T.R.Mahalingam - Mali (Flute)

Carnatic Musicians

Re: T.R.Mahalingam - Mali (Flute)

#201  Postby uday_shankar » 13 Sep 2011 00:54

Madhyamathi wrote:did Mali sir has used 7 sruthi flute in this concert for any specific reason or he started his career with 7 sruthi later reduced to 5,please clarify
I haven't heard this particular concert but in many old recordings, thanks to recording at a lower speed (due to a slow belt, worn gear whatever) on a spool or casette, when it is played back, the shruti goes up a semitone or even a whole tone if you get it wrong enough :).

So bottom line...Mali sir never played on any flute higher than G# (5 1/2 kattai) for his concerts, typically playing G (5 kattai) .

So please rest the though of 7 kattai...it is a ridiculously high pitch and such a small flute is too small to handle.

I will listen to "this" concert, whatever it is, and confirm exactly what's going on.
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Re: T.R.Mahalingam - Mali (Flute)

#202  Postby cacm » 13 Sep 2011 07:01

I have heard close to a hundred concerts at least of TRM in person & also at his apartment and he played them ALL in G (5 Kattai) as observed by UDAY. Actually I was fortunate to personally discuss with him about certain flutists reducing it to 2.5 Kattai etc. He was AGAINST it for technical reasons & strongly felt that many of the subtle attributes of flute will be lost......I do not have the patience or energy to discuss the technical details he talked about...VKV
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Re: T.R.Mahalingam - Mali (Flute)

#203  Postby Ramasubramanian M.K » 13 Sep 2011 22:33

To reinforce VKV's statement about Mali's ambivalence--nay disagreement with lowering the Sruthi-Mali Sir actually mentioned to my father that he does not approve of Ramani Sir lowering the sruthi!! Ofcourse Ramani Sir's lowering the Sruthi could have been due to some circumstances like the Violin-Venu-Veena tour that VKV sponsored in 1969 (lalgudi-Ramani-Venkatraman) that necessitated lowering the Sruthi. Ofcourse this is only my conjecture and does not explain WHY for his solos Ramani Sir chose to lower the pitch as well!!

I personally liked the high sruthi perhaps because Mali Sir could produce the tonal quality that overcame the "shrillness" associated with high sruthis .

After 6 decades of listening when it came to the wind instruments--Flute and Nadaswaram the only names that pop up in my mind are Mali and TNR respectively--both of them had adopted unique styles and had tonal quality yet to be even remotely scaled by contemporary musicians as well as the ones who preceded them ( according to learned Rasikas who had heard Sanjeeva Rao as wellas Sarabha sastry)Both of them paid enormous attention to the instruments and took personal care in the preparation of the instruments and the necessary adjustments needed to overcome what was then generally considered as a limitation of the instrument.. TNR for example--- It was conventional wisdom in those days that nadaswaram lent itself better to PrathiMadhyama Ragas rather than Suddha madhyama ragas because it was contended that the structure as it was designed did not lend itself to fidelity when the Suddha madhyamam was played.("Suddha Madhyamam Suddhamai Pesadu"). TNR overcame this "alleged drawback " by using a little wax to close one of the holes partially(the extent of the wax application was determined by trial and error!!). This was told to me by a respected musicologist almost 55 years back ( who incidentally had equally high regard for Veeruswami Pillai's playing as well the Thiruvizhimalai Brothers) and supposedly acknowledged by his contemporary nadaswaram players--I am relying on them for the veracity of this statement.
TOUGH, PAROCHIAL,SELF-SERVING AND TOO DOGMATIC A STATEMENT!!!
I PLEAD GUILTY!!!
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Re: T.R.Mahalingam - Mali (Flute)

#204  Postby matterwaves » 10 Jan 2012 19:54

This appeared in the Bengaluru edition on 6th Jan
http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp ... 778712.ece
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Flute Mali's Interview of 1971

#205  Postby RaviSri » 13 Jan 2012 11:22

Today's 'The Hindu' carries an interview given by Flute Mali in 1971. The hard copy of the Friday Features has the original scanned paper of the interview and Mali's corrections and his signature. The online edition does not have it. Nevertheless, something ethereal. Here's the link:

