Song of Surrender

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

His music will live on

Sruti Box

The immortal voice has been stilled, but his music will live on. Balamurali was not a legendary musician; he was a phenomenon. He was a controversial musician, criticised by the orthodox as a breaker of tradition but therein lay his innovative genius. Who can honestly say they have not been seduced by the magic of his melody? His voice could soar like an eagle and, with equal felicity, plumb the depths of the lower octaves.

If DK Pattammal was almost the only female musician who could sing even complex kritis with clear enunciation and pronunciation, without lapsing into the cardinal sin of padacchedam, it can be asserted without fear of contradiction that Balamurali was almost the only male musician who could do likewise with what my English Professor used to call ''the slippery ease of the first person singular".

I recall with immense pleasure the youthful team of M Balamuralikrishna, MS Gopalakrishnan and TV Gopalakrishnan taking the Carnatic music world by storm with their infectiously joyous but strictly classical concerts in the 1960s and seventies.

I had occasion to host Balamurali for lunch sometime in the 1970s when I was posted in Chandigarh. My wife and her friend asked him, with some trepidation, if he would teach them a kriti. He graciously did so. The kriti was the rarely heard but delightful Dakshayani rakshamam dhritam in the raga Naganandini.

G Sankaran

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