Music should usher in happiness, say Hyderabad Brothers

D. Seshachary and D. Raghavachary, popularly known as Hyderabad Brothers

D. Seshachary and D. Raghavachary, popularly known as Hyderabad Brothers   | Photo Credit: C.V.Subrahmanyam


The veteran vocalists talk about how they plan a concert, the significance of rare kritis and their training

Vocalists D. Seshachary and D. Raghavachary, popularly known as the Hyderabad Brothers, have been conferred with two prestigious awards this Margazhi season — Gaana Padhmam by Brahma Gana Sabha and Naadasudhakara of Neelakanta Sivan Cultural Academy. Excerpts from an interview:

How do you look at the transformation of Carnatic music and concerts over the years?

Seshachari: Days are indeed changing. But we cannot say that the music of those days was better than today’s. For instance, when a young musician is singing Kalyani today, his or her projection, ability to think, and attitudes may seem different from the way GNB or Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer used to sing. The atmosphere and the audience have changed. So has the music. That said, the overall objective of music is to bring in happiness. The musician can make rasikas happy only if he or she is happy. Young musicians also should be aware of what they are preserving. Our music has a great heritage and we should preserve it. So, when young musicians sing, they should ‘think’ beforehand what they are going to perform.

How does one do that?

Seshachari: Some vishesha prayogas won't come by just singing. You have to contemplate on them before presenting it to the audience — about the use of gamakas, conveying the bhava and so on. Only then you can capture the beauty.

How do you plan a concert?

Seshachari: Well, it is nothing rigid. We practice and get ready to deliver. I believe that a musician should be ready to sing any raga alapana on the spot. Therefore we don’t plan any package. If we do that, we’ll end up merely executing the ideas and that will deprive the concert of spontaneity. Whereas, fresh ideas add beauty.

Usually we take into account the duration of the concert and find out who the accompanying artistes are. Once we sit on the stage, we gauge the mood of the audience and decide the ragas and kritis.

You cannot accommodate requests from the audience if you have a rigid plan. For instance, a rasika may say: “I attended your concert five years ago and you elaborated Kharaharpriya beautifully and sang ‘Rama... ni samanamevaro’ Can you do it today?” A musician should accept it. Only the kriti will have a fresh flavour since you do not have any strict plans.

You have received the Music Academy awards for your expertise in rendering rare Tyagaraja kritis. How did your specialisation happen?

Seshachari: It was an academic interest, which prompted us to collect and learn rare compositions of the saint. Also we learned from old recordings. Telugu is our mother tongue in which many notations of rare Tyagaraja and Annamacharya compositions are available. So diction was never a problem. In fact that became our strength. We never changed the notations but identified the beauty spots and decorated them with gamakas and bhavas.

Last year along with a Mumbai-based organisation we did a project on rare Syama Sastri kritis. Six songs, including ‘Janani Natajana Palini’ in Saveri and ‘Mayamma’ in Nattakurinji were taken from a book, compiled by N.C. Parthasarathy Iyengar. We tuned them. Along with a student, these were then recorded in the form of a class to produce a CD.

Do rare kritis add value to a concert?

Of course, they do. Rare kritis are prized possessions. However, a musician should not crowd a concert with such compositions. It is better to include one rare item in a concert and do not go for an elaborate alapana until it gets established. Vidwans such as Semmangudi did that. That said, some artistes sing elaborate alapanas of rare ragas and laborious cycles of swarakalpana with anulomam and vilomam. Instead of amusing the audience, this exercise may confuse them. Rasikas should be able to relate to, understand and get inspired by a concert.

About your training.

Seshachari: We were born in Hyderabad and belong to a family of traditional musicians. Our father Daroor Ratnamacharyulu was a music teacher and he trained us. Our mother Sulochana Devi was also a Carnatic musician. I was born in 1956 and my brother is four years older.

Raghavachari: Since our father was a music teacher, we got exposed to music at a very young age and got a systematic and vigorous training from him. Later, I also trained under Susarla Sivaram, who was a teacher at Government College of Music and Dance in Hyderabad. We started with temple concerts.

Duo singing has become a trend now. You were one of the first...

Raghavachari: At first we sang individually. We have individual gradings in AIR and also for duo singing. In 1980, we presented a concert in Tiruvaiyaru as Hyderabad Brothers. That was much appreciated and we have not looked back. Actually, duets are not different from individual performances. Compositions have fixed sangatis and gamakas and we practice them together. Our individuality will be shown only in alapana, swarakalpana and niraval. Manodharma, however, is on the same wavelength.

Seshachari: For instance, if he sang an alapana in the higher octave, I have to start from there and not from lower. Also, we maintain proportion. If I sing three rounds of swaras, he will also sing three rounds. So also korvai.

Many musicians have shifted base to Chennai but you have made Hyderabad your home

Seshachari: Well, we were born and brought up in Hyderabad and our family is settled there. I was working with AIR Hyderabad and Raghavachari with National Minerals Development Corporation. But we keep travelling to Chennai and have never missed a chance to sing in the city. After all, music is above geographical barriers.

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2020 1:28:41 PM |

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