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp ... 796830.ece
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Re: Flute Mali's Interview of 1971

#206  Postby RaviSri » 13 Jan 2012 11:24

Sorry, the online edition does have the scanned pages.
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Re: Flute Mali's Interview of 1971

#207  Postby rajeshnat » 13 Jan 2012 11:40

Mods
Merge this to the Flute Mali thread
viewtopic.php?f=12&t=506&p=214393#p214393

(Mod note: Done )
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Re: Flute Mali's Interview of 1971

#208  Postby arasi » 13 Jan 2012 11:50

"Hearing is 75% of learning", Mali says.
How I wish teachers all over the world start every young student's first day of lessons with this line and cultivate listening in them all along while they learn!
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Vid. T.M. Krishna's article in The Hindu

#209  Postby Ramasubramanian M.K » 16 Feb 2012 20:42

( Moderator note: the next several posts from split from this thread: viewtopic.php?f=2&t=18630&p=216937#p216937 )

Right On Ponbhairavi--awaiting more--in the inetrlude an anecdote re: Mali( remember posting in one of the topics earlier but bears repetition because it underscores the Mali- the Mottai Madi experience.
Once in the early fifties I had accompanied my uncle to Mali's house in Bazaar Road Mylapore---before we entered the house,we heard lilting flute music coming from his window--as we entered his room we saw Mali sprawled on the floor with head perched against the wall on a pillow,with the sruthi box against the opposite wall --Mali was operating the bellows with his feet(!!!)--I was 13 years old and the first thought was How could he be kicking Saraswathi Devi and how come the Goddess is so partial towards him? Mali was not disrespectful-he was a tormented artist who always felt that he had not given his best performance despite the antics which would drive a puritan crazy-but to me if there is one note or phrase that simply transports one I was willing to forget/overlook all his antics. Despite all these no one was more respectful of the Classicism and the Great Trinity than Mali. To me any concert is not mere entertainment like going to a Movie or Drama-I enjoy what the artist is trying to present.
I need to hear more TMK's concerts in person to gauge how sincere he is in practicing what he claims to preach--while one need not clutch religion to one's sleeves while performing,I do expect artistes o respect the art as well as the audience--however ill-informed we may be about Music. On that score from the few occasions I have heard him in person, TMK HAS A LONG WAY TO GO(PURELY PERSONAL COMMENT!!).
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Re: Vid. T.M. Krishna's article in The Hindu

#210  Postby cacm » 16 Feb 2012 21:22

To me MALI was a TRUE ARTIST & RESEARCH SCIENTIST!....I have been to his place many times & he would not only share his voluminous notes- equivalent to a row in Madras University Library- but demonstrate his EXPERIMENTS in VARIOUS ASPECTS- and play for you pretty much anything you request!....AMAZING GENIUS BUT MORE THAN THAT A GREATER HUMAN BEING. VERY RARE INDEED. ONLY MMI & MSS are in that category.....THERE CAN STILL BE SUCH PERSONS TODAY but the SLICK MARKETING APPROACH PREVAILS BECAUSE THE BAR HAS BEEN LOWERED A LOT. RASIKAS SHOULD BE MORE CRITICAL....VKV
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Re: Vid. T.M. Krishna's article in The Hindu

#211  Postby satyabalu » 16 Feb 2012 23:03

"May be Mali entertained himself or better he could not desist himself from expressing his art out." Ponbhairavi! I like these words & I believe ,this is what we, as artists (I privilege myself to be one) should aspire for. one for the society &one for the soul!
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Re: Vid. T.M. Krishna's article in The Hindu

#212  Postby VK RAMAN » 16 Feb 2012 23:15

"The music that I believe is the same whether I sing in the private space of my house or in front of an audience" - I like that statement and I believe that
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Re: Vid. T.M. Krishna's article in The Hindu

#213  Postby arasi » 16 Feb 2012 23:54

MKR,
Your stories are nuggets. I love the pATTu mARATTam of the brothers and the amused admonition of Maharajapuram V in turn!

