“Every family member excels at certain tasks”: A family’s legacy of making mridangams – Kerala

Read the full story with more photos in The Better India >>

In Kerala’s Peruvemba village, one family has been making the Mridangam, a Carnatic instrument, for four generations. They make two types of Mridangams – Ech and Thag. […]

The cumbersome and labour-intensive process of making every piece, which continues seamlessly and without glitches, takes anywhere between 2-3 months to complete. Generally, the artisans dedicate a part of their house to make the instruments. This is probably the reason why the entire family is involved in the work. Rajesh was around eight when he first tried his hands at making one. […]

Every family member excels at certain tasks. For example, my grandmother aces mashiyidal, which is the black circular ring on top of the instrument made from boiled rice and black stone. Her work is especially in demand by customers. Likewise, my father perfects the shape,” says Rajesh.

The main materials to make the instrument are jackfruit and leather. The family sources their jackfruit from Tamil Nadu’s Panruti village and to ensure the sturdiness, the tree has to be at least 30 years old. The middle and lower body of the fruit is cut and kept for drying for nearly two months, and then chiselled to make the body. […]

Source: “Musicians Across India Rely On This Kerala Family’s 200-YO Legacy Of Mridangams” by GOPI KARELIA (The Better India, 26 April 2021)
URL: https://www.thebetterindia.com/253401/kerala-peruvemba-mridangam-carnatic-music-instrument-kasumani-indian-musicians-family-legacy-history-tradition-culture-india-gop94/
Date visited: 1 June 2021

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Video | “Breath of Life”: Carnatic flute by JA Jayanth

JA Jayant performs for Indian Arts Connection’s Breath of Life fundraising concert to buy oxygen concentrators to help with Indias 2nd wave of COVID.
He is accompanied by B Ananthakrishnan on the Violin, NC Bharadwaj on Mridangam and S Karthick on Ghatam.
Donations accepted
https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/breath-…​

Audio tip | JA Jayanth’s grandfather and guru TS Sankaran live at Kalakshetra >>

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“Sampradaya is like a broad river and the bani is a tributary”: Umayalpuram Sivaraman on his 75 years of performance

Mridangam vidwan Umayalpuram K. Sivaraman © The Hindu

Sampradaya is like a broad river and the bani is a tributary. It is born out of creativity and sustained when creativity combines with novelty, while based on the core principles. It should be aesthetically beautiful and serve as something new for present and future generations to work upon.
I learnt from four great masters: Arupathi Natesa Iyer, Thanjavur Vaidyanatha Iyer, Palghat Mani Iyer, and Kumbakonam Sakottai Rangu Iyengar. On that base I formed my own distinctive style, something novel, attractive and worthy of emulation.
Bani is about everything — accompaniment, mridangam solo, giving pauses, creating a lot of nada, and new moras and korvais, complex mathematical creations. It is like Ariyakudi’s music; it may seem simple, but when you attempt it, it’s impossible until you work at it. That is what I have created. It has complete clarity, with or without mic. As my father taught me, I coax the mridangam, I don’t beat it.
Another principle of my bani: First, you become a rasika of the main artiste, whether vocal or instrumental. You must become the first rasika. And you must go into the music, so that it affects your psyche, your playing. The tempo, the voice, the volume, the mellifluousness, everything enters your body, and it reacts in the mridangam. Then, your reactions and movements will be in advaita bhava with the main artiste.

Read the full interview: “Umayalpuram Sivaraman: ‘I have not even touched the tip of the iceberg’” by Vaishna Roy (The Hindu, 6 May 2021)

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“There is music of mind, of the senses and of the heart” – Mahatma Gandhi >>
Photo © Ludwig Pesch

Video | Tyagaraja Aaradhana 2021 – Sannidi Academy Of Music and Arts

https://youtu.be/JOMlCD0OwBY

Thyagaraja Aradhana 2021 – Live on 2nd Feb – 7:30am IST  #ThyagarajaAradhana​ #2021​ #pancharathnam

Sannidi Academy of Music and Arts, (SAMA) a nonprofit organaisation established in the year 2011 by carnatic musician T.R. Sundaresan. Sannidi, helps young talents to come together and also provides them a platform for team work, learning and performing. Sannidi Academy of Music and Arts welcome all like minded musicians and artists to come forward and be a part of its future endeavors.

