P.N. Krishnan on his book of new compositions.

Delhi Tamil Sangam and the Asthika Samaj, Kesavapuram, organised a function recently to mark the release of the book on music composed by P.N. Krishnan, senior vidwan of the Capital. Krishnan, a septuagenarian flutist and vocalist based in Delhi, had his initial training in music under the late flute vidwan Nochur Krishna Iyer. He had further training in flute from T.S. Sankaran. He has composed and set to music a number of kritis in Sanskrit and Tamil, in addition to translating shlokas of “Narayaneeyam” into Hindi.

He was awarded the title Sangita Sahitya Ratnakara by the Asthika Samaj for his contribution to music.

The book, titled “Gaana Kusumaarpanam”, contains 28 of his kritis in different ragas and talas. Five kritis are on Ganesha, 10 on Ayappa, four on Krishna, two each on Venkataramana, Shiva and Devi, one each on Ram and Hanuman, apart from one guru vandana song. Some of these kritis are on the presiding deities of the temples in Delhi, like the Aiswarya Ganapathi temple in Kesavapuram, Subbha Siddhi Vinayaka mandir and Guruvayurappan temple at Mayur Vihar, and the Meenakshi temple at Shalimar B

agh. Excerpts from a chat with the Delhi-based “vaggeyakara”:

On his motivation for composing kritis

I composed a kriti casually in the raga Hamsanadam and my wife Akhila Krishnan was singing this during the Sangitakalanidhi T.K. Jayarama Iyer centenary celebrations, organised by Gayathri Fine Arts in 1993 . Late Subbudu mama (critic P.V. Subbudu) was sitting in front of me and enjoying this song. It was written in Sanskrit. As the song was coming to an end, Subbudu mama turned to me and enquired why the “Guruguha mudra” of Muthuswami Dikshitar was not come in the composition. When he came to know it was not Dikshitar's composition but mine, he appreciated me. He also encouraged me to compose more kritis. This was a real turning point and since then I took to composing seriously.

On the wife's support

She continuously encouraged me in composing kritis. She gave useful suggestions for improvement and also wrote notations for these kritis. The book would not have seen the light of day but for her cooperation.

Difference between a performing artiste and a composer

Not all performing artistes can compose kritis. Apart from having a strong grip on music, a composer should also have control over the language. Somehow, I did not take any special interest in choosing a particular raga. Whatever raga or phrase in a raga flashed in my mind, I used them in my compositions.

On the choice of language

My mother tongue being Tamil, I always wanted to compose in this language. In addition, Sanskrit has certain advantages and inherent beauty. I achieved some proficiency in Sanskrit due to the excellent training I received from my guru, Dr. Jeet Ram Bhatt of Delhi Sanskrit Academy.

Compositions on Ayappa

While there are lots of songs on Ayappa in the bhajan format, there are only four or five compositions in proper Carnatic style. But these cannot be presented in an elaborate manner in Carnatic music concerts. During the 41-day “Mandalam” season of Lord Ayappa, artistes find it difficult to take up a song in praise of Lord Ayappa as their central item. To fill this void, I have composed 10 songs on Lord Ayappa.