The MAli story is worth listening to, again!
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Re: Vid. T.M. Krishna's article in The Hindu

#214  Postby uday_shankar » 17 Feb 2012 00:33

MKR Sir,
Operating the shruti petti with the feet and legs is nothing new for flautists and has nothing to do with Mali sir's "torment" or "antics". The point is that no sensitive flautist likes to play without shruti and there's not always somebody to operate it. Those were the pre-electronic days.

My flute guru T S Sankaran sir, Mali's disciple, used to do it and apparently taught it to all his students prior to the advent of the electronic shruti box (which is when I went to him :)). Even after the advent of the electronic box in the late 80's Sankaran sir used to practice with the acoustic shruti box, operating it with his feet and legs. It can be done sitting cross legged and wrapping one leg around the shruti box and buttressing it with the other leg.

The intonation of the flute is a partial function of the blowing. Typically, when you're tired and blow with less gusto your pitch falls ("theychal") a bit on all notes. The problem is exacerbated when you "over blow", i.e., attain the higher pitches by blowing harder for the same fingering. It becomes particuarly acute at mel sa and above and everybody, even Mali sir, occassionally "falls short" at the mel Sa. Sometimes flutists perform entire concerts with slight "theychal" at mel Sa and above, kind of like GNB in his later days. This is also a function of the instrument itself and the position of the blow hole from the blocked end - hence it is that flautists must select their instruments very carefully. Also, the higher the pitch of the flute, the more discernible is pitch misalignment. Hence you'll never find Hariprasad Chaurasia "falling short" in a readily discernible way. This is because he operates at the lower D key, an octave and a half lower than mali sir's G flute and of course he is inherently pitch sensitive. But I would wager that even Chaurasia would have some occassional "theychal" if he played the higher G flute.

Lastly, it is more wholesome and satisfying from a shruti perspective to play wind instruments like flute and nagasvaram to the accompaniment of the shruti petti rather than the tambura.
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Re: Vid. T.M. Krishna's article in The Hindu

#215  Postby cacm » 17 Feb 2012 06:01

I just want to add some lighter vein comment about Chaurasia.
T.S.Parthasarathy told me- He had been sent to Delhi along with Mali to be a "Chaperone" to make sure he would appear to get a Presidential Award- Mali hand painted a big note on a cardboard placard outside his room where he was staying saying "DO NOT DISTURB" AS WELL AS "NOT INSIDE" specifically for Chaurasia who was bothering Mali to teach him incessantly about his blowing& fingering techniques.
The Non-Churasia part is even more interesting: Mali bolted anyway from the hotel, T.S.P,. etc avoided the presentation ceremony, his own concert under the specially constructed Shamina etc & returned to Madras by Grand Trunk Express! He is reported to have shown Newspaper accounts of his going AWOL to fellow passengers; However I cannot confirm it as I was not there! I did not the guts either to ask him about it either.....VKV
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Re: Vid. T.M. Krishna's article in The Hindu

#216  Postby Ramasubramanian M.K » 17 Feb 2012 06:38

Uday: Thanks for the explanation of the subtleties in the playing of Wind instruments. My anecdote about Mali was more to show how unconventional he was in approaching/observing "art-protocols" for want of a better word. Also while the younger generations like you may not find the "touching" of the Instrument with one's feet disrespectful towards the Art --the times I grew up in where you could be pulled up by your elders if if your feet accidentally touches a book or magazine or newspaper I am sure you would agree that the "scene" would be a shock to a 12-year old!!!!That was the element of surprise I was trying to convey-- Like VKV I have been to several concerts of Mali and TNR where they would literally tease and torment the audiences,but we would hang on hoping to get that one meteoric imagination sore and soothe us making us forget all the antics!!(I am afraid this discussion keeps veering away from TMK's article but anyway I cannot resist an anecdote(I personally witnessed it) re: Mali.

