Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Carnatic Popular Vocalists - (1)


G N Balasubramaniam (1910 - 1965), popularly known as GNB, He became the first superstar of Carnatic music, innovating the art through emphasis on laya control & reducing the gamakas which eventually made Carnatic music appeal to the lay and the learned alike. Balasubramanian was born in Gudalur, a small village near Mayavaram in Tamil Nadu. He was the son of G V Narayanaswamy Iyer, who was a keen student of music. Often criticized for producing extremely fast gamakam-laden sangathis with strength and weight and with wide imagination, a voice as his, running at so fast a speed through the effects of brighas, twists and turns would come in quick succession that he became an instant hit with both the lay audience as well as those initiated to the arts and science of Carnatic music. He acted in films, including Bhama Vijayam ( Sathi Anusuya), Sakunthala, Udayanan Vasavadatta (with Vasundhara Devi, mother of Vijayanthimala), and Rukmangada. In "Sakunthalai", he appeared as Dushyantha, alongside M S Subbulakshmi. M S Subbulakshmi was fascinated by his music and embraced his style completely in her early years, as mentioned in the book "M S - A Life in Music" by TJS George.  He was also the first major Carnatic musician to moot the idea of Indian music as a single entity rather than separating it into Hindustani & Carnatic systems. He was very attentive in understanding why HIndustani music concerts is so well loved by south Indians. By emphasizing on the richness of the composition together with expansive improvisation passages, he forever changed the way, Carnatic music was sung. His grasp of tala was unprecedented for he understood the magic of singing in the 2nd & 3rd kala which had a mesmerizing effect on the audience that he performed. Sometimes, reaching the 4th kala in brisk succession would also arouse the ecstasy of his audience. GNB also composed kritis and invented new ragas. He taught a number of students during his active years. Most famous among them are M L Vasanthakumari, Radha Jayalakshmi, Thanjavur S Kalyanaraman, Trichur V Ramachandran, T R Balu, T S Balasubramanian, and Ragini. GNB worked as the Deputy Chief Producer of Carnatic Music, in A.I.R Chennai for a number of years alongside Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer who was the Chief Producer for Carnatic Music and Dr M Balamuralikrishna who the Producer for Light Music, and joined the Swathi Thirunal College of Music, Thiruvananthapuram as Principal in March, 1964.


Semmangudi Radhakrishna Srinivasa Iyer (1908 - 2003) was a Carnatic vocalist. He was the youngest recipient of the Sangeetha Kalanidhi awarded by the Music Academy in 1947 and has received many awards including Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan from the Government of India, Sangeet Natak Academy award (1953), Isai Perarignar from Government of Tamil Nadu and Kalidas Samman from Government of Madhya Pradesh. He was also considered the "Pitamaha" or the grand sire of modern Carnatic Music.He was conferred with an honorary doctorate by University of Kerala in 1979. He was born in Tirukkodikaval, Tanjore district as the third son of Radhakrishna Iyer and Dharmasamvardhini Ammal. At the age of eight he started learning music from his cousin Semmangudi Narayanaswamy Iyer. He was known for producing soulful music, highly creative and yet very orthodox, despite a recalcitrant voice.He gave public concerts even after the age of 90.
Semmangudi was widely renowned for his virtuosity as a concert performer. He was famous for the meticulous planning that he put into every concert, including the choice of krithis, raagas and duration. He was also widely acknowledged as a master of improvisation, particularly in the form of niravals.


Lalgudi Gopala Iyer Jayaraman (1930 – 2013) was an Indian Carnatic violinist, vocalist and composer. His awards included the Padma Bhushan by the Government of India in 2001. Born in the lineage of a disciple of the saint musician Thyagaraja, Lalgudi Jayaraman inherited the essence of Carnatic music from his versatile father, V. R. Gopala Iyer, who trained him. At the age of 12, he started his musical career as an accompanying violinist to Carnatic musicians before rising as a prominent soloist. 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 raga, bhava, rhythm and lyrical beauty. Lalgudi's instrumental talent comes to the fore in the form of lyrical excellence. After inviting him to play the Edinburgh Festival in 1965, Yehudi Menuhin, the renowned violinist, impressed by Lalgudi's technique and performance, presented him with his Italian violin. Lalgudi presented Menuhin with an ivory dancing Nataraja when Menuhin visited India. Most famous for his thillanas and varnams, Sri Lalgudi Jayaraman is considered one of the most prolific composers of modern times. His compositions span four languages ( Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Sanskrit), as well as a whole range of ragas not conventionally used for varnams or thillanas. Characteristic of his style, the melody of his compositions camouflages subtle rhythmic intricacies. His compositions are very popular with Bharathanatyam dancers, even as they have become a standard highlight of every leading Carnatic musician's repertoire. His disciples included his two children Lalgudi G. J. R. Krishnan, Lalgudi Vijayalakshmi, renowned musician S P Ramh (grandson of Shri. G.N. Dandapani Iyer), renowned Harikatha exponent Vishaka Hari, Saketharaman, Vittal Ramamurthy, Dr. N. Shashidhar, the leading Vainika Srikanth Chary and the Academy Award nominated Bombay Jayashri Ramnath.


Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavatar a.k.a. Vaidyanatha Iyer (1896 - 1974) was a Carnatic music singer from Palakkad Kerala, India.,Known by his village name Chembai, or simply as Bhagavatar, he was born to Anantha Bhagavatar and Parvati Ammal in 1896, into a Tamil Brahmin family at Kottayi-I/II near Palakkad on Janmashtami day.Chembai was noted for his powerful voice and majestic style of singing. His first public performance was in 1904, when he was nine. A recipient of several titles and honours, he was known for his encouragement of upcoming musicians and ability to spot new talent. He was responsible for popularising compositions like Rakshamam and Pavana Guru, among others.The music critic 'Aeolus' described him as "the musician who has meant the most to Carnatic Music in the first fifty years of the 20th century." His prominent disciples include Chembai Narayana Bhagavathar, Mangu Thampuran, Guruvayur Ponnammal, T. V. Gopalakrishnan, V. V. Subramaniam, P. Leela, Jayan and Vijayan, K. J. Yesudas and Babu Parameswaran, among others. He also mentored and lot of young accompanists, including Palghat Mani Iyer, Lalgudi Jayaraman, M. S. Gopalakrishnan, T. N. Krishnan, Palani Subramaniam Pillai and L. Subramaniam. Memorial music festivals have been held in his honour annually since his death in 1974, the most important being the annually celebrated Chembai Sangeetholsavam. Chembai had been conducting a music festival in his native village from 1924 onwards. This was continued by his family and now by Chembai Sreenivasan and Chembai Suresh (C. A. Subramanian). The concert, called Chembai Ekadasi Music Festival, is held annually in February–March. Chembai also holds a music festival on Guruvayur Ekadasi Day (mid-November) at Guruvayur every year. This festival, now called Chembai Sangeetholsavam in his honour, is officially conducted by the Guruvayur Devaswom Board.The Sri Guvayurappan Chembai Puraskaram, awarded by Sree Krishna Temple, Guruvayur, is instituted in Chembai's memory of the late Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar. This award, comprising a cash prize of INR 50,001, a gold locket of Sree Guruvayurappan, a citation and ponnadai, is usually presented during the annual Chembai Music Festival.

D. K. Jayaraman (1928 - 1991) ,born on the 22nd of July, 1928, to Damal Krishnaswamy Dikshitar and Rajammal in Kanchipuram, popularly and affectionately known as DKJ, was the brother of the music queen D.K. Pattammal. DKJ inherited his perfect diction, interest and aptitude for Tamil songs from his father who was proficient in several tamil literature. He was conferred the Sangita Kalanidhi title shortly before his death. DKJ’s first formal guru was his own sister Sangeetha Kalanidhi D.K. Pattammal to whom, he declares, he owes everything. But having a keen mind, he absorbed a lot by just listening to Vidwans like Ambi Dikshitar, N.S. Krishnaswamy Iyengar ( disciple of Naina Pillai) Koteeswara Iyer, Flute Venkatarama Iyer, T. L. Venkatrama Iyer and Papanasam Sivan, when they came home to coach Pattammal. DKJ was perpetually thirsty for knowledge. He once pestered DKP to write down the words of Balagopala kriti for him. Where other children cherished their wooden toys or rocking horses, DKJ’s prized possession was that bit of paper containing the great piece. He mastered the kriti over night and rendered it perfectly the next day to an astonished but appreciative DKP. Small wonder then, that DKP fostered her younger brother‘s musical talent right from a tender age. Some of his popular disciples include N. Vijay Siva, R.K. Shriramkumar, Balaji Shankar, Shri Dr. S.Sunder, Smt. Asha Ramesh, T G Badrinarayanan, Smt. Sharada Mani, and Sukanya Jayaraman.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Hindustani Popular Vocalists (2)

Begum Akhtar (1914 -74) also known as Akhtari Bai Faizabadi, was a well-known Indian singer of Hindustani classical music, most famous for her renditions of the Ghazal, Dadra, and Thumri genres. Honored with the title of Mallika-e-Ghazal (Queen of Ghazals), she was one of the best known Indian singers of her era, known for her soulful, poignant, and melancholy melodies. A highly successful professional artiste, her personal life was a very tragic one. She was exposed to life’s difficulties at a young age after her father abandoned the family leaving her mother alone to fend for the children. Another tragedy followed soon after when she lost her beloved sister to poisoning. Miseries followed her throughout her early years, and singing offered her solace from life’s injustices and tragedies. Naturally inclined towards music, she started receiving singing lessons as a little girl and gave her first public performance at the age of 15. She received encouragement from the famous poet Sarojini Naidu which motivated the teenager to make a career in music. Good looking and talented, she ventured into films as an actress and also sang her songs herself in all her films. With her rich and soulful voice she carved a niche for herself, and received several honors and awards for her contribution to classical music.

Siddheswari Devi (1907–1976) was a Hindustani singer from Varanasi, India, known as Maa (mother). Born in 1907, she lost her parents early and was brought up by her aunt, the noted singer Rajeshwari Devi. She had arranged musical training for her own daughter, Kamleshwari, while Siddheswari would do small chores around the house. Once, while the noted sarangi player Siyaji Mishra was teaching Kamleshwari. Subsequently she also trained under Rajab Ali Khan of Dewas and Inayat Khan of Lahore, but considered her guru mainly Bade Ramdas. She sang khyal, thumri (her forte) and short classical forms as dadra, chaiti, kajri etc. On several occasions she would sing perform through the night, for example on the overnight boating expeditions of Maharaja of Darbhanga. In 1989, noted director Mani Kaul has made an award winning documentary, Siddheshwari, on her life. She won many accolades during her career, including: Padma Shri by the Government of India (1966) ,Honorary D.Lit. degree by the Ravindra Bharati Vishwavidyalaya in Kolkata (1973) Deshikottam degree by the Vishwa Bharati Vishwavidyalaya.

