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Lessons on mridangam

Gudipoodi Srihari
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Nemani Somayajulu, one of leading exponents of mridangam and ghatam fulfilled his dreamof publishing a comprehensive book on the art of mridangam play. His wish was to add to the earlier books written by Dharmala Ramamurthy ( Mridanga Tatvamu ) in 1960 a high profile work and another written by one other Mahadevu Radhkrishna Raju ( Mridanga Bodhini ) in the Eighties. He felt the work of Dharmala and Mahadevu too did not touch upon the topic of ‘muktayies’. Besides he believes Mullapudi Bani, which he inherited from his guru Katravulapalli Veerbhadra Rao who in turn acquired from his guru Mullapudi Lakshmana Rao of Viziangaram was more pleasing.

Besides, Nemani happens to be the sole Jalatarangini player in the state with an ambition to revive this dying art. This reflects his knowledge in total classical idiom that a percussion artiste needs to comprehend and reflect it in his play. Nemani has included 500 mukthayies in his work titled Mridanga Sourabham . He writes in his intro that he dedicated this book to the memory of his guru Veerabhadra Rao who protected this Mullapudi tradition and passed it on. This book was released recently by renowned violinist A. Kanyakumari, at a function.

Mrudanga Sourabham is a voluminous work spread over 500 pages. A graduate, Somayajulu’s initial service as lecturer in mridangam in Andhra University’s School of Fine Arts stood by him in planning what students need. His long association with great artistes like Mangalampalli Balamuralikrishna, Veena virtuoso Chittibabu with whom he toured across the country and abroad; his long service in AIR as staff artiste accompanying stalwart vocalists and instrumentalists brought in greater knowledge acquired with experience into this book.

He is a top grade artiste of AIR and heads Vasavi college of Music and dance, Hyderabad now.

Appreciating the book, M.Balamuralikrishna and Nookala Chinna Satyanarayana call the work a potential guide to students present and past. The book is divided into three chapters; the first two for students of mridangam both in and outside music colleges and the third gives details of various mukatayies. This is, in fact, the soul of the book. It teaches muktayies of different ‘kriyas’. Students who have till now been learning this art practically from gurus, either directly from gurus or as accompanists, will find this a more practical knowledge. The lessons he wrote were those he learned directly from his guru Veerabhadra Rao. This book is meant to spread his learning across the world of percussion artistes.

Around 500 muktayies that he accrued over his period of learning and practicing are presented here in a systematic order. He also wrote about ‘Visesha Muktayies’ that suit any talam (beat). From eight kriya muktayies to 60 these Kriya muktayies and the ‘Mugimpu’ (finishing) technique he wrote about suit mridangam players, vocalists and instrumentalists as well. The book is also good for dance artistes, besides ‘Gatra’ and ‘Vadya’ artistes and for swarakalpana parts too.

He also wrote about ‘Mohara’ which is part of Tani avartanam, giving explanation. Mohara indicates closing parts of tani, when all the percussionists join. It is also a signal for the vocalist to get prepared to connect with rhythm and a signal for audience too that was the end. He gave examples, taking Misrajati Jhampe talam, Khandajati Triputa Talam as examples. There are ‘Sutras’ (principles) too, each composed of 15 muktayies. The chapter named ‘Vividha Gatulu’ tells about kriyas and muktayies, a difficult chapter to write, but presented with clarity. The author now plans to write it in English and release a demonstration CD.

Gudipoodi Srihari

MRIDANGA SOURABHAM

Author:Nemani Somayajulu

Pages: 500.

Price:Rs.500

Copiesavailable with author

Contact:9866368186, 9989061084


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