Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Rare ragas, rare songs by a rare family

By Siddhartha Jagannathan
The Music Academy
20 December 2012

After Mr. David Claman’s talk, the nonagenarian Sangita Kalacharya MS Anantharaman, his two sons and their children gave an entertaining lecdem on rare Tyagaraja and Dikshitar kritis.  They started by defining the word ‘rare’.  A rare song for some may not be rare for others. They described their style, the Parur style that is almost 125 years old, founded by Sri Anantharaman’s father, the pioneering Parur Sundaram Iyer, a disciple of Veena Dhanammal.

It is from this Parur treasure trove that they gave samples to demonstrate rare kritis. They started the demonstration with a rare varnam in raga Desiya Todi.  It had plenty of gamakas and there was no use of panchama. The next piece was in raga Bhairavi set to Adi talam.  Sri MA Sundaresan said that this song had many prayogas without panchamam and shadjam. Sri Anantharaman added that the song started with the swaras Ri and Ma instead of the conventional Ri Ga Ma. The piece was truly exquisite and the intricate pathantara made it even more enjoyable. Next they rendered Tyagaraja’s Noremi Sri Rama in the raga Jhalavarali.   

Believe it or not, Sri Anantharaman actually sang the whole song in perfect sruti. Sri Sundaresan said that Tyagaraja composed in many vivadi ragas.  After this the group played Sri Bhargavi, a Dikshitar composition in the ancient raga Mangalakaishiki. This raga, said Sri Anantharaman, was almost a thousand years old. Following this, they played Tyagaraja’s Evarito in Manavati and Parimala in Hamirkalyani. They finished their lecdem with a bhajan in rag Desh which they dedicated to Pandit Ravi Shankar.

It was an extraordinary and unforgettable lecdem, especially considering the age of Sri Anantharaman. His ailing body did not put a dent on his musical spirit, which was large and full of enthusiasm. The family proved that the Parur bani is here to stay for many more generations to come.

1 comment:

  1. A very good blog, happy to come across it! I was in search of songs or krithis in Mangalakaishiki raga, for one of the characters in a stage drama I wrote, acted and directed, which was a dramatic rendering of Sri Krishna Devaraya;s Amuktha Malyada, tried through different ways, but failed to get it. Can you please provide
    any audio link of any song or Kirthana rendered by any artist in this Raga Mangalakaishiki?