T.M. Krishna releases album on Nottusvara Sahitya

Students of Vidya Vanam School and from Chennai’s Sargam choir perform at a concert mentored by Vidwan T.M. Krishna in Coimbatore on Saturday.- Photo:S. Siva Saravanan  

Carnatic Music exponent T.M. Krishna was in the room, not singing yet, and still the audience was riveted. Because, he was sharing an incredible bit of history about Muthuswami Dikshitar (1775-1835) at a recent event to release his rendition of the poet composer’s Nottusvara Sahitya.

The Sahityas came about when Dikshitar lived for a while near Madras at Manali. Strains of martial music reached his ears from the English Garrisons stationed nearby – Irish Airs, Scotch Snaps and Highland Flings played by the fiddlers, drummers and pipers amongst the troops. Diskhitar, says Krishna, emptied these of English lyrics and replaced them with Sanskrit Sahitya. This was early fusion they fitted the foreign melody like a dream.

Children of Vidya Vanam School in Anaikatti and from Dr. Sudha Raja’s choir, Sargam, sang the Nottusvarams along with Krishna on the occasion. Their singing was punctuated with snatches of the original Western songs to give the audience an idea of how similar they sounded and how beautifully Dikshitar had made them his own.

Sudha Raja along with V. Chithra, a music teacher at Vidya Vanam, had trained the children to sing. Krishna sang along too. He pointed out how he still needed the lyrics on a piece of paper in order to sing while the children held forth fluently from memory. It was exciting to learn that the first information about 12 nottusvaras was in a manuscript called Jatisvara Sahityamulu written by Kuppayya Seshayya in 1833, before Dikshitar died. Nine of them even had names of the original English titles and melodies. The other two sources were A.M. Chinnaswami Mudaliar’s Oriental Music in European Notation published in 1893, and Prathamabhyasa Pustakamu by Subbarama Dikshitar in 1905. Going by these and subsequent publications (A. Sundaram Iyer’s Dikshita Kirtana Mala , a series published over many years), 39 Nottusvara Sahityas are attributed to Muthuswamy Dikshitar.

Krishna has recorded 36 of them. “It was exciting to recreate the Nottusvaram as Muthuswami Dikshitar must have conceptualised them,” he said.

The CD is available on


Related Topics
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Apr 15, 2021 11:42:13 AM |

Next Story