( chaturashra) and a change of this into 3 ( tishram) can be practiced using muktai swaras. After every 3 lines, one will have to reach samam. She demonstrated this with the counting sa she sang.  With ‘Tana’ varnams , which usually has 6 lines, this can easily performed. However for the sAvEri varnam which has 8 lines, one will have to repeat the first line of the muktai swaras to make it 9, to sing this way.

One can also do a khaNDam ( 5 counts), mishram ( 7 counts) and sankeernam( 9 counts) appropriately. However these would be a theoretical exercise, not really practiced. Ata tala varnams which has 14 counts can easily be sang in mishram. She deonstrated this with the bhairavi varnam viribONi.


Varnams typically have all the important ‘prayogams’ of a ragam. They will also have a few ‘apoorva’ prayogams as well like the ‘sa da pa’ use in Sankarabharanam or the ‘sAranga’ like sa-ri-da-pa in the kalyani varnam.  Varnams also give you the gruha swara, amSa swara and the nyAsA swara of the ragam (??). It will also help you practice to end your kalpana swaras, by carefully examining the varnams. She explained a few of these with sahana varnam ‘karunimpa’ , noting all the swara phrases are ending either at ‘sa’ or ‘ri’.

jaNTai and dhAtu prayogams

Students can practice a lot of jantai and dhatu prayogams using varnams as they have plenty of them. She demonstrated this with the ninnu kOri varnam again.

Charanam lines

Sumitra explained that the charanam line of a varnam is a mini pallavi. Explaining this with a demonstration she said all the aspects of manodharma sangeetham can be done at the charanam line. She recalled an instance where Smt Vedavalli sang a short neraval at the charanam line, later clarifying she had not done any innovation, but they were in practice in earlier days.

Swaras for Varnams

There are two thoughts about singing kalpana swaras at the end of the varnam. Demonstrating with kalyani varnam and with kAmbOji varnam, she demonstrated how one can sing kalpana swaras for varnams and how a student can learn from the varnam on how to end the kalpana swaras.


Trikalam is usually a pallavi exercise and is rather complicated for a non-laya oriented person. Singing the given line in 3 speeds with tala being constant. She explained how one can do this practicing a varnam, demonstrating through abhOgi varnam

She said, the last charana swaram of the varnam gives you the entire gamut of the ragam and are usually starts at ‘shadjam’, Kedaragaula varnam being an exception ( starts at ‘ri’). It also gives us all the constructs that is unique to that ragam. She sang a few lines to explain this aspect, singing the mohana kalyani varnam of Sri Lalgudi Jayaraman.

Smt Sumitra Nitin, concluded her short lecture with a surprise varnam composed by her. She said, this was done during an advanced training conducted by Sri Neyveli Santhanagopalan. Emphasising the importance of varnam he asked each of the participants to compose one overnight and present them in the next class. This varnam , was a result of that exercise. An interesting varnam with a lot of technical brilliance to it. One has to listen to this again with full accompaniment.

unnai nAn nambinEn guha sOdaranE – kEdAram – Sumitra Nitin.

This is a good idea for a Lec-Dem before the concert by Ranjani fine Arts and a good , relevant subject to explain. Good job done by the organisers and the vidushi.

These are some of the aspects that I could gather during the speech and I am sure with my incompetence, I would have misunderstood or missed many points.

1 Comment

Posted by on September 14, 2014 in Lec-Dem


Tags: , ,

Guru Utsava @ Ranjani Fine Arts , 12th July 2014

On the occasion of ‘guru poornima’ Ranjani Fine Arts come up with an innovative idea to celebrate the day with the performances of music teachers in the vicinity.  Day 1 was set aside for Carnatic Music and the Day 2 is for Hindustani. There were nearly 18 concerts of 30 mins duration , yesterday for Carnatic music.  I couldn’t make it to the first half of the proceedings, but did catch up with 9 concerts ( 2 of them partially) yesterday. It will be difficult to look at each of the concert in isolation, but to look at the major points.  We should also note the shear variety of kritis, the attempts by music teachers – few highly established and reknown as performers, and a few probably are getting a stage – to showcase their capabilities in front of their disciples as well as the music lovers.

An event like this guarantee participation from the students and their parents, hence there was no dearth of audience for the performance, though it thinned towards the end. I was very impressed with the way it was organised and the way teachers as well as the students absorbed the event to its fullest intent and potential. Kudos to the organisers.

Here are what transpired on stage, while I was 100% present. The list is only to demonstrate the vast knowledge and repertoire that these elite musicians held in themselves. I will not get into the details of each of them. Given 30 mins to each, it would be a tough task to come up with a satisfying performance, but most of them did a commendable job. Unusual, heavy weight kritis chosen to elaborate after a short introductory piece ( varnam in a few cases) and winding up with a devarnama. Most of them limited their concert to 3 or 4 kritis, but making an impact with one of them in particular.

