Vellore Shri Ramabhadran

Carnatic Musicians

#1  Postby appu » 01 Mar 2009 01:06

Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer referred to him as Nadabhadran for his nadam. I was listening to a Maharajapuram Santhanam concert with Shri Ramabhadran accompaniment. The sarva lagu and nadam were out of this world. This is his 80th birth year. I just thought of starting this link. Hope all rasikas join and share their views.
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#2  Postby Radhakrishnan » 01 Mar 2009 12:00

appu wrote:Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer referred to him as Nadabhadran for his nadam. The sarva lagu and nadam were out of this world.


http://rapidshare.com/files/203882355/kvn-ramabhadran.mp3.html
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#3  Postby appu » 24 Sep 2009 09:06

Radhakrishnan,

Could you please put up this link once more. Thanks.
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#4  Postby semmu86 » 24 Sep 2009 09:23

appu wrote:Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer referred to him as Nadabhadran for his nadam. .


Hi appu.. isnt it ariyakudi iyengArvAl who said this ? Am not sure though , just read somewhere.. Semmangudi mama referred to him as dharmapathni , as he followed the main artiste like a shadow just as a devout wife would follow her husband.

Arvind..
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#5  Postby appu » 24 Sep 2009 19:20

Semmu86

I have heard a number of speeches by yesteryear greats where they have quoted SSI as saying this. I have not formally heard SSI say this. I have however heard Semmangudi say this of Umayalapuram K Sivaraman after a very concise tani avartanam.

"Avan BA/ BL akam. Satapadiya dan vasipan" (He is a BA/BL. He will play to the point only. BL standing for Bachelor at Law)
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#6  Postby cacm » 24 Sep 2009 21:14

V.R'S ability to keep the "Kannus" & sruti perfect is legendary! It has to do with "Thole & Sadhai" patthu- tough to translate into English as well as the physics part which has to do with a very slight "time delay" in tapping the mridangam etc. It has been described as a DIVINE GIFT by none other than his "Manaseega Guru" Kaliyuga Nandhi himself. As a matter of fact a very famous Mridangist- who shall remain nameless here but you can guess- asked in wonder how V.R. manages to tour North America with just ONE mridangam thru' ALL seasons in North America while many in Madras itself require 3 to 4 mridangams in one concert!
In short V.R. AT EIGHTY IS A WALKING, WORKING wonder having played more concerts than any one else, accompanying more artists than anyone else, a truly extraordinary artist & more than that a very great individual joining S.Rajam at ninety DEFYING the ageing process!.....VKV
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#7  Postby Nick H » 24 Sep 2009 22:16

I cannot believe he is 80! Defying ageing indeed.

Music must really do so much for the mind and body!
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#8  Postby cacm » 25 Sep 2009 00:58

Dear Nick,
Iam involved in an invited function to celebrate his eightieth+ his career; I find you are into LAYAM aspects of carnatic music a lot. As one of the organisers on behalf of Cleveland Aradhana Committee I am happy to invite you& your wife to attend the function. If you let me know your address etc I will see the invitation is sent to your address. Unfortunately the hall we could get is VERY SMALL & hence we are forced to restrict the numbers to invited guests. The date is DEC 26 EVENING. My email is vkv43034@yahoo.com
There are two other functions in the evening with the concert by the same two artists. Solo Violin by Aishu Venkataraman of California accompanied by Vellore Ramabhadran on DEC 13th at Sastry Hall; MMI Remembrance day function at Raga sudha hall on jan 8th. I invite every one to both these occasions.
Independent of this I am also involved with Saraswathi Vaggeyakara Trust in organising a function remembering late Prof Sangitha Kalanidhi S.Ramanathan in which we hope to honour his daughter Geetha Bennett; She will play a Veena concert. This is at R.K.Swamy auditorium at R.K. Mutt rd. Thi will be on DEC 1OTH evening. I invite every one to this function also. VKV
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#9  Postby cacm » 25 Sep 2009 01:48

semmu86 wrote:
appu wrote:Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer referred to him as Nadabhadran for his nadam. .


