Posts Tagged ‘music’

A couple of laughs

June 6, 2019

I love laughing and treasure every sudden gem that I come across. Here’s a great one from the “middle” in the Deccan Herald of Tuesday, June 4, 2019, by Indu Suryanarayan, who decided to learn music at the then-recently-opened Ayyanar College of Music on Vani Vilas Road, Bangalore:

“I bought a four-and-a-half shruti bamboo flute (to learn from Sri Doreswamy)…. Every morning, I left after coffee my flute in hand. On the way, if I encountered toddlers following their mother’s advice to answer nature’s call squatting by the roadside, I would use my flute to hit them on the head and ask them to go and do it inside.” It makes me wonder what else the poor flute was used for!


Having got up at 1.30am to do some ironing, I justtttt shut my eyelids after the alarm rang at 5.30am. I believe in the theory of relativity, because just a fraction of a second later, it was 6 am. This entry is especially for Srikanth, to whom it happened yesterday!

Tansen: Theatre Review from the Hindu

May 31, 2019

Watch a play covering the various aspects of this 16th Century musician’s life

In a little less than two years, The Trialogue Company has had 30 shows of its Hindi play Tansen. It was first staged in July 2017 at NSD, in New Delhi. It took playwrights Sudheer Rikhari and Mohammad Faheem six months to hone the script and meticulously sew classical melodies into this period musical that portrays Tansen in a novel light.

“I was inspired by Girish Chaturvedi’s 1973 novel Tansen which revealed many unknown facets of this 16th Century musician’s life in the court of Mughal Emperor Akbar. It speaks of several aspects of his persona and life, and to present it on stage became my dream,” says Sudheer Rikhari, who is also behind the design, direction, music and production of the play.

The play has three lead actors — Mohammad Faheem, Sudheer Rikhari and Ridhima Bagga — apart from musicians singing live. “We will have the pakhawaj maestro Roman Das, a student of Gundecha Brothers, and Daksh Raj Sharma on the harmonium, travelling to Bengaluru for this show. We believe in live instruments and live voices on stage for this play,” shares Sudheer, a science graduate with a Masters in Hindustani classical and a passion for theatre.

Tansen, born in a Hindu family as Ramtanu to Parvati and Makarand in Behab near Gwalior, is brought up by Gaus Baba, a fakir who sent him to Brindavan to learn music from Swami Haridas. Even as Tansen’s first love Taani makes poignant entries into his life often, he journeys into the forests for a musical riyaaz before being spotted by the King of Rewa Raja Ramchandra Singh, where his musical expertise gains widespread fame. His music gains the attention of Emperor Akbar and Raja Ramchandra is forced to send him to the Moghul court where his melodious aptitude earns him the title ‘Mia Tansen.’ “How he marries Hussaini and his high appraisal of his self-worth sees him lose to the young musician Baiju Bawra, closes on a story infused with worldly lessons,” says Sudheer, who adds the play would also have an audience interaction.

As many as 16 songs will be presented in the course of the play, which has a duration of nearly 110 minutes and an almost continuous background score. “We have compositions by Gundecha Brothers, Pravesh Mallick and Vinay Chandra Mudgal sung by singer-actors Sudheer and Mohammad. It also includes melodies ranging from Dhrupad, Qawwali and Hori to Khayal Gaayaki accompanied by instruments,” says Ridhima, a Kathak artiste, who curated the choreography and costumes for Tansen.

“Although we have performed at the Theatre Olympics at Kalagram in Bengaluru in 2018, we are looking forward to the theatrical performance at Ranga Shankara on June 1 where we have two shows slotted,” she adds.

The play is a ruminative and absorbing journey of an artiste. “A portryal of the see-saw of emotions in the life of Tansen,” says Sudheer, going back to his dialogues in the play which are an introspection of what made Tansen great. What was the musician’s life-long quest — worship of his art or the ever-elusive emotional bond of true love? “The play begins with a dilemma over ‘Ibadat’ and ‘Ishq’ – what is worship and what is love?” he adds.

There are a few historical accounts of Tansen’s life on record. “We culled facts from Chaturvedi’s book for this musical. Many are not aware of his affair with his teenage muse Taani and subsequent marriage to Hussaini. This gripping tale mirrors Tansen’s persona,” says Sudheer, adding that the play is a metaphor on the rigours of life.