Kesarbai Kerkar (1892–1977) was an Indian classical vocalist of the Jaipur-Atrauli gharana. A protege of Ustad Alladiya Khan (1855–1946), the founder of the gharana, from age sixteen, she went on to become one of the most noted khayal singers of the second half of the 20th century. She was awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1953, followed by Padma Bhushan is the third highest civilian award in India, in 1969. She was very particular about the representation of her work and consequently made only a few 78 rpm recordings, for the HMV and Broadcast labels. In time, Kerkar became an accomplished Khayal singer of her generation, and seldom sang light classical music, often associated with female vocalists. Her success as a public singer, along with that of Mogubai Kurdikar (mother of Kishori Amonkar), Hirabai Barodekar and Gangubai Hangal paved way for next generation of female vocalists, away from singing mehfils or private gathering that women of previous generation had to settle for. A music festival called the Surashree Kesarbai Kerkar Smriti Sangeet Samaroha is held in Goa each November, by Kala Academy, Goa. and a music scholarship in her name is awarded annually to a University of Mumbai student by National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) via Kesarbai Kerkar Scholarship Fund. Kerkar has the further distinction of having one of her recordings, "Jaat Kahan Ho", duration 3:30 (an interpretation of raga Bhairavi) included on the Voyager Golden Record, a gold-plated copper disc containing music selections from around the world, which was sent into space aboard the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft in 1977. The recording was recommended for inclusion on the Voyager disc by the ethnomusicologist Robert E. Brown, who believed it to be the finest recorded example of Indian classical music.

Saraswati Abdul Rane(1913- 2006) was the daughter of Ustad Abdul Karim Khan, the founder of the Kirana Gharana of Hindustani classical music. As part of a family that was so well known in the music circles of India, Saraswati Abdul Rane very obviously took up music as her profession. Her elder siblings Sureshbabu Mane and Hirabai Barodekar, doyens of classical music in India, were her chief trainers and also inspiration. Saraswati Abdul Rane performed alone as well as in 'jugalbandi' with her sister Hirabai Barodekar. Saraswati Abdul Rane was one of the first ladies from the field of Hindustani classical music who ventured into the commercial world of music, singing for films. Saraswati Rane's voice soon became a hit with Marathi and Hindi film audiences. Her Marathi film debut as singer was with 'Payach Dasi'. After the release of her song from her first Hindi feature film 'Ramrajya', which earned Saraswati Abdul Rane an HMV award for the highest sales of gramophone records, several directors and composers from the Hindi film industry wanted to rope in Saraswati Abdul Rane for their films. She, subsequently, had the honor to work with notable filmmakers like Shyam Benegal in his 1977 release 'Bhumika' and popular music directors like Shankarrao Vyas, Sudhir Phadke, C Ramachandra and K C Day. Saraswati Abdul Rane soon became a popular face at the annual Sawai Gandharva Music Festival organized in Pune. In the year 1965 Saraswati Abdul Rane created history when she and her elder sister Hirabai Barodekar appeared on the stage for a jugalbandi vocal recital. They were the first ladies in the history of Indian classical music to participate in a jugalbandi performance. Their performance was much appreciated and Saraswati Abdul Rane and Hirabai Barodekar continued their music performances together till the year 1980

Gangubhai Hangal (1913-2009), Indian vocalist in the Hindustani classical Kirana gharana. She was especially admired for her performances of songs of the khayal genere, career spanned nearly seven decades. Hangal was born into a musical family. Both her mother and her grandmother were established musicians in the Karnatak tradition, although her mother also maintained a strong interest in Hindustani music. When she was 13, Hangal began to train in the Hindustani tradition at a music academy in the city of Hubli (now Hubli-Dharwad), near her family’s home in Dharwad. At age 15 she became a disciple of the virtuosic Hindustani vocalist Sawai Gandharva, who was an exponent of the Kirana gharana. For her contribution to Indian classical music, Hangal received several honours. In 1973 she received the Sangeet Natak Akademi (India’s national academy of music, dance, and drama) award. Hangal was also awarded the Padma Bhushan (1971) and the Padma Vibhushan (2002), two of India’s highest civilian honours.

Malabika Kanan (1930 - 2009) musical rendering of khyals was exceptional among the singers of that genre and her exposition of Bairagi and Desh in a rich voice was of special tonal quality. Kanan was born in Lucknow on 27 December 1930[. Her father was a disciple of Pandit Vishnu Narayan Bhatkhande. In her early years she trained in musical genre of dhrupad, dhamar and khayal for a number of years under her father. She also got training in Rabindrasangeet; Santidev Ghosh and Suchitra Mitra were her teachers. Her first music rendering was in raga Ramkali on the All India Radio when she was 15 years old. Her first performance on stage followed in the next year at the Tansen Sangeet Samaroh. Malabika married A. Kanan, a new style of singing adopting his Kirana style. She was also trained by him in thumri. She was very proficient in singing bhajans. She was a fan of music artist D. V. Paluskar. She actively performed at several concerts at the national level and in many Radio Sangeet Sammelans. At the ITC Academy, where her husband was a guru, she also became a teacher or guru in July 1979, and was a Member of the Expert Committee of the academy. Kanan received the ITC Sangeet Research Academy Award in 1995 and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1999-2000.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Hindustani Popular Vocalists (1)

Tansen,(1506-1589) the magical musician, was one of the 'Navratna' (nine gems) at the court of the Mughal Emperor Akbar. He was born in Gwalior as a son of Mukund Misra, who was a poet. As a young child he learnt music from the legendary teacher of his time, Haridas Swami. He first served as a court musician of the King Ramchandra of Mewa and then of the emperor Akbar. He was conferred the title of Miyan, by emperor Akbar and since came to be knonw as Miyan Tansen. Though born in a Hindu family Tansen embraced Islam in his later life.

He is said to have no equals in music and it is believed that he had performed miracles through his music. He is supposed to had the ability of creating rain by singing rag Megh Malhar and creating fire by singing t rag Deepak. He is the composer of many ragas such as Durbari Kanada, Miyan Ki Todi, Miyan Ki Malhar and Miyan Ki Sarang. The famous Dhrupad style of singing is believed to be started by Tansen and his teacher Swami Haridas. He wrote two important documents on music namely Sangeeta Sara and Rajmala. He was a mystic musician.

His tomb is in Gwalior near the tomb of Saint Hazrat Ghaus whose teaching influenced him to convert to Islam. There is a tamarind tree near Tansen's tomb, believed to be as old as the tomb. According to a legend a person who chews the leaves of this tamarind tree is blessed with the great musical qualities. The descendants of Tansen are referred to as the 'Senia Gharana'.

Ustad Abdul Karim Khan, lived from November 10, 1872 to 1937. He is widely considered to be one of the most important figures in Hindustani music of the 20th century.
Abdul Karim Khan was born in Kirana (Uttar Pradesh, North India) in to the Kirana musical family which traced its roots to musician brothers Ghulam Ali and Ghulam Maula. His father, Kale Khan was the grand son of Ghulam Ali. Karim Khan received training under uncle Abdulla Khan and father Kale Khan. He also received guidance from another uncle Nanhe Khan. Apart from vocals and sarangi, he also learnt Veena (Been), Sitar and Tabla.

The innovations he brought to his vocal style distinguishes Kirana style from others. The slow melodic development of the raga in Vilambit laya (slow tempo) was the most characteristic aspect of his music. He worked hard to maintain his voice to be sweet and melodious, which shaped his music. The thumri style he developed was also quite different from the poorab ang or punjabi ang. His thumri progresses in a leisurely langour with ample abandonment. He was also the first Hindustani musician to seriously study Carnatic system and probably the first to be invited to sing all over the south. He has even recorded a Thyagaraja Krithi. He was also influenced by Rehmet Khan of the Gwalior gharana and adopted the direct style of presentation.

Pandit Bhimsen Joshi(1922-2011)requires no introduction of sorts. A classicist by training and profession, he was known the world over for his ‘Khayal’ form of singing. What made him distinctive from his contemporaries was his ability to balance between the traditional music and mass-culture taste. This probably best explains his success as a Hindustani vocalist in terms of largest commercially recorded repertoire. Blessed with fine musical sensibilities and brilliant hold of fundamentals, his powerful voice, amazing breath control, rhythmic stance, and intelligent fusion of passion and creativity has marvelled all who have heard him play. He was a purist by heart and did not experiment much with his music which was marked by spontaneity, accuracy and unbelievably fast paced taans. However, he enriched the ‘Kiraana Gharana’ by adapting characteristics from other gharanas and adding his own distinctive taste to it. A Bharat Ratna awardee, Pandit Bhimsen Joshi was also conferred with numerous other prestigious and coveted  awards.

Ustad Amir Khan (1912-1974) was a popular classical vocalist from India. He was the pioneering figure in the Hindustani Classical Music and founder of Indore Gharana. He was a renowned voice who impressed many minds with his highly trained classical voice. Though he started out his musical journey with sarangi lessons, but seeing his affinity towards vocal music, Amir Khan's father devoted more time towards training him the minute details of vocal music. He was born in Indore to a musical family. His father was Shahmir Khan, a veena and sarangi player of Bhendibazaar Gharana and played at the court of Holkars of Indore. 

He was the pivotal force behind the popularization of the tarana, and also khyalnuma compositions in Persian. Like Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, Amir Khan's musical journey too started with sarangi training. But he generally performed khayals and taranas with only a tanpura and tabla for accompaniment. Sometimes he had a subdued harmonium accompaniment, but he almost never used the sarangi. 

One name that truly epitomizes the 20th century Hindustani classical music tradition is that of Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan(1902-1968). Often touted as the Tansen of 20th Century, this music maestro has blended the best of classical music and created a unique style of his own. His style of music had an effervescent melodic quality with a sense of enthusiasm. He had one of the most flexible voices, which could easily master the flow of words and deliver the real essence of the song. This great musician has contributed immensely in his short career span. Read his life history in this short biography of Bade Ghulam Ali Khan. 

Bade Ghulam Ali Khan was born in the year 1902 in the great musical lineage from Kasur, located in Western Punjab. He blended the best of the four traditions of music: Patiala that was own, the elements of Dhrupad, the delicacy of Jaipur and the embellishments of Gwalior. Bade Ghulam Ali looked beyond the "Bol-banav" tradition of Thumri. He wanted to break the age old tradition and wanted to play with the notes with greater abandon and less restraint. This kind of Thumri is now well established by the efforts of Bade Ghulam Ali Khan. 

The career span of Bade Ghulam Ali Khan was relatively short. He made his mark in Calcutta in the year 1938 and All India Music Conference in Bombay in the year 1944. He was titled the Master in each and every field of music that he explored. But, he breathed his last at the age of 66, much to the shock of his fans and music lovers. On 25th April, 1968 he breathed his last, depriving the world of much more priceless treasure that he could have given.