Hi appu.. isnt it ariyakudi iyengArvAl who said this ? Am not sure though , just read somewhere.. Semmangudi mama referred to him as dharmapathni , as he followed the main artiste like a shadow just as a devout wife would follow her husband.

Arvind..

Semmu86 You are right. VKV
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#10  Postby Sam Swaminathan » 25 Sep 2009 02:16

The great MMI-VR-Sarva lagu.....you can say all these things in the same sentence. Both the names of MMI and VR are synonymous with Sarva Lagu.
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#11  Postby bilahari » 25 Sep 2009 02:28

Sam, I agree 100%. VR provided brilliant accompaniment to MMI.
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#12  Postby cacm » 25 Sep 2009 02:52

I would like to add that he was personal favourite of MDR , SANTHANAM & MALI ALSO!I do not know a musician who ever even mildly objected to V.R. as accompanist...... Sam's brother Sri. Mannargudi Easwaran was also liked a lot by Mali. VKV
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#13  Postby Sam Swaminathan » 25 Sep 2009 07:47

VKV Sir....how true you are....I do not know how many of our rasikas know this, but the last concert of Sri Mali had the accompaniment of Easwaran. Returned home from the concert, probably around 10.00 only to be woken up to be told of Sri Mali's demise. An uncontrollable Easwaran cried for the rest of the night before leaving home to attend to work relating to the funeral. Some unforgettable night !
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#14  Postby arasi » 25 Sep 2009 09:27

Sam,
Very touching. How much more difficult it would have been for him--soon after the concert too.

VKV,
I will try to be there for VR's 80th. He is one among a few vidvAns of yore who hasn't forgotten me from my childhood years--and, what a vidvAn!
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#15  Postby cacm » 26 Sep 2009 01:30

Sam: I have vcd of that concert- which i converted from Matscience colleague Prof. Ranganathan'S VCR TAPE& would be happy to give your brother when i come to ChennaiIF HE DOESN'T HAVE IT.. Also can give details if you already do not know it. Not here.

Arasi, Can I CONTACT Jayalaksmi Santhanam to get you the invitation? I attend many concerts every year with her. Incidentally she inagurated our S.Rajam room in our house specially built for his paintings with a concert- my wife, son, & Cleveland Sundarams were the audience!- the first Carnatic music concert in Los Alamos.... VKV
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#16  Postby arasi » 26 Sep 2009 02:11

Thank you, VKV!
A roomful of SR's paintings? My! A concert to mark the opening too?
Yes, let me know through JS or, I will get in touch with you when I come to India.
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#17  Postby Sam Swaminathan » 26 Sep 2009 06:19

Thank you VKV sir....Anna was telling me that he has been invited to attend the Cleveland this year. However if you happen to be in Chennai before that for the season, I will write to him and inform him about your visit. Meanwhile, I have sent you an email giving Sri Easwaran's contact details.

Regards
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#18  Postby Ramasubramanian M.K » 19 Nov 2009 03:32

VKV: Can I 'crash" the VR function? I promise you some "fun" things with myself and VR--the abhinaya part--he is a good abhinaya imitator--have spent many wonderful days at my house--have known him for the last 60 years. Apart from his well-acclaimed and well-deserved unobtrusive sensitive playing,he is an artist impeccable in his personal conduct and dignity--friend of all musicians,never a negative comment about others' although he has been subjected to veiled "taunts' about his sarva laghu playing.From Chembai,Ariyakudi to the present generation of young musicians --what an impressive and long Innings and May it continue further!!
Semmu 86(post #4) is right. It was ARIYAKUDI who named him Nada Badhran.
His ability to manage with one Mridangam is no fluke--apart from the natural "Mruduthwam" in his hands and fingers, his subdued playing prevents the "sadam' from peeling off and he works hard at it resisting the temptation to play loud trying to play to the gallery!
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#19  Postby cacm » 19 Nov 2009 04:05

OF COURSE! I am AUTOMATICALLY assuming YOUR PRESNCE IN THAT FUNCTION. We need at least a FEW KNOWLEDGEABLE persons of your Calibre! Apart from organisers like me.....
I am counting on you to keep dec 10, 13, 26,jan 8 evenings free & ready to SPEAK depending on the CIRCUMSATANCES. I will be happy to donate 50 percent of time allocated to me on the last two functions. VKV
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Last edited by cacm on 19 Nov 2009 04:06, edited 1 time in total.
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#20  Postby annamalai » 19 Nov 2009 11:29

Ramasubramanian M.K wrote:although he has been subjected to veiled "taunts' about his sarva laghu playing.