(Hindi musical ‘Tansen’ June 1, Ranga Shankara, 3.30pm and 7.30 pm, tickets at the venue and bookmyshow)

A beautiful song in AbhOgi: thanga ratham vanthathu veedhiyilE

November 24, 2016

தங்கரதம் வந்தது, வீதியிலே,
ஒரு தளிர்மேனி வந்தது தேரினிலே
மரகதத் தோரணம்அசைந்தாட
நல்ல மாணிக்க மாலைகள்கவிபாட

செவ்விள நீரின்கண் திறந்து
செம்மாதுளையின்மணி வாய் பிளந்து
முளைவிடும் தண்டில்கோலமிட்டு மூவருலா வந்த காலங்கள் போலே
தங்கரதம் வந்தது

மாங்கனிக் கன்னத்தில், தேனூற சிறு மைவிழிக்கிண்ணத்தில்மீன் ஆட
தேன் தரும் போதைகள், போராட
தேவியின்பொன் மேனி தள்ளாட ஆட
இருவரும்:- தங்கரதம் வந்தது

THANGA RATHAM VANTHATHU VEETHIYILEY – movie: Kalai Kovil (கலைக்கோயில்)

L Shankar, and his double violin

October 2, 2014

L. Shankar

is one of a family of musicians, of which

L. Subramaniam

is the best-known.

However, I was privileged to listen, when I was young to a 78 rpm record (yes, called “vinyl” these days) of an album of his, called “Who’s To Know”, where he played on his own invention, the double violion

The Wiki entry says, “During the 1980s, Shankar recorded periodically as a leader, doing both jazz-based material and Indian classical music. His 1980 release of the album Who’s To Know on ECM introduced the unique sound of his own invention, the ten-string, stereophonic double violin. This instrument, designed by Shankar and built by noted guitar maker Ken Parker, covers the entire orchestral range, including double bass, cello, viola and violin. He has recently developed a newer version of his instrument which is much lighter than the original.”

Here’s a video that shows him playing this wondrous invention of his:

However, this seems to be more of virtuoso playing, with a lot of riffs and gymnastics. It does not bring out the extraordinary range of the instrument, its honeyed tones, or the skill of the mastery of the player, with melody being the go-by for the mathematical swara-prasthArA.

Here’s an interview of him on Sun TV (quite recent, 17th Feb 2014.)

He talks about himself and his experience. A hackneyed interview format, but still, very informative.

My favourites are the album, “Who’s To Know”, from which you can hear an excerpt


(rAgam: hEmavathi.)

And this piece where the rAgA AbhEri is taken up for a rAgam thAnam pallavi (er, it’s nearly one hour long!)

However, the second piece is finished rather abruptly at the rAga AlApanA stage.

The visuals, too, were very interesting for me to see, being clips from all over India.

Such wonderful creativity…I salute this great musician.

July 16, 2014




is the site of Glimmingsehus Castle, in Hammenhog; it is a well-preserved medieval manor, the start of the construction of the fort dating back to 1499.



“Glimmingehus, situated in the county of Skåne in southern Sweden, is the best-preserved medieval manor in Scandinavia. Jens Holgersen Ulfstand began to construct the stately fortress in the year 1499.

The present is on the left, and the past is on the right!


“Glimmingehus was established as an imposing residence for the Danish knight Jens Holgersen Ulfstand and his family. At that time Skåne belonged to Denmark.




“Finds from archaeological excavations have revealed the highly exclusive nature of the Glimmingehus household. The most expensive objects available in Europe in the early 16th century have been found, including Venetian glass, extruded Rhineland glass and Spanish ceramic ware.




“Today, Glimmingehus is a living Ancient Monument and a centre for people throughout Scandinavia interested in the Middle Ages, as well as an exciting outing. New research, both archaeological and research into building history, has helped to produce a picture of how the fortress was once built and used.”

Even the lichen is blooming on the walls!



We had our own, very good Swedish guide!


Down to the kitchen:



The well that served the castle; the story goes that there is an eel, about a thousand years old, that is still alive at the bottom! (No, we couldn’t see into the well!)


The huge hall at the top:


The staircase:


The view from the top:


Vaulted ceilings underground:




Narrow windows tell their tale of fortification:


Here’s the baron who built the castle:


(er, he does look “petrified”, doesn’t he!)

And here’s the coat of arms:


The huge fireplace:


The area where the womenfolk lived:


Couldn’t go past this:


successfully puts a villain in

the stocks !


The museum downstairs documented the way life was lived:


I certainly remember grinding soaked rice in a similar grinding stone, when I was very young, in my parents’ home in Kolkata!


The refectory tables:


Interesting window:


This woodcut of the castle itself is very old!


