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Profile : D.K.Pattammal
Issue : 299
Published on : August, 2009


Special Feature : Thankamani Kutty, Gangubai Hangal


Srikantan in conversation with Ravikiran

In January 2009, T.M. Krishna succeeded fellow Carnatic vocalist Alleppey Venkatesan as president of Sampradaya, the Chennai-based resource centre engaged since its inception in 1980 in preserving south Indian music traditions. Keen to carry forward its mission of documenting, archiving, researching and disseminating the various aspects of the south Indian music heritage, he and his team at Sampradaya plan, among other things, a monthly programme entitled Samvada, which will feature a veteran musician in conversation with another senior vidwan.

The series will be launched by a dialogue between Sangita Kalanidhi R.K. Srikantan and N. Ravikiran, to be held at 6.30 pm on 28 August 2009 at the Kasturi Srinivasan Hall at the Music Academy. In the months to follow, mridanga vidwan Sangita Kalanidhi T.K. Murthy will be engaged in conversation by Palghat Rajamani, and vainika Kalpakam Swaminathan by S. Sowmya. Click here to read more ...


A titan passes - V. RAMNARAYAN

Three great Indian musicians have left us in the recent past — Ustad Ali Akbar Khan and Gangubai Hangal from the world of Hindustani music and D.K. Pattammal, the last of the Titans of Carnatic music. All three of them were pioneers in their field, the ustad playing a major role in the propagation of Hindustani music in the West, the US in particular, and the two women storming male bastions with their powerful voices and uncompromising musical values.

The success of Sruti was assured when Pattammal offered her unconditional cooperation in a two-part profile with which we launched the magazine in October 1983. This is how that profile began — with a graphic description of a Madras Music Academy kutcheri:

"The auditorium is full; a young woman has cast a spell over the listeners. Clad in a maroon silk saree with mustard and gold border, the pallav covering her shoulder, she presents a picture of modesty and feminine grace. The coruscating diamonds on her ears and nose enhance the old world elegance of the occasion. There are no sudden or jerky movements either in her person or in her music. She has sung Vachaspati raga elaborately, with subtle and imaginative touches. Now she is singing the tanam in the same raga, weaving rhythmical patterns skillfully into melodic phrases. There is palpable excitement and as the tanam draws to a close, the audience visibly holds its breath in avid expectation of the main attraction of the evening. This is the pallavi. The singer now renders it in a complicated rhythmic structure. The development of the pallavi "Navasakti swaroopini, nada omkara roopini", follows the dictates of classical tradition, and niraval leads to kalpana swara-s. Nowhere is there the slightest infraction of artistic decorum. Nor is the intellectual handling of rhythm allowed to become a mere display of vocal gymnastics or solfa without soul. The emotional content runs through the whole like a luminescent silver thread. Perspicuity and poignancy, held to be the two aspects of all great art, fully realised on the razor's edge balance of intellect and emotion. This finesse and depth coupled with original creativity amaze listeners." Click here to read more ...


Carnatic music in the Capital

Appreciation of classical music has been part of the ethos of the south Indian middle class. Over time, music became a part of education for young people in many households. Pursuit of devotional and classical music has been at both the amateur and professional levels.

Music was always an integral part of life in some families and functions like marriages and navaratri kolu. Until recently, accomplishment in music was counted as an additional qualification for girls in the arranged marriage system. Large scale migration from the villages and towns in the regions of Tanjavur, Tiruchi, Tirunelveli, Palghat (then in the combined Madras Presidency) to the metropolis, led to the 'sabha system'. The flowering of the Mylapore culture set new trends, season festivals gained in significance, and professional artists converged for better prospects. The development of radio and gramophone was among the other important factors relevant to an interlinked analysis.

The influx of south Indians into Delhi started with the shifting of the capital of ‘British’ India, after 1911. Click here to read more ...


A conversation with Gangubai Hangal

You mention the name 'Gangubai Hangal' and every musician bows his head in reverence. For people in Hubli, her home in Deshpande Nagar was the virtual centre of the city. Her home and heart was open to everyone and she was called 'Ajji' (grandmother) by all.

Just about a year ago, after her 96th birthday, I met and interviewed her in Hubli for Radio Gandharv, the 24-hour Hindustani classical music station on WorldSpace Satellite Radio. The news of her death on 21st July brought back a kaleidoscope of memories for me — the disarming warmth of her smile, her child-like enthusiasm, and the refrain of her famous bandish in raga Jogiya Hari ka bhed na payo.

Her memories spanned the three octaves of music history, taking you into a grand narrative of Hindustani classical music. She reminisced about her camaraderie with guru-bhai Bhimsen Joshi when he used to accompany her to the station after the day’s lesson in their younger days, and she laughed about winning a card game against Kumar Gandharva. Her eyes brimmed with tears while remembering her dear daughter Krishna who was her constant shadow. She waved away all questions about her struggles with a smile. It was an intense, enriching experience as Gangubai Hangal went down memory lane. Click here to read more ...

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