Prince Rama Varma

Carnatic Musicians
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devi
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#1

Post by devi » 03 Feb 2009, 05:11

Prince Rama Varma recently gave an interesting interview to the Bhakti TV Channel, for those who like this versatile musician, here are the youtube links to watch it online.


Part 1/5
http://in.youtube.com/watch?v=vEVpuTy2Xhc

Part 2/5
http://in.youtube.com/watch?v=DhqZ5tYn1ec

Part 3/5
http://in.youtube.com/watch?v=g6fezaHpVk4

Part 4/5
http://in.youtube.com/watch?v=oPlBMQxkwI4

Part 5/5
http://in.youtube.com/watch?v=_zjIknoSm8E

And those who prefer the lighter side of Varmaji here's one for you!

http://in.youtube.com/watch?v=zXHp3cQRH-k
(Note: must know Malayalam to enjoy this clip)

Happy listening!
Devi
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cmlover
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#2

Post by cmlover » 03 Feb 2009, 08:13

Thanks Devi. Very delightful interview indeed.
Varmaji is so disarmingly inocent! He is such a great vidvaan that he admits even his dhoti can do aarOhaNaM and avarOhaNaM :)
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devi
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#3

Post by devi » 26 Feb 2009, 07:14

Young Prince rendering Dikshitar's Akhilandeswari in Dwijavanti
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=niPoL_v5HSI

And a double Kaapi Treat!

Namasudharasam
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iLzDpvGT6ZA

Jamuna kinarey
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hye9gGo0LX4
Last edited by devi on 26 Feb 2009, 07:15, edited 1 time in total.
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wordpecker007
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#4

Post by wordpecker007 » 08 Mar 2009, 11:40

The Jamuna Kinarey is really something. Thank you devi
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devi
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#5

Post by devi » 08 Mar 2009, 14:06

My pleassure Wordpecker007 (groovy user name.. a fan of Bond?) I was totally bowled over by his redefinition of the popular song!

Please have a look into this new youtube channel http://www.youtube.com/user/Varmafan to view clips from Varma Sir's Carnatica Samarpanam Series Concert 2007. But for the poor audio quality the channel features selected gems from the concert, a Samarpanam to Sir's Guru Dr. M. Balamuralikrishna.

Dont miss out

Umasutham namami
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IRjT6MV5_AM

Marakatha simhaasana narasimha
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ZqpbJONr80

Ennadaina vintina
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C1N9yn88-kE

Swaraksharam Samples
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=45iVUHbt8MU

Happy Listening!
Last edited by devi on 08 Mar 2009, 14:09, edited 1 time in total.
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devi
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#6

Post by devi » 08 Apr 2009, 11:23

Prince Rama Varma is performing at Hamsadhwani, Youth Hostel Laws, Indira Nagar, Adyar, Chennai on April 11, 6.00pm. Prince's previous Concert @ Hamsadhwani (Semmangudi Centenary Celeberation in July 2008)was unforgettable. So whoever planning to attend this one kindly post reviews!
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srikant1987
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#7

Post by srikant1987 » 08 Apr 2009, 13:23

His guru, Trivandrum Shri R Venkataraman:
http://rasikas.org/forums/viewtopic.php? ... raman.html
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sama
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#8

Post by sama » 13 Apr 2009, 19:17

Check out this website on Prince Rama Varma
http://ramavarma.synthasite.com/
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devi
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#9

Post by devi » 13 Apr 2009, 20:34

Did any Rasikas attend Sri Rama Varma's Hamsadhwani Concert ?
Last edited by devi on 13 Apr 2009, 20:34, edited 1 time in total.
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Nick H
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#10

Post by Nick H » 13 Apr 2009, 22:05

Possibly not, but I was there ;)

He treated us to his (to-me) trade-mark slow and un-hurried delivery, which I enjoy very much.

Traces of BMK continue to intensify (yes, I sound a bit like describing weather systems in the Bay of Bengal) but he still maintains an individuality.

Very enjoyable concert.

Sorry I am not able to give a proper review.
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devi
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#11

Post by devi » 13 Apr 2009, 22:17

Wonderful Nick! Its a pleasure reading your take of the concert. I am sure Varmaji's slow and unhurried style is indeed a treat and Hamsadwani's open air venue, despite the summer heat is also a treat!
Last edited by devi on 13 Apr 2009, 22:34, edited 1 time in total.
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Nick H
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#12

Post by Nick H » 14 Apr 2009, 01:25

For the superstitious, the animal lovers --- or both!

