Madurai Mani Iyer - a tribute from the heart and mind

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Suryaprakash
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#1 Madurai Mani Iyer - a tribute from the heart and mind

Post by Suryaprakash »

Part - I

This is Ganakaladhara Madurai Mani Iyer’s Centenary year and we are all extremely fortunate and blessed to celebrate the doyen, the phenomenon which has strode the Carnatic Music world like a colossus and almost singularly contributed to the spread of Carnatic music to every nook and corner.

Now what was the quality that made his music the staple food of every household, that earned him the largest number of fans? Often we come across terms such as “sukham”, “sowkhyam”, “sarvalaghu”, “sruti-suddham” etc. being attributed to his music, quite rightly so. Some old-timers who are die-hard fans even describe his swara singing as akin to a train journey! I, for example, was drawn into his divine music at an early age when my uncle and first Guru played a tape of his “Orajoopu”, “Dunmarga chara”, and “Parimalarangapathe”. The voice sounded as though it came from the heavens. The music had an irrepressible flow of a gushing stream. The akaarams were so resonant and the swarams were full of refreshing patterns that it haunted one young mind for days together, giving him no room to listen to any other music.

It was an extremely fortunate turn of events that brought me to study advanced music for a decade, from Sangeetha Kalanidhi T V Sankaranarayanan, the great Maestro and custodian of the immortal baani of Madurai Mani Iyer.

As I sit down to write this tribute for the Great legend in absolute reverie, I fondly and gratefully recall the valuable inputs on his style and baani impressed upon me directly and indirectly by my Guru, TVS, (who has given a widely celebrated original dimension to the MMI baani) his father and Mahavidwan T.S.Vembu Iyerwal, (an authority- nonpareil on the theory and practical aspects of music), my uncle and first Guru V Rajamani (a disciple of the Pitamaha Semmangudi mama), Violin Vidwan Tirukkodikaval Krishnamurthy Iyer (who was a regular visitor to my uncle’s house and accompanied my concert at my uncle’s 60th birthday when I was hardly 14), Sangeetha Kalanidhi Dr.T K Murthy who used to thrillingly demonstrate MMI and MVI styles of singing, Violin Vidwan Thirupparkadal Veeraraghavan (both have accompanied my concerts and I consider myself blessed to have travelled with them), Sangeetha Kalanidhi Umayalpuram K.Sivaraman, (the living God of mridangam, also a walking encyclopedia for true perspectives on the style of any Past Master for the matter, who has blessed my concert with his accompaniment on numerous occasions), Sangeetha Kalanidhi Vellore Ramabhadran (the ultimate Master of Sarvalaghu in mridangam), Mahavidwan Sethalapathi "Balu Mama", also my uncle (who used to simply recreate MMI with his singing) Mahavidwan Tiruvengadu Jayaraman, Dr.S A K Durga (with both of whom I have had conversations, albeit rarely), Dr.V K Viswanathan, (a great scientist and the most prominent among the old-timers who have had the liberty of discussing anything under the sun with the doyen during his prime), Vishnu Ramprasad (who is young but comes from a family that was close-knit with MMI) and many die-hard fans of MMI….
Last edited by Suryaprakash on 12 Sep 2011, 22:13, edited 1 time in total.

thanjavooran
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#2 Re: Madurai Mani Iyer - a tribute from the heart and mind

Post by thanjavooran »

Excellent Suryaprakash Avl,
Being a disciple's disciple expect more interesting anecdotes. Expecting the rest of the parts too.
with wishes,
Thanjavooran 11 09 2011

cacm
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#3 Re: Madurai Mani Iyer - a tribute from the heart and mind

Post by cacm »

GREAT OBSERVATIONS! Looking forward to PART 2. VKV

Suryaprakash
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#4 Re: Madurai Mani Iyer - a tribute from the heart and mind

Post by Suryaprakash »