Old tapestries:



A poster advertising an event highlighting the activities of medieval times:


An artist has depicted various coats of arms:


Ancient implements:


Pouring pots (don’t ask me why I thought of little boys pissing!)


Bread was dried in disks like that!


Kitchen soot will always be kitchen soot, and there will always be Cinderellas…


A modern lock in an ancient latch!


An amazing fact at this castle was that even tourism is very old…here are the signatures of tourists from 1938!


PC was very taken with the moat, I think he wants one of his own, with crocodiles:


Another portrait (instead of oils, they used stone in those days!) of the Baron of the Castle:


A scale model:


I was amazed to find the


which we call the mOresing, and which is still played in many Carnatic music concerts:


It’s apparently also called the “Jew’s Harp” and is one of the oldest musical instruments in the world! Here’s the castle employee playing it for us, being careful not to cut her tongue in two:


When medieval knights talked of chain mail, they didn’t mean a spate of unwanted letters!


The museum had some (SO lightweight, made of nylon!) on sale:


They also had a lovely model of a slingshot cannon, and knights of old:




They had quill nibs and metal nibs:


There was a children’s activity area:


Medieval pastimes no. 347, Riding a Pig:


Now you know why there are no more unicorns, they’ve been made extinct!


Tourists are helping make each other extinct, too:


Imposing Glimmingehus Castle…thank you for taking us there, !


Ofkose I have to talk about the birds, too….many of them make their homes here. We saw Swifts and Starlings, Ravens and Rooks, and many Jackdaws, like this one:


As we were leaving, we sighted a pair of Common Kestrels circling above the castle…and Kejn spotted three nestlings, in a niche, high above! What a thrill it was!


So that was my heritage-cum-birding experience here!

That was me documenting Glimmingehus….


I hope you enjoyed the castle as much as I did!



is my FB album of the visit.

June 30, 2014

It was a wonderful experience to go to Gamla Linkoping (the old town of Linkoping), where heritage buildings have been brought in and re-built with every possible care. There are several museums, housed in these old buildings, that visitors can walk into. In the whole area, many people who are in period costumes walk about; and today, when the local newspaper was pushed into the mail slot, I found out a bit more about two musicians whom I met there.

Here’s Jacek Malisz, with his accordion:


And here’s Lasse Strom (er, that “o” should have an umlaut), with his “Strohfiol”, which is a violin with an amplifier:


And here they are, playing together.


Jacek’s accordion, he told me, was over a hundred years old. Lasse was very much more witty; he had a “spiel” of dialogue ready for the tourist that I was. He told me how the basic element of the violin had been integrated with this amplifier (it was made of aluminium) for the better carrying of the sound, in the days before microphones and loudspeakers (and, indeed, electricity) were in place.

“Do your children also play this?” I asked him. “No!” he said emphatically. “When a child learns an instrument, it’s cruel for everyone else around to hear it!” “But your parents somehow put up with the noise of *your* learning,” I laughed; and he laughed with me. “Regarding music…one of my daughters has a ear,” he said, and I nodded sagely, understanding about having a ear for music. Then, of course, he added, “The other one has TWO ears!” and laughed happily at having cracked a good joke!It was my turn to laugh with him!

I am trying to get the link to the newspaper article about them (it appears in the “Summer” supplement to the June 25/26 issue of “Linkopings Posten”). , if you could help me, I’d be very grateful, I’ve not been successful yet!

With the help of Google Translate, I’ve learnt that the two musicians have been playing at Gamla Linkoping for the past 32 years, but this is going to be stopped soon…sorry, I couldn’t wade through the entire article, typing it out on Google Translate!

Thyagarja Aradhana (thyAgarAja ArAdhA)…a music festival to venerate a saint

January 21, 2014

Today, 200114, is, according to the Hindu calendar, Bahula Panchami, and this is the day that


attained samAdhi on the banks of the river Kaveri, at Thiruvayaru, iean Tamil Nadu.

Over the years that I have learnt, and been interested in, Carnatic music, this has turned into a major, televised event called the

Thyagaraja Aradhana

I just finished watching it on DD Podhigai, it used to be televised on the Doordarshan TV, the official “Government” channel which was the only channel we had in the beginning of TV! Before that, in Kolkata, I would hear it transmitted over the radio.

Here’s the first of the “pancharatna” (“five gems”…the five special compositio ns by the saint that are the highlight of the musical worship), sung in 1986; you can see stalwarts like Maharajapuram Santhanam, and that towering musician, Semmangudi Sreenivasa Iyer.

