Ramnad Krishnan

Carnatic Musicians

#51  Postby rajeshnat » 12 Nov 2009 07:48

VKV/MKR Sir's
There is an opinion that shri ramnad krishnan was brilliant till the point he was sticking to GNB style of brighas, but in the later years he orienting towards Brindamma/mukthammA style he lost his brilliant touch . I guesss he sticking to polarized traditions is bit of too much overkill for any one to adapt it . Have you both heard and felt the two opposite sides. Incidentally his death was in 1973, kind of early too , he was just 55 years. His akshayalingavibhO in shankarabharanam and sahana RTP is my perennial favourites of mine.
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#52  Postby rajeshnat » 12 Nov 2009 07:52

MKR Sir
I would also like you to write about 3 musicians in the respective threads please . They are geniuses s kalyanaraman, and two living legends Prof TRS and manakkAl rangarAjan
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#53  Postby bilahari » 12 Nov 2009 08:11

MKR, if you are taking requests, I would also like to hear about the great violinists of that era - TNK, MSG, LGJ, VVS, Dwaram, Chowdiah, etc. Thank you very much in advance!
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#54  Postby cacm » 12 Nov 2009 09:30

rajeshnat wrote:VKV/MKR Sir's
There is an opinion that shri ramnad krishnan was brilliant till the point he was sticking to GNB style of brighas, but in the later years he orienting towards Brindamma/mukthammA style he lost his brilliant touch . I guesss he sticking to polarized traditions is bit of too much overkill for any one to adapt it . Have you both heard and felt the two opposite sides. Incidentally his death was in 1973, kind of early too , he was just 55 years. His akshayalingavibhO in shankarabharanam and sahana RTP is my perennial favourites of mine.


There is some truth in what you are saying here. I find that every musician pretty much goes thru' STAGES in his musical career. I DO NOT KNOW OF ANY MUSICIAN in carnatic musicwho did not try to be a GNB but in my opinion there has been ONLY ONE GNB. The ones who succeeded are the ones who stuck to their strenghths & Genius like MMI or MDR. R K initially also started in this route when he was younger but actually he MODIFIED his efforts by very subtle embellishmrnts like KVN did with ARI'S music. Aleppy Venkatesan in a two part series on LAYA at Saraswathi has CLEARLY delienated WHAT MUSICIANS like R.K. & KVN have done in their own creative ways to distinguish themselves from their peers. It is logical from my point of view that as a career progresses the eschewing of Gimmickery approaches in terms of voice culture & that in my opinion can only lead to Brinda Amma's type of music which eschews any type of Fashiness & just goes to the core of our music. So to me his going in that direction is not at all surprising. In my opinion his later stage music is SIMPLY DIVINE....Sorry if I am not expressing myself in language not technical enough. We have to have a long listening session with examples to do proper justice. vkv
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#55  Postby Ramasubramanian M.K » 12 Nov 2009 09:45

Bilahari:Would love to discuss their styles-violinists--of the ones you have mentioned I have heard Dwaram only a couple of times in the MA and that too during the 9 P.M. slot(yes there was a 9 P.M. slot reserved for the insomniacs!!-About Dwaram his style was suited to solo--I recall the sound was very pleasing.

The others--heard plenty and except for MSG(whom I did not have a chance to befriend) all of them are close family friends-- a few anecdotes:
TNK we used to call him Krishna Mama-- a very jovial,unassuming personality--once he was practising in my aunt's house in San Thome(because of our family's long-standing connection with SSI,TNK also became a close friend of our family--his only sister Rajam(brilliant in both CM and Hindusthani) and my cousin sister were the same age and good friends--his youngest brother Ganesh(an excellent Flute player--dabbler I should say---would have been a great Mali disciple(in the fifties Mali lived in Bazaar Road in Mylapore not too far from TNK's house). back to the practice story.

TNK was playing Sankarabharanam -alapana etc and started playing Swara raga sudha--he forgot the Charanam for a moment he was "stuck" My aunt came to his rescue with Moooladhara-HOW could she know it-we all asked her-she said she learnt for TWO years under Sreekantiah(Father of Papa Venkatrama Ayya) and this was one krithi that was still fresh in her mind---this was almost 55-60 years ago--and at that time it was 35 years since she was taught the song--ofcourse she never played a single note after her tutelege!! TNK's violin sound is still flawless despite the fact that he is 80 years old.