Part II - Voice

MMI was gifted with a voice that had the right mix of power and melody. His earliest style of raga alapana was totally akara oriented. Even his later style of raga alapana using short phrases had the full quality of vocal resonance. He was completely aware and conscious of the tenet “Suvar irundaal than chitthiram ezhudha mudiyum” and so did not compromise on the quality of voice maintenance and production. He neither indulged in mannerist articulation nor imposed unnatural strain on his voice, even if that meant sacrificing a few sangathis. Hearsay, he used to quip that if the voice sounds progressively strained during the course of a concert, it is not the correct method and when the correct technique is followed, one should feel like singing for 3 hours after the mangalam!

Even while listening to the recording of his last concert (at MFAC) one finds that the quality of tone and timbre doesn’t diminish even for a moment. He was aware that music is not about storing a million sangathis in one’s musical armory and regurgitating them ad-nauseum at a performance. Even in two sangathis he could bring out the full flavor of say, a Thodi or a Kambodhi.


On a side note, being at a concert, live, is miles apart from hearing a recording, especially in the case of the Past Masters. All of them had powerful live voices, which had very good volume and were more than audible to those sitting on stage and the first few rows of the audience without the aid of the microphone. MMI’s voice did not lack any power (courtesy Vellore Ramabhadran mama, whose input I have forgotten to acknowledge in Part I (how could I…?), now edited). This is contrary to the opinion of some people, who must have based their opinion on listening to some scratchy recordings. All the more, when those recordings are played before a sizeable audience in a big hall, the output is like one-dimensional channel-music that does very little justice to the rich grandeur of the live concert that must have mesmerized the audience decades ago.


During his Mayavaram days (evacuation period in the then Madras Presidency), all of MMI’s concert in and around Mayavaram(now Mayiladuthurai), Kumbakonam and Thanjavur were electrifying to say the least, vouched for by an old-timer great rasika who had followed each one of those concerts and at the end of each one, was like a bee that ended up drinking honey two times its weight! The open air setting, the temple ambience and the overwhelming audience (who had no Chennai Super Kings to cheer, ofcourse!) must have brought out the Maestro’s powerful best. The neraval, swarams in even uncommon ragas ( in those days) like Kapinarayani, Saraswathi manohari brought the house down and each of those concerts lasted nearly 4 hours or even more……..

cacm
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#5 Re: Madurai Mani Iyer - a tribute from the heart and mind

Post by cacm »

Dear Suryaprakash,
Thanks for writing such an ELOQUENT yet TOTALLY true assessment of MMI. It was exciting & brought back the memories of MMI. Your scholarly approach is what is needed today! VKV

kunthalavarali
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#6 Re: Madurai Mani Iyer - a tribute from the heart and mind

Post by kunthalavarali »

Managers of the site,

Why not move these lovely reminiscences to Vidwan and Vidushis and keep it on top as you did for an earlier topic on SSI.

mahavishnu
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#7 Re: Madurai Mani Iyer - a tribute from the heart and mind

Post by mahavishnu »

Wonderful essays on Sri MMI. Thank you, Vid. Suryaprakash. I really enjoy your writing style as well.

doyoucare
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#8 Re: Madurai Mani Iyer - a tribute from the heart and mind

Post by doyoucare »

cacm wrote:Dear Suryaprakash,
Thanks for writing such an ELOQUENT yet TOTALLY true assessment of MMI. It was exciting & brought back the memories of MMI. Your scholarly approach is what is needed today! VKV
oh please!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

rajeshnat
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#9 Re: Madurai Mani Iyer - a tribute from the heart and mind

Post by rajeshnat »

Suryaprakash wrote:Part II - Voice
.....