Ustad Ali Baksh Jarnail (1850–1920) was an Indian classical singer. Together with his friend Fateh Ali Khan, he founded the Patiala Gharana in the 19th century. They used to sing together as a team back then.

Patiala gharana has claimed to combine the musical traditions of Delhi gharana, Gwalior gharana and Jaipur-Atrauli Gharana. Patiala gharana has many notable pupils including Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan (1902–1968), Malika Pukhraj (1912 – 4 February 2004),Gauhar Jan (1875–1930) and the renowned ghazal singer of Pakistan Ghulam Ali.

Ustad Ali Baksh Jarnail regularly sang with Fateh Ali Khan in late 19th century and early part of the 20th century. They both were trained in music by Tanras Khan and Kalu Khan of Delhi gharana as well as Haddu Khan and Hassu Khan of Gwalior gharana.[1] Before the partition of India in 1947, Ali Baksh Jarnail was the court musician of the Maharaja in Patiala. Ali Baksh Jarnail had one son, Ustad Akhtar Hussain (1900–1972) who, then, had 3 sons Amanat Ali Khan (1932 – 18 September 1974), Bade Fateh Ali Khan and Hamid Ali Khan who have been carrying the torch of Patiala gharana in Pakistan for many decades now. Asad Amanat Ali Khan, Shafqat Amanat Ali Khan are the newer generation names in Patiala gharana in Pakistan.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Historic Music Composers

JAYADEVA (1101-1173)


Jayadeva was perhaps the first composer to specifically mention the raga and tala of each of his poems.
His Ashtapadhis have been very famous among the carnatic artists, though, it is not very certain whether the specific ragas are sung the same way now as was done in Jayadeva's time.

Jayadeva is most well knows for his Sanskrit magnam opus Githa Govinda. He is also very prominent among the Vaishnavaite poets.

Musical Background: Jayadeva, the author of Githa Govinda, is an illustrious Sanskrit composer. He became an erudite scholar early in his life.

Region: He was born at Kindubilva (also called Kenduli) in Orissa. The village Kenduli is on the northern banks of the river Ajaya, in the delta of Veerabhoomi. He refers to his birthplace in the 7th Ashtapadi: "Kindubilva Samudra Sambhava". He was an Oriya Brahmin, born to Bhojadeva and Ramadevi.

Contribution: Gita Govinda, a widely known, highly popular opera of Jayadeva is the staple of devotional singers. They constitute the Songs Celestial called Ashtapadi as each has eight steps. The 24 songs have been translated into many languages of the world. All the hymns contain mangala slokas at the end. The place where Jayadeva began and completed the hymns has since been called Jayadevapura.

ARUNAGIRINATHAR (15th century)

Musical Background: Although in his early years he was known to have led an immoral life, he later reformed himself and spent the rest of his life in music.

Region: He hailed from Tanjavur district, Tamilnadu. He is also believed to have travelled far and wide, to visit temples, singing in praise of many deities.

Contribution: He was the creator of Tiruppugazh, which means, "praise of God" in Tamil. He was a prolific composer, who is believed to have composed 16000 songs, of which only about 2000 remain today. His Tiruppugazhs are known for their beautiful, flowing lyrics coupled with complex rhymes and rhythmic structures. His Tiruppugazhs led to the invention of a new genre of tala called Chanda Tala. Thus he earned the title,"Chanda Pavalaperuman", meaning, "unequalled master of the verse". He also composed in many of the 35 talas, 175 talas, as well as 108 talas. He was well known for the rhythmic intricacies he wove effortlessly into his compositions. His work, Bhoota Vetala Vaguppu, contains information about some Ragas, Panns, the 108 talas and percussion instruments, making it invaluable from a historical point of view. All the Tiruppugazhs end with the word "perumale...", making it easy to identify the composer.

Veena Kuppayyar (1798-1860)

Veena Kuppayyar was a famous vainika (veena player), disciple of Shri Thyagaraja and a composer of merit.
Veena Kuppayyar was born into a musical family in Tiruvottiyur. His father Sambamoorti Sastri was a famous vocalist and a veena player. Kuppayyar had his initial training from his father. Later he became a disciple of Thyagaraja and learnt composing from him. He was also a Sanskrit and Telugu scholar. He also learnt violin, which was a new instrument in Carnatic music at the time. But, it was for his profiency in Veena that Kuppayyar came to be well known and veena became a part of his name too.

Veena Kuppayyar later shifted to Muthialpet in Madras. Kovur Sundara Mudaliar was his primary patron and enjoyed the status of asthana vidhwan there. Even Thyagaraja visited Mudaliar's madras house. Kuppayyar trained a lot of disciples in his gurukula, who carried forward the Thyagaraja shishya parampara, helping to spread his krithi-s and music.

Veena Kuppayyar composed in Telugu, both krithi-s and varnam-s. His varnam-s like saami ninne kori (Shankarabharanam) are very famous. His mudra was Gopaaladaasa, in honour of his family diety.

Mysore Sadashiva Rao(1800-1870)

A prominent vocalist of the Mysore court, he can be credied as the pioneer of Mysore Bani. Sadashiva Rao was born to Ganesha Rao and Krishna Bai at Girampet near Chittoor in North Arcot. They were Marathi Smartha Deshasthas. He had his musical training under Venkataramana Bhagavatar, a pupil of Thyagaraja. Two of his patrons, brought him to Mysore and introduced him to Sri Krishnaraja Wadayar III, the Mysore king at the time. Impressed by his singing, he was made a court musician.