I have never seen a Vidwan who was totally calm and nonchalant before a performance as TNK.

More on others later!!
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#56  Postby rajeshnat » 12 Nov 2009 10:58

Ramasubramanian M.K wrote:More on others later!!


MKR sir
Take your time, squeeze your memory and make a biggie post in the respective vidwans and vidushis thread . I am dying to hear a lot about SKR,manakkAl and TRS. Also the violinists too.
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#57  Postby rajeshnat » 12 Nov 2009 11:10

vkv43034 wrote:There is some truth in what you are saying here. .Sorry if I am not expressing myself in language not technical enough. We have to have a long listening session with examples to do proper justice. vkv


Let me try to dig few recordings gnb style of ramnad krishnan I am pretty sure with brighas. With respect to brindamma style of ramnad krishnan I am not sure if I am able to map one to that style.

My periappa also tells me that after 1960's till the advent of movies like shankarAbharanam in 80's there was a lull period. Infact we dont talk about truly wonderful stars in that decade or half like Ramnad krishnan, TRS MDR,manakkAl and SKR vs say musicians like gnb-mmi-ssi-ariyakudi . I guess to an extent their sishya parampara also did not become that popular (infact musicians like doyen manakkal dont even have a sishya). I guess the lull period just got cleared with say MLV , DKJ, KVN and to a great extent santhAnam who drew more crowds than many of them.
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#58  Postby bilahari » 12 Nov 2009 14:11

Thank you, MKR sir, and please do continue!
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#59  Postby cacm » 12 Nov 2009 21:24

My periappa also tells me that after 1960's till the advent of movies like shankarAbharanam in 80's there was a lull period. Infact we dont talk about truly wonderful stars in that decade or half like Ramnad krishnan, TRS MDR,manakkAl and SKR vs say musicians like gnb-mmi-ssi-ariyakudi . I guess to an extent their sishya parampara also did not become that popular (infact musicians like doyen manakkal dont even have a sishya). I guess the lull period just got cleared with say MLV , DKJ, KVN and to a great extent santhAnam who drew more crowds than many of them Rajeshnat said.

In my opinion ARI-SSI-GNB-MMI had established a BRAND NAME& IDENTITY as well as COMMITTED FANS to such an extent that anyone else pretty much was reduced to VERY FEW concerts per year IRRESPECTIVE of how good they were. The only new faces were in violin:TNK,LGJ & MSG introduced new wrinkles in both accompanying& playing resulting in a formidable trio. In Mridangam area PMI& PALANI were on the Summit by themselves& very great ones like Palghat Raghu,US, T.S were pretty much reduced in terms of popularity to indulge in -to quote a Physics term- various linear combinations+nuances to be semi-popular. It is the same nuancing approach that MDR,SKR SUCCESSFULLY used & had FANATIC FANS-including me-; In the usual fashion of putting persons down TRS was considered too intellectual & Manakkal was dubbed a speed merchant- indeed his tempo& pace was truly amazing- & there was some truth in the criticism. MDR was an intellectual type as well as quite educated so he was content with his following which tended to be BOTH knowledgeable tho' this group had NO clout in his getting any awards etc. I have been present when SKR asked MMI for advice on how to become famous like him & MMI- ONE OF THE few, GNB being the other one- who was very honest told him that when he(MMI) started in the field he specialized in the RARE ragas based on Mazhavaraya s. school approach; He was advised that if he did not sing Gana ragas & compositions which public can identify with him he will get nowhere. SKR agreed with MMI but did not change his style& approach. I am claiming in every arena- In Tennis why MAC was follwed by Lendl, Sampras,& THE REST is quite obvious- it is the UNDERSTANDING & IMPLEMENTATION of STRATEGIES that results in public adulation, recognition etc.This Phenomenon is RULING the field today...
The Golden era musicians had the ADVANTAGE of being there first in terms of innovations but THEY WERE GREAT without any doubt.......VKV
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#60  Postby Ramasubramanian M.K » 12 Nov 2009 22:23

RAJESHNAT; Re; your query about RK's GNB style morphing into Brindamma's style,try listening closely to RK's lavanya rama(Purnashadjam),Brochevarevaru(sriranjani-although this was sung in a brisker pace than the Brindama style,the gamakams and the gradual transition from one swara to another is more due to the brindamma influence). Also the Sahana Padam(Ini enna Pechu) although the foundation is the brindamma style the rendering is brisker. Note that the brindamma style did not preclude the use of brikas in appropriate places but the swarasthanam in these brikas was carefully adhered to.

