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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“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.” […]

A problem had led Krishna to write this book in the first place.

“Failure drove me to the book,” he said. Because of his caste, among other things, he had been privileged all his life. That is one problem. […]

The mridangam is a paradox. The two-headed “king of percussion”, without which the sound of Carnatic music cannot be the same, is made of cowhide. Therefore the makers of the instrument have been traditionally Dalits or Dalit Christians, but its players and connoisseurs traditionally Brahmin and elite.

The history of the mridangam, as a result, has been a history of its erasure, for its users have tried to not see what it is. Krishna’s interest in his subject had a lot to do with his engagement with caste politics [*] and “the idea of the skin”.

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

[*] Some clarifications on caste-related issues by reputed scholars

Understanding “caste” in the context of Indian democracy: The “Poona Pact of 1932”
“Mahatma Gandhi and BR Ambedkar differed over how to address caste inequities through the electoral system. Their exchanges led to the Poona Pact of 1932, which shaped the reservation system in India’s electoral politics. […]
Two prominent figures who have significantly contributed to this discourse are Mahatma Gandhi, Father of the Nation, and Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, Father of the Constitution. The two stalwarts of Indian politics, while revered equally by the public, had contrasting views on the caste system. Their subsequent debates have shaped the course of Indian society and politics. While Gandhi denounced untouchability, he did not condemn the varna system, a social hierarchy based on occupation, for most of his life. He believed in reforming the caste system through the abolition of untouchability and by giving equal status to each occupation. On the other hand, BR Ambedkar, a Dalit himself, argued that the caste system disorganised and ‘demoralised Hindu society, reducing it to a collection of castes’. […] 
And yet, despite their differences, they developed an understanding to work for the betterment of the marginalised.” – Rishabh Sharma in “How Ambedkar and Gandhi’s contrasting views paved way for caste reservation” (India Today, 6 October 2023)
URL: https://www.indiatoday.in/history-of-it/story/ambedkar-gandhi-caste-system-poona-pact-1932-reservation-2445208-2023-10-06

~ ~ ~

“That upper caste groups should declare themselves to be OBCs [Other Backward Castes] and want to avail of the reservation policy is a pandering to caste politics of course, as also are caste vote-banks. It is partially a reflection of the insecurity that the neo-liberal market economy has created among the middle-class. Opportunities are limited, jobs are scarce and so far ‘development’ remains a slogan. There’s a lot that is being done to keep caste going in spite of saying that we are trying to erode caste. We are, of course, dodging the real issue. It’s true that there has been a great deal of exploitation of Dalit groups and OBC’s in past history; making amends or even just claiming that we are a democracy based on social justice demands far more than just reservations. The solution lies in changing the quality of life of half the Indian population by giving them their right to food, water, education, health care, employment, and social justice. This, no government so far has been willing to do, because it means a radical change in governance and its priorities.” – Romila Thapar  (Emeritus Professor of History, Jawaharlal Nehru University) interviewed by Nikhil Pandhi (Caravan Magazine, 7 October 2015)
URL: https://caravanmagazine.in/vantage/discipline-notion-particular-government-interview-romila-thapar 

~ ~ ~

Casteism is the investment in keeping the hierarchy as it is in order to maintain your own ranking, advantage, privilege, or to elevate yourself above others or keep others beneath you …. For this reason, many people—including those we might see as good and kind people—could be casteist, meaning invested in keeping the hierarchy as it is or content to do nothing to change it, but not racist in the classical sense, not active and openly hateful of this or that group.” – Book review by Dilip Mandal for Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents (The Print, 23 August 2020)
URL: https://theprint.in/opinion/oprah-winfrey-wilkerson-caste-100-us-ceos-indians-wont-talk-about-it/487143/

~ ~ ~

“The theoretical debate on caste among social scientists has receded into the background in recent years. [However] caste is in no sense disappearing: indeed, the present wave of neo-liberal policies in India, with privatisation of enterprises and education, has strengthened the importance of caste ties, as selection to posts and educational institutions is less based on merit through examinations, and increasingly on social contact as also on corruption. There is a tendency to assume that caste is as old as Indian civilization itself, but this assumption does not fit our historical knowledge. To be precise, however, we must distinguish between social stratification in general and caste as a specific form. […]
From the early modern period till today, then, caste has been an intrinsic feature of Indian society. It has been common to refer to this as the ‘caste system’. But it is debatable whether the term ‘system’ is appropriate here, unless we simply take for granted that any society is a ‘social system’. First, and this is quite clear when we look at the history of distinct castes, the ‘system’ and the place various groups occupy within it have been constantly changing. Second, no hierarchical order of castes has ever been universally accepted […] but what is certain is that there is no consensus on a single hierarchical order.” – Harald Tambs-Lyche (Professor Emeritus, Université de Picardie, Amiens) in “Caste: History and the Present” (Academia Letters, Article 1311, 2021), pp. 1-2
URL: https://www.academia.edu/49963457

~ ~ ~

“There is a need for intercultural education. We all need to work together to bridge these divides not only between religions and castes but also regions. It is not correct to think that one part is better than the other. Some of the limitations of India as a whole are due to our common heritage, say the one that has restricted women from having a flourishing life for themselves.” – Prof. V. Santhakumar (Azim Premji University) in “On the so called North-South Divide in India” (personal blog post in Economics in Action, 13 April 2024)
URL: https://vsanthakumar.wordpress.com/2024/04/13/on-the-so-called-north-south-divide-in-india/

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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Video | The idea of classifying ragas – Akshara & Kiranavali Vidyasankar

Akshara Samskriti is the daughter of Carnatic musician Kiranavali and scientist-philosopher, Vidyasankar Sundaresan. This video was recorded on Nov 1, 2013, when Akshara was 4 years old. It was originally in multiple parts for educational video compilation, and has been put together as a single video here.

The 72 Melakartas are regarded as the parent scales in Carnatic music and serve the purpose of grouping similar sounding ragas/scales in the same category. It also helps create new scales which can then potentially evolve into full-bodied ragas.

The idea of classifying ragas that sound similar has existed over many centuries and were taken to a more definitive stage by 17th century musicologist Venkatamakhin. It was fine tuned further by Govinda to its present and more popular form. Nevertheless, the Melas propounded by Venkatamakhin continue to stay in vogue primarily through the compositions of well-known Carnatic composer, Muttuswami Dikshitar.

More on and from Kiranavali Vidyasankar: www.kiranavali.net >>

Rabindranath Tagore sketched by Dutch artist Martin Monnickendam during a lecture tour in September 1920 © Stadsarchief Amsterdam

The world of sound is a tiny bubble in the silence of the infinite. The universe has its own language of gesture; it talks in the voice of pictures and dance. Every object in the world proclaims in the dumb signal of lines and colours, the fact that it is not a mere logical abstraction or a mere thing of use, but it is unique in itself, it carries the miracle of its existence.–Rabindranath Tagore quoted by Dinkar Kowshik in

Doodled Fancy, Visva-Bharati, Santiniketan 1999, p. 8

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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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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 >>
  • Find the lyrics* sung in the tribute by Dhvani in the search window seen below or click here >>
  • Visit Dhvani’s homepage >>

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)

Select titles

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

Find these and related publications (add “open access” for freely downloadable content) on worldcat.org >>