Sadashiva Rao was also a great teacher. His disciples like Veena Sheshanna and Veena Subbanna later became legendary musicians. Sadashiva Rao has composed mostly in Telugu. He went on a pilgrimage of south India and composed krithi-s at all the temples he visited. He also composed a krithi for Thyagaraja and sung it when he visited Walajapet.

Subbaraya Shastry(1803-1862)

the son and disciple of Shyama Shastry, one of the famous trinity. He also has the unique distinction of being a disciple of all the three of the trinity, having also learnt from Shri Tyagaraja and Muthuswamy Dhikshithar.

Subbaraya was born as the second son of Shyama Shastry in Tanjavur. He studied music initially from his father. Later Shyama Shastry asked Thyagaraja to teach his son and sent Subbaraya to him. Thyagaraja had great respect for Shyama Shastry and gladly took Subbaraya as a disciple, who soon became one of his favourite students. After a few years Subbaraya came back and continued his studies under his father. He also had the opportunity to learn a few krithi-s from Dheekshithar. He also learnt Hindustani music from Ramadas Swami.

Later Subbaraya Shastry shifted to Udayarpalayam, whose rulers became his patrons. Since he had no sons, he adopted his nephew Annasami Sastri, who became his primary disciple and an accomplished composer. Tanjavur Kamakshi, the dancer, was one of his disciples. Legendary Veena Dhannammal was the grand daughter of Tanjavur Kamakshi.

Subbaraya Shastry composed only a couple of dozen krithi-s. But their rasa-bhava, devotion and intricacies have made them enduring and famous. Influence of all three of the trinity can be found in his compositions - words and chitha swara-s by his father, and in madhyama kaalam by Tyagaraja, slower speeds by Dhikshithar.

Disclaimer: the above list is prepared from culling and compiled from different sources for music lovers and whatever mentioned above is absolutely not my opinion, and i claim no historical authenticity or whatsoever.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Carnatic Music (Post Trinity) - List of Musicians

Patnam Subramanya Iyer(1845-1902) was a great vocalist, teacher and composer.

He was born in 1845 in Tanjavur to Bharatham Vaidyanatha Iyer, his father. He hailed from a musical tradition: his grandfather was Bharatham Panchanada Sastry, the samasthana vidwan at the court of Serfoji II and his uncle Melatture Ganapati Sastrigal was also a vocalist and taught him music, along with Kothavasal Venkatarama Iyer and Manambucchavadi Venkatasubbaiyyar. Among his sishyas were Ramanathapuram (Poochi) Srinivasa Iyengar, Kakinada C.S. Krishnaswamy Iyer, G Narayanaswamy Iyer, Mysore Vasudevacharya, Guruswamy Iyer, Tiger Varadachariar, Muthialpet Sesha Iyer (known as Kulla Sesha Iyer), M.S. Ramaswamy Iyer, and Enadi Laksmi. He was the Asthana Vidwan to the Courts of Travancore, Mysore, Vijayanagaram and Ramanathapuram. He has composed over a 100 pieces, including tana and pada varnas, kritis, tillanas and javalis. He has set a pallavi to the Simhanandana Tala, the longest tala. He used the mudras Venkateswara, Adi Venkateswara, Varada Venkateswara, Sri Varada Venkateswara or Venkatesa. He is credited with the creation of the raaga Kathana Kuthuhalam. Famous for singing begada, he earned the name Begada Subramanya Iyer. He died July 31st, 1902 in Tiruvayyar.

Subbarama Dheekshithar (1839-1906) 

the grandson of Baluswami Dikshitar, brother of Muthuswami Dikshitar. He was a great composer in his own right, but is more well known for Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini, an important book detailing works of Muthuswami Dikshitar and a reference on many other Carnatic musical concepts.

Subbarama Dheekshithar was born to Annapurni and Sivarama Iyer. Annapurni was the daughter of Baluswami Dikshitar, brother of Muthuswami Dikshitar. Baluswami Dikshitar, a great musician, was at the court of Ettayapuram kings. He adopted Subbarama Dheekshithar as his own son and taught music to Subbarama Dheekshithar. Subbarama Dheekshithar began composing at the age of seventeen and became the ashtana vidhwan of the Ettayapuram kings at the age of nineteen. He composed maintaining the high style of Muttuswami Dikshitar, composing kriti-s, many varna-s, svarajati-s, and ragamalika-s. He also set to music, the Valli-Bharatam, a Tamil composition by Kadigai Namassivaya Pulavar of the Ettayapuram Court. "Ma moha lahiri" in Khamas on God Kumara at Kazhukumalai by the same Tamil scholar was also set to dance-music by Subbarama Dikshitar. He also did a Tamil translation of the Telugu Mahabharata.

Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini is printed in two vilumes and extends to about 1700 pages. It comprises 76biographies of persons from Sarngadeva to those of Subbarama Dikshitar himself. Two sections are devoted to the science of music (Sangita-lakshana-prachina paddhati and Sangita-lakshana-sangraha). There is an exhaustive tabular statement of raga-s, raganga-s, upanga-s and bhashanga-s with their murcchana-s; a detailed descriptive guide in Telugu and Tamil to the gamaka-signs employed in the notations of the songs in the book and tala-signs. The main text of the work gives the 72 Mela-s and all their Janya-s with their raga-lakshana-s, explanation of their special characteristics, their lakshana-gita-s, sanchari-s and illustrative compositions; and supplements giving ragamalika-s and pieces of other composers who had lived in the previous three centuries, including 170 gita-s of Venkatamakhin, about 229 kriti-s of
Muttuswami Dikshitar.