Sumitra Nitin, chose to sing to the occasion with cleverly picked kritis on the theme ‘guru’,each of them brilliantly sang while Vid Bhagyalakshmi Chandrasekhar, in her meditative mood, lifted the entire audience to a different mood with her music.She played a breathtaking alapana for Andolika. Shobha Kukke with a cracker of neraval for a rather rarely heard kriti in rAmapriya of Vasudevachar, Vid Rajalakshmi with a bEgaDa, Chitra Srikanth gave another gem in dharmavath , a dasara pada by Vijaya Vittala Dasa , apt for the occasion. Priyasri Rao gave an elaborate alapana in bhairavi and decided to sing ‘sari evvaramma’ in Khanda Jhumpa (?). Highly talented Arun Achanta, gave the final performance with a skillful ritigaula.

The supporting artist did a decent job. RSR Srikanth was awesome, lifting the concerts with his brilliant accompaniment. His disciple Swaminathan, did a commendable job. Prema Vivek , Anirudh and Chandramouli on violin was good. T Raghavendran, playing for Arun Achanta, had the only chance to play a tani avartanam , albeit short, and was impressive.

Here is the list :

Shobha Kukke (vocal) – Vid Shylaja ( Vocal Support) – Pramod Keshav ? ( violin) – Sridhar Rao ( Mrudangam)

01. chalamEla jEsE (varNam) – nAtakurinji –  Rangaswami Nattuvanar

02. nIvE nannu paripAlinchutaku – kAmbOji – Misu Krishnaiyer ( A )

03.  SrI vAsudEva SrI ramaNa mAm pAhi – rAmapriya – Mysore Vasudevachar ( A,N,S )

neraval and swara @ ‘ navanIta dadhi chOra nandagOpakumAra’

04. sundara mUruthy mukhya prANA – khamAs? – Purandara Dasa

Rajalakshmi ( Veena) – V Anirudh ( violin) – Swaminathan ( Mrudangam)

01.  varNam – valachi – Lalgudi Jayaraman

02.  Sankari nIvE – bEgaDa – Subbaraya Sasthri  ( A )

03.  jananI ninnu vinA – rItigauLa – Subbaraya Sasthri ( A )

04.  rAma manthrava japisO – jOnpuri – Purandara Dasa

Chitra Srikanth ( vocal) – Cnahdramouli ( voilin) – RSR Srikanth ( Mrudangam)

01. guruvaruLum tiruvaruLum – AbhOgi – Gaurishankar Stapathi

02.  guru purandara dAsarE – dharmavathi – Vijaya Vittala Dasa ( A,S )

03.  alOkayE SrI bAlakrishNam – ?  – Narayana Theertha

04. sai bhajan

Priyasri Rao ( vocal) – Prema Vivek ( Violin ) – RSR Srikanth ( mrudangam)

01.  aruL seyya vENum ayya – rasikapriya – Koteeswara Iyer ( S )

02.  sari evvaramma – bhairavi – Shyama Sasthri ( A,N,S )

neraval & swara @’ mAdhava sOdari gaurI’

03.  tillAna ( tana dhIm jhum tadhIm tana dhiraNA) – kadana kuthuhalam ? –  Lalgudi Jayaraman

Sumitra Nitin ( vocal) – Prema Vivek (violin) – RSR Srikanth ( mrudangam)

01.  SLOkam ( gurur brahmA gurur vishNu..) – hamsAnandi

guruvina gulAma – hamsAnandi – Purandara Dasa ( S )

02.  jagadgurO dayAnidhE – aThANa – Muthaiah Bhagavathar ( A,N,S )

neraval & swara @ ‘ nigamAgamasAra suguNa nitya shuddha muktulaina

03.  SLOkam ( pUjyAya rAghavEndrAya) – nIlAmbari

lAli lAli lAli lAli, lAli rAghavEndra lAli – nIlAmbari – Jagannatha Vittala

Bhagyalakshmi Chandrasekhar ( Veena ) – RSR Srikanth ( mrudangam)

01. aruLpuri ainkaranE – saraswathi – Papanasam Sivan ( O,S )

02.  rAga sudhA rasa – AndOLika – Thyagaraja ( A )

03.  kusumAkara shObhita – kOsalam – Dikshitar ( A,t)

04.  taruNam Idamma – gauLipantu – Shyama Sasthri

05. pAhi kalyANa rAma (divya nAma kIrthanam) – kApi – thyagaraja ( A )

06.  SrI rAma rAma rAma ( utsava sampradaya kriti) – nIlAmbari – Thyagaraja

07. dEvarnAma ( … sthita vendu..) – rEvati – Purandara Dasa

08. SLOkam ( manthra pushpam ? )

Arun Achanta ( vocal) – Chandramouli ( violin) – Raghavendran T ( mrudangam)

01. intha chaukasEya ( varNam) – kAmavardhani – Mysore Sadashiva Rao

02. jananI ninnu vinA – rItigauLa – Subbaraya Sasthri  ( A,N,S,T )

neraval & swara @’ tAmasamu sEyakane brOvumu’

03. mangaLam – saurAshtram – Thyagaraja


Leave a comment

Posted by on July 13, 2014 in Concert songlist


Tags: , ,