Wednesday, May 29, 2013


LALGUDI MAMA

The phone rang sharply at 6.35pm on Monday the 22nd April 2013 evening and I heard a voice at the other end say, “Jayanthi, it is all over. Lalgudi ji is no more”. A shiver of shock and sorrow stuck in my throat and tears welled up in my eyes as I walked up to the music system and switched on Raga Sahana played by him a couple of decades ago. Every note stood in line literally begging him to caress it and give it life. Was he a musician or a magician? I wondered every single time how he touched the core of the heart with a single note or phrase.

The entire universe had converted itself to a Nadaloka for him and he was the Master creator, creating music in different forms to suit each occasion. He was an ace performer, composer, guru, creator and much much more.

His playing has the silken finish which only God could achieve. His expression was that of a poet and there was not even one ungraceful note or movement in the entire piece of music he rendered. Completely within the grammar of the classical idiom, he wove many permutations and combinations which only a genius can do and moved his audience to the hilt. He brought a great status to the Violin as an accompaniment to Vocal during the years that he accompanied great stalwarts

He was a musician who changed the entire approach to music during his life time. Aesthetics was his forte. Be it an alap or a krithi or swaraprasthara or a varnam or a thillana, the inimitable Lalgudi stamp was there. The Lalgudi stamp means, music that is grammatically impeccable, melodically unsurpassable, mathematically supreme and tonally pristine.. No, i am not in search of adjectives. Because adjectives fall a great deal short of their duty when trying to describe a legend like Lalgudi Jayaraman ji. There is not even one single musician who is not influenced by his music. There is so much to take in from his music. His padantharam of krithis is very unique. He gave a new dimension to the krithis of Saint Thyagaraja so much so that every time, I used to imagine that Saint Thyagaraja was nodding from up there in great appreciation to what Lalgudi ji had done with his compositions. So much has been written about and spoken about this great legend and every time when one writes about him we only end up feeling that not enough has been said.

Every single musician today is his disciple or follower in some way or the other. I have been extremely fortunate to have been born in his family as his sister's daughter. I have watched him from my childhood and have been extremely fortunate to have learnt so much from him directly. He was a true romantic at heart and knew to enjoy every single nuance of Mother Nature, be it the blooming of a flower or a sway of the branches caused by the winds. He lived in a world that was so sensitive and subtle. His spirituality came out in the silence between the two notes he played. He tapasya shone out in the siddhi he achieved in every single note. Yes, he was a Nada Yogi....

I come back to reality. Who said Lalgudi ji is no more? What has happened is only a space between two notes. His physical presence is not here..that's all. His music will go on and will continue to echo in the cosmic world creating vibrations that are so positive and so moving touching all our hearts for years and years to come.

Salutations to the God of Music!!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Collaborations

video
It was so much fun collaborating with the wonderful artiste Smt. Priyadarshini Govind, the brilliant Bharatnatyam dancer recently in IIsc Bangalore.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

