Ramnad Krishnan

Carnatic Musicians

#76  Postby Jim » 16 Nov 2009 19:25

Thank you, Vasanthakokilam. Any suggestions on how to learn more about the story behind the piece or raga?

VKV, I just heard from Geetha B., who you inspired me to contact with the mention of her name. She raves about you and your passion for Carnatic music.

The first time I went to India, it was almost on a whim. I went because RK had encouraged me, I was 20 years old, and I felt drawn to the place, culture and people. I knew very little except it felt right. I knew of no family connections with India whatsoever before I went. I thought I was a pioneer in my family. One day in 1968, after being there for six months, I wandered into the Madras YMCA. I had not known there were YMCAs in India and had to investigate. I spoke with the attendant at the desk and left, full of wonder. Many years later I learned that had I only taken a few more steps and explored the building a bit, I would have come on a plaque dedicated to my grandfather's uncle, founder of the the YMCA in Madras in the 1880s, I believe it was. As I learned later, the dedication ceremony included his daughters, in their 80s at the time, and the event took place at virtually the same time I had walked into the building. That experience confirmed that my connection with India, if not "meant to be," was certainly a very fortunate "accident," and I am hoping to renew these ties in the coming years in a way that has not yet been revealed to me. It has been almost 40 years since I was there last (I was there a second time in 1972). I am in awe of the richness of the treasures of your culture, which I still am a long way from even beginning to understand or appreciate fully. Jim
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#77  Postby ragam-talam » 17 Nov 2009 04:15

vkv43034 wrote:You might be interested to know Chomsky comes to Chennai EVERY year & addresses standing room crowds at Music Academy talking about US Foreign policy!....

Really? Would you know when he comes to Music Academy for his talks? I am a big fan of his - have heard him once years ago in the U.S.
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#78  Postby cacm » 17 Nov 2009 06:40

It seems he comes in JAN. At least thats what I remember. If you contact HINDU esp N.Ram he would know as he is his HOST usually & introduces him etc. VKV Where do you live? May be when I show up in dec & write it here if I succeed in knowing? VKV
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#79  Postby cacm » 17 Nov 2009 12:05

JIM,
Very fascinating stuff! The YMCA you have written about in my days(1950's) was an ideal place to stay & even the food there was high class! I shd say your relationship to the place is pretty cool & exciting at the same time. Madras Christian College where I studied was run by the Scottish Presbyterian Church & all our professors were mostly from Scotland, some from Engand. The most LEGENDARY one was Dr.A.J.Boyd who was so revered by the students he was brought to the campus every year from Scotland after he retired! As you knew the relationship between India & England was a LOVE-HATE Relationship. I want you to know that the most famous carnatic vocalist of this century G.N.B. got a literature degree from Christian College & Dr. Boyd not only attended the G.N.B. Concert we managed to arrange but gave a speech about it at the end! Then both of them discussed MILTON! W e stood around mesmerized by BOTH.....Do you know what your grandfathers' uncle did there? VKV
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#80  Postby Jim » 18 Nov 2009 04:49

VKV - Your stories are wonderful.
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#81  Postby Jim » 18 Nov 2009 05:06

Ramasubramanian M.K., kind sir, --
Rereading your comments (#60) about "Brochevarevaru (sriranjani-)..." I am reminded of when I learned that piece from RK (please excuse the language butchering I am about to do) and the pun that he told me about that he liked to do in the line that starts "Valinunkakola ... "or is it another line? and finishes with "karumbidi." He liked (in the privacy of his home) to sing it "kareembidi" (Kareem Bidi! I remember burning my mouth on those things!). Did anyone ever hear him sing it this way in public? -Jim
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#82  Postby Ramasubramanian M.K » 18 Nov 2009 05:14

Jim: Your stories are facinating--Like VKV I have been in the US(all the time in NY) and I have made several trips to Wesleyan --right from 1969. Our family was very close to Viswa and his family. When my late father K.S.Mahadevan(Music critic for Chennai Indian express) used to visit me,he always insisted on making a pilgrimage to Wesleyan to meet the late John Higgins and Viswa--in fact during one of those visits he had an extensive interview with Higgins which was published in the "Shanmukha magazine" Bombay of which my father was the Editor-in-Chief.

In 1992 when Viswa got the National Heritage Fellowship by the National Endowment of Arts my father was visiting me . We made our customary "pilgrimage" to Middletown and Viswa mentioned that he was getting the award and was going to Washington D.C to receive the award and it would be a great honor if my father could attend the function. We drove to Washington D.C. for the function.The award ceremony took place in the ornate U.S. Senate Chambers with Senator Christopher Dodd(Democrat from Connecticut) presiding over the ceremonies. My father was deeply touched when Viswa introduced him to the Senator as a longstanding friend and well-wisher of the family for over several decades .