More information: https://thyagarajaaradhana2021.wordpress.com

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Video | Flute J.A.Jayant’s concert for Naada Inbam December Music Festival 2020

Concert on 31.12.2020 by Vidwan J.A.Jayanth – Flute, Vidwan L.Ramakrishnan – Violin , Vidwan N.C.Bharadwaj – Mridangam , and Vidwan Chandrasekara Sharma – Ghatam. For Daily Informations refer to Our Blog : https://naadainbam.wordpress.com/

Jayanth, still in his late twenties, is the most recognisable and sought after flautist in contemporary Carnatic music who also commands a considerable cross-over following in India and abroad. He’s a prime time performer in Chennai’s prestigious Sabhas and also a regular fixture in Indian musical festivals in Europe and the US. He enthrals his audiences with an arresting gayaki style, riveting wizardry on his instrument, and rare musical wisdom. | Read the full interview by G Pramod Kumar on Jayanth’s musical background, the Carnatic bamboo flute, and the challenges it poses in the Indian Express (December 12, 2020) >>

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Audio tip | JA Jayanth’s grandfather and guru TS Sankaran live at Kalakshetra >>

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“Sampradaya is like a broad river and the bani is a tributary”: Umayalpuram Sivaraman on his 75 years of performance >>

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The bamboo flute of South India

Art by Arun V.C.

The flute has played a key role in India’s artistic life since antiquity. This is evident from writings on dance-drama, mythology, sculptures and paintings. Its playing technique must have been highly developed for a very long time. Different names are used for it, for instance kuzhal (pronounced like “kulal” or “kural”) in Tamil speaking regions; and bansuri in northern India. In poetry, song lyrics, classical dance items and films, words like venu and murali evoke its association with Krishna, the ‘dark skinned’ cowherd and flute player. […] Tagore’s poetry reminds us of the fact that reed and bamboo flutes are the world’s most “democratic” to this very day, both literally and figuratively:

Tagore in Kalakshetra 
image by L. Pesch

Very often I think and feel that I am like a flute – the flute that cannot talk but when the breath is upon it, can sing. – Rabindranath Tagore whose pioneering institution Santiniketan inspired Kalakshetra | Read more >>

“I completely enjoyed the role of being an observer and a commentator”: Sebastian and Sons by T.M. Krishna celebrates the contribution of mrdangam makers

More by and about T.M. Krishna >>

Read the full interview in the Deccan Herald >>

The writing in Sebastian and Sons introduces us to the storyteller in T M Krishna like never before. It’s a non-fictional work written with a novelist’s touch. It makes for a riveting read with the musician’s earnestness to absorb the stories of his subjects and his ability to look at the larger picture shining through. He concurs his approach was unique: “This book was very different writing for me; it was a new form for someone who has largely explored philosophical ideations driven by research (treatises), activism and self-introspection. This is the first time I wrote a book with the approach of a journalist. And it was other people’s stories, which I was trying to make sense of. I completely enjoyed the role of being an observer and a commentator.”

Source: Srivathsan Nadadhur, Deccan Herald, 7 June 2020
URL: https://www.deccanherald.com/sunday-herald/sunday-herald-art-culture/the-melody-of-dissent-an-interview-with-carnatic-vocalist-tm-krishna-845453.html
Date visited: 7 June 2020

Excerpt from S. Gopalakrishnan’s “Another Listening” newsletter
A much awaited book ‘Sebastian and Sons’ by TM Krishna on the evolution of the art of Mridangam making is going to be released on 2 February 2020. ‘The making process is an intellectually, aesthetically and physically taxing one. From acquiring the skins for the circular membranes and straps to the wood for the drum, from curing the material to the final construction, and at the end of it all, making sure that it has the tone that the mrdangam player wants, mrdangam-making is also a highly nuanced operation at every stage. This requires a highly tuned ear and an ability to translate abstract ideas expressed by musicians into the corporeal reality of a mrdangam. Yet, their contribution to the art of the mrdangam is dismissed as labour and repair—when it is spoken of at all.

