‘Damaru’ was a melodic meeting point of various instruments and musical styles.
The curtains went up to reveal a lovely starlit sky and a single damaru floating there. Then, the sutradar entered to take us on a journey away from the void of the Universe into the Cosmic Rhythm, the primordial sound that emanats from drum of Lord Siva – the Damaru.
The Temple of Fine Arts in association with the National Arts Council, Singapore, premiered this musical ensemble for the first time in 2009 at Singapore. Composed by percussionist Nawaz Mohammed in collaboration with pianist Renuga Subramaniam, this show was recently presented as part of the Yagnaraman July Fest 2013, at Sri Krishna Gana Sabha.
Compartmentalised into three segments, the narrative showed the damaru travelling along the path of Creation, Preservation and Destruction. The first segment introduced us to the melody of the various instruments, the second to the pulsating energy of life’s sounds, beginning with the heart beat, and led to the final segment which portrayed destruction.
The wide range of instruments used such as the sitar, sarod, sarangi and percussion, accompanied by voices singing in the two classical styles reflected the high calibre of group. The musical score flowed seamlessly from Carnatic kritis such as ‘Bho Shambo’ to Hindustani aalaps, shlokas and bols, intertwined in a harmonious manner.
However, the musical score seemed to follow a similar pattern in the segments, making it a bit monotonous at times, in the two-hour long programme. Probably, just the percussion instruments, which ranged from drums of Africa, China, Japan and the Middle East, could have been utilised to slowly lead up to a crescendo, and this would have infused more energy and life to keep in tune with the title of the show. The musical ensemble, by and large, reiterated the fact that the Temple of Fine Arts always strives to maintain high standards of excellence.