Margazhi is round the corner


and i have seriously fallen in love with with semmangudi srinivasa iyer’s music. I like him on both counts: as a person and as a musician.

Unnecessarily overanalytical wherever it’s strictly not my business — that would me:-).

for eg:

some people i don’t like but love their music ( balamuralikrishna)

some musicians i don’t like but i like em as people ( tm krishna)

But Iyer, to borrow from facebook , gets my double like.

i love the unhurried pace of the music. leisurely type B kind of singing. carnatic music like it should be.

i’ve been watching documentaries and reading up about him: apparently he didnt charge a fee to teach his students — he kept a box and students could contribute what they felt like, and the money would go to charity;

one student said that Iyer would be immensely pleased and appreciative if she sang well during a class.

(My music teachers, I remember, cringed and cowered and offered to refund my fees, whenever I played my veena with abandon)

here are my top three.
This one i hear on loop. there’s no coordination between lip movement and music. it’s an ancient video. look at the audience. not even people in my family wear such specs any more (and my family is not choosy, they are happiest in a time machine with a monkey at the controls)

but the song is so beautiful esp. at 6.28 where he sings “sadasivam, paramsivam”

kamas is the smiley raga. even novices don’t go wrong. and when the master takes on this…

and when I watch this one, there’s very little song, a very brief video , i gather he was a happy man who enjoyed singing…

and that makes me, a listener, very happy too…


21 responses »

  1. I don’t get Carnatic music despite having learnt for 11 years. My teacher offered to do what your Veena teachers did. So I can’t honestly say, I enjoyed the singing. Though, I love how listening to Semmangudi makes you feel πŸ™‚

    The only exception to all of the above is MS. Her music is the only one which engenders feelings of having met the divine, face to face, so maybe on some level I get what you are saying.

    Ahhh… I’ve gone round and round without making much sense. Bottomline, i liked the post.

  2. i have loud arguments about such matters with the spouse. i like to keep the people and their work separate in my head. my husband? not so much! anyway i am so excited about a proper music season spent in Chennai! Must polish diamonds, iron saris, sharpen talons and get the ipad raaga app (or whatever)!!

  3. Oooh, MiM… I’m in complete agreement with you on Semmangudi. I also like Maharajapuram Santhanam as a singer(what a voice, what a glorious voice!) although as a person he falls in the category in which you placed Balamuralikrishna πŸ™‚

    And when I was very young, and before I ever knew his name, I used to ask my mom to play Madurai Mani Iyer all the time. Except I referred to him as “pallu illama paduvare, andha thatha” πŸ˜€ He’s still one of my favourites πŸ™‚

    • i could enjoy the music more if I judged the musicians less…
      for instance: double dislike for kj yesudoss :

      and double like for his guru chembai

      MMIyer is a superhit with us too: jayati jayati bharata maata was played so many times that the cd is now spoilt

  4. Ooh another thatha lover! M absolute favourite singer even now, after all these years. Have you heard his Ramanavami kutcheri from the late 70s? He had a raging cold but it didn’t affect his singing one bit – the loud nose blowing between songs was quite entertaining. A divine rendition of Sapasya Kausalya. I love his renditiin of srikanthimathim as well.

    • any non-youtube links for me M?

      SS Iyer said in his docu that he had his throat operated upon and completely regretted it…

      (may be that made him prone to many colds etc i think: i heard him sniffling in another such video…)

      • The Sapasya Kausalya is on raaga – Masterpieces, Vol 4, I think. SriKanthimathim – probably on Raaga as well.

        And I went on a Kamas binge yday – it was a nasty day weatherwise, and I wanted soothing πŸ™‚ Semmangudi’s Jayati Jayati, despite being such a simple song, was lovely…

  5. both my thathas had passed on pretty early. growing up i used to wish SSI was my thatha . he is that sweet thatha / maama that you want to chat with at a temple or a sabha, no? my favorite is this amazing dwijavanthi…cetah sri balakrishnam – no one can come anywhere close to singing that as beautifully as he does…

    dont like krishna’s music aa ? not even the Jambupathey he sings so very typical SSI style ?

    • I agree R. now we have to be friends forever now that you have mentioned dwijavanthi.:
      ms’s akhilendaswari is one such…eternal sweetness

      didnt give krishna too much of a chance. will youtube it out if you really insist

      • I will admit, here, anonymously, that I used to like Krishna a lot more than I do now – I find him getting increasingly pretentious nowadays. Sanjay is still my go-to guy πŸ™‚ Last month’s fav. for me was his rendition of the Gopalakrishna Bharati krithi: Vazhi Maraittirukude (Nattaikurinji) – Ranjani/Gayathri have a lovely version as well.

        And I’m another one who can’t separate the music from the musician – haven’t been able to listen to ANY BMK, since dealing with him in the late 80s in person for a SPICMACAY concert – he was an utter #$%&^.

        That said, TMK’s Sree Ramam CD set and Dhurga (yes that’s the spelling) – both have some gems. Just don’t get him on Kiravani πŸ™‚ (One of my pet hates, I really dislike Kiravani as a ragam, and TMK made it worse during a concert here :))

        And I know we’re discussing vocal music here, but a really fantastic rendition of Chetah Sri Balakrishnam is by Manjunath and Nagaraj on the violin.

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