Pallavi Sesha Iyer (or Seshayyar)(1842-1909) 
one of the important post-trinity composers and musicians in the Tyagarajashishya parampara.Sesha Iyer was born in Neykkarapatti, a village about 8 miles from Salem, Tamilnadu। His father, Neykkarapatti Subbayar, was a disciple of Shri Thyagaraja. Sesha Iyer had his musical training from his father, who taught him all the Thyagaraja Krishi-s.

As a singer, he was an expert at Ragam-Thanam-Pallavi, so much so, he came to be known as Pallavi Sesha Iyer। Another of his specialities was his ability to compose and sing in rare raaga-s. He composed in many rare mela-s like Kanakangi, Manavati, Tanarupi and raaga-s like Mallikavasantam and Pushpalatika. He also set his own compositions in notation, a rarity among Indian composers. He became a singer in the court of Mysore Maharaja, staying in Mysore and Bangalore for a number of years and teaching a large number of students. Towards the latter part of his life, he lived in Madras. His prime disciples include Manattattaai Duraiswami Aiyar, Chintalapalli Venkita Rao and Nagaswaram Krishna.

Veene sheshanna(1852-1926) 

perhaps the most famous musician of the Mysore royal court and proponent of the famous Mysore Bani i.e. school of veena playing. He also represents the times when Mysore royal court was the cultural capital of the south.
Born into a family of musicians, he learnt from his father Bakshi Chikka Ramappa who was the court musican in the court of the Mysore king of the time Mummadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar. He was a child prodigy and gained acceptance of the court even at the age of just ten. Later he learnt vocal music under the famous vocalist Mysore Sadashiva Rao.
Apart from Veena, he was adept at playing many instruments like piono, sitar and violin. He also learnt Hindustani music and even western classical. He was also a composer.

Koteeswara Iyer(1870-1940) 
an important post-trinity composer, known for his many krithi-s in Vivadhi Raaga-s. 
Koteeswara Iyer was born into a music famly. His grand father was the famous poet and composer Kavikunjara Bharati, a contemporary of the trinity. Koteeswara Iyer was initially trained by his grand father. Later he was trained by Ramnad Sreenivasa Iyengar and then by Patnam Subramania Iyer. Koteeswara Iyer's mudra, Kavi Kunjaradasan, shows his respect for his grand father, Kavikunjara Bharati.,book Kandha Gaanamritham. But he is Koteeswara Iyer penned over 200 compositions. He also composed a krithi in each of the 72 mela-s and published them in his well known for his Vivaadi raaga krith-s like Mohanakara (Neethimathi), Ma madhura sarasa (Ganamurthi) and Singara Kumari (Varunapriya). 

Dr. Harikesanallur Muthaiah Bhagavathar (1877-1945)

one of the most important post-trinity composers and an important vocalist as well.
Muthaiah Bhagavathar was born to Lingam Iyer and Anamdam in1877. After the early death of his father, he was brought up by his maternal uncle Lakshamana Suri of Harikesanallur, who taught his Sanskrit, Vedas and music. He got further musical training from Sambasiva Iyer and his son T. S. Sabesa Iyer, who belonged to the Thyagaraja shishya parampara.

As a vocalist, his big break came when in 1887 he sang before Maharaja Mulam Thirunal of Travancore who honoured him as a court musician. This established him as one of the front ranking musicians of the time. Later he started giving Harikatha performances, for which he earned the name Bhagavathar. This was the time he started composing, which he would use in his Harikatha-s.

The next phase of his life was as a court musician in Mysore, from 1927. Most of his compositions were from this period. Initially he composed mostly in Madhyakala, like Shri Tyagaraja. After 1931, he was influenced by Muthuswamy Dikshitar compositions and started compoing in vilambita kala. In 1936, he was again invited byMaharani Sethu Parvathi of Travancore and he spent several years there. during that time, one of his major contributions was popularising Swati Tirunalcompositions. He was also the first prinicipal of "Swathi Thirunal Academy of Music" there.

Papanasam Shivan(1890 -1973)
the most important Carnatic Composer in Tamil. He has composed over two thousand songs in seventy five raaga-s. He is known asTamil Thyagaraja.Papanasam Shivan was born in1890 in Polaham, Tanjavur district. His real name wasPolagam Ramaiah. His father passed away very early, forcing his mother to move to Thiruvananthapuram. Papanasam Shivan studied Sanskrit at Maharajah's college. His musical training was mostly informal. He was guided and influenced by Neelakanta Sivan and Konerirajapuram Vaidyanatha Iyer. The limited formal training he had was from Samba Bhagavatar and Mahadeva Bhagavatar. He also never had any formal training in Tamil.

He was a teacher at Kalakshetra for sometime. During that time he got a big break and started working for the Tamil music indutry. About 800 of his compositions would be for the film industry. He is perhaps the only Carnatic composer to have so extensively worked for the film industry. Papanasam Shivan's carnatic compositions were mostly spontaneous and noted down by others. His compositions were mostly in Tamil, even though he has some Sanskrit compositions. In 1972 he was awarded, belatedly, Sangeetha Kalanidhi by Madras Music academy.

