Song of Surrender

Friday, 7 February 2014

Unforgettable laya vinyasam (part I)

By B.S. Purushotham

I believe that dedicated percussion programmes featuring high calibre vidwans are very much needed in the current concert scenario. We have among us many extraordinary percussionists, well equipped to present such ‘special laya vinyasam’ programmes, which can enable them to demonstrate their art to its fullest potential for a duration of 45 minutes or so, something a regular kutcheri cannot offer them.

With this in view, I arranged a programme of two successive expositions of 40 minutes each at Raga Sudha Hall, Mylapore, in memory of my father and guru B. Seetharam and mridanga vidwan Bangalore M.L. Veerabhadraiyya on the afternoon of 25 December, 2013. The first of these featured Anantha R. Krishnan (mridangam) and B. Shreesundarkumar (khanjira), with Abhishek Raghuram providing talam support, and the next one was a rare konnakkol duet by B.R. Somasekhar Jois and R. Karthik, both from Bengaluru.

Many vidwans and rasikas packed the hall that afternoon, despite the hectic schedule of programmes on that prime date of the Chennai music season.

Anantha and Sundarkumar made it an extraordinary laya vinyasam offering with their exceptional percussion performance. Star vocalist Abhishek Raghuram keeping talam on stage for the two percussionists was a pleasant sight. The tala chosen was Adi.

A child prodigy who has gone on to become a world class percussioninst, Anantha started the laya vinyasam with chaturasram and ended the first round with a combination of chaturasram-tisram patterns. The clarity of strokes at every speed, and the nadam, especially of the gumkis he played on the left side of the mridangam, were quite special.

Both of them played short, crisp rounds of superior quality, leading to high listening pleasure, for lay listeners, knowledgeable rasikas and musicians, including laya vidwans. All through the concert, spontaneous ‘baley’ and ‘sabhash’ filled the near-full auditorium whenever they played an excellent sollu or korvai or any interesting patterns.

Introducing the artists, I had said that Shreesundarkumar was one of the best khanjira vidwans in the music field today. He can replicate with one hand anything that two-handed percussionist plays, at any speed, with amazing clarity.

Anantha’s sankeernam (9 beats) in the second round was stunning and Sundarkumar’s vinyasam of sankeernam took the playing to great heights. Both played many tavil patterns, which made their tani even more interesting.

The most captivating portion was the ‘kuraippu’. At the very start Anantha had stated that the duo would focus specially on kuraippu. Their brilliant playing in tisra nadai featured a classic exchange of volleys as the laya vinyasam reached a crescendo of ideas. It was a joy to listen to them play, with each at his creative best.

The energy of their playing was transmitted so totally to the listeners that by the time they played the final mohra and korvai, the whole audience seemed convinced that they were listening to one of the best displays of laya vinyasam. The applause went on for several minutes after the conclusion of the duo’s spectacular demonstration of percussive excellence. It had been a breathtaking performance.

I shall share with readers the experience of the konnakol duet that followed in the next issue of Sruti.

(The author is a well known khanjira artist)

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