Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Sanjay Subrahmanyan Show - Episode 10 - On Dandapani Desigar with Sriram V

Chat with Sriram V on MM Dandapani Desigar.

Click below to listen

The Sanjay Subrahmanyan Show - Episode 10 - On Dandapani Desigar with Sriram V

PS: Due to a technical problem the title music comes for a few seconds as I am talking at the beginning of show. Please bear with me as I did not have the time to listen to it before uploading. So really sorry but I can assure you that not much would have been missed in the context of the topic of the show :)

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Happy New Year!

The curtains have down on 2008 and the new year dawns yet again.

But do things really change so much? I am just doing what I am doing. Even as I sit down to think back on the season that just almost completed, it is as if another season has already begun. I have already started travelling down south with hardly a couple of days to sit back and breathe easily.

The last year has been quite memorable in so many ways. Here are some of my personal highlights from last year.

1. Back to the net - It was in 1995 that I was introduced to the fascinating world of the internet. The newsgroup was quite a riot with reviews getting posted. It was probably the first time that carnatic music was being reviewed by all and sundry at a location other than the mainstream press. Then of course the Great Affair started and fell in my life and I vowed to take a break as others got in to do what I had tried. Last year with growth of social media and web 2.0 there was a lot going on that it got my interest tickled again. So my blog/podcast/facebook/twitter/friendfeed etc etc are really keeping me going at the moment.

2. Travel - This has been one of the most travelled years in the last decade or so. The US tour was quite a whirlwind affair with 17 concerts in 35 days. 2009 promises to be just more and more of travel.

3. Students - A number of my students have finally started moving along well and had a great season. This is so gratifying for me personally though I know I am guilty of not giving them enough time because of my own travel commitments. But the recent series of concerts that I organised has given me the confidence that they can handle themseves pretty well. So all the best to them!

4. On a personal note I am most thankful to people like my guru Shri SRD Vaidyanathan, Shri N Ramani, Shri Nagai Muralidharan and Shri Guruvayur Dorai who continue to inspire me and guide me through so many difficult periods musically or otherwise in my professional career. These are people with tons of experience and their insights have been invaluable.

5. All my accompanists on stage have been such great people. It is not easy for people to travel with each other and spend days on end. Forget about the times on stage. Afterall that is what we are all paid to do. It is all those days that we spend off it that can get trying. But i have been lucky and am thankful that they continue to be such a comforting influence for me. Afterall they have to put with so much of my idiosyncrasies like playing all these obscure board games that I carry.

6. Finally it all of you who read this blog, post comments, download podcasts, send me emails who are the real motivation for me. Please keep it coming.There are times when I may not reply to everything. But I can assure you that I read everything. My travel schedule can get in the way of my not being regular in my updates but I will try and do my best to better myself this year.

Happy New year!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Kalayami raghuramam

Kalayami raghuramam

Kalayami raghuramam is a composition of Swati Tirunal in the ragam Begada and set to Misra Chapu. I first heard this song in a GNB recording of his 1964 Music academy concert. For many years that Begada alapana for me was the very definition of the ragam and I used it as a template for my practice. The first time I heard that concert recording must have been sometime in 1980 or 81. There were only two things that I remember from that first listening. My dad told me that it was GNB's last concert at the Music Academy. He also said that the first three or four phrases of the alapana were to be heard, savored and memorised because they were so perfectly rendered and symbolised the essence of Begada.

Many years later I had just sung a concert in which I sang Ragasudharasa in Andolika. My guru who had come to the concert told me the next day, that though I gave a decent account of Andolika, he thought that the raga had been done to death. If I wanted to take a leaf out of GNB's book, I'd be better off singing something like Kalayami in Begada!

Later in 2004 I was on tour in the US and Shri Mannargudi Easwaran who was accompanying me asked if I knew Kalayami in Begada. He even asked me to learn it and sing it sometime. I had completely forgotten about that incident. A week back I was just thinking of the songs that I could sing at the Kuthiramalika in trivandrum and thought I should sing Kalayami. It is a song I have heard many times and it should not be difficult to learn up the song quickly and would be a change from the otherwise usual stuff. I met Varadarajan, who was to accompany me in Trivandrum, a couple of days back and told him that I was planning to sing Kalayami in Trivandrum. He immediately said "Easwaran sir will be very happy!" Of course Shri Easwaran was supposed to play for me and I thought maybe it was becasue he had requested it some years back.

Yesterday at the concert in Trivandrum, as soon as Varadarajan finished his turn of the Begada alapana, I started Kalayami. Shri Easwaran got so excited that he shook his head, uttered a loud "sabhash" and immediately leaned over and patted me on the thigh, before beginning to play. After the song finished he called me aside and said "janma sapalyam" or words to that effect. Later that evening when we were having dinner he told me he heard that song for the first time in 1964 sung by GNB at the Music academy. Ever since he has been wanting to play for that song and never got an opportunity. Inspite of having played so many concerts for artistes of the GNB school like S Kalyanaraman, ML Vasantakumari and Trichur Ramachandran, he had never played for this particular song. He then recalled how he had asked me some years back and was so happy that I sang it!

It is interesting how certain songs have that effect on people. For me it was that Begada alapana form that same cocnert wheile it was that song for Shri Easwaran. I would have heard that alapana atleast a 1000 times in the last 25 years or so! And poor Easwaran sir would have been dreaming about that song every time someone sang ana alapana of Begada. Anyway this morning as I was chatting with Shri Rama Verma beforing getting back to Chennai, we discussed the Kalayami incident and how Easwaran sir got so excited. He said that as soon as I started Kalayami, he had leaned over to his father and whispered "It is GNB's birthday today!" The icing on the Kalayami cake finally came from Shri Rama Verma's mother who said, "According to my grandmother Maharani Sethu Parvati Bayi, GNB was the best exponent of Begada and I beieve he flirted with the ragam!"