Aalaap

Saturday, 22 September 2018

Guru Narmada

22.9.1942 - 30.3.2007

Birthdays & Anniversaries 

Guru Narmada contributed immensely to dance and students of dance with her generous giving and sharing of all her knowledge of dance. 
She trained some fine artists like Lakshmi Gopalswamy, Manju Bhargavi, Sathyanarayan Raju, Nirupama Rajendra, Malathi Iyengar, Praveen, and Anuradha Vikranth. Her students describe her as a great teacher and a good friend and guide.

A Sangeet Natak Akademi awardee for her contribution to dance, Narmada also received the Shanthala Award from the Government of Karnataka. With over 25 years of teaching experience, she was one of the most senior dance gurus of Bangalore. 

Narmada had her initial training from VS Kaushik, and training in the Tanjavur style of Bharatanatyam from KP Kittappa Pillai for 18 years.  She opened her dance school Shakuntala Nruthyalyaa (in memory of her mother) at Bangalore in 1978 . Instilling in her students many rich, creative ways of using adavus without sacrificing classicism was a notable part of her teaching. She encouraged her students to retain their individuality and creative freedom within the classical framework.

Jitendra Abhisheki

Birthdays & Anniversaries 
21.9.1930 - 7.11.1998

Jitendra Abhisheki, an exponent of the Agra gharana, was one of the most popular Hindustani vocalists of the 20th century. He received his musical training from . Hussein Khan and Jagannathbua Purohit. Known for his rendering of khayal and thumri, he did extensive research on the music of folk theatre.

Abhisheki won a reputation as a vocalist whose music, delivered in a husky voice, appealed to lay listeners as well as connoisseurs, though basically he sang for himself. His performances drew capacity audiences. His reputation burgeoned further because of his deep involvement with natya geet which was reflected in the natya pada-s he composed. In his musical creations for Marathi musicals like 'Matsyagandha', Khatyar Khaljat Ghusli', and Yayati ani Devyani'  , he blended tradition and modernity in a beautiful way.

Thursday, 20 September 2018

T.R. Subrahmaniam

Birthdays & Anniversaries

Professor T. R. Subramaniam popularly known as TRS was a vocalist in the Carnatic tradition. He was popular for infusing unconventional and populistic techniques in his renditions, especially of the pallavi, without compromising on the classicism of the rendition. Famous for his willingness to explore new avenues regardless of whether they would be accepted or not, TRS' concerts were much sought after. He was also much loved as a teacher.

The third recital of the series, on 7 July, was by T.R. Subrahmaniam of the Delhi University. He was accompanied by T.Rukmini on the violin, Trichur Narendran on the mridangam and  N. Govindarajan on the ghatam.

TRS opened the concert with Muthuswamy Dikshitar's navagraha kriti, Angarakam, in the raga Surati. For the seven kriti-s on the planets, Dikshitar employed the sapta tala-s, namely, Dhruva, Matya, Rupaka, Jhampa, Triputa, Ata and Eka, in that order. I have observed that many musicians employ the colloquial way of two beats and one veechu (sweep of the hand) the composer's intentions. Regrettably, TRS too took liberties and rendered Angarakam with two beats and one veechu. As an instructor of music, in its theoretical as well as practical aspects, TRS has a duty to uphold tradition, respect the sentiments of great composers and acquit himself as a shining example.
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Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Saroja Vaidyanathan

Birthdays & Anniversaries
19.9.1937

Saroja Vaidyanathan  is a choreographerguru and exponent of Bharatanatyam. She was conferred the Padma Shri in 2002 and the Padma Bhushan in 2013 by the Government of India.

Saroja is a prolific choreographer and has to her credit ten full length ballets and nearly two thousand individual Bharatanatyam items. She undertook a cultural tour of South East Asia in 2002, accompanying Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's visit to the ASEAN Summit in 2002. She has also published her renditions of Subramania Bharati's songs and poems and some of his works have also been set to dance by her.

Saroja Vidyanathan has written a number of books on Bharatanatyam and Carnatic music including The Classical Dances of IndiaBharatanatyam – An In-Depth StudyCarnataka Sangeetham, and The Science of Bharatanatyam.