As VKV has pointed out musicians are also "learners" throughout their lives and adapt as they mature,and do not want to be "typecast" with labels. RK's career reflects that kind of evolution.Ultimately good music is appreciated and our CM Rasika crowd of today is much more eclectic,liberal and willing to "indulge" artists of merit who switch styles not only because of their internal motivations but also to "broaden" their listener base.--examples of Maharajapuram Santhanam,Aruna Sairam.
Alll said and done RK in his days earned the respect of the elders--Musiri,GNB and also the Dhanammal School followers who as Rasikas may be aware were always 'suspicious" of "Johnny-come-lately" adherents to their Bani.That they took RK under their wings shows the spirit of learning and camaraderie that existed between them.
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#61  Postby Jim » 13 Nov 2009 05:38

Yes, Ramnad Krishnan did break his contract with Wesleyan, but he was there long enough to make some powerful impressions. Even to the uninitiated, his exquisite musicianship was apparent. And his impulsiveness, playfulness and spontaneity was contagious. He was a wonderful teacher. Wesleyan was a place where one could jump right into another culture as an undergraduate. Thank Bob Brown for the vision and the wherewithal to realize it. After taking some lessons the previous year with KVN (what an privilege!), I was fortunate enough to learn varnams and kritis from Krishnan that fall. He seemed to think my voice was well suited for Carnatic music and gave me so much encouragement that I finished my senior year of college abroad, following him back to Madras to live in the Suprabath boarding house on North Mada Street, just an easy walk to his house on Third Cross Street. At that time there were few Americans in Madras and when I was asked once if I was Jon Higgins, I responded, "No, but I can understand why you might think so -- all Americans look alike."

It is fun to hear the story of trip to the airport. Before Krishnan left Middletown he asked me if I wanted to buy his tamboura, selling price $75. Yes I did, and I still have it to this day, and treasure it. Where can I get strings in the Boston area, anyone? Lessons with Ramnad Krishnan were wonderful. While I could not imitate everything I heard I did sharpen my listening skills. But I could not learn to say all the s's in Sankskrit or to distinguish between (sans gamikas) Ni in Kalyani and Ni in Sankarabaranam. 22 srutis? 66 sruits? Maybe I got up to about 18. I spent seven months in Mylapore, going to as many concerts as I could and taking it all in, many at Luz Corner, many house concerts. The photo of Krishnan and Lalgudi on this page was, unless anyone claims otherwise, taken by me, or at least looks very much like a photo that I took of them. I recorded a concert of Krishnan and Lalgudi and Lalgudi was upset with an alapana passage in Bhairavi that he played which was now on my tape. He asked me to come to his house the next day to make the appropriate cut. That tape, complete with the 4 seconds of silence now resides with Wesleyan University, as do many other recordings that I made, including a tape of 10 javalis Krishnan learned from Brinda. I trust Wesleyan to do the right thing with these tapes I gave them but if anyone wants to make inquiries there, it might encourage them to make these available in an appropriate manner.

Back at Wesleyan a few years later I studied with other singers (both wonderful), but returned to the Suprabath (same room) and made by pilgrimage to Third Cross Street three days a week, staying another 6 or 7 months. Ramnad Raghavan, Krishnan's brother, made the adjustment to the U.S. easier. As did L. Shankar, Krishnan's nephew. Lots of other stories to tell, as you might imagine. Krishan's wife and two sons were very nice to me, also Raghavan's family. Ramanathan's (Krishnan's older son) favorite song? "Baby Elephant Walk." Go figure. Jim
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#62  Postby rajeshnat » 13 Nov 2009 07:21

Jim
That was nice anecdotes from John Higgins Jr ;) . By any chance do you have any photographs with ramnad krishnan that you can scan and upload it here in this forum. Also are there are any private tuition recordings of you with krishnan that you can share.
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#63  Postby Ramasubramanian M.K » 13 Nov 2009 18:09

