Saturday, November 28, 2009


Sri Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar born on May 19th 1890, in the village of Ariyakudi in Ramnad District, had his early training under the tutelage of Pudukottai Malayappa Ayer and later under Namakkal Narasimha Iyengar a pallavi exponent of the yesteryears. He underwent intense gurukulavasam under Ramnad Srinivasa Iyengar, popularly referred to as Poochi Iyengar who shaped his musical thought process. Sri Ariyakudi belonged to the Sishya Parampara of the saint composer Thyagaraja, enabling him to popularize the compositions of the saint. He was considered to be the architect of the modern concert tradition which continues to hold good even today. His genius could be attributed to short crisp raga alapanas, phenomenal kalapramana, and nereval which had a lovely grace and charm about it in the sarvalaghu pattern. A legend by any count he left a profound impact in the minds of even a purist. His contribution to carnatic music is invaluable in terms of setting to tune the Tirupavais of Sri Andal( at the request of his highness Sri Late Chandrashekara Saraswathi Swamigal of kanchi),a few devarnamas of Purandaradasa, a few tharangams of Narayana Theertha and Ramanatakam of Arunachala Kavirayar. Also a composer of two thillanas in the ragas Kanada and Bilahari. Disciples of the Ariyakudi include Late Sri K.V Narayanaswami, Late Sri B.Rajam Iyer, and surving disciple Sri Alleppy Venkateshan.


G.N.Balasubramaniam was born on the 6th of January 1910 in the village of Gudulur belonging to the Thanjavur district. He was the only musician of the era who did not undergo formal training or gurukulavasam. Had a meteoric rise at a tender age of18 and went on to rule the platform till the age of 55. A multifaceted genius, he could be referred to as Neoclassicist. His style laid emphasis on raga music and according to him raga alapana was very essential. He possessed a voice which had clarity that could easily touch three octaves with ease. His briga oriented singing which is actually atiduritakala gamaka was used by him as a tool to enhance the ragas. He had tremendous grip over laya which enabled him to handle complicated pallavis with ease and could be referred to as bramha laya. He was one musician who could sing with ease, swaras in three tempos of speed and kalpramana shuddam that was unparelled. Composer par excellence he composed as many as 250 songs in praise of his Istha devatha Rajarajeshwari, Krishna and Shasta. Also has the credit of setting to tune a few songs of Subramania Bharathiar and N.S Chidambaram. He is one musician who could be referred to as a lakshya and lakshana vidwan.He drew inspiration from musicians namely like Sri Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar and Sri Rajarathnam Pillai. He was well read upon on various aspects of the theory of music and its nuances and continues live in the hearts of both the old and young alike. He has left behind a long trail of disciples that include Late Smt M.L Vasanthakumari, Late Sri Thanjavur S.Kalyanaraman , Sri T.S Balasubramaniam and Sri Trichur V.Ramachandran.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

My Speech on Trichur V.Ramachandran in 2006!!!!

Honorable Justice Mohan, Sri V. Ramachandran, dignitaries on the stage and in the auditorium and friends. I have been called upon to speak as a Rasika. I am just 21 while the rest of the speakers are higher in age and eminence. I therefore think it is a privilege which is given to a very few. I have to strike a personal note while recalling my earliest association with Sri Ramachandran. My Childhood was truly different and I was brought up in a truly unconventional manner. I grew up with the music of the great masters of Carnatic music whose tapes were more precious to me than my school books. GNB particularly fascinated me. I was obsessed with his music that obsession continues and has only grown over the years. Yet the fact that I could listen to it only on tape and not live bothered me. And then came a tape given by a friend T.S Vedagiri. The voice and style of music in the tape forcefully reminded me of GNB. I was intrigued the very next day my father took me to a concert of Sri V. Ramachandran and I sat mesmerized ever since then as a rasika and I would have heard about 100 concerts and many recordings. As a youngster I have learnt much from his music particularly Raga alapana.

He was very indulgent towards me despite our differences in age. He has a uncanny knack of putting youngsters like me at ease clarifying our doubts without mocking us or adopting a superior air.

At this juncture I would like to recall a concert of Sri Ramachandran accompanied by Sri VV Ravi and Sangeetha Kalanidhi Umyalpuram Shivaraman.It happened to be my cousins 1st Birthday celebration. The concert commenced with the Abhogi varnam followed by a Pantuvarali with the special touches of the GNB bhani. The Andolika there after commenced with a quivering kaishika nishadam which by itself brought out the swaroopa of the raga. Then there was a spectacular Mohanam in which he sang Sri Ramaramani the nereval and Swaram at “Athulitha Divya Guna” with the inimitable support of Shri Shivaraman took the concert to dizzy heights. As a youngster I was naturally exuberant. But even more important was the verdict of Sangeetha Kalanidhi Dr N. Ramani who was in the audience who said that he had not a concert like that in recent times. Sri Ramachandran is one of the few artists who has courageously taken up ragas like Gamanashrama and Rageshri for RTP. For a youngster like me it was revelation of sorts. Whether it is delineation of major ragas like Kalyani, Shanmugapriya and Thodi or minor ragas like Malavi, Poornachandrika hes equally at ease I have heared him sing Arakimpave in Thodi in athichowka kalam accompanied delectably on the mridangam bySri Palghat R. Raghu. I have always enjoyed this range in his vidwat.

I have only one wish that we should all have the pleasure of listening to a Veteran and accomplished Vidwan like Sri Ramachandran for many more years to come. Conscious of my age and lack of experience I do not want to venture and say more where angels fear to thread. I thank the organizers for giving me this unique experience. Thank You.

About a Great Guru from a Sishya:

One of the best things that happened to me in my life was meeting a person like Smt Indra Ramanathan. She has been a guru sometimes even more so a friend, philosopher and guide with whom you could just freely discuss about music or any issues. She gave herself on to me in bountiful measures her precious time in helping me cultivate a truly refined taste in music. She was always a perfectionist expecting the best out of her students. Her technique of teaching was absolutely unique and anybody who follows it is sure to excel as it has all ingredients of how authentic traditional carnatic music is to be rendered. She was a person who was very broadminded when it came to music. When referring to this I remember a class when I rendered an Abhang and she was all encouragement and gave me more ideas of enhancing the composition. She had a tremendous repertoire of songs which is known to a very few and she knew many songs that were not very common in the platform like say Palumaru which is a rare varnam in devamanohari. She was a great admirer of the carnatic music maestro Late Sri G.N.Balasubramaniam and shared with me the finer nuances of his art. As a person she was simple and excited about small things and very shy when in the public eye. She will always live in the hearts of all her family and students who adore her.