Saroja was conferred the Padma Shri in 2002 and the Padma Bhushan in 2013 by the Government of India. She is also the recipient of the Sahitya Kala Parishad Samman of the Government of Delhi, the Kalaimamani title bestowed by the Tamil Nadu Eyal Isai Nataka Manram and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award. She was conferred the title of 'Bharata Kalai Sudar' in 2006.

Indrani Rahman

Birthdays & Anniversaries
19.9.1930 - 5.2.1999

Indrani Rahman was an Indian classical dancer, of Bharata NatyamKuchipudiKathakali and Odissi, which she popularised in the west, and later settled in New York in 1976.
In 1952, she won the Miss India pageant. Later, she joined her mother Ragini Devi's company. She popularised the Indian classical dance form, Odissi during her international tours. Indrani had received the Padma Shri in 1969 and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in the performing arts and also the Taraknath Das Award.

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Jon Higgins

Birthdays & Anniversaries

18.9.1939 - 7.12.1984
Jon Borthwick Higgins (September 18, 1939 – December 7, 1984), also known in India as Higgins Bhagavatar, was an American musician, scholar, and teacher known principally for his rare skill as a non-Indian in the field of Carnatic music. He lived much of his student and professional life at Wesleyan University.
He founded the Indian music studies program at York University in Toronto with Trichy Sankaran in 1971, and returned to Wesleyan in 1978 as a professor of music and Director of the Center for the Arts. He continually sought to strengthen the quality of Wesleyan's curriculum, and immersed himself in numerous cultural activities inside and beyond the university community. He also maintained a deep relationship with his family.
Higgins was a singer of European and Western classical music. He is also recognized as the first non-Indian to perform South Indian classical Carnatic music at a high level of proficiency. He began his Indian music studies in Wesleyan courses taught by Robert E. Brown and T. Ranganathan, and was quickly captured by the subtle beauty of the art form. He decided to fully dedicate himself to learning the language of Carnatic music, and went to India on a Fulbright scholarship to learn from Ranganathan's brother, T. Viswanathan. Within a short period of time he performed to great acclaim at the Tyagaraja Aradhana, an important music festival in South India. He later continued his studies under their sister, renowned dancer T. Balasaraswati, and wrote his dissertation on the dance music of bharatanatyam. Higgins returned to India as a Senior Research Fellow of the American Institute of Indian Studies. He continued to perform Carnatic music, recorded several albums, and due to his widely recognized sensitivity was honored with the sobriquet "Bhagavatar" (scholarly musician). 

NALCO Award


The jury of the OMC Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra Award Festival presented the NALCO guru Kelucharan Mohapatra Award to Dr.Sachi Das (Theatre) and to guru Lingaraj Behera (Odissi) on 9 September at the 24th OMC Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra Award Festival 2018. The NALCO guru Kelucharan Mohapatra Yuva Prativa Samman was presented to four young artists in the area of classical dances and Odissi music. The recipients were Sonali Mohapatra (Bhubaneswar) & Subikash Mukherjee (Kolkata) for Odissi dance, Swati Sinha (New Delhi) for Kathakand and Rohan Suresh Dahale (Mumbai) for Odissi Music.

Monday, 17 September 2018

Lalgudi G. Jayaraman

Birthdays & Anniversaries

17.9.1930 - 22.4.2013
Lalgudi Gopala Iyer Jayaraman (17 September 1930 – 22 April 2013) was an Indian Carnatic violinist, vocalist and composer. He was awarded Padma Bhushan by the Government of India in 2001. He is commonly grouped with M.S. Gopalakrishnan and T.N.Krishnan as part of the violin-trinity of Carnatic Music.

He expanded the style of violin playing by inventing a whole new technique that is designed to best suit the needs of Indian Classical Music and establishing a unique style that came to be known as Lalgudi Bani'. Jayaraman composed several 'kritis', 'tillanas' and 'varnams' and dance compositions, which are a blend of ragabhava, rhythm and lyrical beauty. Lalgudi's instrumental talent comes to the fore in the form of lyrical excellence. He brought the most-sought-after vocal style into violin, and his renditions exhibit knowledge of lyrical content of the compositions.[4][5][6] Lalgudi actively and scientifically learned to self-critique his performances and dutifully wrote detailed reviews after each concert, a habit encouraged by his father and guru.[1] He was loath to experiment on stage in his solo concerts and almost always planned to the last detail, leading a certain critic to tout them as being intellectual rather than emotional in spirit, but Lalgudi's spontaneity and innate musical genius were often seen when he accompanied leading vocalists.

