VEENA Sensitivity to tradition made for some melodic moments. P.S. Krishnamurthi

I t was the deep booming melody of two veenas that greeted this rasika as he entered the auditorium.The Iyer Brothers Ramnath and Gopinath were engrossed in developing kalpanaswaras for ‘Shyame Sankari Digvijaya-prakasini' of Dikshitar's ‘Maamaava, Meenakshi' in Varali. When the two played the final korvai swaras in unison, it evoking the glory and allure of Devi Meenakshi as depicted by the composer.

The veena is the queen of instruments and evokes the music of the gods. Possessing an unparalleled dignity, it can work wonders in the hands of virtuosos such as the Iyer Brothers. There was no deterring the duo from any of the sancharas, prayogas, gamakas, karvais or sangatis in their effort to translate a concept into the language of their instrument -- a sign of dedicated practice and creative musical sensitivity.


Be it the lilting tunes in Kannada or elaborate alapana in Keeravani; soulful sahityam in ‘Kalikiyunte gata' or the mellifluous notes in Behag; fast, kalpanaswaras or scintillating thanam (the veena's forte) -- their playing was never wanting in reaching the depth of the soul. The pallavi was in Sankarabharanam played to a simple khandajati triputa. The words sung by Gopinath distinctly were ‘Nee Paadamule Gati Eni Nammmiti, Sri Ramachandra.' The brothers immersed the auditorium in blissful Sankarabharanam, through kalpanaswaras with Saveri, Ritigowlai and Hamsanandi in a procession.

That nadabrahmam is not restricted to the veena alone was abundantly demonstrated in the sensitive playing of the accompanying artists Madipakkam Suresh (mridangam) and Guru Prasanna (ganjira.) They established how they could aesthetically decorate the musical edifice that the Brothers were building. In the thani, there was admirable clarity in the discreteness of the syllables, played in an ethos which matched ‘Baaguga Sruti Raghuramunu' at which they played. The ganjira's special potential to simulate the human voice and sound like konnakkol was fully used.