Sunday, April 12, 2009

Jugalbandi concert with Smt.Lakshmi Sriram - 10/4/09

Organized under the auspices of Hamsadhwani, Chennai.

Hamsadhwani is synonymous with RRC (Sri.R.Ramachandran).Started several years ago, (late)RRC Mama has done a lot in establishing Hamsadhwani as one of the leading sabhAs in Chennai and it is now his son,Sri.Sundar who is continuing his father's service in an exemplary manner.

When Mr.Sundar suggested that I do a thematic concert for Hamsadhwani this year I suggested the idea of doing a jugalbandi with Smt.Lakshmi Sriram and he readily welcomed the idea.


Sri.M.A.Krishnaswamy - Violin
Sri.B.Sivaraman - Mridangam
Sri.Suresh - Tabla

Lakshmi and I have done such concerts on three previous occasions.We share a great rapport and we really looked forward to this one too :-).It was,I think, around three years back,that we gave our third jugalbandi concert.

During our first discussion regarding this particular concert, we decided to have a few offbeat raga combinations,which would make the jugalbandi attempt more interesting and innovative.Hence we decided to avoid raga pairs like hindOlam/mAlkouns etc, since both ragas in such a combination are very similar in structure and there is really not much difference in the handling of these in the Hindustani and Carnatic styles.

We started listing out possible rAgA-pairs and finally arrived at about eight rAgA combinations.

RAgAs presented in the concert:

There are a few ragas which have very similar names in both the Carnatic and Hindustani traditons, but which sound drastically different. We took up such a pair as the first item.


I sang an invocatory Sloka on Lord Ganesha in raga kEdAram while Lakshmi sang a Sloka on Goddess Saraswathi in the raga kEdAr.(Hindustani kEdAr sounds a lot like hamIrkalyANi)

Subsequent to kEdAram-kEdAr, we took up raga combinations which sound very similar and allied,but at the same time, which have very distinct features in the two respective traditions.

AbhOgi-AbhOgi KAnada:

This was the second combination that we took up.Lakshmi sang a composition(in madhya lay,teen tAl,lyrics:manmOrA chAhath,composition of C.R.Vyas) in AbhOgi-kAnada and I joined in at a few places to show glimpses of raga AbhOgi.While she sang an AlAp during the sthayi,I joined in with AlApanA phrases of AbhOgi and similarly during the antara.


chakravAham is an ancient rAga in the carnAtic tradition and has been handled by the music trinity too. Ahirbhairav is relatively a newer rAga in the hindustAni tradition.

I started with an AlApanA of chakravAham and Lakshmi joined once or twice during the AlApanA and brought in phrases of Ahirbhairav.This,according to me,is a beautiful way of showing the contrast between the two rAgAs. Following my AlApanA, Sri.M.A.Krishnaswamy played a beautiful AlApanA, with alternating phrases of chakravAham and Ahirbhairav.This was again a very challenging attempt and he deserves full credit for the excellent job that he did.I then sang tyAgarAjA's composition suguNamulE. During kalpanAswarAs at the end of this kriti, Lakshmi again joined with swarAs from Ahirbhairav.


This was the major raga that Lakshmi took up in the concert. During her elaboration I joined in a few places with a few phrases of mOhanakalyAni.After her detailed exposition of two compositions(first one in vilambit Ek tAl: bOlana lAgE papIhA and the second one in dhrut teen tAl: bhAjOrE bhAjO), I sang harikesanallur muthiah bhAgavatar's popular piece bhuvanEshwariyA in mOhanakalyANi,with a few quick rounds of kalpanAswarAs.

madhyamAvati-madhyamat sArang:

madhyamat sArang is essentially an afternoon rAg in the hindustAni tradition.This being a jugalbandi concert and not a strictly hindustAni one,we thought we could relax a bit on the timing of the rAga and hence Lakshmi (after a lot of coaxing from me!!) agreed to make an allowance and sing it in the evening:-)
This was the major rAga that I took up.I sang a detailed AlApanA of madhyamAvati wherein again she came in with a few phrases of madhyamat sArang. MAK again gave a beautiful solo version interspersing both styles in his rAga elaboration. After this,Lakshmi sang a composition(bandish in madhya lay teen tAl:rang dE rang rEzvA) in madhyamat sArang.Subsequently I sang tyAgarAjA's masterpiece rAmakathA sudhA with detailed neraval. During kalpanAswarAs she again joined and we finished this combination with a tani by Sivaraman and Suresh.


I sang the jAvaLi parulanna mAta composed by dharmapuri subbarAyar in kApi and she next sang a tumri(pyArE rasiyA bihAri) in piloo. Tumri is again a shringAra-oriented musical form in the hindustAni tradition and is often featured in their dance recitals too.

Four contrasting ragAs bhairavi-shudhsArang-nAdanAmakriya-yamankalyAn:

We took up verses from krishnAshtakam and sri krishna karNamrutham and presented them alternatively.I sang Bhairavi,she then sang the next couple of lines in shudhsArang,I followed with the next 2 lines in nAdanAmakriyA and she finished with yamankalyAn.
Following this,we sang in unison two songs:
Firstly the song sri rangA kamalAkAntA in yamankalyAn.This is a nAtya pad(sung in the Maharashtra theater tradition).
Secondly we sang annamAchAryA's composition bhAvayAmi together.

We finished the concert with a mangaLam.

What Lakshmi and I enjoyed the most was the contrast that each one of us gave while the other was singing. We didn't plan too much about this- its more intuitive I guess between the two of us:-)In our previous concert we had meticulously planned as to where each of us would join the other. But what we did during the concert was totally different and interesting !! So this time we decided to do it as per our instincts on stage.While one of us sustained,say,at the shadja note, the other would pitch in at the same note and take on from there. This way, we were both in unison and also showed the contrast immediately after.

We had planned on another rAga combination to sing after mOhakalyAni-shudhkalyAN, but omitted it for want of time. We will probably take it up during our next jugalbandi concert:-)

A few lines about the audience at Hamsadhwani: We had a very good crowd and the rasikas really liked and appreciated our efforts and conceptualization of the entire program.

All of us went home with a happy and contented feeling :-)


Priya Ram said...

Seems i have missed an innovative and interesting concert. you have explained the concert in so much detail Gayathri. hope to attend one such concert of yours in the future.

Sathej said...

Very elaborately and nicely written! :) Was a well conceptualized concert. I especially liked the Ragamalika Shlokam - Ragams like Bhairavi and Nadanamkriya provided a very good contrast to Yamankalyan and Shudh Sarang.


Priya Ram said...

Happy New Year Gayathri. my wishes to your family too. May this new year shower you with success in all your efforts. all the best. keep blogging. hope to read and know more about you...and also hope to attend more concerts of yours.

కొత్త పాళీ said...


Anonymous said...

That was definitely a concert of high class; sailing between two styles, both forms of music complementing each other ! East or West, North or South, we r Indians. Somewhere we blend, our traditions / cultures meet and this concert stood as testimony to it. Above all, music is a universal language, is n't it?

What a sync it was, between the singers! At times, we lost track of who was singing, especially at the shadjamam.

Well sung and well written GG. Wish you keep innovating more like this and often.