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Time to sing her praise

Special Correspondent
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T. Brinda shunned publicity and evolved her own style of music

She belonged to an enviable musical lineage. An exponent of both Veena Dhanammal and Kancheepuram Naina Pillai schools of singing, she had an inimitable style. But T. Brinda, whose centenary is being celebrated, was a musician who shunned publicity and refused commercial recordings of her music.

“While her death deprived Carnatic music of her great style, it has offered one advantage. Now, we are able to speak about her music which she would not have allowed in her lifetime,” said R. Venugopal, an ardent fan of Brinda and former managing director of Spencers.

Describing her music as “introvert,” he said it fitted Aldous Huxley’s definition that, “after silence that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.” Brinda never sought to impress the audience.

He was participating at a panel discussion organised by Krishna Gana Sabha here.

“Self-satisfaction is important for her. Through self-satisfaction, she connected herself with the rasika,” said Mr. Venugopal, who had listened to her innumerable concerts.

He wondered whether she could be described as a torch-bearer of Dhanammal and Kancheepuram Naina Pillai schools, as she assimilated aspects of both schools and evolved her own style.

S. Neelakantan, son of later violin maestro Thiruvalangadu Sundaresa Iyer, said Ramnad Krishnan and Thiruvavaduthurai Rajarathinam Pillai were the two musicians who absorbed the Dhanammal school style of music and popularised it through their own renderings.

“She used to sing between seven and nine in the evening and there would be hardly a dozen people. Who can equal her ‘padams’ and ‘javalis’ in ‘kalyani,’ ‘bhairavi,’ ‘gowlibandhu,’ ‘begada,’ ‘saveri,’ ‘sahana’ and ‘paras,’” he said.

Prof S.R. Janakiraman, a student of Brinda, said “joints and couplings” were part and parcel of her music and she maintained continuity without a break.

He went on to sing a few Brinda favourites to explain the greatness of her music.

“On one occasion, she stopped singing ‘varalai’ and touched upon ‘ranjani’ a few minutes. Then she said ‘ranjani’ could be tried if we could not explore the greatness of ‘varalai,’” said Mr. Janakiraman, adding that she should not just be admired, but adored.

T. Brinda who shunned publicity

in her lifetime evolved her own style of music


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