At the very beginning, or maybe just before it, a bat flew across the venue near the stage.

A little later, a cat passing across the hall actually took the steps to the stage, walked briskly across,and down the steps the other side. It did not stop to make a speech :)

RV still remembers that I was very taken with the owl that oversees his Trivanrdrum festival when I was there in 05 --- and tells me that it is still there.

I do love carnatic music taken slowly, and is it not quite a rare treat?

Oh, and we had the pleasure of a relatively cool evening. Although still open on three sides, Hamsadwani's venue has been recently replaced by a permanent structure. They have also got rid of the floor-standing fans, and now have fans mounted higher on the pillars. This may not suit those (like my wife) who like to feel the permanent blow of a fan on the skin, but it suits me very well.
Last edited by Guest on 14 Apr 2009, 01:29, edited 1 time in total.
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mgkumars
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#13

Post by mgkumars » 14 Apr 2009, 01:42

I must say there is a totally new dimension in Prince Rama Varma's music. I have heard his Veena, vocal and interviews. He brings very original insights in almost everything I have seen him involved in. He has crossed boundaries, assimilated wonderful thoughts from other cultures and music and blends them with wisdom into his artistic expressions. His grasp of Laya is alluring and breath-taking. His manodharma is kingly. I wish him my very best in his artistic pursuits.
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sridhar_ranga
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#14

Post by sridhar_ranga » 15 Apr 2009, 22:57

nick H wrote:
Traces of BMK continue to intensify
Just Traces? To me he came across as dyed in the BMK wool this time :) - his Balamuralification appears permanent and irreversible :(. To my ears there was a sea change between what I heard from him at the same venue last year and this time - substantially in style and not insignificantly in substance too!
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Nick H
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#15

Post by Nick H » 16 Apr 2009, 00:13

Well, OK, maybe more than traces...
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mgkumars
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#16

Post by mgkumars » 16 Apr 2009, 02:57

Shri Nick and Shri Sridhar,

I believe that his music is original and he is grooving quite a distinctive way. When you say "Balamurali" style, and Prince Rama Varma is permanently etched in the Balamuralification - you should add why - and in what way? What is Balamurali style to begin with? Without a scientific basis for comparison we only foster loose opinions which could potentially unfavorably bias others.

To me, Vidwan Balamurali is an epitome of theoretical perfection with the courage to push the frontiers of tradition. He could be called unconventional - but, never a non-traditionalist. I have written else where about the differences between tradition and convention - simply put convention is one interpretation of tradition - a possible local and time-sensitive fad - while on the other hand tradition is the magnificent edifice that prescribe broad norms and does not limit explorations within these broad grammatical rules. So, in many ways unconventional thought is needed to further bolster and strengthen the fortress of tradition. And, in this broad aspect I see commonalities between Prince Rama Varma and Dr. Balamurali - and this commonality is a rare trait which should be admired, emulated and understood correctly. Another common and yet a rare aspect is to be able to breath a fresh spirit into a piece irrespective of the number of times they might have rendered it before. This freshness has the allure of a Haiku - in a way the past is forgotten and the present is recreated right before your eyes and vanishes right before your eyes to give way to new creative forces. This beautiful evanescence is paradoxically the force that fuels their permanent charm.

Sadly, many of our performing artists today have replaced this fresh creation with polished semblance of on-the-spot-creativity; this they achieve by prior design and thought. With time time, this way will lead to a certain level of staleness. But, manodharma demands spontaneous creation, creativity and ideas. This can only be reached by delving deep into the philosophy of music not just scratching the surface of it.

I think both Prince Rama Varma and Dr. Balamuralikrishna have each personalized and internalized music to an extent that their physical being and music are inextricably inter-woven. There is an ah-ha experience each time you listen to them - There are very few musicians who can take up just one song and make a full concert out of it - and, here are the two who can do it and still keep their audience in a state of bliss - because their music comes from their hearts - fresh every time, sincere, pure and fearless!!

My two cents - but, I felt a moral duty to state this here.

Regards,
Gopal
Last edited by mgkumars on 16 Apr 2009, 04:29, edited 1 time in total.
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Nick H
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#17

Post by Nick H » 16 Apr 2009, 13:31

That is a very interesting point of view, and certainly very much deeper in its thought than my mere ability to see hints or traces.

