Music

Play it again, sir

Flute Ramani  

In 2014, I recorded a 29-second audio clip of a radio concert by N. Ramani. A Bharatiar song, the rendition was unlike any other, the raga familiar, yet unfamiliar. I called all my musical friends and played the clip to them, asking them to identify the raga. Abheri was the answer from most. Finally, I asked violinist Embar Kannan, and his reply was this: “Ramani's version of a raga is beyond imagination. He brings the most unusual touches to it, which is why it is different from regular renditions.”

This unique understanding and his sweetness of melody made Flute Ramani the great musician he was. His regard for Tyagaraja and Dikshitar, coupled with his simple approach to life made music his life. His students are legion, each a proven flautist.

When I think of him, two incidents stand out in my memory. The first was perhaps in the early 1970s, when as a child I went with my father to his house in CIT Colony. Ramani pulled out a length of PVC pipe, into which he had drilled holes, and went on to play it beautifully.

I was so charmed by his child-like enthusiasm for this inventive effort that I forgot to be in awe of him. I felt I was privileged to have heard this.

The second occasion was more recent. For the making of my DVD 'Dikshitar and Devi', I requested Ramani to play Dikshitar’s Ananda Bhairavi Navavarnam, for which I knew he had a deep fondness. I also insisted that he sing a few lines of the song. He agreed at once, even asking his student to strum the tambura for the recording.

A close rapport with Lalgudi Jayaraman and MLV showed him in warm admiration of co-musicians, a rare quality. Himself a composer of a few lilting tillanas, Ramani played others’ compositions with pride.

A generous teacher, an artist with no airs, a man of few words, N. Ramani shall always remain a fond musical memory, to be long cherished. The thrill when he took up the long flute towards the end of the concert to play his melodious tukkadas shall remain unforgettable.


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Printable version | Sep 20, 2021 1:35:12 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/music/flute-ramani-an-artist-with-no-airs-and-a-man-of-few-words/article7765791.ece

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