Sunday, 16 September 2018

M.S. Subbulakshmi

16.9.1916-11.12.2004
Birthdays & Anniversaries

Madurai Shanmukhavadivu Subbulakshmi (also known as M.S.) was an Indian Carnatic singer from MaduraiTamil Nadu. She was the first musician ever to be awarded the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian honour.[1] She is the first Indian musician to receive the Ramon Magsaysay award, often considered Asia's Nobel Prize,[2] in 1974 with the citation reading "Exacting purists acknowledge Srimati M. S. Subbulakshmi as the leading exponent of classical and semi-classical songs in the carnatic tradition of South India

The rendering of songs in Carnatic music is in the nature of 'ashtavadhana' (a feat of doing eight things simultaneously). It consists of adherence to sruti, command over laya, remembering the sahitya, knowing its meaning, bringing out the bhava, correct pronunciation, understanding the special features of raga and the use of gamaka-s. One who masters all these aspects is a compleat (meaning perfect) musician. MS was one of the few who belonged to this elite category.

A rarely known fact is that Jaidev, the venerable music director of Hindi movies, had approached MS to sing Allah tero naam in Gaud Sarang for the movie 'Hum Dono'. Unfortunately she did not agree as she had cut off all connections with the film world after 'Meera'. One can only speculate as to how the song would have been rendered by her. Instead Lata Mangeshkar provided the playback singing in a chorus. She sang the song as only she could have done. It became an all-time hit. In this connection a recent interview of Lata by The Times of India will be of interest to readers of Sruti. She listed her ten favourite songs. The first one was Aayega aanewala in 'Mahal'. This is what she said: "In those days I was a fan of M.S. Subbalaxmi (sic). I must have seen her film 'Meera' at least 50 times. Her style of singing got ingrained in my memory. Though the lyrics of 'Mahal' (written by Kamal Amrohi) were almost Urdu, while singing it I imagined how Subbalaxmi would have sung it." What a tribute from one Bharat Ratna to another!.
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Alathur Venkatesa Iyer

16.9.1895 - 1958
Birthdays & Anniversaries 

Venkatesa Iyer (born 1894) had drifted from a vedic-chanting family to learn music. He mastered the harmonium and could even demonstrate gamakas on the instrument, goes the story. Moving forward to the 1910s, Venkatesa Iyer married and settled down in Tiruchi. The first son, born in 1914, did not survive even for a year. The second, born in 1916, was named Sivasubramaniam.

Venkatesa Iyer’s association with Pudukottai Dakshinamurthy Pillai and Palani Muthiah Pillai, and his opportunity to tune the lyrics of Tiruppugazh which had a variety of complex rhythmic settings, rooted him strongly in laya. This was meticulously imparted to the two boys, making them experts in this aspect of music.

Saturday, 15 September 2018

T.N. Seshagopalan

Birthdays & Anniversaries
15.9.1948

Sri Madurai T.N. Seshagopalan, the celebrated Carnatic musician and composer had his initial musical training under his mother and Sri. Ramanathapuram C. S. Sankarasivan (a great disciple of Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagavathar, the eminent musician and composer). (Sri Sankarasivan is the elder brother and guru of the famous mridangist C S Murugaboopathy).

In 1983 the prestigious Music Academy of Madras arranged to have a program of Seshagopalan in order to record special CD's and cassettes which have now been released by Oriental Records in the United States.

His many commercial cassettes and CD's are treasured possessions of his many ardent fans and admirers.

Viswanatha Iyer

Birthdays & Anniversaries

15.9.1896 - 1970
He has been described as the Grand Cavalier of Carnatic Music; as a Rabelaisian character; as a bon vivant; as a bohemian of the well-dressed kind. He was all of this, Maharajapuram Viswanatha Iyer was.

He was, in essence, a free spirit and this was manifest in his music as well.

Music was in his blood, born as he was to a man who was well-known as a gifted amateur musician among connoisseurs of his day. He was the third child of Rama Iyer of Maharajapuram and his wife Amba. Rama Iyer, a landlord, lived in Maharajapuram, a fertile village on the banks of Kaveri river, in Tanjavur district. Endowed with a natural musical voice, he used to regale select listeners with his raga alapana-s. He would be invited to sing at festivals and religious functions. It is said that listeners on such occasions would be so moved by the slokas and viruttam-s sung by Rama Iyer that they would even forget to taste the payasam- the sweet delicacy— served  to them.