My father in his book ( Musings on Music and Musicians--released in 2003 on his 90th birthday) describes Viswa as truly the ultimate and consummate Cultural Ambassador that Carnatic Music could ever have.

If you are visiting Chennai this December I would love to meet you. I will be in Chennai the whole of December and the first week of January. (my e-mail mkram38@hotmail.com).
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#83  Postby cacm » 18 Nov 2009 05:24

JIM, He was very discreet in public as he was struggling to make it in the music scene for which he was BORN; All his admirers were musicians most of whom did not lifft a finger to help him even tho' they acknowledged his greatness or "BROKE" guys like me who did not have the one rupee to attend concerts in Sabhas& as a matter of fact stood with him in the pavement to listen to GNB ! He even offered to play Thambura for making a living. Music lovers should be eternally grateful to T.Viswanathan-Viswa- for getting him & Ramnad Raghavan to Weslyan in addition to producing the miracle of JON HIGGINS the only non-indian musician who was not only called Higgins BhaGAVATHAR but whose concerts were advertised on "wall papers" the ULTIMATE acknowledgement of popularity! Of course his diction was BETTER than most Indians themselves.....Bill Gates is the only other American I have seen accorded the "Wall Paper" Honour! My be Obama will complete this wall Paper TRINITY!....VKV
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#84  Postby Ramasubramanian M.K » 18 Nov 2009 09:11

I think Viswa Sir deserves a separate thread--his contribution to music and popularisation in the US,is inestimable. As VKV rightly pointed out,the Chennai Institutions practically ignored him--he was a reader in Music with the Madras University before he migrated to the US. His Guru Tiruppamburam Swaminatha Pillai was a very dignified man(I have narrated a story about Swaminatha Pillai in the Flute Playing Techniques thread) who did not get the patronage he deserved. Being his disciple did not win him much notice and given the "Establishment's" apathy and indifference towards the Dhanammal school,Viswa Sir got a raw deal in his own hometown. Despite this he never harbored any illwill towards those who had spurned him and later after he had established himself on his own in the US the same folks were trying to curry favor with him on his visits to Chennai.He got his Sangitha Kalanidhi late in the eighties--a belated recognition.
For the Thyagaraja day celebrations by CM associations in the NY-NJ-Conn area or Muthuswamy Dikshithar's day Viswa Sir used to bring a group of American students from Wesleyan to sing--they would perform flawlessly and bring down the audience with applause. Viswa Sir beaming, will ask me with a wink in his eye as to what do I think of his feat .There is a Video bit in the You Tube with the students singing--this was after his death.

As a teacher he was tremendously supportive and encouraging. One of the greatest regrets in my life is that he offered to take me under his wings and I balked at the prospect of the commute between NY and Middletown. One of my nephews learnt under him and Viswa Sir has taught him everything he knew. There was no holding back as some backbaiters in the "Establishment used to imply that the Dhanammal School was very stingy and protective in their teaching of their musical treasures.Far from it.
The musicians visiting the US like Ramani used to look forward to their Wesleyan Concert arranged by Viswa Sir and that would be their best performance in the US concert circuit. MS Mami in 1977 gave an outstanding concert @ Wesleyan and Viswa was the first one to acknowledge it after the concert so much that Mami was in Seventh Heaven as such compliments are rare from the Dhanammal family!!

Besides his flute he was an excellent singer.Mali Sir had very high regard for both Viswa Sir and his Guru.
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#85  Postby Ramasubramanian M.K » 18 Nov 2009 18:32

Jim: re; your query about the kareem Bidi joke I have not heard it before. But RK was capable of a subtle sense of humor: Example:
Once when the RR sabha secretary went to RK to fix up a Kutcheri for the RR Sabha in Mylapore,RK asked who will accompany on the mridangam-the Secretary mentions a name-- a second string mridangist(who shall remain unnamed!!)--RK says "Oh with a pause-- the secretary asks WHY,WHAT etc-- RK says nothing--I was afraid the Sabha may have to incur lots of Taxi cab expense if you fix him up for me- The Secretary did not understand because the "said" accompanist lived not too far from the R.R Sabha Hall in Mylapore. Secretary raises his eyebrows What do you mean?
RK replies: I will be singing in Mylapore-- and most of the time the mridangist would have gone to Gokhale hall in Armenian St in Georgetownl and everytime somebody has to go and fetch him back!!! (interpretation: The mridangist had a "reputation" for "speeding up" the kalam-- RK was a stickler for Kala Pramanam(true to the Dhanamal style!!).
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#86  Postby Jim » 20 Nov 2009 00:35

Here's a question that I'm just throwing out there for anyone to respond to if you think this is the appropriate place for the discussion:

One raga that I know RK liked very much was Sahana. I think it was a raga that people often requested him to sing. I would like to hear your thoughts on the raga Sahana, and specifically RK's renderings of it. How was his rendering different from others'? How does this raga move you? What are your personal associations with Sahana? What is the range, depth and capacity of emotion, imagery, irony and intellectualism in this raga? Yikes, this reads like an essay question from a final exam! Sorry about that. Not my intent. I just want to understand this raga better and try to appreciate its essence. - Jim
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#87  Postby Ramasubramanian M.K » 20 Nov 2009 01:02

Jim: It is a very plaintive and emotive raga-ofcourse this is purely subjective. Apart from the Thyagaraja Krithis(Vandanamu,Eee vasudha.Rama Ikanannubrova--I think RK used to sing this as well as Emanachithivo--I would say his liking for this raga was influenced by the Dhanammal style-the Javali he used to sing Ini Enna PEchu was one of the classical renderings by Brindamma and Mukthamma. Muthiswamy Dikshithar was not far behind---one of the Navavarna Krithis is in Sahana(Kamalambikayai) and many Tamil songs that I cannot instantly recall.(Chitham Irangada,Sree vatapi ganapathim of Sivan)

The raga is very rich in Bhavam and as such you will not find any fast-tempo krithis unless the musician chooses to(GNB did this with EE Vasudha). The padam Momu is very evocative.

The glides and the Gamakams in the Padam are very lilting.

Ofcourse unlike the Hindusthani system where they have delineated what times of the day are suitable for what ragas,in Carnatic Music we do not have any such thumbrules. Generaly if no krithi is sung in a concert in Sahana the vocalist would definitely render Sahana in the ragmlika swaram in the end.

I do not know whether this answers your query.
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#88  Postby Ramasubramanian M.K » 20 Nov 2009 01:05

Jim: I forgot to add the great varnam Karunimpa in Sahana. If you listen to this Varnam all the facets of the Raga are explored in the swaras in the kripa Juchu Saranam.
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#89  Postby cacm » 20 Nov 2009 01:47

JIM,
GNB'S rendering of EEVA SUDHA was so haunting that LGJ who used to drop me& my buddy late SSV off at SAIDAPET ELECTRIC RAILWAY STATION in auto rikshaw AFTER accompanying GNB used to teach us the subtelities of why it was SO HAUNTING! Unfortunately it requires a LALGUDI to explain .......Madurai Mani Iyer used to listen to GNB CONCERTS & in his NEXT concert will invariably sing Sahana at least in Raga Malika & try to creatively improve on GNB'S RENDITION....Actually when the FBI GUY SHOWED THE BADGE AT JFK I was tempted to ask RK to sing Sahana! ....I personally feel the raga just tugs at my heart strings & in terms of carnatic music THE thyagaraja Kritis take you to a PARALLEL UNIVERSE! VKV
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#90  Postby rkiran » 20 Nov 2009 02:46

MDR's renditions of Giripai and Eeva Sudha are just sublime.
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#91  Postby Ramasubramanian M.K » 20 Nov 2009 03:59

Apropo VKV's comment on LGJ's explanation:
Eee Vasudha is one of the Kovvur Pancharathnams of Thyagaraja. composed during his visit to Kovvur to worship Lord Sundareswarar(at the invitation of patron Kovvur Sundara Mudaliar) GNB was fond of the raga--note the Amba Ninnu Nera Namithi(Ragamalika-Manipravala nadai) starts with Anandabhairavi,,and the Sahana bit starts with Nee Padamu nera Nammithi Nee Sahaname(the raga names in this ragamalika appear as part of the sahitya. SSI will always include Sahana in his Viruthams.

Another piece that both DKJ and RK were fond of is Raghupathe---Rakshasa Beema--was always wondering what the saint was alluding to!!I hope I am not butchering the lyrics!! Forumites Help!!!
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#92  Postby cacm » 20 Nov 2009 05:11

DkJ'S Raghupthe to me is the ULTIMATE RENDERING of Raghupathae! R.K'S RENDERINIG is the most subtle in terms of imagination& originalty ....VKV
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#93  Postby keerthi » 20 Nov 2009 08:56

Raghupathe---Rakshasa Beema--was always wondering what the saint was alluding to!!


The word bhima means terrible; rAkSasa-bhIma is 'one who strikes terror in demons'.

A similar usage is seen in the kuranji piece 'SrivenugopAla' of mutthuswamy Dikshitar, where he says prAkaTya-raNa- bhIma, which is 'one who is terrible in war.'
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#94  Postby annamalai » 20 Nov 2009 11:44

Jim,

I love RK's Sahana. He was certainly one of the best in that raga. I like his renditions of Rama Ika Nannu or Sree Kamalambika (Sahana) - one of the best renditions; and of course Raghupathe and the padam - Ini Enna Pechu.

