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Musings of a music student

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vijayalakshmy subramaniam

Koteeswara Iyer

The two contestants for the letter K were apparently grandfather – grandson, and I chose the grandson Koteeswara Iyer over Kavi Kunjara Bharathi. Koteeswara Iyer (1870 – 1936) studied music under Poochi Srinivasa Iyengar and Patnam Subramania Iyer both of whom were eminent composers.

Works

Koteeswara Iyer was one of the first composers to compose in all the 72 melakartha ragas. Implies, he should have given life to many of the otherwise synthetic ragas in the melakartha scheme. These compositions included ragas which were vivadhi, a classification of ragas considered taboo to be sung in concerts.

His compositions were mostly in Tamizh and his favourite god of praise was Lord Muruga. His songs had many variations (sangathis) as in a Thyagaraja’s but had chittaswaram, raga and composer mudhras as in a Dikshitar’s.

Other literary works of Koteeswara Iyer includes Siddhi Vinayakar padikam, Shanmukha Malai, Sundareswara Padikam, Kayarkkanni Paditrupattu, Meenakshi Andadi.

All India Radio conducted a series of concerts in 1950s, rendered by S Rajam and G Vaidehi – detailed rendition of one sudha madhyama and one prathi madhyama kriti.

Listen to…

Listen to Dr. Vijayalakshmy Subramaniam singing ‘arul seyya vendum’ in Rasikapriya which is the last melakartha ragam of the chart. My guru, Dr. Vijayalakshmy is the disciple of S. Rajam “who did learn them from RM Sundaram, a relative of Koteeswara Iyer. Rajam Sir has published all his compositions in a very neat volume.( Earlier, he would give xerox copies of the book– covering only photocopying charges!) He has also rendered all the 72 , with raga niraval and swaras.” (words of my guru in this thread).

Disciples

N Ramakrishnan (also PA to Kamarajar) published the melakartha kritis with notations

RM Sundaram, who in turn spread the KI tradition through his disciples and family

T L Venkatarama Iyer, D K Pattammal, Parur Sundaram Iyer, V V Sadagopan, S V Parthasarathy

Mudra

Kavi kunjara dasa was Koteeswara Iyer’s mudra; not to be confused with “kavi kunjara” which is his grandfather Kavi Kunjara Bharathi’s mudra.

References

carnatic.net, Wikipedia

Until next,

Vid 🙂

Dr. Vijayalakshmy Subramaniam

As said in my earlier post Guru Vandanam, this is my first post in the series.

Vijayalakshmy Subramaniam, or Viji aunty as we call her, is a carnatic music performer and teacher and a Doctorate and the disciple of Rajam sir, and of course my guru! You can read more of her bio on the link above. Because here I am going to talk about my learning experiences under her.

It is said that a place that is surrounded with music all the time will have a certain vibrating effect. Though I have heard many say it, the first time I experienced this was in aunty’s house – the room where we learn. The ambience is that vibrating and musical. Even Casper, their dog would attend our classes regularly and he was always seated in the front row! I even have a recording of us singing bhairavi varnam and Casper’s howl exactly at upper Sa in the background.

I have learnt many dikshitar kritis from her to my heart’s content (I am a huge fan). Vaaya tharandhu padanum is a general advice given to music students. But she showed me how to open up and sing at the same time not sound loud. I also learnt how to put the tambura – it ain’t easy as it looks for sure.

Ksetra Sangeetham is the series of thematic concerts she does. The format is thus, each episode concentrates on a particular religious place (kshetram); there is a initial speech by a historian or a religious person on the Gods and Godesses and other specialities of the kshetram, followed by aunty’s concert of songs exclusively sung on the same place.

I had the opportunity to be a part of a few episodes such as Kanchipuram, Nagapattinam, Swamimalai, Guruvayoor and others, in helping her in primitive research and preparing presentations for the concert. This outside-classroom experience gave me a whole new outlook to the way songs might have been conceptualised, its religious and political setup.

Aunty’s way of teaching / singing a raga is more ingenious than traditional, something I had observed even as a fan of her concerts before I started training under her. Hopefully I retain and reproduce whatever I have imbibed.

Below is one such Dikshitar’s song being taught by Viji aunty in the paatu class broadcasts. Parvathi kumaram bhavaye in Naatakurinji…

– Until next,
Vid 🙂

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