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Friday, 14 September 2018

VEENA SAHASRABUDDHE

Birthdays & Anniversaries
14.9.1948 - 29.6.2016

Veena was born in Kanpur on 14 September 1948 as the last of three siblings. She had an elder brother Kashinath Bodas, and an elder sister who died prematurely. Veena’s mother Shanta was also a singer who taught music in local schools. Shanta was encouraged by her husband to pursue both her school and music education. Veena grew up in this musical atmosphere at home. In addition to her lessons from her father, she also learnt from Kashinath.

Veena’s parents Shankar Shripad and Shanta Bodas hailed from Sangli in Maharashtra. A contemporary of Omkarnath Thakur and Vinayakrao Patwardhan, Bodas was an early student of Vishnu Digambar Paluskar.

Active in the nationalist movement, Paluskar was in the habit of sending his students to different parts of the country as music missionaries. He deputed Bodas to Kanpur, after being requested by locals to bring classical music to that mainly industrial town. Paluskar had performed in the 1925 Indian National Congress meet at Kanpur and by 1926 Bodas moved there with his wife and settled there. Bodas and Shanta founded ‘Sangit Samaj’ and started teaching, inviting other performers and propagating music in Kanpur. The music of the Paluskar tradition was essentially in the style of the Gwalior gharana.

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Alarmel Valli

Birthdays & Anniversaries
14.9.1956

There is never a dull moment in her dance. Alarmel Valli is one of the best known divas of Bharatanatyam. She has represented India at prestigious cultural forums and impressed mainstream audiences abroad with her eloquence in dance and words. She has intelligently sculpted an attractive filigree of nritta and abhinaya on the strong foundation laid by her guru Pandanallur Subbaraya Pillai. 

How do you describe Alarmel Valli’s dance? This petite, agile, and vivacious artist is always a picture of self confidence on stage. ‘Valli’ means a creeper and her slender arm movements have the sinuous quality of a creeper swaying in the breeze. 

Valli’s USP is the musicality of her dance. The titles of the documentary films on Alarmel Valli – Pravahi and Lasya Kavya – are apt and represent the ebullient, graceful and poetic nature of her dance. Well known features of her dance are her joyous nritta marked by midukku or sparkle, with liberal use of ottam (running) adavus interspersed with light aerial movements which help her lithe frame to cover space in an incredible manner. There is a kulukku or jauntiness in her walk, a certain alakshyam or sauciness as she flicks her wrist in the ullasa nadai. Valli is a vibrant dancer but not a photo-perfect one. Her facial angles, her arm stretches, her elbow positions, body bends, and her araimandi on the move may not always be on the dot. Her attami is not gentle but pronounced. She presents a judicious combination of mukhaja (facial) and angika abhinaya peppered with coquettish glances accompanied by a typical slant of the neck. This flows into her nritta as well, but her abhinaya is clear and communicative as she weaves in interesting metaphors, steering away from melodrama. However, as hers is a spirited style, her flashes of intensity are often swept away in the swift momentum of her dance. You are left wishing for quietude and visranti.

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RAMNAD KRISHNAN

Birthdays & Anniversaries
14.9.1918 - 29.1.1973

Krishnan was born on 14 September 1918 in Alappuzha in Kerala, to Vaidyanatha Iyer and Brihannayaki, hailing from Kooniyur in the Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu. When Krishnan was four months old, his father shifted from Alappuzha to Ramanathapuram (anglicised to Ramnad) district in Tamil Nadu to join the service of the Maharaja of Ramnad. Krishnan was one of eight siblings. Since the family spent many years in Ramnad, all of them prefixed Ramnad to their names. Krishnan began his first vocal lessons in Carnatic music under the tutelage of his elder brother Lakshminarayana and his guru C.S. Sankarasivam (a disciple of Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagavatar). Among the brothers, Lakshminarayana and Venkatachalam learnt the violin, while Raghavan and Eswaran were trained to play the mridanga. By the age of seven, Krishnan had mastered Arunachala Kavi’s entire opera – the Ramanataka kriti-s. His singing prowess earned him opportunities in theatre while at school in Ramnad. Even at a young age, Krishnan had an inbuilt sense of rhythm. His guru Sankarasivam, who sang the complex Tiruppugazh in difficult tala cycles, accompanied by Pudukottai Dakshinamurthy Pillai, enjoyed making Krishnan keep the beat with his impeccable sense of rhythm.