Jayachamaraja Wodeyar(1919-1974)
was one of the rare Kings who was also an important musicologist and composer. Perhaps he was following the example set by Travancore king - composer Swati Tirunal and the last Mughal emperor - ghazal poet Bahadur Shah Zafar .
Jayachamaraja Wodeyar was born in Mysore on 18th July, 1919 as the son of Kanteerava Narasimharaja Wodeyar. He received traing from ashtana vidhwans in all arts and sciences. Mysore kings were great patrons of art and music. They had in their court great musicians from all over India, both Carnatic and Hindustani.
Jayachamaraja Wodeyar ascended to the throne in 1940, after the death of Chamaraja Wodeyar IV and ruled till 1950, when he handed over the state to the Indian republic, ending 550 years of Wodeyar rule. But, he continued to be the constitutional head of Mysore state as the Raja Pramukh (1950-56), till the post was abolished. He was then the first governor of Mysore state (1956-65)and also Madras state (1964-67).
As a great patron of music, he had several artists in his court - Tiger VaradachariarMysore Vasudevachar,Muthaiah Bhagavathar, Gotuvadyam Narayana Iyengar and Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar. Jayachamaraja Wodeyarcomposed about 90 krithi-s in Sanskrit, some in rare raaga-s like Bhogavasanta, Durvangi. He had great interest in western music too. He was the recipient of D.Lit from Queensland University, Australia, Doctor of Law from Banaras University, and D.Lit from Annamalai University. He was honorary Fellow of Trinity College of Music, London, in the year 1945.

Disclaimer: the above list is prepared from culling and compiled from different sources for music lovers and whatever mentioned above is absolutely not my opinion, and i claim no historical authenticity or whatsoever.

Carnatic Music Trinity - Shayama Shastri

Shyama Shastri (1762 -1827) was the oldest of the Trinity of Carnatic music. He was a contemporary of the other two, Tyagaraja and Muthuswamy Dikshitar, and was a personal friend of the former. Muthuswami Dikshitar and Shyama Shastri were good friends. They often met and spent hours together singing. Shyama Shastri had deep regard for Tyagaraja.

Venkata Subrahmanya, affectionately known as Shyama Shastri, was born to Visvanatha Iyer and Vengalakshmi on April 26, 1762 in a Tamil - speaking brahmin community known as auttara vadama. His parents though scholarly, had no particular interest in music. His forefathers were archakas in the temple of Goddess Bangaru Kamakshi.

At the age of seven, his Upanayanam was performed. Initially his father taught him devotional songs and has given sound education in Sanskrit and Telugu languages and attained scholarship in these languages at a very young age. Finding the aptitude for music, his mother requested her cousins to teach him the fundamentals of music. However this got no further than the elementary stage in music education.

When he was eighteen years old, his family moved to Tanjore. There, they got a chance to host a sanyasi (monk), Sangitaswami, a master of dance and music, who was spending some four months in Tanjore. The sanyasi was quick to discover Shyama Shastri's keen intellect, melodious voice and musical talent and foresaw greatness in him. He obtained the father's consent and taught Shyama Shastri all aspects of raga, tala and swara prastharaas. The teacher found that the student could absorb even the intricate details very quickly, all in a matter of four months or less. Sangitaswami presented Shyama Shastri with a few rare treatises on music and certified that the student had gained full knowledge on the theoretical aspects of music. He advised his student to seek the friendship of and listen to the music (but not learn anything from) one Paccimiriyam Adiyappayya, a composer of the famous bhairavi ata tala varnam, viriboni, and a court musician in Tanjore. Shyama Shastri duly did as he was advised. The influence of Adiyappayya is reflected in his svarajati kamakshi in Bhairavi raga.
Over the years, Shyama Shastri became a well-known and respected musician, scholar and a composer

Carnatic Music Trinity -Muthuswami Dikshitar

Muthuswami Dikshitar(1775 - 1835) was an exponent of the South Indian Carnatic music genre. He created about 500 compositions in total, most of which are widely sung by renowned musicians in Carnatic music performances even today. 

Born in the year 1775 as the eldest son of Ramaswami Dikshitar and Subbamma at Tiruvarur in the Tamil Nadu state, Muthuswami Dikshitar happens to be the youngest of the Carnatic music composer trinity. It is said that Muthuswami Dikshitar was born to his parents after the couple prayed for a child in the Vaitheeswaran Koil temple. 

As per the accounts of Subbarama Dikshitar, her son was born in the manmatha year in the month of Panguni under the asterism Krittikaa. And that he was named after the deity of the temple, Muttukumaraswamy. Muthuswami Dikshitar had two sibling brothers Baluswami and Chinnaswami as well as a sister named Balambal. He created about 500 compositions in total, most of which are widely sung by renowned musicians in Carnatic music performances even today. 

A number of the compositions made by Muthuswami Dikshitar are in the Sanskrit language. They have been couched in the Krithi style i.e. a format in which the poetry is set to music. Throughout the course of his life history, Muttuswami Dikshitar toured a number of holy places in the country. And he's said to have composed Krithis on various deities and temples he visited. The most unique feature about the compositions of Dikshitar is that each one is brilliantly created. 

Each and every of the 500 compositions he's made is not only melodious but also full of depth. Though his Sanskrit compositions are themed on the temple gods and goddesses, yet all of them talk about the concept of advaitin i.e. the one with a form. These songs penned by Muthuswami Dikshitar talk much about the history of the temples and the customs and traditions observed within its precincts.