FRIDAY REVIEW

Nuances of Mudikondan neraval

Mudikondan Venkatarama Iyer receiving the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award from former President Dr. Rajendra Prasad.

Mudikondan Venkatarama Iyer receiving the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award from former President Dr. Rajendra Prasad.  

A LECTURE-DEMONSTRATION on the nuances and unique style of neraval singing of the Mudikondan School, was organised by the Devaganavali Trust in memory of Mudikondan Venkatarama Iyer on October 31, his death anniversary. Venkatrama Iyer learnt the art of singing pallavi and neraval from stalwart gurus Simizhi Sundaram Iyer, Vedaranyam Sri Swaminatha Iyer, Konerirajapuram Sri Vaidyanatha Iyer and Ammachatram Kannuswami Pillai. He passed on this legacy to his disciples B. Krishnamurti and R. Vedavalli, who were the resource persons for the evening's lecdem.

Manodharma singing is the most difficult part of a concert. This is where impromptu responses are called for and is the true test of the mastery and creativity of the artiste. When pre-rehearsed and memorised, neraval and swara passages rob a concert of its natural flow and spontaneity. "There is no right or wrong in manodharma singing. One can sing neraval without following it with kalpana swaram, or for any meaningful line in the pallavi, anupallavi or charanam," remarked Vedavalli. Krishnamurthi recalled that his guru once sang an elaborate neraval for the line `niluparani' in the charanam of the Kalyani varnam. He went on to demonstrate the difference between the neraval done for a line in the kriti and that done for a pallavi. He chose the pallavi `Gana lola karunalvala' in Todi.

Brief snatches of neraval singing clearly showed Vedavalli's mastery over the art. This came she said ``with years of sadhana and practice. My guru would lie down and apparently be resting but he would tap his feet to the rhythm of a tala and in his mind would churn out some difficult pallavi and the following day there would be an extraordinary neraval in the concert."

The programme ended with an interactive session with the audience. Vidyashankar and S. R. Janakiraman shared their views on the subject. The Devaganavali Trut is run by the disciples of Vedavalli and it aims at preserving and archiving the rich traditions of Carnatic music.

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