Jim: Excellent post that captured what RK was all about!! I am sure at that time in Wesleyan his uneasiness and home-sickness must have driven all his sycophants crazy!!("Will- this- guy - ever- let-up") kind of feeling!!
But a great artist and sincere practitioner.
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#64  Postby cacm » 14 Nov 2009 04:16

Dear Jim,
I am EXCITED YOU are joining in these discussions. I was at the other END & tho' I know& knew PRACTICALLY every one like JON H, BOB B, etc & of course all the Indian artists the students I Knew like Vicky, Frank Bennett, Bob Leroy, the Jr. Brubeck , & others were MUSIC MAJORS. PL write your recollections as I used to pretty much bring almost all the indian musicians at Weslyan to my Manhattan apt after the CURRY CONCERTS & drop them back at Middletown! PL write your experiences which are very VALUABLE to the PROGRESSION of carnatic music in North America....VKV
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#65  Postby Jim » 14 Nov 2009 07:52

Yes. I have such a deep place in my heart for Indian music and the world it opened up for me. I had never heard any music from India until I heard MSS in 1965 or 1966 at Wesleyan. I fell in love with her Karaharapriva alapana and Bhavayami ragamalika. I was hooked. Absolutely hooked. Several years later, in 1969 or 1970 I was sitting in a coffee house in Lenox, Massachusetts where the Boston Symphony Orchestra musicians and the young musicians who come to study with them in the summer often frequented. So there was Leonard Bernstein, the famous conductor and composer, just two tables away, holding court with his young proteges, regaling them with stories about Mahler, no doubt. He saw that I was starring at him, but my other eye was on the mandolin hanging on the wall. I asked the proprietor if I could play it, and he said fine, and then I slowed tuned it up like to my sruti, 1/2, sa pa sa. Now Lenny was getting very interested. Fortunately at this coffee house, they had beverages stronger than mocha, which helped me get up my nerve. I approached the maestro and asked him if I could sing him some Indian music. He said, "Indian music, I INVENTED Indian music." What an ego! (He later would make public statements about being Mahler and Beethoven.) So I proceeded to sing the Sri Raga Samininekori, two speeds, faster tempo in the Charanam. When I got to s-----snppmrgrsrs----nsrgrsrmpn etc he started CONDUCTING ME. Well, off we went to the finish line, he with his grand gestures and me imitating all the head gestures of every vidwan I could remember. It was quite a show. At the very end of this encounter, he asked me, "What's a choir boy like you getting involved in Indian music?" He got it right about the choir boy.

You mention Vicky and Brubeck, Jr.. I assume you mean Darius. Enormous hands, just like his father. Scientology. Anyway, Vicky was an extremely talented musician who had a perfect ear for imitation and seemed to relish in performing. Shankar and Vicky. I have not seen her for all these many years. Bob Leroy. Bob, where are you? Frank and Gita! All these memories!

Wesleyan had a 40th celebration of the WorldMusic program a few years ago. I got my old group together, the Navarasa Carnatica Sangeeta Ensemble (David Reck came up with the name) and we did Telisirama, which I call the Wesleyan National Anthem, and something else, and then a piece that I had written in a Carnatic/Indonesian style in a made up raga in the forgotten language of the Carnatic music, Latin. Latin lends itself nicely to Kirtanas. So the saithya was "Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, misere nobis. (Repeat). Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, dona nobis pacem." The text was appropriate to the time, as Bush was just about to invade Iraq and pleas for peace needed to go to the highest powers available. David, on vina, and Barbara Benary, on violin, followed nicely and David Nelson, mrdangm, just took it in stride, I think. I was very pleased that Prof. Harold Stone, from Philadelphia, and a relative of my aunt, appreciated the raga and had some thoughts on its similarities to a Hindustani raga that I had not heard of and the pelog scale used in Indonesia.

So, I am completely off the vidwan theme of this page, and the webmaster should banish me, but vkv, who I don't think I know, got me started and should take full responsibility for this long-winded digression. Jim
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#66  Postby arunk » 14 Nov 2009 08:18

heck - I dont care if it is off topic :)

Arun
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#67  Postby gn.sn42 » 14 Nov 2009 08:33

Jim wrote:the forgotten language of the Carnatic music, Latin.