During his Mayavaram days (evacuation period in the then Madras Presidency), all of MMI’s concert in and around Mayavaram(now Mayiladuthurai), Kumbakonam and Thanjavur were electrifying to say the least, vouched for by an old-timer great rasika who had followed each one of those concerts and at the end of each one, was like a bee that ended up drinking honey two times its weight! .
SuryaprakAsh,
Few years back in MMI thread, I did ask about those MMI concerts in mayavaram belt, did not get much other than every old timer whom I talked has had a spellbound experience , MMI's best of best were those thengAMudi katcheris around mayavaram is the one liner that I usually hear. May I get bit more insights on this old-timer great rasika that you mentioned and if you could squeeze your memory either now or bit later in any thread you choose that would be wonderful .

Suryaprakash
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#10 Re: Madurai Mani Iyer - a tribute from the heart and mind

Post by Suryaprakash »

Part III - Sruti Suddham (purity of Sruti)


No other period in the history of Carnatic Music has witnessed such short shrift accorded by many rasikas of Carnatic Music to the noble basic quality :- “sruti suddham”.

If a musician after intense sadhana, displays sruti suddham, it is dismissed with the condescending remark “Ok sruti suddham, what is the big deal, it sounds melodious!“. If a musician is not able to hold the sruti, it virtually passes unnoticed, sometimes even substantiated as “in our gamaka oriented Carnatic music, sruti suddham is not achievable as in Hindustani, and not very important too”!

It looks as though some of the rasikas of today have graduated to an extent they can shift their reference of “adhara sruti” in their mind, conveniently to appreciate a sangathi of their favourite musician, sung off-sruti! Fortunately there are discerning rasikas in sizeable number too.

Madurai Mani Iyer was the God of centre point sruti suddham, which could have been practiced and perfected only by a life-time saadhana, nadopasana and “atma vicharam” (self analysis, rumination).

This particular aspect of centre point sruti came about in one of my discussions, almost a decade ago with Y.Prabhu, the present Secretary of Sri Krishna Gana Sabha and also the son of the great patron of arts, Yagnaraman Mama. The human ear can discern a particular range as sruti suddham when a note is rendered, say tara sthayi shadjam. The lower points of this range could be termed “lower point” or “flatter sruti suddham”.

This type of lower point sruti suddham will normally be exhibited by musicians who are more bhava oriented and approach a particular note by the route of pure bhava rather than technique. Many vocal artistes and some gayaki-style instrumentalists exhibit this type of sruti suddham since the available physical energy level determines the intensity of bhavam in a sangathi. On small downside to this type of sruti suddham is the difficulty in compatibility, say during a studio recording with the unforgiving computerized sruti reference points, how much ever soul stirring the bhavam is.

The higher points of the range or “sharp sruti suddham” are normally exhibited by musicians who are technically very sound. Some vocalists and quite a lot of instrumentalists display H.P. sruti suddham. Sometimes when we listen to a technically sound H.P. sruti suddham violinist accompanying a bhava-oriented L.P. sruti suddham vocalist, we get an impression that the singer is sounding flat or “kuraichal”, in music parlance. The normal downside to this type of sruti suddham is in spite of the brilliance of technical aspects, the music might sound a little lesser with respect to the intensity of feeling when compared to the bhava-totalitarian!

MMI practiced centre point sruti suddham which is the absolute, wherein every note is pure and is full of “jeevan”. KVN, the Purity incarnate, knew all about the centre point sruti of MMI, infact it was his inspiration.

The awesome, but elusive point about MMI’s approach of the notes, is every note of his had the advantage of the principle of harmonics. This might be a startling revelation to those who reckon Indian Music as a melodic system, devoid of harmony as in Western music. One old timer’s quip “there is adhara shadjam in every note MMI sings…” had me thinking hard.

Now the question how to create the element of Harmony in Indian music where essentially one swaram follows the other in melodic progression? In dwelling on this for a length of time, it dawned on me that it must be the principle of retention of sound by the human ear, quite similar to the principle of retention of vision on which watching television or movie is based on. MMI understood completely, the principle of vadi-samvadi (harmonious and dissonant set of notes), probably impressed on him by his father, an authority on music theory. If two swarams articulated quickly one after the other have a harmonious relationship, a feeling of harmony is created in the mind of the listener. For example, we find him employing to the hilt, “g p n g…” in hamsadhwani and “g…n…” in hamsanandhi (especially in the ending of “needu mahima” – “nithya sukhadaa…”) etc.

Almost peeved at myself getting too scientific, I finish this part here, but propose to dwell on one more quality of MMI, achievable for any musician by nothing short of penance :- sthaana suddham….

cienu
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#11 Re: Madurai Mani Iyer - a tribute from the heart and mind

Post by cienu »

excellent Suryaprakash.
I agree with Kunthalavarali (post # 6).
After this thread is complete, the mods may consider moving this to the MMI folder in Vidwans and Vidushis section.

cacm
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#12 Re: Madurai Mani Iyer - a tribute from the heart and mind

Post by cacm »

EXCELLENT POINTS!Looking forward to the rest eagerly. VKV

uday_shankar
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#13 Re: Madurai Mani Iyer - a tribute from the heart and mind

Post by uday_shankar »

Perhaps this is as good a place as any to kill all the misinformation about MMI's "ai", "ui", etc. in the mel sthayi of his alapanas.

It is not unusual for a rasika of a certain generation to declare that he/she is an avid fan of MMI and then in the same breath talk apologetically about MMI's use of "ai", "ui", etc. The typical "explanation" for this supposedly unacceptable and supposedly unpalatable practice of MMI is that due to his illness in his final years, he had to do so.

This is all complete nonsense.

MMI from his earliest days always used "ai, "ui", etc.. vocalizations in the mel sthayi. This is done with a view towards optimizing shruti shuddham. If you want proof that MMI used "ai", "ui", etc.. when he was 24 years old, listen to a 1936 disc with a Kamboji alapana that precedes parimala ranga pathe.

Now that that's settled, why the use of "ais","uis" ? If you intuitively feel that using such vocalizations aids in the pursuit of shruti shuddham, you're right. It does. If you don't, then start with blatantly difficult vocalization for shruti shuddham - say, try to maintain a note with an "rrrrrrrrrrr" vocalization. Haha ! In general, vocalization by moving from "uuu" to "iii" helps in centering pitch properly in the taara sthayi for a typical male singing pitch. Even a novice can experiment and discover that maintaining a kaarvai at the taara sthayi antara gandhara is greatly enhanced in terms of perfect shruti by singing "eeeee" (or "iiii", however we want to spell it!) instead of "aaaaa".

Now lets find out what the rest of the world has been thinking with respect to this problem...in western singing pedagogy there's a well established practice known as vowel modification. Just google the phrase "vowel modification" or "vowel modification chart".

The first site that shows up on googling the latter phrase is:

http://www.singwise.com/cgi-bin/main.pl ... ons&page=3

The first sentence on the above web page is (bold mine):

"...Vowel modification is an intentional, slight adjustment made to the sound (acoustics) of a vowel, by altering the basic way in which a vowel is articulated, with the goal of attaining more comfortable and pleasing tone production, especially in the higher part of the singer’s range...

If somebody doesn't like MMI's "ai" and "ui", he/she hasn't understood an important aspect of MMI's approach to shruti shuddham. Those of us who care about shruti shuddham love it and are not perturbed in the least by any sense of awkwardness.

It's OK for folks not to like MMI's music (although it's really their loss!), but wrong to add insult to injury by piling nonsense upon misunderstanding, i.e., apologizing for the "ais" and "uis" as if it were a quirk of MMI's so-called infirm later years.

mahavishnu
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#14 Re: Madurai Mani Iyer - a tribute from the heart and mind

Post by mahavishnu »

Uday, thanks. That was very informative. I have come across vowel modifications in everyday speech in tonal languages, but never in the context pitch singing. Interestingly, native speakers of tonal languages (such as Chinese) have a much greater likelihood of achieving perfect absolute pitch.

