Feb 17, 2011


All of us at Carnatic Latté have taken a long break. We're back with a note on the most important and fundamental aspect of Carnatic Music - Sruti, Tambura. Just a few questions that come to my mind!

1. Are these two separable and existent without the other?
2. Why is a Tambura referred to as 'Manual' Tambura?
3. What exactly is a Sruti 'Box' or 'Electronic' Sruti that substitutes the Tambura?

Your thoughts.....


Dec 27, 2010

Favorite Seat in the House?

For the past several seasons, I have sat behind my guru, Sri Sanjay Subrahmanyan, on the dais for most, if not all, of his concerts, especially around the December season time. This season, after the first couple of concerts, I decided to sit in the audience and listen to the concert from a different angle. I commented to someone that I was hearing his Music Academy concert from the front view after probably 7 years, or maybe more, as even before sitting on the dais behind him, I used to sit on the stage off to the side of the dais.

Even when sitting on stage behind him, I always preferred to sit behind the violinist so that I could see Sanjay Sir's facial expressions as opposed to sitting directly behind him where I would not be able to see anything except the audience.

It made me wonder where people prefer to sit when they go to a concert. Obviously this will vary from sabha to sabha, but what makes you prefer one area/seat over another?

This is completely non-technical and just something I've been wondering this season, as I made the decision to sit in the audience this time around for most concerts.


Dec 15, 2010

Innovation vs Tradition

This next post of mine is inspired by one of the comments about 'boundaries' in Carnatic Music and its interpretation. Today, we hear a lot of discussions about tradition and innovation. What exactly do these terms mean with respect to the Carnatic Idiom? Do they go hand in hand or are they two separate entities where one ceases to exist when the other begins?

Your Thoughts...

Dec 9, 2010

Phones in Concerts... On the Stage?!

Everyone has seen the inconsiderate rasika that forgets to silence their phone during a concert. Some rasikas even have the audacity to answer calls and speak while a concert is taking place. But what I witnessed recently really outdid all of the above mentioned...

In a recent Carnatic concert I saw someone on the dais actually taking pictures of artists/audience from their phone, and posting them online in real-time! I was even notified via text by a friend during the concert telling me to go online and see the pictures.

I think technology is great. I love my phone, and I love the ability to look up anything on it from anywhere, which includes the middle of concerts... FROM THE AUDIENCE.

There were recently some rules imposed on the National Basketball Association (NBA) that limited players use of cell phones on the sidelines, so that they couldn't tweet or blog during games. There has to be a line where it's too much to be typing, texting, or facebooking from the actual dais. There are professionals up there, and a level of seriousness which I don't think goes along with real-time Facebook updates.

Incidentally, it was a really good concert.

Your thoughts?...

Dec 8, 2010

Concert Format

My last post was more like an introduction to this blog. I always wanted to start off on a musical note so here is my first official post with a small clip. Ongi Ulagalandha in Arabhi Ragam, Adi Talam from the famous Tiruppavai Concert by Ariyakudi Sri Ramanuja Iyengar accompanied by Sri T.N. Krishnan on the Violin and Umayalpuram Sri K. Sivaraman on the Mrdangam.

There are many reasons for me choosing this clip. The last post by Sriranjani talks about experimenting with the concert structure and presenting new and different numbers with manodharma (improvisation). This post is a continuation of that and talks about experimenting with the concert format through an example.

The basic structure of a concert that we all predominantly follow today, as pointed out by her, consists of a Varnam, a ‘Main’, Fillers, Tukkadas and a ‘Sub Main’ (terms that I am not too fond of). This concert format was initially formulated and popularized by Sri Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar which everyone started to pursue later. The same man, who created this structure, also presented a lot of Tiruppavai-s in his concerts (since Tiruppugazh-s are mentioned) and has also presented Pallavi-s (RTP) as the main item. This is a classic example where he presents a Tiruppavai with Ragam and Svaram in a very concise manner leaving you yearning for more.

After listening to this, the first thing that strikes me is his to the point approach and the crispness in his music. There are no unwanted gaps or pauses and everything seems to flow smoothly from one to another. Ariyakudi, who proposed the ‘contemporary’ concert format, sings a concert full of Tiruppavai-s. People during his time might not have approved of him singing Ragam and Svaram for a Tiruppavai or presenting so many compositions in a concert. The concert format that is widely accepted today was a new innovation that he ventured in his times. Acceptance for something new takes time to gain. We might not have this format today if he was not open to experimentation. There is ample space for innovation and this is just one such example of experimenting with the concert structure within the boundaries of classicism. Many more to come…