Fantastic! That made my day. (Your choir boy credentials appear to be solid if the Agnus Dei is any indication :) .)
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#68  Postby cacm » 14 Nov 2009 11:03

Jim wrote:Yes. I have such a deep place in my heart for Indian music and the world it opened up for me......GREAT!...

You mention Vicky and Brubeck, Jr.. I assume you mean Darius. Enormous hands, just like his father. Scientology. Anyway, Vicky was an extremely talented musician who had a perfect ear for imitation and seemed to relish in performing. Shankar and Vicky. I have not seen her for all these many years


..........NEITHER HAD I till she suddenly showed in a function to honour Bill Skelton couple of years back in Rye, N.Y.SHE is as ravishing as ever& her Thalam was so perfect Nadaswarm S.Kasim asked her to come tho middle of first rowto put THALAM which she did perfectly! I thought she was a perfect musician too but is working for Weschester county!L.Shankar has not been seen or heard for ages. Like the legendary KILROY was here etchings People say he was around!....mystery! used to work for post office....

Bob Leroy. Bob, where are you? Frank and Gita!

...they are in L.A. I am arranging a function in MADRAS DEC 8 in memory of her father Prof.S.Ramanathan when we are presnting her with a plaque for her contributions etc. I will also be meeting Ramnad Raghavan & Trichy Sankaran . Whts u r last name?

Wesleyan had a 40th celebration of the WorldMusic program a few years ago. I got my old group together, the Navarasa Carnatica Sangeeta Ensemble (David Reck came up with the name) and we did Telisirama, which I call the Wesleyan National Anthem, and something else, and then a piece that I had written in a Carnatic/Indonesian style in a made up raga in the forgotten language of the Carnatic music, Latin. Latin lends itself nicely to Kirtanas. So the saithya was "Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, misere nobis. (Repeat). Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, dona nobis pacem." The text was appropriate to the time, as Bush was just about to invade Iraq and pleas for peace needed to go to the highest powers available. David, on vina, and Barbara Benary, on violin, followed nicely and David Nelson, mrdangm, just took it in stride, I think. I was very pleased that Prof. Harold Stone, from Philadelphia, and a relative of my aunt, appreciated the raga and had some thoughts on its similarities to a Hindustani raga that I had not heard of and the pelog scale used in Indonesia

......great! Did u know BOB BROWN went to Indonesia every year & played music to survive there?
...I live in N.M. Where do u live?
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#69  Postby vasanthakokilam » 15 Nov 2009 13:26

Jim: Great reminiscences! That quote by Leonard Bernstein on indian music is a gem :) And singing Sri raga varnam in a coffee house to Bernstein and that too to his conducting...distinctive experience indeed!!
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#70  Postby cacm » 15 Nov 2009 20:51

Jim,
I do not know if you knew Leonard Bernstein was a resident Scholar at Weslyan for a month in the sixties & actually showed up in carnatic music classes & curry concerts! He was very polite there too!....I had season tickets for NY Philharmonic & used to attend their rehersals to educate myself. He was a great teacher when it counted! VKV
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#71  Postby Jim » 15 Nov 2009 23:30

Did not know about Bernstein's connection with Wesleyan. He must have worn a disguise at those Curry Concerts. If you get a chance to hear a recording of his "Norton Lectures" that he did at Harvard, he uses the linguistic models of grammar developed by such notables as Noam Chomsky of M.I.T., and applies them to music, thus speaking about the "verbs, adverbs, objects, gerunds, etc." of music. Beautiful imagery. He illustrates his talks with musical examples played at the piano. Fascinating lectures. One person who I do remember as being a regular at Wesleyan in those days was the composer John Cage, whose music begs the eternal question "what is music?"

VKV, you must be a legend. Although most of the my colleagues willingly ventured into the vortex, I think I gravitated more toward the circumference of the circles which you travelled in. And probably missed out on some remarkable experiences. I now live 20 miles north of Boston, where there is a vibrant cultural community of Indian music, with MIT's "MITHAS" playing a major leadership role in that regard. Was fortunate enough to hear Lalgudi give a concert here about 5 years ago with his son and daughter -- SRO 650 people -- as a fundraiser for the Chinmaya Mission in Andover, Mass.