While VR has played a lot concerts for MMI, I have not heard a recording VR playing for GNB.

In addition to nadham, anticipation in playing mridangam is the one that separates the greats from the ordinary. VR'a anticipation one of the best.

VR accompaniment of MDR is always superb; esp. for MDR's Kalpana swaras and the vilambaka kala passages.

VR's concert with Alathur Brothers MA is one of the best.
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#21  Postby rkiran » 19 Nov 2009 18:20

Annamalai nailed it. I've been listening to Carnatic music for almost 30 years and nobody anticipates and shadows the main artist throughout a 3 or 4 hour concert like VR does. There are many mridangam vidwans who excel at kanakku and racy patterns - some of them even provide periods of faithful accompaniment, but, none of them (PMI, PSP, TU, UKS, PRR, TS included) do the faithful shadowing - without ever missing a step - all through a concert.

One of the oldest MMI tapes that I can recollect listening to was the one with Sarasasamadana, Saarasamukhi, MaaJanaki and Eppo Varuvaro. I would listen to the tape - especially MaaJanaki - twice - once to focus on MMI's kalpanaswaras and the second time, to focus on VR's mridangam.

Another difference that I have observed during all the live concerts that I've attended - Mridangam artists usually devote about 60% of their attention to the main artist and the violinist; the rest of their attention is devoted to looking out at the audience. The only exception I have seen is VR. He focuses with an almost obsessive intensity on the main artist and violinist - and almost never ever looks away - especially when he is actively playing.

To a lay listener, listening to a VR accompanied concert gives the impression that the performance has been carefully orchestrated and rehearsed - such is his perfection and consistency.

Annamalai mentioned VR accompanying MMI, MDR and AB. Another inimitable and simply spellbinding performance that I have seen is VR accompanying MSG in MSG's solo concerts. VR even anticipates *every* one of MSG's Hindustani-inspired style of rendering carnatic krithis. Most of the other mridangam vidwans that I have observed accompanying MSG kinda grope around a few times and then catch up.

Growing up, I was so inspired by VR that I just had to learn to play the mridangam. Living in Bangalore, I ended up studying under TAS Mani for about 3 years. A far cry from VR's style of playing; nevertheless, it let me appreciate and understand different styles of playing and appreciate the kannakkus and brilliance of thanis played by PMI, PSP, PRR, UKS, TU etc.

The only downside to my total devotion to VR's style of carressing the mridangam is that I find it very hard to appreciate/tolerate the style of mridangam artists like Patri Satish (20 years back, it was Bangalore Praveen that I detested). I don't doubt their knowledge, talent and skill - it is just that they are way too loud and intrusive. I recently attended a concert of GJRKrishnan and VijiKrishnan with Patri Satish on the mridangam. He was so loud that I could barely hear the violin. Also, he kept whacking (sorry, but, that is exactly what he seemed to be doing) the mridangam so hard that it kept moving around! It sounded louder than a thavil. I wondered if an anger management class would help him.

While I have never ever walked up to musicians after a concert, I literally ran into VR once right before a concert in Bangalore and there was nobody else around. There was so much I could say to him, but, I just froze and got tongue-tied. Couldn't utter a meaningful sentence - other than a lame and embarrassing comment like "You are the best mridangam player".

One last bit regarding thaniavarthanams. I always sit through thanis in concerts and while they are always interesting, I've never heard one where once the mridangam and ghatam/khanjira artists start playing together, there is perfect synchronization - there is always dissonance between what the mridangam artist plays and what the ghatam/khanjira artist plays. Well, never - except for one concert of either Lalgudi Jayaraman or Ramani in Bangalore that had VR and HPRamachar on the khanjira. The thani was simply mesmerizing. Once VR and HPR started playing the thani together, there was not one khanjira stroke that was out of sync with VR's. It was an amazingly perfect thani.

