Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Brilliant konnakol duet (part II)

By B.S. Purushotham

I wanted to present something ‘novel’ to the Chennai audience, a rare example of laya vinyasam, so I organised a konnakol duet as the second part of the programme on 25 December 2013 at Raga Sudha hall, following the earlier percussion duet by Anantha R. Krishnan and Shreesundar Kumar. The idea was to give a dying art form a well-deserved boost.

The duet was by B.R. Somasekhar Jois and R. Karthik, both from Bangalore. This was their very first performance in Chennai and the only konnakol duet programme in the December season.

They both started with patterns of ta, dhi, tom, nam, the very first lessons in mridangam or any other Carnatic percussion instrument. Then Somasekhar Jois in his first round started reciting the chaturasra solkattus in different speeds. The most interesting patterns emerged now, for example the gumkis in mridangam, khanjira and ghatam, which Jois recited in considerable variety.

The chapu tones of the mridangam, which sound like plam, plam that Somasekhar recited made listening to this unique konnakol more interesting.

In his round, R. Karthik recited with amazing clarity and the duo complemented each other so well.

The rendering of words like Hari, Om, Harisankara, and Harikitataka, and later a sloka in Sanskrit on Ganesa and from there going into khanda nadai [5] added excitement to the whole recital.

After an exchange of short and crisp ideas in kuraippu, both vidwans came together for the crescendo, which was like a magical garland of rhythmic beauty. It is not at all easy to recite konnakol for 40 to 45 minutes, but the musicians came up with a new concept in each and every round.

We rarely listen to this great form in exclusive demonstrations. Before a percussionist learns to play his instrument, he is first taught sollu or nadai or other percussive patterns orally, which forms the basics of konnakol. But why then is this art form not taken up seriously and not given its due?

Apart from the great vidwan Trichy Thayumanavan, there are very few today to explore konnakol. Many artists must come forward to recite konnakol, especially in talavadya concerts. In fact, going a step further, I suggest that percussionists recite one or two rounds of konnakol during their tani in each concert. The audience, thus acquainted with the percussive language, can enjoy the tani even more. Perhaps fewer listeners will get up and leave the auditorium during the tani avartanam!

As Chitravina N. Ravikiran said at the end of the concert, Somasekhar Jois and Karthik have made a sincere effort to study the dynamics of south Indian percussion instruments and showcase that learning in their konnakol recitals. I am confident that they will very soon be seen all over Chennai and also at many music festivals elsewhere, taking this art form everywhere, bringing the konnakol back to the limelight.

(The author is a well known khanjira artist)

1 comment:

  1. Dear editor on Sruti
    my name is Henrik Andersen and I am a student of Trilok Gurtu & Pete Lockett
    I have spend more than 20 years to promote Konnakol
    Since it is my greatest inspiration . Today I am the leading voice on the internet
    on this mission and I just want to let you know about my work and my efford.
    Hope that you will enjoy this performance with my trio

    Love & light

    Henrik Andersen