I find it a rally valuable contribution to the conversation, duty or not!

I'm not sure what words to use here, but for want of better, I'll use emulation and impersonation. There is a difference between emulation and impersonation. Perhaps impersonation is as far as the lesser student gets; perhaps the greater student may emulate, and perhaps RV combines both emulation along with his own traits.

If a person did not sincerely appreciate the ways and style of a singer, then why would they be his student? Entering into a student/teacher relationship with someone such as BMK has to be about a lot more than learning the technical aspects of the art that could be studied with any competent musician
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devi
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#18

Post by devi » 17 Apr 2009, 11:30

Its once again time for Bangaloreans to enjoy Prince Varma's music. Those who wish to listen to him live and make informed opinion about emulation or impersonation are most welcome to gather at Sheshadripuram College Grounds on Saturday April 18 at 6.00pm. The concert is open to public.
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sridhar_ranga
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#19

Post by sridhar_ranga » 17 Apr 2009, 12:49

Dear Shri MGKumars,

When I closed my eyes and listedn to Shri Varma I felt it was almost like hearing Dr. BMK. The way the sahitya was sung, even the swarams, the very start of the conert with BMK varnam rendered true to the way the master (Dr BMK) himself sings - it all added up to my feeling of litening to a BMK concert...I am not intellectually capable of eplaining this any more. It is just my feeling of being in a BMK concert.

I have temendous respect for Dr BMK and his singing...I was drawn to CM in my teen years precisely thru listening to BMK and KJY - it was mainly their sweet voices that attracted me to their singing at first and later I lernt to appreciate CM in more ways than just appreciating the voice.

In my current preferences somehow I feel less attracted by the BMK way / style of singing - again just a personal preference with no offence meant at all.

Last year's RV concert at Hamsadhwani was perhaps different because it was billed as an SSI centenary concert and shri Varma perhaps keeping this in mind brought out nuances of the SSI style in some / many of the pieces he sang.

I have only attended two concerts of RV so far - both at Hamsadhwani...to that extent statements like "permanent & irreversible" are probably a stretch....I just wrote about my feelings after listening to the concert, nothing more nothing less.

Cheers!
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Nick H
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#20

Post by Nick H » 17 Apr 2009, 12:54

Does he have some secret knowledge of my family?

He sang in Chennai on my late mother's birthday --- and now in Bangalore on my late grandfather's birthday!

:lol:

Anyway, it is a happy coincidence :)
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devi
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#21

Post by devi » 17 Apr 2009, 14:19

@ Sridhar_Rang: Glad to see some one openly expressing genuine remarks on Varmaji's performance. As a Varma Fan of several years, I look forward to people writing honest take on his concerts. Often I hear about him being either criticised heavily or praised unduly. It has become almost impossible to listen to/read a balanced review of any of his performances. I feel that its high time for music lovers to see him as a performing artist than a Prince or as a person with outstanding character and keep such impressions aside while expressing one's views on his music. I do sincerely appreciate Varmaji's qualities as an individual, as a model student and as a exemplary teacher and I salute his quest for knowledge and seamless understanding of Indian Music and Music all over the world.

I have no technical expertise to voice out expert comments yet I wish to state a few things here.
mgkumars wrote:I think both Prince Rama Varma and Dr. Balamuralikrishna have each personalized and internalized music to an extent that their physical being and music are inextricably inter-woven.
I agree with Gopalji completely. When one listen to Varmaji's bhava laden music, its is so evident that Varma Sir's music comes from his soul. I have personally observed even the most non musical person being moved to tears by Varma Sir's music.
mgkumars wrote:There are very few musicians who can take up just one song and make a full concert out of it
Very true. Once at Navarathri Mandapam, Varmaji sang Bhupalam for 52 mts and I am sure no one who was present there during that concert would ever forget his out of this world presentation of Bhupalam.

Having said that I have reservations in agreeing with Gopal’s opinion quoted below:
mgkumars wrote:Another common and yet a rare aspect is to be able to breath a fresh spirit into a piece irrespective of the number of times they might have rendered it before.
I hope Gopalji has attended some of Varmaji’s live performances. Although I do not for a moment dare to question the creativity of artists like Varmaji, I wish Varmaji explores new frontiers and treat us, his audience with with more ragas , kritis with his characteristic inimitable clarity of lyrics and unforgettable swarams. One must listen to his live performances of Saveri, Panthuvarali, Shankarabharanam or Kalyani to understand what I am trying to convey and why I am so eger to attend each and every live concert of Sir, if possible.