I apologize for rambling. If I've offended any of you by stating that I find VR's accompanying superior to other vidwans, I apologize.

Extrapolating what annamalai said, MDR + LGJ/TNK + VR = euphoria.

Regards.
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#22  Postby appu » 19 Nov 2009 20:14

Rkiran, That was not rambling. It was very well said. I second your sentiments all the way through.
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#23  Postby cacm » 19 Nov 2009 22:10

Dear rkiran,
YOU have hit the proverbial nail on the head! Perfect analysis of V.R'S Genius! VKV
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#24  Postby rajeshnat » 19 Nov 2009 22:40

Just few more viewpoints about vellore Shri rAmabadhran
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1. If you look at all his fellow mridangists, those mrudhangam artists did not play for all fellow star vocalist and insrumentalists . YOu just run your mind thru few mrudangham stars in the last 50 years or so , there is atleast a minor rift or a major rift between mrudangam and main artists . But shri ramabhadran achieved a unique distinction of playing with all the artists of high callibre and the beauty is that each of them prefered him too (Ariyakudi,GNB, MMI ,SSI , santhAnam, LGJ,MDR,Flute mALi, KVN etc..to all the latest artists of today.)

2. I am assuming when pazhani subramania pillai died , it was mainly vellore ramabadhran who took to playing for madurai mani. Also in 60's to 90's he has played for other big stars like semmangudi who traditionally have taken other big mrudangam stars

3. when ramabadran sir received his Sangeetha kalAnidhi if I recall it was 2005, he performed in egmore kalAkruthi sabha where arusuvai natarajan honoured him with a big mAlai (garland). He was asked to speak,he politely refused and just played for the concert.

4. This point I am repeating from madurai mani iyer thread On the same day I and him talked for about 15 minutes before the concert and I knew his favourite artist is madurai mani iyer, when I asked him the favourite artist , he said there is no one as favourite , I play for all artists. When we left at the end of the concert when I and him were getting inside our respective car, he called me and took a long time to organize his thoughts , enakku madurai mani iyer nA romba pidikkum, then I got zapped and we talked about his play for mmi , he said few references of mmi in khamas (sitApathE) and kApi(intha sowkhya).

5. Mrudangam is very much a shruthi vAdhyam as much as a laya vadhyam, one can hear the shruthi most when only rAmabadhran sir plays kind of just going with the flow of the song and adhering with the shruthi of singer , a testimony would be to hear him playing for a KVN or madurai mani iyer.

6. In one of our rasikas concert of aishu in the violin , he was talking with SRJ and Smt jayalakshmi santhAnam . Both SRJ and JS were talking about how today artists just hear the tapes and recordings and they gave their view point . Shri VR was just listening and then quipped 'gnamum and guru anugrahamum tape lendu varumA' (will wisdom and guru's blessing come thru recorded tapes). This point of VR need not be debated as he was not per se averse of recordings , but I am just sharing to illustrate that he has a knack of listening for a long time and then giving a punchy one line dialogue.

On a side note, few of my friends who have learnt mrudangam do not seem to like him for his tani in general , but nevertheless they all appreciate his subtle sarvalaghu pattern variations.

BTW has anyone heard his father vellore gopalachAriar . Any anecdotes about his fathers play would be nice. Who are performing sishyas of VR?
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#25  Postby annamalai » 19 Nov 2009 23:52

Tani does not make a concert.

We can cite many examples of VR's accompaniment - one comes to my mind immediately is

MDR singing Marace Vadana (Kedaram) with LGJ and VR. Amazing mridangam for Kalpanaswarams.
MDR playful singing of Neetu Moorthi (Naatakurunji) - and VR's accompaniment.

If Nadham is alone metric - I like Ramanathapuram CS Murugabhoopathy. At certain places, I am not able to distinguish between the sound of mridangam and morsing.
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