Circa 1950- Mali's concert in Bombay--the first time he played under the auspices of a Sabha in Bombay--Shanmukhananda Sabha did not have their own hall and the normal School where concerts used to be held were far too small to accommodate the anticipated large crowds for Mali. It was held in a Pandal in the Don Bosco School grounds in Matunga. The Pandal was jam packed--Mali was totally "soused" and within the first half an hour the audience became restive,boos and catcalls to which Mali would utter some inane response(PMI and TNK were the accompanists)--Sensing the unrest amongst the audience Mali asks PMI "What is all this commotion for" PMI decides it was time to end the concert and gestures to Mali to finish the concert --in haste he finishes--the crowd rushes towards the dais-- my uncle who was a Committee member literally "hugs and covers Mali and tries to escort him to the Car--one of the audience--- a man in his thirties-- removes his Chappals and tries to hit Mali--the blow lands on my uncle's shoulder--when this irate member was restrained--another member steals the Flute and runs frantically towards the rail tracks-(-ostensibly to put it under the railroad tracks--Don't ask me Why he could not have broken the wood with his hands!!) behind the Pandal(those who are Mumbaites may know the rail track between King's Circle-Wadala Stations runs close to the School grounds. Somebody points out that the member is running towards the tracks--my uncle lets go of Mali and goes after the member with the flute(he knew him--a fanatic rasika who would dance like a Cobra when Mali played his best !!),pacified him saying what did the instrument do to deserve such wanton destruction and got back the flute!!

P.S. Mali returns to Chennai the next day without earning his Sanmanam and writes a poignant letter of apology to my father begging him to give him another chance and a promise that he would take the City by storm which he did after a full lapse of one year for the animosity to die down!! Those early experiences taught me to go to Mali's concerts with least expectations,put up with any amount of antics waiting for that one spark of imagination(be it the beginning of Varamulu Sakhi brovu in Kirvani from the Dhaivatam note instead of the conventional Panchamam or the final sangathi in the Pallavi for Pari Thana Minchithe(bilahari) with the kakali Nishada --many such "goosebumps" situations. In my opinion for all the antics he was a true artiste tormented by dissatisfaction that he could not bring out his best even on those days when his concerts were flawless. In his personal life he was every inch a family man--he did not want to marry till his sisters were married - I think he also had a brother whom he helped to educate-he took his parents to Benares on pilgrimage and was very dutiful towards his family--such a paradoxical human being--he was an enigma very much like Vincent Van Gogh-tormented and depressed.

NOW you may legitimately ask WHY am I not fully supportive of any of the "present day artistes deviation from the Sampradaya? WHY am I applying DOUBLE STANDARDS-- I plead Guilty---the day TMK gives me that kind of goosebumps like I felt with Mali and TNR, I will surrender to any deviation or antics!!! THIS IS PURELY PERSONAL AND SUBJECTIVE AND PERHAPS IRRATIONAL!! PLEAD GUILTY!!!
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Re: Vid. T.M. Krishna's article in The Hindu

#217  Postby cacm » 17 Feb 2012 07:41

MKR,
YOU are ABSOLUTELY RIGHT about MALI being concerned about his not giving his BEST in concerts. I can recall an instance in Tambaram in 1950 when he asked me- intermediate student at christian college-when I was just hanging around him at the end of his BRILLIANT CONCERT asking me what I thought of his playing that evening!HE WAS VERY GENUINE TOO....Still I am both excited and floored he genuinely asked me that question!...Also he regularly insisted on having Morsing & other instrument vidwans who RARELY got opportunities for concerts by insisting they shd. play in his concerts. Great man & a GREATER SOUL..... VKV
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Last edited by cacm on 17 Feb 2012 07:47, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Vid. T.M. Krishna's article in The Hindu

#218  Postby VK RAMAN » 17 Feb 2012 07:43

Nothing new to the generation of that time "In his personal life he was every inch a family man--he did not want to marry till his sisters were married - I think he also had a brother whom he helped to educate-he took his parents to Benares on pilgrimage and was very dutiful towards his family" and that shows Mali was very much belonged to that generation
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Re: Vid. T.M. Krishna's article in The Hindu

#219  Postby thenpaanan » 05 May 2012 01:41

Ramasubramanian M.K wrote:NOW you may legitimately ask WHY am I not fully supportive of any of the "present day artistes deviation from the Sampradaya? WHY am I applying DOUBLE STANDARDS-- I plead Guilty---the day TMK gives me that kind of goosebumps like I felt with Mali and TNR, I will surrender to any deviation or antics!!! THIS IS PURELY PERSONAL AND SUBJECTIVE AND PERHAPS IRRATIONAL!! PLEAD GUILTY!!!