On the more aesthetic side, I have always found the ai/ui-s in MMI's singing absolutely adorable and endearing in every way.

Ramasubramanian M.K
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#15 Re: Madurai Mani Iyer - a tribute from the heart and mind

Post by Ramasubramanian M.K »

Suryaprakash: Excellent exposition and explanation of MMI's style--while I too was mesmerized by his ais and uus(never even thought this would be criticized upon or apologised for) During his peak concert days in the forties and fifties, I tried imitating him and to produce the same effect I found out how difficult it is to get his srithi suddham(" Trifles lead to Perfection BUT perfection is never a trifle--GNB used to say)--i.e anybody can get one sangathi perfect once or get pitch perfect once but to maintain that throughout a 4 hour concert is unimaginable!!)
and how casually I took that for granted in those days. Now I realise his frequent tendency to constantly touch base with either Shadjamam or Panchamam during a raga ascent was his way of ensuring constantly that he was in alignment. Also another point about his style--namely how he pronounced the lyrics --for example in Orajupuju he will "sound" like Oraguthamani whereas critics will cavil saying it should be sung as O Raghothama Neevanti with a slight pause after the O (Sa Pa) accentuating the exclamation point. TO me it did not diminish the melody he brought to that Raga. But what I admired most in that great artist was his sincerity and respect for the audience--his thengamoodi kutcheris in Mylapore Kapali temple drew unprecedented crowds and he would sing for 4 or 5 hours and we never felt the concerts to be dragging. SSI used to jokingly remark, "he is a communist --a reference to Politics i.e. Communists speeches in Chennai used to draw huge crowds(Pa Jeevanandam)--implying MMI draws such huge crowds. I always felt his MA concerts during the season were victims of MA's "concert-duration compression"--I recall either CKVenkatanarasimhan or Dr. V. Raghavan or T.R. Rajagoplan(Secretaries) being directed by K.V. Krishnaswamy Iyer(who was President and a stickler for the time schedules) around 8:25 P.M. to go to the front row and "signal" to Vembu Iyer to tell MMI to "wind up"(MMI's eyesight had deteriorated by that time and he would strain to lift his wrist to look at the time after Vembu Iyer had nudged him) Granted that MA had a 9 P.M. concert to follow and as such the evening performance had to be over by 8:30 to enable people to go home and come back for the night cap(there was not much of a canteen in those days that people could avail of!!!),a 3-hour concert for MMI was too limited and a cruel
'sapping" of his creativity and sincerity.
I am so glad that Suryaprakash has so eloquently described MMI's music to the younger rasikas --who hitherto might have been "bored" by repeated extolling of MMI's music by "old foggies(like myself,VKV.Balummi et al!!!) wondering whether it was all hype!!

Keep those accounts coming!!!

uday_shankar
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#16 Re: Madurai Mani Iyer - a tribute from the heart and mind

Post by uday_shankar »

Ramesh

Even more interestingly, you can experiment with individual vowels that work better for individual notes in the taara sthayi.

I just did a little experiment with myself and found that "uuuu" works best for R2, say while singing something like bhairavi. Similarly, the "ui" or "iu" works best for G3.

This bears out anecdotally with what I can recall of MMI's use of the "ai". I can bet that a vast majority of MMI's use of "ai" and "ui" are centered around G3. I would further speculate that this has to do with generating the correct even harmonics of G3 by using "eee", which in turn helps in exactly aligning it with the strong 5th harmonic of the tambura's lower shadja. I could do the math sometime if anyone's interested.