I hope people who like Varma Sir’s music continue to express their honest opinion about his concerts rather than just do word play or pass hefty remarks with hidden agendas but promote genuine appreciation and constructive criticism which will benefit the artist and admirers alike and hence promote good music.
Last edited by devi on 17 Apr 2009, 17:21, edited 1 time in total.
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Nick H
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#22

Post by Nick H » 17 Apr 2009, 16:17

Often I hear about him being either criticised heavily or praised unduly. It has become almost impossible to listen to/read a balanced review of any of his performances. I feel that its high time for music lovers to see him as a performing artist than a Prince or as a person with outstanding character and keep such impressions aside while expressing one's views on his music
He says much the same thing himself.
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mgkumars
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#23

Post by mgkumars » 17 Apr 2009, 18:41

Dear Shri Shridhar_Rang,

Thanks for explaining.

Many think that I imitate Veena S. Balachander. They draw their conclusions from merely one fact - that I pull the strings more than most others. Pulling a string is a technique and not music yet! Techniques are like vocabulary. They are instruments for expression and not expressions in themselves. We need vocabulary and we need techniques - but, once we have them, we must push them into the sub-conscious and strive for a bigger, wholesome and from-the-heart-sincere musical expressions. Yes, I do borrow techniques from Veena Balachander - but, the musical expressions are my own. I understand personally how a such comparison, however well intentioned, could be so far away from the truth and might even diminish the efforts and musical content of the one compared.

Unfortunately, I have never seen live RV's concerts. My experience is from watching him on yotube. What I gather is that he has painstakingly developed a formidable repertoire of techniques and ideas - not just from Carnatic music but also Hindustani and other forms as well. Dr. BMK too has imbibed various forms, styles and ways and uses them in his music. So, what I feel is RV's and Dr. BMK's music are similarly different from the normal musical renditions that we have equated/misnomered to/as "traditional" music. So, being similarly different does not mean they are similar themselves :-). Yes, the source-fountains are similar.

I am saying this just to let the originalities of RV sink in deeper - He is no doubt inspired by the genius of Dr. BMK - yet, he brings his own dimension - an element of his self. I was not surprised to read that RV did almost an hour of Bhoopalam - few can do it - Bhoopalam is indeed a very alluring Raaga - few can do it with such long elaboration - an none can do it just with imitation :-)

Best regards,
Gopal
Last edited by mgkumars on 18 Apr 2009, 08:06, edited 1 time in total.
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wordpecker007
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#24

Post by wordpecker007 » 18 Apr 2009, 16:30

Dear rasikas,
I find certain points a little difficult to understand. For instance, if one learns from a composer who is still alive and if that composer happens to be your guru, what is wrong if the song sounds like yours guru’s version?
(For instance, I have heard BMK’s Lavangi being slaughtered by singers who seem to have learned it from a recording without imbibing the spirit of the kriti.)
The similarity may also lie in the fact that both BMK and Varmaji pay much attention to lyrics and diction. Instead of merely parroting the lyrics, they have taken the trouble to understand the meaning and convey the bhava so well.
Moreover, look at the selection of compositions of Varmaji’s concert in Hamsadwani. Varmaji rendered the compositions of his guru, BMK, Dikshitar, MDR, Annamacharya, Maharaja Swati Thirunal, Meenakshisuthan (tuned by Chembai), Thygaraja, Subbaraya Shastri and Prayaga Ranga Dasa.
I don’t claim to be a connoisseur of music. I am merely a person mesmerised by good music. But I doubt if the Rakshamam Sharanaagatham bore any "traces"
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Nick H
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#25

Post by Nick H » 18 Apr 2009, 18:15

If and when I see RV committing his guru's more annoying habits on the stage, I'm sure he'll want it pointed out to him!

I suspect that it is very, very difficult not to pick up one's guru's mannerisms; the student spend such a lot of time minutely concentrating on their teacher, but the mannerisms are perhaps a possible indicator of impersonation.

(BMK is my Number One among the male carnatic singers, so that probably gives me some bias in favour of his expression --- but I do find his tendency to fidget, microphone stand, shruti box, tambura, back to microphone stand, frustrating when I am waiting for him to put me at peace by singing!)
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