We rasikas should learn from this frank admission. Subjectivity is not a sin, pretending objectivity is the problem! :grin:

Thanks also for your hilarious recounting -- your word picture of the fan running to the railroad tracks with the flute was perfect -- I can well imagine that sort of emotional fanatic who oscillates between extremes. Why did he run to the railroad track when he could have broken it by hand? Because only the train crushing it completely would give adequate expression to the violence that the fan felt in his heart, merely breaking it with his hands would not have given him the release he needed. I remember this woman, a Gundappa Vishwanath fanatic if there was ever one, who used to come to our house to watch cricket on television. Once when Vishy took the stand her nine year-old son screamed "out" (VIshy was having a very bad run at that time). Predictably he got out in a few balls at which the mother proceeded to give the son a hiding that I still remember decades since. :lol:

-thenpaanan
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Re: T.R.Mahalingam - Mali (Flute)

#220  Postby Ramasubramanian M.K » 21 Jun 2012 16:38

One more anecdote to the "Mali Lore"--as told to my brother by Rajamony--PMI's son:

Papa Venkatramiah was to accompany Mali (besides PMI)for one of the concerts--venue not known. (outside Chennai--for sure).On the morning of the concert when they were together Mali Sir wanted Papa Sir to teach him a padam(from the Dhanammal family--to whom Papa Sir was very close-- One of the granddaughters--sister of brindamma and Mukthamma--T.Abhiramasundari was his disciple) .Papa Sir demurrhed saying it is difficult to teach that Bani w/o some repeat sessions--Mali Sir can be tenacious if he so chooses-- the banter goes on back and forth-- finally prevails and teaches a Padam in short order.

later that evening it seems Mali Sir played that padam flawlessly capturing the nuance and the flavor(including the proverbial "Odukkal" and Sedukkal") of the Bani much to the enviable surprise of both PMI and Papa Sir. Papa Sir is reported to have commented to PMI that only a genius with Divine grace like Mali could imbibe lessons like that and render them flawlessly.

Mali Sir despite his "alleged" indifference towards other lesser talented artistes had one of the highest regard for Tiruppamburam Swaminatha Pillai (TSP) and Viswa Sir(his disciple)--their Bani and lineage were highly regarded by him. A sidebar story:

Once after a disastrous outing @ the Shanmukhananda(related in one of the posts in this thread),Mali Sir wrote to my father apologising for the misbehavior in a letter and typical of his audacious nature suggested TPS(who although Senior to Mali Sir had somehow not got the attention outside of Chennai) as if to atone for his infractions. I do not know whther this alone was responsible but the sabha arranged TPS for the first time in Bombay.
TPS arrives the previous day by the Madras Express which arrives around 1 P.M in those days. My father receives him at dadar Station--TPS gets down with two big bandages wrapped around his two fingers on the right hand--apparently in the night before sleeping he had tried to adjust the fan(running fan)a above with his fingers(in those days the protective mesh was not so tightly- spaced and fingers could get caught if one is not careful) the finger to be inserted

Despite all the idiosynchrisies attributed to Mali Sir,to quote Somerset Maugham about John Ruskin the british Political Economist/lierary figure of the 19th century; "I can read 2 pages of Ruskin with delight but twenty only with weariness"--I can put up with 2 and a half hours of antics for the inimitable flashes for the last half hour--Mali and TNR are 2 artistes that cannot be enjoyed merely thro their recordings--the ambiances and the interactions amongst the accompanists lent added spice to their concerts.I considermyself extraordinarily lucky to have been around when these 2 giants flourished!!
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Re: T.R.Mahalingam - Mali (Flute)

#221  Postby kal » 26 Aug 2012 23:47

Can someone post a list of all Mali CDs that have been published so far? As an avid Mali fan (read addict!), i'd like to have a complete collection. Thanks...
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