It was amazing how jalatarangam artist Anayampatti Ganesan could play gamakas on a set of porcelain bowls.

Apart from the artists, a bucket of water was conspicuous by its presence on the stage. It took 15 minutes for the artist to tune the instrument. Jalatarangam consists of a set of porcelain bowls of varying sizes that are filled with water according to the required note. The pitch depends on the volume of water.

This critic has had the occasion to listen to the jalatarangam performance of Anayampatti Dhandapani. Ganesan, a violinist, is his younger brother. He took to jalatarangam on the demise of his illustrious brother. Today, Anayampatti Ganesan is a great jalatarangam vidwan.

His Kharaharapriya was the very definition of the raga. It is amazing how he can create the gamakas and sancharas. He brought out the raga in all the three sthayis traversing from left to right and vice versa on the bowls that remained arranged in a vast semi-circular shape. At the request of a rasika, he played the tanam, to the accompaniment of the mridangam and morsing. What a lovely tanam it was!

His son and disciple, Anayampatti Venkitasubramaniam on the violin, was indeed a great source of support throughout. The violin offered continuity for the melodies. ‘Pakkala Nilabadi’ of Tyagaraja in Misra Chapu was the kriti he chose. The kalpanaswaras were exceptionally brilliant.

Madirimangalam S. Swaminathan on the mridangam and Srirangam Kannan on the morsing presented an enjoyable thani that had all the rhythmic intricacies of the tala.

The Alathur special, ‘Kandajutumi’ in Vachaspati is another kirtana that would reverberate in the minds of the listeners for a long time to come. The alapana and kalpanaswaras brought out the essence of the raga. So was his Arabhi (‘Sadinchane’, the Tyagaraja Pancharatna kriti). His jalatharangam could produce a lovely Garudadhwani in the breezy ‘Thathvamerugatharama’, Bilahari in ‘Tholijanma’. In the opening piece ‘Raghunayaka’ (Hamsadhwani), he actually produced brigas from this instrument. That speaks volumes of his expertise and practice. In the kalpanaswaras, he played different korvais for every avartanam.

Ganesan has tamed the array of cups so much that it could create a lovely ‘Raghuvamsasudha’ (Kathanakuthuhalam), ‘Bhagyadalakshmi’ (Sri), Madurai Mani Iyer's favourite English note of Muthiah Bhagavathar and an exquisite Magudi.

What Anayampatti Ganesan offered was cups and cups of melody.

(ramakrishnan.h@gmail.com)