In 1936, Krishnan moved from Ramnad to Madras, where he started performing and gaining exposure to the music of the veterans of the time. GNB was his favourite musician and Krishnan was a regular at his concerts, seen almost always in the front row. He was quoted saying, “Just as Hanuman is present wherever there is nama sankeertanam, so also will I be seen wherever there is good music.”

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Thursday, 13 September 2018

Prabha Atre

Birthdays & Anniversaries
13.9.1932
In a career spanning  seven decades, the veteran, a representative of the Kirana gharana and a Padma Bhushan awardee, has performed all over the world, released several recordings, and authored books on music composition and music appreciation in Marathi and English. She worked for All India Radio and was the head of S.N.D.T University’s music department at Mumbai in the early 1990s.

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Kalakshetra Kathakali Festival

Kalakshetra kathakali Festival 2018

Sonal Mansingh



Sonal Mansingh, 74-year old veteran Odissi and Bharatanatyam exponent and social activist, was nominated to the Rajya Sabha in July 2018 by the President of India Ramnath Kovind. Under Article 80 of the Constitution, the President can nominate 12 members to the Rajya Sabha "from amongst persons who have special knowledge or practical experience in respect of such matters as literature, science, art and social service." The nominated members have a six-year term.
Very few Indian classical artists have been nominated to the Upper House -- the first artist and woman to be so honoured was Rukmini Devi Arundale who served from 1952-62, followed by the nomination of sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar (member from 1986-92). Filmstars Vyjayantimala Bali and Hema Malini, who are also renowned Bharatanatyam artists, have also served as members of the Rajya Sabha.
Sonal Mansingh—a much decorated artist and recipient of  the Padma Vibhushan from the Government of India—who has been in the field for about six decades and runs her dance institution the Centre for Indian Classical Dances (CICD) in New Delhi, says that the nomination to the Rajya Sabha is a validation of Indian art, culture and tradition. One hopes that her dynamic presence will be a catalyst to government bodies to give more importance to the preservation and propagation of the classical, folk and tribal arts which constitute India's rich cultural heritage.

Papa Venkataramiah


Birthdays & Anniversaries

Papa Venkataramiah was born on 12 September 1901 as the second son of violinist Karur Srikantiah. He, like Tyagaraja, belonged to the Mulakanadu (Murikinadu) sect of Telugu speaking brahmins. He could claim kinship of blood and music with the composer Matrubhootiah, and with the Devudu Brothers: Pedda Devudu (Venkatasubbiah) and Chinna Devudu (Krishniah), the violinist and composer of the Garbhapuri kriti-S; and also with Sangeeta Kalanidhi Karur Chinnaswami Iyer (1888-1967), who was a recipient of the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award as well. Father Srikantiah was a disciple of Chinna Devudu and he helped his guru to establish a music school in Esplanade, Madras. In his time, Papa had his novitiate under Chinnaswami Iyer.

Papa wanted to become Govindaswamy Pillai's disciple in 1920 when the latter had come to Madras for a concert engagement at the wedding of Veena Dhanammal's grandson. It was a lucky coincidence, as Veena Dhanammal was Govindaswamy Pillai's patron-saint, philosopher and friend. Papa was accepted and this was a turning point in his career as a musician. Papa's own generation was dominated by three great violinists: Mysore T. Chowdiah, Kumbakonam Rajamanickam  Pillai and Dwaram Venkataswamy Naidu.

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Banni Bai


Birthdays & Anniversaries

Banni Bai, born in 1912, belonged to the village called Chittukkadu near Pat tab hiram. Her parents were Duraisani Amma and Parthasarathy. This couple was blessed with five daughters: Janakavalli, Jivaratnam, Alarmelu aka Banni Bai, Lakshmikantam and Saraswati. They also had a son named Nagabhushanam.

Banni Bai's maternal grandmother, her mother and her aunts were all performing musicians. The family wished that one, of the children, preferably Banni, should take up Harikatha. In the event she did. Even at the age of seven, she had already learnt several compositions to accompany her sister janakavalli in the latter's music recitals. When she turned nine, she started learning Sadir. Her teachers were Kanchipuram Tiruvenkata Pillai and Mylapore Gowri Amma.