NORWAY DESIGNS

“Fifteen day concert tour in Norway? “ I heard myself say. And that too in Oslo itself? Wow, I thought. There must be quite a music appreciative audience out there...I pondered. Only then did I get the details. This was for the schools of Norway. The govt of Norway had collaborated with our own Spic Macay in bringing Indian artistes to Norway to spread Indian Classical systems, along with Indian values and Indian history and way of life to the younger crop of Norway. Hmm...must be a different experience, i assumed and set out on this tour along with Mridangam Arjun Kumar. The producer of the event, a Norwegian, met us in the lobby of the hotel in Oslo and briefed us about the schedule in the weeks to come. We would be performing for around 400 school kids every single day, split into three groups, consisting of 3 concerts per day. In a matter of 10 days, we would have performed for roughly over 4000 school children. When we say performance, it did not mean just going to the venues and playing whatever comes to our mind. Every single presentation was treated like a Master production. There would be a Norwegian story teller, he informed us, who would spend a couple of days with us prior to the concerts and find out from us, the details of our instrument, our career, our training, our country and our music. So, Marianne spent two days with us along with the producer Hallgeir who spent many valuable moments on fine tuning the details to be more crisp,concise and to the point. They made us perform the pieces that we would play for the concerts, video recorded them along with the story of the Veena and mridangam told so enchantingly by Marianne in Norwegian. Played the recording over and over again to edit the script to keep the attention of the children totally glued every minute.After the script for the concert was perfected, it was tried on an audience consisting of people with varied mind sets. Their feedbacks were again incorporated into the production. There was a sound engineer allocated exclusively for this production, a lady sound engineer, Solrun, who would travel every where with us, know our sound, understand it and present it as authentically as possible. So, the team was made. Myself, Arjun Kumar, the story teller and the Sound engineer. Ofcourse ably directed by our Producer. Each concert was about 40 minutes, packed tightly with the details of the instruments, the indian system of music and our lives...all done with an aim of creating a suspense and expectation when the instruments are presented. Once the final script was ready, the whole production came together and we went from school to school and performed for children from the age group of 6 to 14. It was an amazing expereince every day, since this was the first ever concert of any kind for 99 percent of the children in their lives. Now, thousands of children in Norway know what a veena or a mridangam is. They know broadly what a raga or thala is. They also know what gurukulam is. This has been an amazing trip seeing fresh bright faces day after day that ask so many innocent questions every morning, like “ Are you jasmine from Arabian Nights? “ Why is there a dragon on your Veena?” ”Does he feel hungry”, “Does he listen to everything you play?”

Saturday, May 21, 2011

INDIAN NATIONAL ORCHESTRA




I am writing this to share with you the joy of starting something new and exciting called the Indian National Orchestra for the first time in India.
Indian music is known world wide for its sophistication in expression, its melodic subtlety and the freedom of improvisation within the scientific boundaries of grammar.
Several Indian musicians have reached international acclaim and have become a musical sensation in the past and the present.
It is surprising though, that in spite of all of this, there is no comprehensive team called THE INDIAN NATIONAL ORCHESTRA consisting of performing musicians in their prime both from North and South India who can jointly perform Indian Music together and represent India in a national or international event.
This initiative of mine the INO (Indian National Orchestra) has been formed in the year 2011 with the continued ideas and enthusiasm of my friend Girishh Gopalakrishnan, a gen X music director to give its very first performance in Chennai on the 25th of June 2011 at the Sri Krishna Gana Sabha. This will be followed by subsequent performances of the INO in all the major cities of India and abroad.
The INO 2011 will consist of extraordinary talents from pan India covering both North Indian and South Indian classical music forms. This combined collaboration would present what can be called as SHASTRIYA SANGEETH, which is both Carnatic and Hindustani music, but with a contemporary feel. Hence the music presented by INO will truly reflect India, as it is today---diverse in texture and variety, but united in spirit and purpose!
It brings together about 22 artists from both North and South Indian classical music on a common platform. The INO would try and showcase the best of Indian music at national and international level and also seek to acheive unity among Indians through music.

Who is part of INO?
22 artists, 15 different instruments/talents, but one common purpose!
Listed below are the Artistes of INO 2011 (In no particular order):
Veena – Dr. Jayanthi Kumaresh
Voice – Abhishek Raghuram
Arrangement – Girishh Gopalakrishnan
Violin – Akkarai Subbulakshmi
Akkarai Sornalatha
Charulatha Ramanujam
Flute – Sikkil Mala Chandrasekhar
Naveen Iyer
Sarangi – Murad Ali
Sitar – Rafeeq Khan
Shafeeq Khan
Nadaswaram – Sri Lakshman and group
Thavil - Raja
Mridangam – Patri Satish Kumar
Neyveli Narayanan
Ghatam – Dr.S.Kathick
Kanjeera – Guruprasanna
Tabla – Uday Raj karpoor
Special percussion – Pramath Kiran
Veena artists – Ambarish Amaravadi and Ramya Raghavan

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Who Cares!!

Meandering through a psychedelic maze
with actions, words and thoughts all in a haze
i try to cling on to a bubble so transient
which crumbles anyway even as time is resilient

“It isn't my thing” my mind sneers
“who cares”, my heart says amidst jeers...
the sun sets and the moon rises,
the moon sets and the sun rises....

who cares, who cares, it is all a Mirage in a mystic Pace

You judge and you are judged,
You try and you are tried,
Voices far away making no sense in its pretence
does it matter ? this wasteful banter?

