Issue Carnatic kacheris should try to introduce fresh concepts like thematic concerts to attract new audience and retain their interest. C V Hariharan
Carnatic music has remained the same for a long time. Except a very few artistes, all artistes perform the same way with some variations in raga aalapana and kalpanaswaras. Very rarely do we hear applause mid-concert, which alone is an acknowledgment to the real talent of a performing artiste. The concerts of the ‘so called top ranking artistes’ should get a make-over, to retain the interest of current music lovers.
Eka raga Sabha was the brain child of Susarla Shivram (under whom Hyderabad brothers had their first music lessons more than 30 years back. This was broadcast from AIR Vijayawada. Starting from varnam, Ganapathy sthuthi, a keerthanam, a main item with a short ragam, tanam, pallavi and lastly a tillana or javali formed the concert format! This programme was found to be very attractive and listeners did enjoy it.
Earlier, the Bhakthi Ranjani programme of AIR Vijayawada/Hyderabad was very popular. It was during mid 50s. Broadcast at 10 pm, the programme showcased songs of Bhadrachalam Ramadas, Sadhasiva Brahmam and others. The programme was directed and rendered by Mangalampalli Balamuralikrishna . There is a scope to introduce such programmes also as thematic concerts.
Bangalore AIR had a session during Ganesh Chathurthi wherein one raga and many songs by vaageyakaras or song writers, all in praise of Ganapati were broadcast. The programme I heard was on Ranjani ragam with songs in Sanskrit and Kannada being played. This idea is definitely worth emulating as full fledged concerts.
In Chennai certain sessions titled ‘Ekaika Raga concert’... on the lines of Eka Raga Sabhas are being held for the last three/four years. The opinion that singing in one raga would be rather ‘boring’ or ‘monotonous’ should be corrected . Every artiste performs the same ragas differently on various concerts. I recall the music direction for the Malayalam movie Nakakshatanga by Bombay Ravi. This movie had five songs, all of them inragam Mohanam. All of them seemed different and were all hits! Why not a full vaggeyakara centred concert? That has more scope to experiment. Or one centred around a group of melakartha, janyaragas etc. I do remember when Puranam Purushothama Sastry presented Harapriya ragas/or priya ragas, sung by many artistes of Hyderabad.
Murugadass and Needamangalam Krishnamurthy promoted or rather brought to the general notice, about the composers’s musical journey, making Lord Krishna dance to his tune, that’s why there are many chol-kattus /nattuvangam in the songs. The song on Gambeera Naattai... Sri vignarajam bhaje is so majestic that another Kaalinga narthanam in the same raga is a delight for any dancer, if choreographed well.
While Murugadoss sang through bhajans, Needamangalm did it through Harikatha kalakshepam. I had the cherished opportunity of hearing live Needamangalam’s Harikatha. The voice — a rare one and one would love his singing in that voice — is so generous in praising Lord Krishna. (Late) N.S. Srinivasan introduced Othukadu songs to many dancers particularly Sobha Naidu and Raja Reddy-Radha Reddy couple.
I wish that some of the Sabhas in the twin cities take up such themes and concepts to enliven concerts and revive the interest of art lovers.
(The writer is a music connoisseur and adds value to the article published in these columns on June 21, 2013, ‘Tune into a theme’)