I am glad you brought up perfect absolute pitch, or "perfect pitch" or simply "absolute pitch" as it is sometimes known. I saw some bizarre stuff in some other thread about "perfect pitch", mistaking it for shruti shuddham ! So here's a clarification :

This phrase "perfect pitch" has nothing to do with shruti shuddham. It is an ability to approximately fix the absolute position of a musical sound, as in calling it D#6 or F7 or whatever. Shruti shuddham is about a higher degree of perfection in relative pitch and the only thing relevant in Indian music. A person who has the ability of "perfect pitch" need not necessarily possess perfect shruti shuddham and vice versa. Usually, Indian musicians who care about shruti shuddham are not bothered much about "perfect pitch", i.e., the approximate absolute position of a sound on the piano.
Last edited by uday_shankar on 18 Sep 2011, 18:27, edited 2 times in total.

cacm
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#17 Re: Madurai Mani Iyer - a tribute from the heart and mind

Post by cacm »

It is very heartening,encouraging and satisfying to hear from EXPERTS clearly pointing out the salient technical strengths of MMI. It is one artist I have and still am enamoured after 65 years! I can still recall EVERY ONE of his many concerts (as well as the highlights)I was lucky enough to attend....VKV

bilahari
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#18 Re: Madurai Mani Iyer - a tribute from the heart and mind

Post by bilahari »

Great thread - a big thanks to Suryaprakash, MKR, and Uday. Indeed, I too have always enjoyed MMI's use of 'ui', 'la, and other unconventional syllables. Aside from his immaculate pitch adherence, something that has always captivated me about MMI is his use of short phrases when singing alapanais, somehow still bringing out the beauty of the raga in each phrase. I understand that it was his deteriorating breath control that necessitated this style of singing - is this correct? Interestingly, even when singing short phrases, there is a sense of direction in MMI's alapanais - one always knows how the pieces of the jigsaw contribute ultimately to the entire puzzle.

srikant1987
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#19 Re: Madurai Mani Iyer - a tribute from the heart and mind

Post by srikant1987 »

Aside from his immaculate pitch adherence, something that has always captivated me about MMI is his use of short phrases when singing alapanais, somehow still bringing out the beauty of the raga in each phrase. ... Interestingly, even when singing short phrases, there is a sense of direction in MMI's alapanais - one always knows how the pieces of the jigsaw contribute ultimately to the entire puzzle.
His first phrase in the rAgam, even for something like shuddha sAvEri, is absolutely sharp and nail-on-the-head. These shorter phrases are very punchy and are easier to learn also. Above all, his music is absolutely clear, and we can see it being constructed right before our eyes. It is as if we can peek into his very soul, as he sings...

annamalai
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#20 Re: Madurai Mani Iyer - a tribute from the heart and mind

Post by annamalai »

bilahari wrote:I too have always enjoyed MMI's use of 'ui', 'la, and other unconventional syllables. something that has always captivated me about MMI is his use of short phrases when singing alapanais, ...
MMI great, great musician, no doubt.

In my limited view, these are the two point not to emphasize in his music, me thinks.

I am more a fan of akara phrasing than the ui , ... Other musicians have had perfect sruthi without this technique (e.g. KVN).

For big ragas like bhairavi, kamboji, thodi ... long phrases (nadaswara phrasing) are more appealing to me.

The short syllables of MMI seem precise for the ragas like Jayanthasena, SuddhaSeemanthini, ...

kapali
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#21 Re: Madurai Mani Iyer - a tribute from the heart and mind

Post by kapali »

I recollect MMI`s rendering of Vijayanagiri alapana in Vijayambike where his short and creative phrases gives a special and intrinsic poignancy to the beauty of this raga and sets the tone for the accompanying violinist TNK to give another masterly rendering of Vijayanagiri!

kapali
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#22 Re: Madurai Mani Iyer - a tribute from the heart and mind

Post by kapali »

I recollect MMI`s rendering of Vijayanagiri alapana in Vijayambike where his short and creative phrases gives a special and intrinsic poignancy to the beauty of this raga and sets the tone for the accompanying violinist TNK to give another masterly rendering of Vijayanagiri!

