Date:23/06/2006 URL: http://www.thehindu.com/thehindu/fr/2006/06/23/stories/2006062300890200.htm
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Doyen of a grand legacy

V. KALADHARAN

Thrikkampuram Krishnankutty Marar is an authority on different kinds of indigenous music of Kerala.



ICON: Thrikkampuram Krishnankutty Marar was honoured with a Veerasringhala.

Ramamangalam, a sleepy village bordering the southern-most part of the erstwhile state of Kochi, is famous as the birthplace of the legendary musician Shadkkala Govinda Marar.

There were four other Govinda Marars who were his contemporaries. These five Marars together established a school of music at Ramamangalam.

Of the descendents of these Marars, the sole surviving icon is Thrikkampuram Krishnankutty Marar. He was honoured recently with a Veerasringhala at a function in Thodupuzha under the auspices of the Vadyakalasamrakshana Samithi, Kalady.

A family with a prolonged tradition of indigenous music was the primary strength of Thrikkampuram. He was initiated into Sopanasangeetam at a tender age. Singing `thyaanis' and Ashtapadi to the accompaniment of the edakka at Ramamangalam Temple helped him cultivate a devotional spirit that proved to be instrumental in honing his career as a thimila player in Panchavadyam and `Achan-chenda' player in Parishavaadyam.

Incidentally, Parishavaadyam is a genre of percussion music that originated in Ramamangalam. It comprises percussion instruments such as Achan-chenda, thimila, cymbals, kurumkuzhal and kompu. The playing of the Parishavadyam is in Thriputa talam.

"Parishavadyam is the precursor of the present-day Panchavadyam. There is hardly any ennam in Panchavaadyam that is outside the domain of Parishavadyam. Ramamangalam can feel proud of such a creative ensemble," says Thrikkampuram.

Contributions

Thrikkampuram is one of the leading advocates of the south school of Panchavadyam. Kuzhoor Narayana Marar and the late Chottanikkara Narayanan Marar spearheaded the style of the south school, which was characterised by the precision of ennams and a systematic progression of the tempo in thriputa tala.

Thrikkampuram has been a devout follower of the sambradayam made popularised by his guru Kuzhoor Narayana Marar. By performing the thimila edachil in Panchari tala instead of Eka tala, Krishnankutty Marar caught the attention of traditional listeners.

Apart from the thimila, Thrikkampuram's prowess in instrumental music is further evident from his invention of the `Kudukka Veena.' Instinct coupled with years of saadhakam helps him play saptaswaras and several keertanams on it.

He can speak authoritatively on the different genres of music like Panchavadyam, Melam, Thayambaka and Sopanasangeetham.

Plea to preserve legacy

"Owning to the lack of serious studies by the young generation of artistes, so many of our distinctive ragas like Indissa, Saamanthamalahari, Malahari and so on and talas such as Lakshmi, Kumbham, Kundanaachi and Marmam have almost become defunct. Ramamangalam was one of the few centres where such rare ragas and talas survived for a long time. Unless there is a renewed enthusiasm in reviving them, our cultural legacy will sink into oblivion."

Thrikkampuram has been a vociferous defender of the southern school of Panchavadyam. He can be opinionated at times. Yet, it is his courage of conviction and moral fibre that makes him an outstanding artiste.

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