Among other artists, the pathos of Sahana is also brought out MDR's Giripai -this krithi is almost MDR's masterpiece or Emanachidevo by T. Brinda and Muktha. I heard DKJ used to fascinated by Brinda's rendition of this krithi.
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#95  Postby Jim » 21 Nov 2009 07:06

I have posted an aesthetic question about graha bhedam involving Pantuvarali and Mohana in the raga / graha bhedam discussion area, but would also be interested in your recollections of Ramnad Krishnan's use of this practice. I am thinking that it was not an area that he ventured into very much artistically, even though it might have fit his personality in other ways. Your thoughts? - Jim
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#96  Postby VISHNURAMPRASAD » 21 Nov 2009 18:10

My mother used to be DKJ's disciple during the last decade of his life. He has taught several Sahana krithis to my mother like Raghupathe, Sari Evvare Maajanaki (if i remember it is a composition of Tirupathi Narayanasamy), Giripai etc., I have accompanied my mother to her music classes just to watch the involvement with which Shri DKJ used to teach her. I have heard from his own words that Ramanathapuram Krishnan is at his best when he renders Sahana, Nayaki or Kannada. He was sobering while singing Raghupathe remembering RK (Paavam, seekrame poyittaar, mahaavidwaan). When Shri DKJ passed away (he too was not too old to leave us), shri KVN on his rememberence meeting at Narada Gana Sabha, told that Shri DKJ cried like a child during the funeral of RK. KVN said RK mela avarukku uyir. (RK was so close to his heart) and also had learnt all those special kritis from him and got it adapted to his own style. One can find that out in Lavanya Rama, Bhajare Bhaja maanasa Raamam (kannada), Sari Evvare Maajanaki etc.

I could just not stop listening to the RK/MC/UKS/Kumbakonam Rajappa Iyer concert that starts with palukavemi. I must have listened to it atleast 40 times by now. what a class! No wonder, after Tiger / Musiri, he was the Musician's Musician of 1950s, 60s and early 70s.
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#97  Postby pgaiyar » 21 Nov 2009 19:39

To : Mr. Vishnuramprasad

Sir:

Can you please upload a few concerts of RK featuring Keeravani for which he was/is so famous?. I am also looking for his Hamsadhwani. He also excelled in rendering Umabharanam, Begada, Surutti. God bless you all.

Regards

Guru
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#98  Postby Jim » 25 Nov 2009 06:26

As many of you might have already heard, Ramnad Krishnan's brother, Ramnad V. Raghavan, passed away a few days ago. Born in 1927, Sri Raghavan was a visiting artist in residence at Wesleyan University for many years, teaching and performing on the mridangam. He had many devoted American students, several of whom became quite accomplished, and had a profound influence on many people. One of his students, David Nelson, who teachers at Wesleyan, created a tribute page to Raghavan on his website some time ago that you might enjoy reading, which sums up the feeling of many who had the privilege to know or study with him: http://dpnelson.web.wesleyan.edu/raghavan.html - Jim
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#99  Postby saadhyaa » 25 Nov 2009 17:07

I have heard that Kalaimaamani Smt. S. Rajeswari is also a deciple of Shri. RK.....she has quite a lot of recordings....

saadhyaa
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#100  Postby cacm » 05 Dec 2009 13:33

Jim wrote:
As many of you might have already heard, Ramnad Krishnan's brother, Ramnad V. Raghavan, passed away a few days ago. Born in 1927, Sri Raghavan was a visiting artist in residence at Wesleyan University for many years, teaching and performing on the mridangam. He had many devoted American students, several of whom became quite accomplished, and had a profound influence on many people. One of his students, David Nelson, who teachers at Wesleyan, created a tribute page to Raghavan on his website some time ago that you might enjoy reading, which sums up the feeling of many who had the privilege to know or study with him: http://dpnelson.web.wesleyan.edu/raghavan.html -

Jim




A memorial service to commemmorate the services of Sri Ramnad Raghavan will be held Monday, Dec 7, 2009 at Raga Sudha Hall, Luz Church Road, Mylapore at 6:00 PM. We have decided to have this function in a public hall and EVERONE IS INVITED.

The function is organized by the Global Music Forum of Cleveland Thyagaraja Festival. The agenda is:

Prayer by Kumaris Dharini & Vidya Kalyanaraman

Reminiscences by:

Madurai Sri T. N. Seshagopalan, Sri T. R. Subrahmanyam, Dr. V. K. Viswanathan (USA), Sri Guruvayoor Dorai, Cleveland Sri Balu, Smt. Charumathi Ramachandran, Cleveland Sri V V Sundaram, Neyveli Sri Santhanagopalan, Smt. Gomathi Sundaram and Sri K. Ramanathan.

We request the admirers of Sri Ramnad Raghavan to grace the occasion by their presence and honor the memory of this great vidwan.

V K Viswanathan
President, Global Music Forum of Cleveland Thyagaraja Festival
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