There are legendary mrdangam players, yes; there are also distinguished mrdangam makers, many of them from Dalit Christian communities, who remain on the fringes of the Karnatik community. Sebastian and Sons explores the world of these artists, their history, lore and lived experience to arrive at a more organic and holistic understanding of the music that the mrdangam makes’.

As a dedication to all major Mridangam makers of the past I dedicate Mridangam solos of three all-time masters, Pazhani Subramania Pillai, Palakkad Mani Iyer and Ramanathapuram C S Murugabhoopathy

1. Pazhani Subramania Pillai (1908-1962) : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8r2FafKt_X8
2. Palakkad Mani Iyer (1912-1981): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V9Zd8GjQ39w
3. Ramanathapuram CS Murugabhoopathy (1914-1998): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZtFXE4aVMT8

Subscribe to the “Another Listening” newsletter for daily Carnatic music recommendations and more: anotherlistening@gmail.com

There is not only myth, but also vocabulary. “In Tamil, ‘thol’ means ‘skin’ and ‘thattu’ means ‘plate’. Mridangam players will talk about thattu, but not about thol,” Krishna said. “These were all ways of distancing.”

Photo © The Telegraph picture

Read “T.M. Krishna speaks about his new book, Sebastian and Sons at the Tata Steel Kolkata Literary Meet” (21 January 2020): https://www.telegraphindia.com/states/west-bengal/mridangam-the-cowhide-conundrum/cid/1739616

T. M. Krishna (in MOPA “Notes to Myself”):
Now here is a fascinating story of a musician born and bred in privilege by his own admission, who enjoyed a liberal, progressive environment both at home and at school that laid the foundations for a fearless, critical mind and outspoken tongue, enjoyed the best of teachers who fostered an abiding love for Carnatic music in his young heart and was one among the band of young musicians who took the Carnatic stage by storm in the 90s. […]

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Audio tip | JA Jayanth’s grandfather and guru TS Sankaran live at Kalakshetra >>

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A musical tribute to Prof. S. A. Srinivasan by Karaikudi Voyage – Sreevidhya Chandramouli (vocal & vina)

Vocal with vina accompaniment: Sreevidhya & Chandramouli (Karaikudi Bani)

Dr. Srinivasa Ayya Srinivasan, a dear friend of ours, and an Indologist at University of Hamburg, Germany, passed away on May 2nd, 2019. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Pia Srinivasan, who was a student of late Rajeswari Padmanabhan. We pay homage to his great soul with a few of his favorite compositions on voice and Veena.

  • To listen and view photos on youtube, click here >>
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Dhvani was formed to Preserve, Explore & Disseminate Indian art and cultural heritage. As a grassroots organization devoted to expanding knowledge in our community, Dhvani fulfills the need to inculcate an integrated understanding of art in Indian culture as well as other cultures.

Compositions heard as part of the Karaikudi Voyage tribute

  1. Paripalaya – Ritigaula – Adi tala – Tyagaraja
  2. Ramapahi meghasyama – Kapi – Adi tala – Tyagaraja
  3. Amba nilayatakshi – Nilambari – Adi tala – Muttusvami Dikshitar

Find song lyrics by typing any of the above in the search window:

S.A. Srinivasan (2011)
Prof. Dr. S.A. Srinivasan
18 September 1932 – 2 May 2019
Acknowledgement
Deutsch: Tributes by colleagues (in German)

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Hinduismus und ökologische Ethik: Einige Bemerkungen
http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/900603864 | Details in German (Vienna University) >>

The goddess Māriyammaṉ in music and in sociology of religion
by Pia Srinivasan Buonomo; Srinivasa Ayya Srinivasan
http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/247408025
Open access version (text and audio files discussed):
https://archive.org/details/mariyamman-in-music

On the composition of the Nāṭyaśāstra
http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/499646888

Studies in the Rāma story : on the irretrievable loss of Vālmīki’s original and the operation of the received text as seen in some versions of the Vālin-Sugrīva episode
http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/560465987

Nonviolence and holistically environmental ethics : gropings while reading Samayadivākaravāman̲amun̲i on Nīlakēci
http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/929910155 / http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/899297850

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