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Tuesday, August 21, 2001

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Homage to a 'Guru'

TRIBUTE TO SANGEETHA KALANIDHI K.S. NARAYANASWAMY - 101 Keerthana Mani Mala: Compiled and published by Smt. Kalyani Sharma; Shyam Sadan, Plot No. 134, B-Block, Road No. 3, Matunga, Mumbai-400019. Rs. 225.

IT IS an irony that Veena, the one instrument that brings out the subtle and delicate nuances of carnatic music and recommended for vocalists to gain an insight into the heart and soul of the characteristics of carnatic music, is given little recognition today. Time was when great Vainikas like Karaikudi Brothers and Veenai Dhanammal were held in great esteem. Belonging to the "Thanjavur Bhani'' their play was marked by gracefulness of "nada'' and daintily laced cadences and subtleties of sound were given more prominence than rhythm-based exposition. In the line of authentic Thanjavur style of play was K.S. Narayanaswamy, groomed at Annamalai University, flowered in association with Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer at Tiruvananthapuram serving the Swati Tirunal Academy and towards the last years of his career became a respected "acharya'' preparing many students as the Principal of Sangeetha Vidyalaya of Shanmukhananda Sangeetha and Fine Arts Sabha in Mumbai There is today a kind of liberalism that is very much in evidence in the way kritis are rendered. What sangatis are authentic to a kriti is not the concern today.

The notation reflecting her guru's "patantara'' included in the book would serve to open the eyes of many as to how and with what sanctity in olden days songs were sung and played on instruments. In fact, it used to be said that in an earlier era when mike was absent people could appreciate the delicate Veena music because they knew what sangatis belonged to what song and in what order it should be played and the performers strictly stuck to it.

The collection of 101 songs covers mainly the Trinity, post- Trinity composers and Swati Tirunal. The text of the kirtanas is in Tamil, Sanskrit and English and the notation is in Tamil and English. The compiler's effort is commendable.

SVK

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