I will search to see if I have any photos of Ramnad Krishan and other vidwans for posting. Also, responding to an inquiry about recordings of lessons with RK... Wesleyan has all my tapes, which include lots of lessons, concerts and javalis. If anyone knows Jody V. in the World Music Archives, you could ask her about their availability. Jim
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#72  Postby rshankar » 16 Nov 2009 01:28

Jim: Welcome to the forum, and thanks for your reminiscences - they are priceless, and never be distracting.

Jim wrote:Yes. I have such a deep place in my heart for Indian music and the world it opened up for me. I had never heard any music from India until I heard MSS in 1965 or 1966 at Wesleyan. I fell in love with her Karaharapriva alapana and Bhavayami ragamalika.


I heard something very similar from Prof. Bill Jackson (Prof in the department of Religious Studies at IUPUI, Indianapolis: http://liberalarts.iupui.edu/religious_studies/index.php/faculty) - seems to have been the hook that drew many into the world of CM. When Bill spoke to us about his book on Sri Tyagaraja, he talked to us about going to India, visiting with the Sadasivam's and others, and how helpful they were in getting him an entry into the circles that mattered for his research (including an examination of the palm leaves in the Saraswathi Mahal Library).

MODS: I wonder if we should have a separate CM in Wesleyan thread, where Jim, VKV, RMK and others can write about their experiences.
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#73  Postby cacm » 16 Nov 2009 02:09

JIM,
I crave the indulgence of the moderator as well as members of this forum for taking this Discussion really astray...You have brought up so many cherished moments from the past. I was going to say how a couple of Singapore Slings or Screw drivers may be empowered even Lennie to say he invented Carnatic music! I have listened to his Norton Lectures which were brilliant like Feynman's lectures at Caltech on physics. Incidentally I am very familiar with Chomsky as my own area of research is similar & somewhat overlaps mathematically with his; Actually my brother Dr.V.K.Balasubramanian( famous Astro physicist-NASA) & brother in law Dr.S.Naranan have done break thru' suff on languages extending Chomsky's work as well as Mandel brat- father of fractals-; You might be interested to know Chomsky comes to Chennai EVERY year & addresses standing room crowds at Music Academy talking about US Foreign policy!....John Cage was a Sage! He was so profound; Lucky to have met & learnt from him!...
Also David Reck played a Veena concert for my son's first birthday at my home in new city-1972- & Bill Cole a jazz enthusiast& dean at Amherst- also a Weslyan Alumnus- was so fond of Shieikh Chinna moulana & T.VS.!He actually billed aT.V.Sankaranarayanan in the famous Bill Coltrane series at Dartmouth & had him teach a master class there....I have listened to your group long time back....Straying off too much but have to say IT was the genius Bob Brown & the ability of Jon Higgins that made Carnatic music in N.A. take roots here. I cherish the memory of sitting next to Jon Higgins in Music Academy listening to M.DR.!..........Do you know where his son is? Also whats u r last name? VKV
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#74  Postby Jim » 16 Nov 2009 04:18

Digression - What is the name of the raga, melakarta scale #29 (Sankarabaranam derivative), arohana: s r m d n g p S avarohana: Sndpmgpmgrs (or S p m r s) or something like that? There is a kriti (whose name I don't know either) that has a passage s-rmg-rsr-mmd-dng-gpS-Sndpmgpmgr etc. I think it is a popular piece that all of you know. Sounds great on the vina. I am very fuzzy on the story here, but what I want to say is that Tyagaraja (?) heard some western music and came up with this raga, and the accompanying kriti, with western music as an inspiration. Someone please come to my rescue and set me straight! Jim
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#75  Postby vasanthakokilam » 16 Nov 2009 04:58

Raga: kadanakudookalam

Those swara passages are from the krithi RaghuVamsaSudha by Patnam Subramanya Iyer who is also given the credit for the raga.

I have not heard the story of western music inspiration for this raga or this krithi. Muthuswamy Dikshithar's nottu swara sahitya songs are indeed based on western melodies and the story is that he heard the British orchestra playing those melodies and he slapped the sanskrit lyrics for them. They are nice to listen to and easy to learn for beginners as well.
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