Preparation for a career as a story-teller, Harikatha style, required tutelage under many. She learnt music from Appakutti Pillai, Kumbakonam Swaminatha Iyer, Narayanaswami Iyer, Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar, his disciple Vaidya- nathan, Veena Dhanammal, Kalakkad Ramnarayana Iyer, his brother Kalakkadu Mahadeva Iyer, and the celebrated composer Kotiswara Iyer .

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Swaminatha Pillai


Birthdays & Anniversaries
13.3.1972 - 9.2.1961

Mayiladuturai (or Mayuram) in Tanjavur district, washed by the holy waters of the Kaveri river, is a rich granary of rice and also the arts of dance and music.

In its fold of musicians, particularly the nagaswaram performers, lived the pious Sesha Pillai, a hymnodist who sang Tevaram in temples. His son Kulandaivelu Pillai was a vainika.

In 1840, Kulandaivelu and his wife Velmuthamba were blessed with a son whom they named Swaminathan and trained him both as a vocalist and as a vainika.

Swaminathan became a brilliant vocalist under the guidance of the nagaswaram maestro, Kurainadu (Koranad) Ramaswami Pillai. But the nagaswaram prowess of Tirumangalakudi Muthuveeruswami Pillai inspired him to switch over to the pipe. He felt that the nagaswaram was a more potent vehicle for the exposition of Carnatic music.

Sometime later Swaminathan made Tirupamburam his headquarters so as to be within reach of his patrons in Kapistalam. Sivagiri, Kannivadi, and so on. Subsequently, Melagaram Subramania Desikar, the head of the Tiruvaduthurai Mutt, gifted Swaminathan a house and settled him in Tiruveezhimizhalai, so that he would be readily available for service in the temples and other religiousestablishments nearby. This was a real blessing for it vouched for Swaminathan the guidance of musical savants like maha vidwan Tiruchi Meenakshisundaram Piilai, Flute Saraba Sastri and Poochi Srinivasa Iyengar. The mutual regard between Sastri and Swaminathan was unique. Sastri was also a Harikatha performer and he took pride in getting the nagaswaram maestro to polish the music composed by him for his own Harikatha.
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Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Karaikudi Mani


Birthdays & Anniversaries
11.9.1945

Mridangam maestro Mani was born on 11 September 1945 in Karaikudi, Tamil Nadu. His father T. Ramanatha Iyer, who hailed from Ganapati Agraharam near Kumbakonam, taught English and mathematics at the Sri Meenakshi Sundareswarar High School, Karaikudi. His mother R. Pattammal belonged to Budalur, and was related to well-known gottuvadyam vidwan Budalur Krishnamurthy Sastri.

Ramanatha Iyer, who had learnt music from Mazhavarayanendal Subbarama Bhagavatar as well as Swaminatha Iyer of Ganapati Agraharam, was a keen music enthusiast, well-versed in the bhajanai paddhati. Their home in Karaikudi was right opposite Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar’s. In fact, Iyengar’s disciples K.V. Narayanaswamy and B. Rajam Iyer regularly partook of the simple breakfast of pazhaiyadu or rice soaked overnight in water and buttermilk, at Ramanatha Iyer’s household. The Nagarathars of Chettinad often sponsored concerts by the leading vidwans at Karaikudi; Ramanatha Iyer not only did not miss a single concert but also cultivated the friendship of the musicians and invited them home.

It was but natural for Mani to be initiated into Carnatic music by his father, that too as early as at the age of three. By the time he was four, Mani had learnt all five of Tyagaraja’s Pancharatna kritis. In the month of Margazhi, father and son regularly woke up at the crack of dawn to join the bhajanai at the Koppudai Amman temple. During temple festivals, Ramanatha Iyer carried young Mani aloft on his shoulders to watch nagaswara vidwans Karukurichi Arunachalam and Vedaranyam Vedamurthy and tavil artist Nachiarkoil Raghava Pillai lead the procession around the four mada veedis – the streets around the temple. It was during these processions, which began at nine at night and often went on into the early hours of the morning after, that Ramanatha Iyer discovered that his son had a penchant for rhythm. Perched on his father’s shoulders, Mani kept perfect time to the beat of the tavil – on his father’s head!

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