Who cares? Who cares? It is all a mirage in a mystic pace

I realise I am breathing and yes, it is real,
I clutch this very moment and yes, it is real,
I free myself from the past and future somehow,
I then realize the real power of NOW...

But who cares, who cares, we are all planning for a psychedelic future....

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Mother, Oh Mother!!

Mother, Oh Mother!!

Mother, I am so blessed to see thee in every place I go to,
Though moments I spend with you may be really few,
You take myriad forms and manifest in many ways,
you are beyond a sheer biological link as a link to any race.

I see you in the warmth of my hostess in every country I visit,
I see you in the caring gestures of my friends wherever I travel,
I see you in the eyes of my well wishers that fills up with pride
I see you in the undeserved praise that my fans shower on me

Mother, Oh Mother, you are an emotion, a sentiment, a feeling,
Mother, Oh Mother, you are the warmth given by just anybody in the world,
Mother my dear Mother, you are the care that even a stranger shows on me,
Mother, you are synonymous with the concern that anyone showers on me.

I see you in the God I pray to,
I see you in the good deeds I do,
I see you beyond a physical form
I see you in my heart's calm

Mother is a concept, a way of life, a meaning to love,
A reason to love, a reason to care for your fellow beings,
Mother is more than just one relationship, it is being unselfish,
Mother is a reason to be a better person.........to be human...

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Finger tips

FINGER TIPS

Learning, practicing and performing a fine art is a great way to increase physical and mental wellbeing. This has been proved periodically by several people in the medical field.
Communication is a key part of what makes performing arts a success, whether it’s the actor or musician communicating with the audience, the director communicating with the actor or the choreographer communicating with the dancer - their jobs will only work together successfully if everyone communicates and cooperates. Therefore, involvement in the performing arts will improve and develop your interpersonal skills.
There is evidence to suggest that involvement in Music, Dance and Drama can improve the concentration levels in other subjects, as well as adding a new depth of knowledge and understanding to other subject areas. There are also spiritual and psychological benefits, as the performing arts encourage self-discipline, self-expression, calmness and fulfillment.
There are several perspectives to this. On a social level, learning, practicing a fine art sharpens our sensitivities to more subtle issues, emotions and expressions. It gives a sense of belonging to a particular culture, a sense of identity and a sense of evolution from merely existing to earn and spend.

Indian classical music for instance gives us enrichment on several areas. To start with, the yogic posture of Padmasana is practiced while learning or performing. It is directly related to our confidence level and state of mind at any given time.

The practice of aligning one’s voice or instrument to a particular Sruthi or pitch makes us focus on something stressless and enriching. This makes us to stay in tune with a particular frequency that indirectly improves our alignment faculty.

Remembering the grammar of a certain raga and its structure enables a certain method in creativity that leads to organized thought. Art is not random creativity but artistically organized expression of creative thoughts.

Next, on the psychological level, Indian music soothes the senses and connects one to the Within. The spiritual anchor it provides crosses the boundaries of region or religion.

The Tala or the rhythm provides the track for the music to manifest in a very systematic way. While the singer is showing the counts of the beats of the tala in a certain measured metric method, it becomes a motor activity that slowly becomes independent of conscious thought and happens automatically.

This entire process unconsciously increases the bandwidth of the brain wherein the creativity happens on one side, the adherence to the grammar and sruthi happens on the other side, the motor activity of the tala keeps happening and the posture exudes confidence and clear thought. We may even call the entire process a Psychosomatic Motor activity.

Psychosomatic medicine is an interdisciplinary medical field studying the relationships of social, psychological, and behavioral factors on bodily processes and well-being in humans and animals. Indian music is said to improve the intellectual capacity of children and increase their ability to multi task efficiently.

In concurrence with the same thought, playing the Veena or any such instrument activates the tip of the fingers that indirectly activates the nerve endings that are acupressure points. So, apart from all the positive aspects mentioned earlier, playing a music instrument certainly gives a sense of achievement, relieves stress, disciplines, improves team work, communicates emotions and adds sheen to the entire personality.

With the Margazhi Music festival rocking Chennai, it is perhaps a good time to cultivate or renew interest in the Fine arts.