FB album by M D Ramaswami, with a very interesting narrative

Here’s all the “gems” being sung last year, from DD Podhigai (I must say, the shrill singing by ladies, who are trying to sing one octave over the pitch, which is set to suit men’s voices, is quite awful):

Though Thyagaraja was a saint, and his samadhi (and the singing) are supposed to be open to one and all, social prejudices prevailed for a long time. Gender discrimination, particularly, was quite bad, persisting until 1940. For the story of how

Bangalore Rathnamma

laid the foundation stone to the temple to the saint, only to be denied access (women were not allowed in those days),

click here

Carnatic music has also been the traditional bastion of the Brahmin community, with the very interesting exception that nAgaswaram, thavil and mridangam players hail from the Pillai community…Brahmins are a very “exclusive” caste and did not, earlier, even allow other castes into their homes…so this co-existence is intriguing.

My parents conducted the Aradhana in Kolkata, under the auspices of the Carnatic Sangeeta Sammelan, for many years. Apart from this, Rasika Ranjana Sabha (or RR Sabha as it was called) also conducted an event.

The event is also celebrated by the south Indian diaspora, in the US, at

Cleveland, Ohio

It has also developed into a major event–both a music and dance festival– for the south Indian diaspora, but it is not held at the actual time of the saint’s attaining nirvana; this year, it is from March 28 to April 7. Interesting, this year, to have a Thyagaraja festival dedicated to the memory of another of the trinity of Carnatic music, Maharaja Swathi Tirunal!

There has, of course, been a lot of politics surrounding the festival, and I just try to look past the human element to the divinity that still ensures that many people gather each year on the sandy banks of the Kaveri, and offer geetanjali (musical reverence) to this saint.

The irony, however, never fails to strike me…Thyagaraja was a man who was poor all his life, renounced the world and became a sanyAsi a few days before his death, and reached out to the masses through the simplicity of his songs…and today, he is a gold-plated statue,decked with garlands and jewellery, accessible only to those with “VIP” tickets…he is saluted by the rich and the powerful..and the poor, common people to whom he reached out can attend the concerts that happen over the days of the festival..but not many do. It’s still a bastion of the Brahmin caste/community, and a very “Hindu” event…old divisions continue to live on.

Found a new, simple recording site…

November 18, 2013

I will no longer be able to record at Muziboo, the site when I had an account and where I had recorded some songs. So I recorded this small song for KTB at Vocaroo:

Record music and voice >>

The words are:

Saraswati charaNam
sakala varamum thantharuLuvAy (S)

thAyum nIyE thanthaiyum nIyE
sarva jeeva dayA nidhiyE
uyirum nIye udalum nIye
uyarntha uyarntha umbar dEviyE (S)

ambikai manOhariyE Adi shakthi nIyandrO
nambinOrai kAkkum nalla nAyakiyum nIyandrO
(thAyum nIye….till end)

This was my mother’s school prayer song…probably in the 1930’s!

I also recorded a few slokA for the children, here:

Record music and voice >>

These are KTB’s most-listened-to favourites

Indian Percussion Instruments

October 21, 2013

I met

Laren Loveless

a very dynamic musician and percussionist, at the Bonfire event organized by the St.Louis Beacon. I decided to send him a video featuring Indian percussion instruments.

Featured are some of the percussion instruments of classical south Indian, and one of classical north Indian music.

It starts with

the Tabla

the north Indian drum-set. Then, we come to the south Indian classical instruments, played in concert regularly. (Click on the name of each instrument for the Wiki entry on it)

the Kanjira

the Morsing

the Konnakol

or oral rendition of the rhythm patterns, called “bol” in north Indian music and “jathi” in south Indian music.

the Mridangam

the Ghatam

the Thavil

I’m sorry, the recording is not of very high quality, but I chose it because one north Indian and all the south Indian percussion instruments (which are used today on concert platforms) are featured.

We have a complex (and highly rule-bound and structured) patterns of rhythms, which are called “taala”

The north and south Indian systems of classical music are quite different, but share a lot of features, too.

All our instruments are tuned to a particular pitch before being played, except, perhaps, the morsing.

Western drums (we are especially fond of the bongos!) are extensively used in our movie and light music. One of our very talented contemporary music drummers is

Sivamani .

Two videos from Forest Park, 280913

September 30, 2013

Here’s DS trying out an

Elliptical Scooter

And in another example of something being pushed (this time, the air through pipes)…here’s bagpipe skirling, from the Scottish Games at Forest Park, on the same evening:

KTB was quite scared of the bagpipers and said twice or thrice that they might kill us….!