Vid Dev

Musings of a music student



Impressions from a TNS concert

It is not fair if  I call this a review, me being the novice. I am writing down my impressions on the concert I attended this evening, at the Parthasarathy Swamy Sabha. A full bench with vocalist TN Seshagopalan, M Chandrasekar on the violin, Mannargudi Eashwaran on the mridangam, and B Purushothaman on the kanjira.


I was as usual late to the concert and he had finished a couple of songs by then. When I entered, he was singing swaram in raga Kamas and thalam Chatusra Jadhi Jampa. No idea what the song was. But I just felt – if God can take away one very important ability, sight, and instead bestow you the power to control the world with the music, then so be it! – on listening to Chandrasekar playing.


Aarabhi ragam started, and I was so very sure, it was going to be “Oongi Ulagalandha”, today’s Thiruppavai. It turned out to be a virutham emphasising “Kodhai Tamizh”, supposedly one of Aandal’s pasuram. Extensive phrases made me wonder, what next. That is when he takes you by surprise yet again, by singing “Oongi Ulagalandha” in Kanta Chapu thalam. Now, the tune I observed to be very similar. Maybe… maybe he modified the thalam so that there might be more space between words to do his usual gimmicks on brighas.

Link to the recording of this song… Aarabhi – Virutham + Oongi Ulagalandha :


Then he sang Subapanthuvarali, ragam notes ranging almost 3 octaves – from high Da to lower Pa. The song was Sri Sathyanarayanam by Muthuswamy Dikshitar. For the swara kalpana, he started with a casual vilamba kalam with combinations of “SRG SRG S… PDN PDN P… SRG SRG S…” this phrase as the basis. There was almost a sportive-competition happening between vocalist and the violinist, and they played nearly 20 minutes of 2 avarthana korappu.

And then it happened – TNS was in such a frenzied mode with ideas flowing, that Chandru simply put down his violin and let him sing uninterrupted. What a man!! The tani avarthanam was way beyond my comprehending abilities, so I give it a pass in this narration.


After the thani got over, he started singing ragam for the next piece. And I began guessing the ragam. Manirangu… no, it is Needhimathi… ah no, sounds more like Kaapi… a little wierd, probably Kaapi from yesterday’s decoction!?… hindustani/masala Kaapi… Lol 😛 TNS relieved all of us of the tension and announced the raga name as Varunapriya and gave a brief – the exact stuff I found on Wiki a couple of minutes later. Woah!!

The lyrics was customised to request rain, enhancing the raga’s qualities –

“Tharunamidhu Karunai Pozhi Varunapriya

Aazhi Mazhai-k Kanna… Nee” (repeat)

And the raga shifts were done in Amrithavarshini (more rain request), Subapantuvarali (water from eyes as well), Kaapi (he did sing the ragam finally!) and back. The piece was set in kanta jadhi thriputa thalam.

I was so engrossed in the concert, that I just did not bother to even unlock my phone and check – something we do always these days! Plus, I am so going to take my rain jacket to office the next day, just incase 😉


avarthana – a cycle of thalam

brigha – faster rendition of a phrase in aalap

chapu, thriputa, jampa – types of thalam

chatusra – 4 beats

full bench – all the necessary accompaniments are present (violinist, and 2 percussion instrumentalists)

kanjira – similar to tambourine

kanta – 5 beats

Kaapi, Needhimathiand Manirangu – are names of the ragas I guessed, wrongly 😉

Kamas, Aarabhi, Subapanthuvarali, Varunapriya, Amrithavarshini – are names of ragas of the songs performed

korappu – a pattern of swara singing

Swara, neraval, thanam, aalapana – various forms of showcasing the skill, improvising the raga on the spot

tani avarthanam – is the phase of the concert when the percussion instruments alone play

vilamba kalam – slow pace

virutham – format of singing a verse (/sloka) improvising, usually without thalam

– Until next,

Vid 🙂

The Concert Phenomenon

As I was seated in the concert hall listening to the first concert I attended this season, I thought I should vent out all my pent up thoughts and long observed findings into this write – up that I would like to call “The Concert Phenomenon”.

Come December, and it is margazhi music festival in Chennai. And thus, as the diversity of our place has it, we can find various interesting phenomena in and about a concert.

The oft – repeated one is about the culinary versus the artiste’s popularity. Sometimes we will not be able to distinguish which ‘Kesari’ is being praised.

Also most of the performers have taken up to talking at length in between their songs. Many of these talks are borne out of care for the music students / listeners, no doubt. But it pains when you see someone dozing off amidst audience – people, you don’t go unnoticed.

I think each person in the audience would exhibit one or more of the characteristics from the below categories –

  • There are the Maami’s sitting in the front row in new silk sarees and asking “yen maami, neenga indha pearl set evlo ku vaanginel? Unga saree color ku nanna suit aardhu…” (Where did you buy this pearl set? It goes well with your saree color) Excuse me, is someone listening to what is being sung.
  • Then there are these geeks who carry a book to the concert to read – a timepass for an entertainment is it? Reminds me of a tamil movie dialogue – “rest eduthu tired agi rest edukkaren”.
  • Next in list are the over enthusiasts whose interest in putting thalam is commendable; however, their boisterous nature and the fact that the thalam goes off beat, is not.
  • A special mention is needed to the youngsters who record the entire performance and thus miss out enjoying on the live one, and instead, spend the time in messaging.
  • Speaking of messages and mobiles, I forgot to mention the BGM providers! Uncles and aunties, who use mobiles to the barest minimum, feel uncomfortable having a silent profile. What ensues is a variety of ringtones as background music.
  • The most interesting ones however are those who carry a note book and pen in hand making a note of the song, ragam, thalam and composer for each of the item performed. Is this list going to be catalogued for historic reference by future generations?

Also available as aid to the above mentioned people are the ‘Ready Reference’ books. RRR (it has a nickname too!) has a collection of popular kritis and an abbreviation index in the glossary that you need to map to in order to use it. Reminds me of old schooldays where we used to do dictation – copy from book into notebook as the ‘recital’ goes on.

When the ‘aalapana’ goes to the madhyama kalam / higher notes, when the korvai is finished, when any frenzied manodharma piece is over, it is generally followed by a ceremonial clapping. If you do not clap or nod, you are bound to get a few quizzical glances. Excuse me, but I will definitely acknowledge the phrase that I personally relish.

The behind the stage scenes are yet another spectacle! It is regular to hear “excellent Kamboji it was”, “Thani pinnitel pongo!” and similar praises, backstage. But when someone comes and introduces themselves as the artiste’s “neighbor’s grandma’s onnu – vitta chithapa’s sammandhi’s second son; gnabagam irukka” (neighbor’s grandma’s second cousin uncle’s in – law’s second son; remember me?) or the likes, the artiste’s expression would be priceless!!!

Once the ‘mangalam’ has been sung, the wait is on for the next day newspapers / magazines to bring out the reviews about the concert. The expectations are not fully quenched sometimes owing to an extensive play of English vocabulary.

I have described above a few instances of interesting things that happen at a concert. The rest are left to the imagination of the readers!

–          Vid 🙂


Create a website or blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: