Contributions of Music Academy

Miscellaneous topics on Carnatic music
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RaviSri
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#1 Contributions of Music Academy

Post by RaviSri »

Since the other thread has been locked I thought I'll open a new thread to highlight the positive contributions of the Academy.

Right from the beginning, ticket prices to the conference concerts have been kept very low by the Academy. The morning lecdems and the afternoon concerts have always been open to all. Only the evening and night concerts were ticketed. In the 1970s, 80s and early 90s, as far as I can remember, there was this last row ticket which was priced at as low as Rs.3/. In the late 1980s itself, a cup of coffee at the Woodlands hotel cost Rs.2-50p. At the Academy canteen a sweet was priced at Rs.4/. The lowest ticked giving you two programmes cost you less than that. Then you had the Rs.5/ dais ticket which sat you near the performer, except of course, none could be seated on the dais during a dance performance.

The lowest season ticket (two rows reserved for that) was Rs.50/ followed by Rs.100/ (three rows reserved). This, at least in the 1980s, was a very low price level, though many could not afford even these tickets. All the above seats were in the balcony. The ground floor seated donor and patron members plus the higher tickets like Rs.50, Rs.100 etc.

Apart from this, I think, starting from the 1960s, the Academy started giving free passes to music institutions. This arrangement was already there in the 1950s for the Central College of Music. But in the 60s and 70s it was expanded to music colleges situated out of Madras. Colleges like the Madurai music college, the Tiruvaiyyaru music college, music colleges from Vizag and Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh, the Trivandrum Swati Tirunal college and the Chembai Memorial music college in Palakkad and the music college in Mysore, apart from the Central College and the Queen Mary’s college in Madras, all benefitted. The Academy would allocate about 8 passes to each college plus a pass for a teacher accompanying the students. So, we had about at least 50 students getting to attend the conference and listen to concerts free. Of course, they had to make their own travelling and staying arrangements. I have seen hoards of students attending these sessions and benefitting out of them. This was something I had always liked about the Academy. I don’t know whether they are continuing this now.

Competitions

Today the competitions are held sometime in November I learn. In the 70s, 80s, they were held along with the conference. Before the Kasturi Srinivasan hall was built it was held on the first floor of the eastern side of the auditorium where the old library was situated. Many were the competitors who went on to become popular musicians. GNB, S,Rajam are the ones that come to mind right now. Many of todays’ stars have participated and won competitions. The competitions were in many categories. Kritis of the Trinity, Tamil compositions, Purandaradasa songs, Raga Alapana, Pallavi singing, Padam and Javali, the list will go on. Vocal, violin, veena, flute competitions wee also held. Each category had a first, second and third prize. Droves of children and youth would participate. And these competitions were open to the public, i.e., you and I could just walk in and listen. Most of the judges were unbiased even though their disciples might be participating. Once GNB excused himself from the judges panel since one of his disciples was participating. Kumbhakonam Rajamanikkam Pillai did not excuse himself but set the most rigorous standards for his disciple, the now well now Savitri Satyamurthy. When the other three judges who included Papa, adjudged Savitri as the best among the competitors, Pillai said, “She has intoned the G in Kalyani like how it sounds in Sankarabharanam. So, no first prize. Savitri was given the second prize. Such stringent standards and a totally unbiased panel.

From 1985, the competitions were held at the first floor auditorium of Kasturi Srinivasan Hall, where in the present day lecdems are held. It was a better atmosphere with more space and therefore a more relaxed atmosphere. If a lecdem in the main hall was boring, we would attend the competitions. There were a lot of things people like me learned from these competitions about ragas, talas etc. The judges would pointedly question the participants about the important mUrchanAs of the ragas they were singing or some judge would ask a participant, “Tell me how has Dikshitar used this raga? Is there any difference between Dikshitar and Thyagaraja as far as this raga is concerned? If so, where?” Such questions not only awakened the participant to the various possibilities of these ragas and made them study the various compositions but it also taught rasikas like us a lot about ragas. The spirit was one of healthy competition and mutual learning.

When once a student belonging to the Wallajapet school of Thyagaraja sang a song in a different manner, S.Ramanathan openly remarked that he had not heard this version and that he had just understood that ‘even a judge has occasion to learn from a student'. And SR would often excuse himself if he found in the list that one of his students was competing.

All the categories of competitions had their sponsors with endowments being created for each category. That is how the Academy conducted the competitions and paid for the prizes. The judges also had to be paid for their time and effort.

More to follow.
Last edited by RaviSri on 05 Mar 2013, 18:16, edited 1 time in total.

arasi
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#2 Re: Contributions of Music Academy

Post by arasi »

RaviSri,
Thanks for this new thread.
The Academy can take pride in all that you have mentioned so far (and on more to come). It also can provide inspiration for their future plans of operation.

Hope this thread continues without any interruptions--naysayers if any, calling you the mouth piece of the Academy, heaven forbid ;(

With all the marvel of the internet and its facility for instant communication and responses, we have to bear in mind that writers of history and biographies did not have to deal with intrusions and discouragement of such kind until their work was done!
More power to your writing ;)

cmlover
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#3 Re: Contributions of Music Academy

Post by cmlover »

Excellent and thanks RaviSri.
As arasi says there should not be any 'naysayers' for this discussion.
Pl tell us how MA promoted CM from early days on and all the positives you
know about the past veterans!
Interesting to learn about the competitions which shaped some of our present-days artistes.
If you know the winners,some names please....
I whole heaartedly support
"More power to your writings"

MKR
Pl do pitch in too!

thanjavooran
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#4 Re: Contributions of Music Academy

Post by thanjavooran »

Excellent topic selection. Subbudu mentioned once that more vehicles are seen for the competition than for a regular concert. Healthy competitions were conducted. Pallavi competitions were all superb. IMO Prof TRS earned his prefix by participating in the competition. Interested to know more about the Positive side of MA.
Thanjavooran
05 03 2013
Last edited by thanjavooran on 06 Mar 2013, 00:33, edited 1 time in total.

satyabalu
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#5 Re: Contributions of Music Academy

Post by satyabalu »

* Competition -Prof,TRS would explain what he/she has omitted. always encouraging.It used to be a teaching session for participants &audience alike.
* Lec dems esp on Raga lakshanas say by Sri S.Rajam.Lec-Dems conducted in the main hall sometimes.
* I miss the devotional during first half an hour of morning session.
*canteen was self service all rushing to the counter.You could pay the bill on self declaration basis.
*Programme book /list of songs before each concert.
* Interesting/heated Debates /controversies .
*

cmlover
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#6 Re: Contributions of Music Academy

Post by cmlover »

A good menu!
each interesting in its own right!

mohan
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#7 Re: Contributions of Music Academy

Post by mohan »

RaviSri wrote: And SR would often excuse himself if he found in the list that one of his students was competing.
This is a wonderful precedent and should become the norm in competitions!

RaviSri - thanks for this thread

RaviSri
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#8 Re: Contributions of Music Academy

Post by RaviSri »

cmlover, GNB was an early competitor and he won hands down. Then we had Kalpakam Swaminathan (then S.Kalpakam) in the veena category, Tulasi Bai (mother of Rama Ravi), TRS, T.V.Sankaranarayanan, Sudha Raghunath, Viji Siva, Sanjay, Sowmya and many other now famous names. I'll let you know the years later. In the 1980s, the three last mentioned would walk away with the prizes. MSG was a competitor and winner. Some of the Academy journals carry the names of the competition winners just after the report of the conference proceedings. I found the earliest in the journal of the year 1941.

Gold medals were awarded to the first prize winners and silver for the 2nd winner. The medals were made by jewellers Veecumsee Bapalal & Co.

cmlover
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#9 Re: Contributions of Music Academy

Post by cmlover »

Very interesting! Winning the competition is predictive of future excellence in CM and success.
Is the same quality of assessment maintained even now, since there are so many competitions today some of which only have a glamour value with TV time? It even appears winning the competition is somewhat predictive of a future SK!

The other intellectually exciting area is the Lecdems. When were they started and what is the protocol and how does one register to participate?. I believe one need not be a CM artiste to conduct a Lecdem. Is there an organized database of them with an index? Can it be compared to the presentation of scientic papers in Conferences. Are there any awards (gold medals?) for the best Lecdem during a season?

TheListener
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#10 Re: Contributions of Music Academy

Post by TheListener »

RaviSri/others, is there a way to listen to past lec-dems and concerts that happened at the Academy? I see in some other thread a mention about their library. Are the archives available for listening at their library? And is this open during non-season times?

RaviSri
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#11 Re: Contributions of Music Academy

Post by RaviSri »

The Listener, the Academy has a fully digitised modern archival centre in their premises and that air-conditioned too. Many of their recordings of concerts held during the season are available for listening throughout the year. Besides there are others' collections too, those of Tag Centre R.T.Chari's and the late G,Narasimhan's. I don't know whether you have to pay a fee or whether it is free. You can visit the Academy and ask for details. I don't think lecdems were ever recorded and if they were whether they are available for listening.

cmlover, the competitions are held nowadays, I hear, in November, away from public gaze. I don't know any details. Will try to find out.

You have to apply for presenting a lecdem well before July of a year with your background and a gist of the subject you wish to present. If the committee is impressed they will invite you. I think that i the procedure now.

RaviSri
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#12 Re: Contributions of Music Academy

Post by RaviSri »

Thanks arasi and cmlover.

It is a strange story, that of the Music Academy. The Congress party which was fighting for Independence decided to hold its session in Madras in December 1927. There were mini conferences which were planned one of which was a music conference. The Congress session was held at the Spur Tank grounds. The music conference was to be held from 26th Dec to 31st Dec. A committee was appointed which was to draw up the programmes. In the committee were veteran citizens of Madras like C.P.Ramaswamy Iyer, Congress strongman Satyamurty, U.Rama Rau A.Rangaswamy Iyerngar, C.R.Srinivasa Iyengar and many others.

There was so much enthusiasm for the conference that the date of inauguration was advanced to 24th December and the Museum Theatre, Egmore was rented by the organizers.

Musicians and scholars from all over the country were invited to participate. 40 papers were received to be presented. Hindustani musicians led by Pt.Vishnu Digamber Paluskar attended in large numbers. Chembai was already a star and he was invited to perform. He brought a certain 15 year old boy from Palakkad called Mani. Chembai had introduced the boy three years before at the Jagannatha Bhakta Sabha, Egmore. The organizers were apprehensive about the boy’s talents, but Mani, Palakkad, as he was noted in the programme sheet, played wonderfully, leading the organizers to give him two more opportunities, to play for Bidaram Krishnappa and Gottuvadyam Narayana Iyengar. Musiri also sang. There were two more debutantes, one a 19 year old lad from a place called Semmangudi. This was his second concert after his debut at Kumbhakonam earlier that year. The other was a 15 year old boy called Master Subramanian. Both went on to become very famous, the latter becoming Madurai Mani Iyer in the process.

Another highlight of the conference was the exhibition of various musical instruments.
----------------------
Going on an unexpected trip for a week. Will continue after return.

semmu86
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#13 Re: Contributions of Music Academy

Post by semmu86 »

One can also find a lot of information about the formative years of "The Music Academy", and also about the earlier competitions participated by Vidwans/ Vidushis, in Sriram.V's "Carnatic Summer" (That book is already quite popular, however for those who havent read that book, its a must read). Provides quite a comprehensive insight about the life & times of select 20 great musicians & also covers a majority of the topics discussed in this thread and the anectodes/ controversies in the other locked one about the SK.

cmlover
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#14 Re: Contributions of Music Academy

Post by cmlover »

Thanks Semmu for the reference; I hope the book is available at the carnatic Book store.

RaviSri
Thanks for the drama introducing the CM gems. Have a relaxing week and come back and
continue...

venkatakailasam
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#15 Re: Contributions of Music Academy

Post by venkatakailasam »

semmu86....you may like to see...


FOUR SCORE & MORE — The History of the Music Academy, Madras by Sriram V. and Malathi Rangaswamy,....

A review by Hindustaniclassical.com...

http://www.hindustaniclassical.com/arti ... l-174.html

"The history of the growth of Music Academy is in essence the history of the evolution and development of carnatic music over the last eight decades. The Academy has nurtured its growth with dedication and with a single minded devotion to improve its appeal and quality" -C Rangarajan in his his key note address while release of the book...
http://www.musicacademymadras.in/Book_R ... speech.php

cmlover
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#16 Re: Contributions of Music Academy

Post by cmlover »

Where is the book available?
It is not in the carnatic book store...

venkatakailasam
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#17 Re: Contributions of Music Academy

Post by venkatakailasam »


cmlover
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#18 Re: Contributions of Music Academy

Post by cmlover »

Thx

RaviSri
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#19 Re: Contributions of Music Academy

Post by RaviSri »

Senior vidwans like Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar, hurt by the perceived ill-treatment meted out to them, boycotted the function at which Jawaharlal Nehru laid the foundation for the Academy’s new building.
hindustaniclassical.com's review contains the above wrong information. This is perhaps because of the cursory reading of at least that section in that book. The book, 'Four Score and More' describes the incident, which was known to almost all Academy watchers earlier itself. That would be the one of the interesting topics discussed every year in the Academy premises itself. Here's the incident:

In 1956, the Academy finally found the funds, at least a part of it to plan the construction of an auditorium. They requested then PM Jawaharlal Nehru to lay the foundation stone for the auditorium. Nehru happily agreed for he was very much interested in the arts of India developing to keep pace with the economic development initiatives he had begun. The Academy asked MS to perform to augment funds for the construction. She was the greatest crowd puller and also she and her husband were friends of the powers that be at the Centre which the Academy felt would be useful in furthering its activities. A host of VIPs were invited and this included then Railway Minister and later Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Sastri, then Chief Minister of Madras State, K.Kamaraj, Rajaji and many others including all the musicians including Ariyakkudi. The Academy had MS at the forefront of the foundation laying ceremony and all the other vidvans were kept behind. Nehru laid the stone and gave a speech, and for the second time (and the first time in Madras), he said, "I had said a few years earlier, when the lady who is singing here now, sang in Delhi, and say it now also, "Who am I, a mere Prime Minster before a Queen of songs".

Ariyakkudi felt slighted that he was not introduced to the PM and indicated to Palghat Mani Iyer that he would be boycotting the Academy from that year. Mani Iyer also followed suit. In 1959, when Madurai Mani Iyer was elected to preside over the conference, he made it clear that he could not preside without his hero Ariyakkudi participating. He himself led a delegation of Academy officials to Ariyakkudi's house and Ariyakkudi decided to end his boycott. He gave a concert that year. And then.........
There was also the tiff over Ariyakudi’s insistence on the Academy providing a concert slot for Dhanammal. Time always heals wounds.
This Dhanammal is not to be confused with Veena Dhanammal. This Dhanammal was a disciple and protege of Ariyakkudi who, according to common consensus, was a very mediocre singer. But Ariyakkudi used to insist to all sabhas that Dhanammal should be given concert opportunities if they wanted him to sing. Some complied, others ignored his appeal. In 1960, Ariyakkudi stipulated this condition but the Academy did not agree. Ariyakkudi began his boycott again and he never was to sing at the Academy again till his death.
Last edited by RaviSri on 20 Mar 2013, 10:28, edited 3 times in total.

RaviSri
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#20 Re: Contributions of Music Academy

Post by RaviSri »

After the foundation stone of the Academy auditorium was laid, Nehru had occasion to visit Bombay. He blasted the bigwigs of the city saying, "What a shame that the financial capital of India and a great city like Bombay does not have a decent auditorium! Look at Madras. That city's Music Academy is constructing a beautiful auditorium."

Cut to the quick, the citizens of Bombay rallied round, planned an auditorium, raised funds with the help of Maharashtra Congressman S.K.Patil and the result was the Shanmukananda Hall.

Whichever VIP or foreign vistor visited Madras, Nehru would urge him/her to visit the premises of the Academy and see for himself/herself the remarkable progress modern India was making and how it was exemplified by the construction of 'a beautiful auditorium'. Such pride did the late PM take in the activities of the Music Academy.

cmlover
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#21 Re: Contributions of Music Academy

Post by cmlover »

Welcome back!

cmlover
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#22 Re: Contributions of Music Academy

Post by cmlover »

Nice to hear the History of the MA auditorium and Nehru's association. It would not have been possible without MS/TS's magnanimity. That I believe was mediated by SSI. Previously MS was shunned by MA for singing in Tamil and other exotic languages :D

Our MKR can complete the story of the founding of Shanmukananda Hall. Is there also a contribution from MS?

Nehru, the connoiseur he was boasting to be, could have arranged a federal Grant for the propagation of CM. Did he?

arasi
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#23 Re: Contributions of Music Academy

Post by arasi »

Thanks RaviSri for continuing.
In any story, MMI's magnanimity shines through :)
If only all musicians were also inspired by their music in their every day life somewhat, instead of being so absorbed in the material world!

Have heard the other Dhanammal sing and have seen and heard the expressions from listeners older than me (adults!).

CML,
Nehru, by his mere presence could change the dynamics of a scene, as you well know. Such was his charisma. Add to it the magic of MS--in her music and generosity. Countless institutions came to life (hospitals and schools besides), because of such of her qualities.

Now, waiting for MKR to chime in on Shanmukananda...

cmlover
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#24 Re: Contributions of Music Academy

Post by cmlover »

Nehru was aristocratic and selfish! There was very little progress in India during his regime!
Unfortunately the Nehru Dynasty continues :(

thanjavooran
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#25 Re: Contributions of Music Academy

Post by thanjavooran »

I have heard her music. The reason behind ARI will give his performance following this.
Thanjavooran
17 03 2013

arasi
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#26 Re: Contributions of Music Academy

Post by arasi »

CML,
Yes, what came later is something else. The family, like the Kennedys also had patriotism flowing in its veins. We cannot forget the good things that happened because of what came later.

Well, staying with the subject, Nehru was a catalyst when it came to Music Academy, Shanmukananda and other art centers, I would think.

Cienu,
Perhaps there is a picture in your mother's precious photo collection of that event
which can be shared with us. Thanks!

RaviSri
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#27 Re: Contributions of Music Academy

Post by RaviSri »

MS sang benefit concerts all over the country to collect funds for Shanmukananda Hall.

Of course, India progressed very little during Nehru's time. That was because of his wrong economic policies modelled on the Soviet model. But at least he was a democrat unlike his daughter.

cmlover
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#28 Re: Contributions of Music Academy

Post by cmlover »

I thought he was a Republican :D

RaviSri
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#29 Re: Contributions of Music Academy

Post by RaviSri »

At the end of the 1927 conference which was conducted as a part of the Congress Session, a resolution was passed stressing the need for establishing a permanent Academy of music. 'The Music Academy' was registered and Dr.U.Rama Rao became president of the Academy. This was because he was a congressman and had also contributed funds to the establishment of the Academy.

1928 saw the conduct of a conference in which the main topic of discussion was the number of srutis (whether 12 or 22 or even more). T.V.Subba Rao presided over the conference, and he, at age 38 then, remains the youngest person to preside over a conference of the Academy. (Semmangudi was 39 when he presided over the 1947 conference). There were also concerts by Bidaram Krishnappa, Ariyakkudi, Musiri etc. The public, though not in large numbers, supported the conference. The next year, 1929, saw a rather strange thing. The conference was for only three days and there were no concerts. Public support was not available and the Academy realised that they had to conduct concerts in order to attract the public.

From 1928, the conference was conducted at the first floor of Dr.U.Rama Rao's dispensary. Concerts were held at his house on Thambu Chetty street.

RaviSri
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#30 Re: Contributions of Music Academy

Post by RaviSri »

1929 also saw the inauguration of the Academy journal which is now a regular feature and which has contributed a lot to the dissemination of knowledge. The journal had its initial hiccups what with subscription not being adequate. Nevertheless with T.V.Subba Rao as its editor and Dr.V.Raghavan joining the ranks, the journal later turned out to be one of the most respected in art circles. All the journals are now uploaded on the Academy's website and it will be unnecessary to dwell on the journal's articles, except where one may make some observations on the raga lakshana discussions.

1930 saw the Academy renting the People's Park behind the Ripon Buildings near the Central Station for its conference. More than 100 acres, this park afforded the Academy a larger area for its deliberations. With the revival of concerts, public participation was also in large numbers.

In 1931 E.Krishna Iyer who was joint secretary of the Academy mooted the idea of dance recitals. He insisted that the Academy should encourage dance in view of the adverse publicity the art form was getting and the hardships it faced in the form of the 'abolish Devadasi Act' spearheaded by Dr.Muthulakshmi Reddy, herself of Devadasi stock. Throwing the baby out along with the bath tub was not right according to EK and others like Satyamurty. It was decided to organise a dance recital and this was done during the course of the year 1932. On the inaugural day of the 1932 festival the Kalyani sisters danced for the Academy and this was followed by the performance of Mylapore Gowri Ammal, the hereditary dancer of the Kapaleeswara temple, Mylapore. Muthulakshmi Reddy's blood boiled, but with society gentlemen and ladies not to speak of Satyamurty, the year's conference president Tiger and many others supporting the revival of the art, Bharatanatyam as it was named in the 1931 Academy's journal got off to a great revival.

Many are of the wrong opinion that it was Rukmini Devi Arundale who renamed the art as 'Bharatanatyam'. But there is a Purandaradasa song in which he mentions this name and before Rukmini Devi, the Academy had named the art as 'Bharatanatyam'. There is no doubt that Rukmini Devi brought grace, polish and refinement to Bharatanatyam and she, along with the Academy, Kamala and Bala should be credited with reviving this great art form.

The revival of Bharatanatyam, is in my view, one of the very great contributions of the Music Academy. And it has been supporting the art throughout. There were many, who were ignorant of the Academy's history, who felt, in later years, that the Music Academy was only for music and there should be no place for dance or any other art form. But, considering the seminal contribution of the Academy to dance, I feel there is nothing wrong in clubbing dance together with CM as the Academy has been doing over the years. Many felt that the 1932 conference was dedicated to dance.

And fittingly, the president for the 1933 conference was Ponniah Pillai, a descendant of the Tanjore Quartette. The Academy had with this masterstroke made it known to all that its sympathy lay with the revival of the beautiful art form of Bharatanatyam.

arasi
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#31 Re: Contributions of Music Academy

Post by arasi »

Revealing write ups as usual, RaviSri. Thanks!

rshankar
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#32 Re: Contributions of Music Academy

Post by rshankar »

RaviSri wrote: Many are of the wrong opinion that it was Rukmini Devi Arundale who renamed the art as 'Bharatanatyam'. But there is a Purandaradasa song in which he mentions this name and before Rukmini Devi, the Academy had named the art as 'Bharatanatyam'. There is no doubt that Rukmini Devi brought grace, polish and refinement to Bharatanatyam and she, along with the Academy, Kamala and Bala should be credited with reviving this great art form.
IIRC, the word in the kRti of Sri dAsaru is 'bharatanATyagaLa' - and refers to dance forms in plural, and so, it is thought not to refer specifically to the form that is now called bharatanATyam. I think that people believe that it was specifically Sri Kishna Iyer from the MMA and Smt. RDA who came up with the name either together, or independently, and then pushed to make the name stick in unison.

cmlover
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#33 Re: Contributions of Music Academy

Post by cmlover »

During my grand mother's time Bharatanatyam was called "sathir".
I don't know what is the origin of that term.
It was exclusively the territory of 'dAsis'...
Rukmini Arundel of course gets the credit for bowdlerization of the art form.
Was she ever being considered for the award of SK?

Ranganayaki
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#34 Re: Contributions of Music Academy

Post by Ranganayaki »

RaviSri wrote: spearheaded by Dr.Muthulakshmi Reddy, herself of Devadasi stock.
These words seem to place some blame on Dr. Muthulakshmi Reddy and seem to paint her in a slightly negative light.

Ravi Sri, it gives what you write about her the same gossipy tone that seems to pervade your writing in this topic, a tone that surprised me in the other thread, coming from you. It makes me uncomfortable and takes away from the enjoyment in reading some of the juicy bits of gossip because it is presented as fact, and because you have the status of a knowledgeable historian of sorts in this forum. It puts me off.

Though everything you say may be factually correct you seem to subtly put Dr. MR on the wrong side of Bharatanatyam history, without acknowledging her social activism and her other forward-thinking reasons for supporting "Abolish Devadasi". "..herself of Devadasi stock" portrays her as an ignorant boor whose stance had no merit. It presents Dr. MR as someone who didn't care for the arts. If it is actually known fact that she did not support Bharatanatyam as an art, please substantiate it with some quote (may be you can), or just leave it alone.
RaviSri wrote: Muthulakshmi Reddy's blood boiled
How do you know that? If she made a speech against the revival, or if she wrote againt it, then please quote that, but saying her "blood boiled" just makes me lower the esteem in which I place you - unless she wrote or actually said somewhere that her blood boiled.

I am writing this because like Mahavishnu, the other thread made me very uncomfortable - not because of any particular respect for individuals or the Academy but just from a "sharing historical information" point of view and from the point of view of non-fiction writing in general (I am not a writer). Your slant on Dr. MR seemed to disregard her large-hearted commitment to social and medical causes and her efforts to alleviate the suffering of rich and poor people alike. "Blood boiled" just seems to take away from the dignity with which she always acted and from the compassion that motivated her to dedicate her entire life to her cause.

Your words unexpectedly touched a chord in me and I want to give you my comments, so you understand.

How would you know that the "other" Dhanammal was a mediocre musician? What experience or document gives you that information? The fact that many sabhas did not comply is no proof. The way the Academy (consisting of musicans and patrons) treated Subbudu like a dog (documented) and abandoned Papanasam Sivan (an incident which seems to be corroborated) discredits sabhas and musicians as well as the opinion that she was a mediocre musician. Even if you could point to a recording, it would be just one recording and the statement does not amount to much more than Ravi Sri taking sides. If you tell me that she was mediocre, you have to give me a good reason to believe your word over Ariyakudi's judgement, or just not bring it up. Bringing it up is a temptation to be resisted if it cannot be substantiated and even if Dhanammal is a nobody whom nobody knows or will get offended over.

This thread is ostensibly the opposite of the other thread which came to be known as the MA-bashing thread. But the issue is not whether you bash the MA or praise it. It is how you slant your writing, how you support what you say. It is not about whether anyone is offended, anyone at all, but about whether your approach is fair and equitable. There is a method to fairness and you must adopt it.

rshankar
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#35 Re: Contributions of Music Academy

Post by rshankar »

cmlover wrote:During my grand mother's time Bharatanatyam was called "sathir".
Not just in your grandmother's time...it was so in ANDAL's times too -
"sadir iLa mangayar tAm vandu edir koLLa
madurai AL mannan aDinilai vaittu adira
pugudal kanA kaNDEn tOzhi nAn"

It was also called kUttu - and hence the tamizh name for the sanskRtized naTarAjA was kUtta(r)piran, although I do wonder if kUttu was not just dance in particular, but dramaturgy in general....
Ranganayaki wrote:These words seem to place some blame on Dr. Muthulakshmi Reddy and seem to paint her in a slightly negative light.
Ranganayaki - I use words to the same effect to convey the idea that the impetus to abolish the devadasi system came from within, and not just without (i.e., the prudish Victorian Babus) - and not as a value judgement on the good doctor.
RaviSri may have more details, but I have heard that Dr. MR was very afraid that a revival of the dance form would also result in a revival of the devadasi system, probably because she saw that community as the sole 'owners' of the artform. Remember that this was before the Krishna Iyers, the RDAs and the Lakshmi Ganesans (later Lakshmi Shankar) taking it up. In what some would call a masterstrke of irony, present day kalAkshEtra is located on Dr. Mutthulakshmi Reddy Salai.
Ranganayaki wrote:How would you know that the "other" Dhanammal was a mediocre musician? What experience or document gives you that information?
You may want to read a biography of Sri ARI (written by Sriram V, perhaps) for more details. I think RaviSri has been remarkably restarined in his descriptions here.

kunthalavarali
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#36 Re: Contributions of Music Academy

Post by kunthalavarali »

CML "Nehru was aristocratic and selfish! There was very little progress in India during his regime!
Unfortunately the Nehru Dynasty continues"

I don't know what you will say about Mrs Indira Gandhi; Her first act on becoming a cabinet minister (LBS was the PM), was to cancel Radio Sangeetha Sammelanam for reasons of economy!!

Ramasubramanian M.K
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#37 Re: Contributions of Music Academy

Post by Ramasubramanian M.K »

Apropo Ravi Sri's post #17 on the "other" Dhanammal and one of the forumites objections to Ravi Sri's labelling her music as mediocre I am afraid I am 100% behind Ravi Sri. An anecdote that I was fully witness to:
When my father was Secretary of the Shanmukhananda Sabha in Bombay in the fifties, ARI was the principal musician in their festivals. Every year ARI at Dhanammal's insistence will press my father to give her a chance whenever ARI is due to perform in Bombay. My father had enormous respect for ARI but he could not in all conscience give her a concert in Bombay based on not-too-flattering accounts from several people in Chennai and elsewhere. Finally he had to relent and persuaded his Committee members to give Dhanammal a chance out of sheer respect to ARI--ARI in fairness it should be mentioned never threatened that he would not perform if Dhanammal was not given a chance although Dhanammal "egged" him on to do so. when it came to scheduling he question came up as to whether Dhanammal should follow ARI or precede him. I do not recall the exact sequence of the discussions --all I remember is that Dhanammal was to sing the previous day to be followed by ARI the next day--I think it was a weekend. Dhanammal's revenge for having stalled her performance all these days.-- was to virtually preempt ARI"s standard fare--starting with neranamithi(Kanada varnam) followed by Poorvikalyani(paramapavana),Panthuvarali(Appa Rama Bhakthi). As if to add insult to injury she sang Sri Subramanyaya namasthe(Kambodhi) and Hariharaputram(vasantha) all favoprites which Bombayites loved to hear from ARI right down to the thiruppavai,. The concert was bad to be most charitable!! I remember the Thodi piece Emi jesithe--the neraval in Kama moha dasulai was one of the worst I have heard. Her problem was she had a high pitched voice with a good range but totally lacked the modulation and restraint that was ARI's trademark . The next day poor ARI had to completely revise his program--although the Rasikas would not have minded a repetition, I understand from one of my friends(whose father had hosted the couple) that after the concert when they had retired there was a severe admonition from Dhanammal to ARI that he shall not sing the favorite songs. He dutifully obeyed and managed, Given his wide repertoire of songs the concert was good with PMI and TNK accompanying him superbly. Dhanammal wished PMI had played for her but PMI drew the line and instead her own son thro her former husband( I forget his real name they used to call him Dorai -who learnt under PMI(not of his won volition I might add but out of resoect for ARI!!)played not too badly as I recall. I forgot who was the vilolinist--one local artiste I think.
After the weekend they were due to leave for Chennai by the Madras Express as it was called in those days. It leaves around 1;30 P.M. from V>T(Chatrapati terminal)--they came to our house in the morning for Breakfast--Dhanammal was a nice personable lady--I recall she was bedecked with jewellery--all kinds of stone necklaces(I thought they were real diamonds till my mother corrected me). My sister who had started learning from KVN the previous year sang hariharaputram--ARI did not know that she was learning from KVN although he himself had suggested years earlier that she should learn from KVN he had forgotten. ARI commented about the patantharam being similar to his when my father gently reminded him that he had recommended KVN previously. ARI then added a comment/advice to my sister to follow DKP's style in singing --ARI fully well knew how close we were to the MSS family --I wonder to this day whether that was a pointer or a harmless comment! Then Dhanammal launched into a tirade against the Thiruvayar Aradhana controversies with the Bangalore Nagarathnam Ammal faction and the other faction--she was solidly supporting Nagarathnam Ammal and chided-- ARI for being too cowardly not to support Nagarathnam ammal. As an youngster I was simply awed by how she lambasted ARI considered the Doyen of CM music in his times.The tirade was punctuated with the words Inda Brahmanan Irukkare(using the Tamil word Kozhai--coward) were repeated with such derision and contempt, When it came to express an opinion she was no shrinking violet!!!

Many more stories on how accompanying musicians "exploited" ARI's relationship with Dhanammal when it came to extract their share of remuneration from ARI for concerts that ARI had previously negotiated remuneration for the whole "set"(he would disclose a lower amount to Dhanammal but some of the opportunistic accompaniments(not PMI) would "blackmail" him threatening to mention an amount to Dhanamal much higher than the actual in order to extract for themselves a higher remuneration than originally promised by ARI!! Ofcourse this was harmless chicanery--the sums involved being pitttances when compared to the rates today(even after providing for inflation!!). It was fun listening to the raconteurs!!

Sorry this has nothing to do with the MA discussions--to MA's credit they did not "bow" to ARI's requests to give her a concert-certainly not the 5>30 P.M. slot--Ravi Sri may clarify whether she got any chance at all in MA!!

Ranganayaki
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#38 Re: Contributions of Music Academy

Post by Ranganayaki »

Ravi, I'm still not comfortable with the tone of that sentence about Dr. Muthulakshmi Reddy. It doesn't feel right to me. I wanted to say so and I did and others may disagree with me.

If there have been other reliable accounts of this other Dhanammal (I had not even heard of her before this) and her musical competence, I feel a little better, but I still feel that Ravi Sri should support what he writes with some citations or say that his opinions come from personal experience.

MKR, everything you write is interesting and I enjoy reading you, but most of what you wrote did not really throw light on Dhanammal's music. If your mother was informing you about the quality of her jewellery, I imagine you to have been a very young boy, not yet an adult and easily influenced by the strong opinions and negative undercurrents swirling around her. If she was a woman with a big, abrasive personality she was probably widely disliked and her music could have been part of the heap too. I do not know the facts, but I am just saying that the opinion of many does not count as fact. There has to be a caveat there.. if there is no record of her music, there has to be an "I don't know" and then you can say whatever is known about how other people reacted to her. Something like: "We don't know how well she sang, but both she and her music were very poorly received and most sabhas did not want to oblige Ariyakudi "

Ravi, thanks for the pointer to the biography. If Ravi Sri's info came from there, I think he should mention it as a source. I am just not comfortable with the gossipy tone. My point was just that and little else.

kvchellappa
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#39 Re: Contributions of Music Academy

Post by kvchellappa »

Mr. MKR's account is based on his own experience as I read it and Mrs. Ranganayaki seems to lack any point for her insistence.

arasi
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#40 Re: Contributions of Music Academy

Post by arasi »

Ranganayaki,
I can see what's bothering you when folks do not say such good things about this Dhanamma or any other person for that matter--knowing you from the forum, I mean. You are fair-minded and want to be decent to others, especially those who are not around us anymore. Fair enough.

Having seen her several times, having heard her sing too--I think what is said about her is also fair. She did make it difficult for Ari (someone who was ready to serve her all her whims). She might have had a high opinion about herself and of her singing, perhaps. Grown ups around me gave the same impression about her. I've heard "dhanathukku madyAna kachEri koduthAl thAn avar pADuvArAm!" (He won't sing unless Dhanam can sing the afternoon).

Ari, tough as he was, when it came to Dhanam was weak-kneed, by all accounts.

During school holidays, I was at an uncle's place and they happened to be house-guests there at that time. I remember her as an imposing figure--tall, fair-skinned (slightly pock marked face). Ari's disciples were scared of her, I remember.

Oh, no. I don't mean to belittle her, Ranganayaki. All I'm saying is that from a child's point of view, that's how she came across to me.

I would say that this was the general impression about her among those who knew her. I was not surprised when RaviSri and Ramesh (MKR) dscribed her the way they did...

Good to see posts from you, by the way ;)

vasanthakokilam
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#41 Re: Contributions of Music Academy

Post by vasanthakokilam »

Ranganayaki, You felt uncomfortable with RaviSri's tone and style of writing and you expressed that quite eloquently. Very much understood. We will leave it to RaviSri if he sees any value in your feedback and incorporate that in his writings.

That said, on this issue of Dhanammal, I have a feeling I know what rshankar meant by "I think RaviSri has been remarkably restrained in his descriptions here." It seems to be public knowledge given what KVN said in a matter of fact manner in an interview in a totally different context. I thought twice or thrice if I should include this link given the possible risk of prolonging the gossipy tone ( definitely not my intention ) but given all the above description, the context provided by KVN would help in filling in the blanks. We are grown ups here and can deal with such background info. http://www.narada.org/kvn/intview1.html
(I sure hope Sruthi did not embellish anything and it is a true portrayal of KVN's words.)

RaviSri
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#42 Re: Contributions of Music Academy

Post by RaviSri »

'Of Devadasi stock' is certainly not a bad or a vulgar phrase. Nor is the phrase 'blood boils'. In fact my blood boils even now when I think of how close Dr Reddy came to destroying the great and sacred art of Bharatanatyam through her virulent attacks on it in the Legislative Council and outside. Her contributions to the medical field or her services to the poor are not relevant here. That she imagined that Bharatanatyam was a debased art and that the art and its practitioners had to be thrown out is a fact. She was incensed that the Academy was arranging dance programmes and that dance was continuing to be patronised in rich peoples' houses. Her campaign through the 1920s and 30s gave such a bad name to the art that some so called respectable people also joined her bandwagon. The Dhanammal family, Bangalore Nagaratnamma and other devadasis formed an association to oppose her campaign for banning dancing in temples and dedication of girls to temples.

In reply to her campaign, here are the responses by two very great men:
Congressman S.Satyamurthy in a letter to the Academy from prison which was read out at the inaugural day of the 1932 conference:
"There is no necessary or any inherent connection between dancing and immorality, any more than in the case of any other profession. The Music Academy cannot allow dance to die. Those who deprive any girl of an honourable means of livelihood through dancing or music on fancied grounds are no friends of art or morality."

Tiger Varadachariar in his acceptance speech at the inaugural of the 1932 conference (he was the president of that year's conference) said:
"I wonder why dancing gets no encouragement in the present days. A few timid spirits may fancy that there is something in it vulgar and debasing due to certain associations. But dancing should be seen only from an aesthetic point of view. There is nothing immoral in dancing as such."

Due to circumstances, the Devadasi Act was passed only in 1948. Ranganayaki, do you know how many devadasi families were driven to penury and to subsequent ruin because of Muthulakshmi Reddy? Do you know how many promising careers were snuffed out due to the ill informed campaign of a lady who fancied herself to be a saviour of women and an upholder of morality? All this after she utilised the wealth of her mother, herself a dancer, for her medical education! She was quite comfortably placed. What about the families that were destroyed? There is enough information about devadasis in that wonderful book by Ms.Saskia Kersenbohm, aptly titled Nityasumangali. Read that and other literature available. Dr.Reddy's speeches will be available at he Madras Archives. Access them. You can't expect me to footnote or mention references to each and everyone of my sentences. If you are uncomfortable with some of my words how can I help it? There are many others who feel quite comfortable. And let me say, there is no gossipy tone in my writings. People like you attribute it to me. You say that you didn't expect 'this' from me. I have not placed myself on a high pedestal, that's all. I am not going to reply to criticisms that tear a word or phrase out of context and harp on it saying that it is gossipy. I wanted to place Dr.Reddy's 'contributions' in perspective, hence this reply. I am not going to respond to criticisms thus giving another excuse for the moderators to lock this thread also.

Suffice it to say that the Music Academy helped in a very big way in restoring Bharatanatyam to its rightful place.

Pratyaksham Bala
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#43 Re: Contributions of Music Academy

Post by Pratyaksham Bala »

.
Searched for the text of the "Bill to prevent the dedication of women to Hindu temples in the Presidency of Madras" introduced by Mrs. S. Muthulakshmi Reddi in the Madras Legislative Council in 1930, and got it in Pages 16-18 of :-
http://books.google.co.in/books?id=nEUe ... es&f=false

Biography of Muthulakshmi, daughter of Chandrammal and S. Narayanasami Iyer :- http://www.winentrance.com/general_know ... reddy.html
.

arasi
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#44 Re: Contributions of Music Academy

Post by arasi »

Thanks, PB. As always, you bring plenty of material.

VK,
Thanks for the reference. KVN, B.Rajam Iyer and the rest--that they feared her is true.

Old timers and the younger ones who have heard about Dr.M. Reddy know what a key figure she was in heralding and bringing about a better life for women. Her achievements in the medical field and social reforms are awesome.

I remember her as the white-haired woman in white who presided over meetings and had a commanding presence. It was the first time I had seen anyone hard of hearing using an ear horn (?? what's the name for it?!!).
She was an inspiration to so many women including my aunt, who went on to do an immense amount of dedicated work for the betterment of women.

It's obvious though, that she ignored (to put it mildly) the value of the arts. Her zeal for women's education made it a blind spot, perhaps. She was a woman of action. Nothing else mattered to her but the freedom of women in the sense they should take care of themselves--empower themselves with the gift of education.
Though she was part devadasi--or because of that--seeing women (Many that she knew were not well-known but came from poor families--with neither gifts for music nor dance. Her determination to improve their lot (she was partly from their own heritage) overtook her artistic nature (how much of it she possessed, I don't know), is my guess. Reformists sometimes are that way. They have no time or patience to deviate from their goal!

I do know how she went out of the way to place young women of struggling families of the guardians of the arts but who were for years (generations?) had struggled with poverty, doing nothing, gaining nothing from the gifts of their ancestors.

Yes, the outstanding women artistes of the time suffered, no doubt. It seemed as an injustice to them, and rightfully so. One could say, she bulldozed the arts in her fervor for women's emancipation--this, specially from the fine arts lover's point of view.

It's interesting though, to imagine two free-spirited women (kindred spirits), dueling for their own noble causes--Dr. MR and Nagaratnamma ;)

Ranganayaki
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#45 Re: Contributions of Music Academy

Post by Ranganayaki »

Nothing of what you wrote was obscene and I wasn't complaining about vulgarity at all. Ravi Sri, it's not personal at all. I understand the points you make, thank you for writing back. I am not trying to shut this thread down either. It's not a pedestal that I have for you, let's just say that I didn't feel sympathetic - it was just the tone. But I see the passion for the art which drives you. I had not given much of a thought to the Devadasi question: I had just assumed it was another form of exploitation and that the poor ladies became better off when they became stage dancers.

If anything this discussion has been an eye-opener of sorts for me, and thanks to PB for the link on the bill. I will soon inform myself better on Dr. MR's stance and her words. Thank you for not yelling at me and saying I was ignorant of the history. So many discussions have taken that personal, qurrelsome turn.

Ravi Sri, you haven't addressed my misgivings about the Dhanammal story. Thank you, VK, for that link.

Ranganayaki
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#46 Re: Contributions of Music Academy

Post by Ranganayaki »

To me, an informative post (#44), Arasi, and a kind response in 40, and 41(VK).

VijayR
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#47 Re: Contributions of Music Academy

Post by VijayR »

"enta nērcina enta jūcina
enta vāralaina kānta dāsulē"

Ranganayaki
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#48 Re: Contributions of Music Academy

Post by Ranganayaki »

First of all an apology to Ravi Sri - after seeing the DR. MR reference, I sort of remembered my feeling at the word mediocre and added those questions about the Dhanammal reference earlier. I just now happened to go back to the post containing this reference to Dhanammal and noticed the words "by common consensus" which makes what he wrote perfectly fair. I had not noticed those words before and it was my mistake. Sorry.

I think the discussion has suddenly become unclear because everyone else seems to be aware of something I was not aware of. It looks as though I am referring to some other kind of "gossip". When I spoke of the gossipy tone, I was only speaking of gossipy tone arising from unsubstantiated remarks. VK, the gossipy tone you were afraid to prolong was not what i thought of at all. I was just bugged that Ravi Sri would write that Dhanammal was a mediocre singer without telling us how he knew it. Again I'm sorry, he did say "by common consensus". After reading MKR's longer posting, I was intrigued as to what this relationship of influence was where she could supposedly dictate to Ariyakudi what he should sing. It was because of the the word "weak-kneed" in Arasi's post that it dawned on me that we were talking about a romantic relationship here. I thought she was some powerful mother-figure or Auntie or something :). I thought she was a stronger, older lady and he was respectfully obedient!

Reading KVN's interview, I felt rather surprised. I thought his words would settle the matter of her singing. But it only settled the matter of what their relationship was and I thought Ravi STILL had to tell me how he knew she was mediocre. But now I'm so embarrassed not to have earlier noticed his words "by common consensus". That completely resolves it for me. My apologies to Ravi Sri, and it was much ado about nothing.

Just want to reiterate that "gossipy tone" did not refer either to vulgarity, or to the reference to Dr. MR's origins or to the Dhanammal-Ari relationship. There was no vulgarity in what Ravi Sri wrote, the devadasi connection of Dr. MR is well-known, and I had NO idea about the nature of the Dhanammal relationship. I was only miffed at the notion of saying something about someone (like " mediocre singer") that you cannot substantiate. It is still not substantiated, but Ravi Sri is only saying that it was the general opinion. That seems to be true.

Dhanammal's undue influence over Ari and perceived lack of moral compass may have led to her musical talent being generally undervalued or Ari's romantic relationship with her may have led him to over-value her abilities. So the question of her talent cannot be resolved. Dr. KVN does seem to speak diplomatically and respectfully of her. Her slow learning may have been the same ploy he was advised to adopt, and he doesn't seem to judge her quickness. Without some sample it is hard to know for sure.

So anyway, I hope the confusion I caused is cleared..

Ranganayaki
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#49 Re: Contributions of Music Academy

Post by Ranganayaki »

Hold on, i take some of it back.
RaviSri wrote:protege of Ariyakkudi who, unfortunately and according to common consensus, a very mediocre singer.

Actually I realize that I HAD read it carefully, I did interpret it correctly, Ravi Sri was presenting it as his own opinion in addition to common consensus. So my question to him remains valid, how does he KNOW she was a mediocre singer? On what basis does he validate the common consensus? But I want to let it go.

I think I've expressed my discomfort and reasoning fully, don't mean to bother Ravi Sri and I don't think it is possible for him to substantiate it, but all he would need to do is remove the "and" in the quote above, and my problem would be resolved. This is by way of explanation for those who are interested in my meaning. I don't mean to nitpick. It feels like a huge difference to me.

cmlover
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#50 Re: Contributions of Music Academy

Post by cmlover »

AFAIK RaviSri is using only a gentleman's language.
Speculations about 'romantic relations' are off topic here.
MKR
Thanks for chiming in. You always add legitimacy to discussions from your personal experiences!
Tell us more about the founding of Shanmukananda (another great CM institution) and MS/TS contributions as you know through
your father...
PB
Thanks. Always handy with the rights references!
Arasi
Thanks for the personal childhood recollections! Of course you are referring to Soundaram, a Great Modal Woman !

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