Happy Music Season to all Carnatic Music fans! I’m sure you are all immersed joyfully in listening to one concert after another, just as I am! I am rather envious of those who can attend live concerts. But as you know, I have been musically isolated for many years and am quite used to online concerts. It has it’s own advantages. There is no travel time, no limitation on how long you can listen, and you can pick and choose concerts depending on your mood. This year, like last, I bought myself tickets for Musically Margazhi and Yours Truly Margazhi, both from Kalakendra’s site. Since the 1st of December, I have listened to Palghat Ramprasad and Sandeep Narayan on Arkay Ramakrishnan-YouTube, and Saketharaman, Vignesh Ishwar, Sanjay Subrahmanyan, Vijay Siva, Mysore Brothers, Sriranjani Santhanagopalan, Malladi Brothers, Gayathri Venkataraghavan and Ramakrishna Murthy on Musically Margazhi-Karthik Fine Arts at Kalakendra’s site.
While listening to all these concerts, it occurred to me that I have deep biases for or against ragas. Those who have studied physics in school will remember tuning forks ? It seems to me that when I listen to some ragas, like a string touched by a tuning fork, my soul tunes into the same vibrations as the raga. I have noticed that I merge deeply into old-and-familiar ragas like Madhyamavati, Kalyani, Todi etc. It is as if the familiarity removes some kind of barrier to being absorbed into the music. Like everyone, I love the crowd-pleaser Hindustani imports like Behag, Desh or Ahir Bhairav but I really can’t ‘sink’ into them. I also seem to have a hidden morose-streak in me which wallows joyously in the unalloyed misery of Shubhapantuvarali, Shivaranjani and the like. My head may nod to dynamic ragas like Natta and Hamsadhwani but it is the introspection of Varali, Abheri or Saveri which appeals at a deeper level. What I am getting to is that my enjoyment of a concert is very personal because it is very dependent on these raga-biases which I have within me. That is, I believe, a very good reason to desist from any kind of concert reviews. That said, I will write a separate post at the end of the music season about the concerts I listened to and the renditions I enjoyed the most.
I confess, I seldom give concentrated attention to any concert because I am always multi-tasking! I don’t watch concerts, I listen while doing chores. And this week in particular, I’ve been very busy. My first grandson celebrated his 3rd birthday for which we had a nice party at home. Thanks to Covid, this was the first gathering in ages. ‘Am I grown up now?‘ he asked me that day! Yesterday, when I was putting him to bed for his nap, I sang a song that I hadn’t sung for quite some time. He listened quietly and then said ‘You used to sing it a long, looooong time back when I was a little boy‘. Then added ‘Dinosaurs lived a long, looooong time back‘. Ah, my little fellow, he gives me such laughter and joy! And for all those who sent so many wishes and prayers after my last post – thank you. My little grandson is now 3 months old, and is off his oxygen for a whole month now! He is growing well and is a happy little chappie.
So I come finally to my song choice of the day. The Mysore brothers played Sudha Madhurya as the first item in their concert, a really good choice as it has a brisk pace and an uplifting melody. I couldn’t quite remember the name of the song or the raga but thankfully the video shows the details for those who, like me, obsess about a tune which they can’t quite place. Then it clicked. I do have the song in my collection sung by Dr. Balamuralikrishna but I haven’t heard it in a ‘long, looooong time’, not since the dinosaurs roamed the earth! It is composed by Tyagaraja in a rare raga called Sindhuramakriya, a janya of Mayamalavagowla. It is a very lovely song, a short one, just perfect for this busy season. I have chosen a video by S.Ramanathan for your listening pleasure.
Footnote (Lyrics and Translation) :
Composer – Tyagaraja
Raga – Sindhuramakriya
Language : Telugu
Please note that I am not a Telugu speaker. The translations have been taken from internet sources, mainly here. If you are a student, it is best to refer to your guru. This blog is meant only for music appreciation.
Transliteration in Devanagari
सुधा माधुर्य भाषण सुधाकरानन
कथामृतमुचे बहु कालमु
आकलि तीरियुन्नानु ब्रोवुमु
दुरात्मुलगु भूकिरातकुल चेर रादनुचु सुन्दराकार नी
परायणुल चॆलिमि रा कोरु त्यागराज नुत ओ परात्पर सुगुण
Transliteration in English
sudhA mAdhurya bhAshaNa
karthAmrtamu chE bahu kAlamu
Akali tIriyunnanu brOvumu
durAtmulagu bhU kirAtakula chEra rAdunuchu sundarAkAra nI
pArAyaNula chelimi rA kOru tyAgarAja nuta O parAtparA suguNa
O Lord (implied) who is as sweet (madhurya) spoken (bhAshaNa) as nectar (sudhA)! O Lord (implied) whose face (Anana) is as beautiful (implied) as the moon (sudhAkarAnana)!
Having imbibed (chE) of your nectarine story (kathA amRthamu) for a long time (bahu kAlamu), I am (unnAnu) satiated (Akali tIri). Protect me (brOvumu)!
O Lord (implied) with the beautiful (sundara) form (AkAra)! I (implied) desire (kOru) to reach/come (rA) the companionship (chelimi) of those dedicated (parAyuNula) to you (nI) so as (anucu) to not (rAdu) associate (chEra) with the wicked (durAtmulagu) barbarians (kirAtakula) on earth (bhU). O excellent (suguNa) supreme one (parAtpara) worshipped (nuta) by Tyagaraja!