Balummi
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#23 Re: Madurai Mani Iyer - a tribute from the heart and mind

Post by Balummi »

deleted as it is not relevent to the current topic
Last edited by Balummi on 20 Sep 2011, 07:18, edited 2 times in total.

arasi
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#24 Re: Madurai Mani Iyer - a tribute from the heart and mind

Post by arasi »

Surya,
Great job! You have inspired other 'minds' on the forum (Uday et al) to add more by way of discussion on the great MMI.
I'm waiting for the moment when you will hopefully share your guru TVS's thoughts on the musical life he led with his uncle and guru (along with his other guru, his father).

venu sundar
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#25 Re: Madurai Mani Iyer - a tribute from the heart and mind

Post by venu sundar »

MADURAI MANI IYER CENTENARY MONTHLY LISTENING SESSION1Friday, 16 September, 2011 9:26 AM
From:"Venugopalan S" <[email protected]>View contact details
To:"[email protected] .com" <[email protected]>
PLEASE PUBLISH IT IN YOUR EVENTS COLUMN!
The next session is on SEPTEMBER 24th SATURDAY.
madhura nEram - மதுர நேரம் 6pm to 8pm With SNACKS PL CONFIRM!

The address of the venue where the monthly MMI listening session is happening is given below. I've also attached the route map. (though this is the permanent venue, providing address for couple of new invitees)

Renganathan E N
#4/4, Kumudh Apartments (1st Floor, Road-facing entrance)
Lakshmipuram 1st Street,
Royapettah,
Chennai-600 014
Ph: +91 90030 27857
S. Venugopalan: 98413 13527



S.Venugopalan
7-A, Prashanthi Apts.
T.M.Maistry St.
Vannandurai
Chennai - 600 041
Ph: +91 44 42151321

sweetsong
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#26 Re: Madurai Mani Iyer - a tribute from the heart and mind

Post by sweetsong »

Here is a wonderful tribute to Madurai Mani Iyer written by Prince Sri Rama Varma.

http://ramavarma.yolasite.com/resources ... 20Iyer.pdf

Enjoy!

Suryaprakash
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#27 Re: Madurai Mani Iyer - a tribute from the heart and mind

Post by Suryaprakash »

That was a wonderful tribute to MMI by Varma ji!

Sorry dear rasikas, for taking a sabbatical as it was hectic, performing nine concerts for Navrathri. I propose to resume after my AIR recording tomorrow. I will post my next part by this weekend.

Balummi
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#28 Re: Madurai Mani Iyer - a tribute from the heart and mind

Post by Balummi »

After going through the tribute by Sri Rama Varma , my mind recaptures a similar moment in 1968 when
we , a group of IIT students were having something like question and answer session with Sri MDR who was the head of the Vocal Music in the Central College of Carnatic Music . To a question put to him about his reactions to the music of Madurai Mani Iyer , he turned and glanced at me with an expression " how dare I could ask such a question" . He said he would not directly reply to tha question. He simply related an incident . Those days he used to write in English magazines on music and on that strength somebody from a leading english weekly ( possibly The Illustrated Weekly of India ,wanted him to write a tribute on MMI , he flately refused ,telling them that no words in any language can adequately express the greatness of a MAESTRO who strode the music world of southern India for four decades and even if he had written an article , it would only be a gross understatement .
It was Sri MDR who took me to the supposedly the final concert of MMI in june 1967 at Music Academy Hall and he sang the RTP in Kanada in that concert only. People around me think that I am a lunatic thinking all the time about MMI , MMI and MMI . This lunacy started about 63 years ago in Aug 1948 when MMI sang for my first birth anniversary from 4.30 pm to 9.30 pm and never received any remuneration as he had come to bless a child and a grandson of his friend! It is a joy , Joy and Joy for ever listening to his voice.

bilahari
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#29 Re: Madurai Mani Iyer - a tribute from the heart and mind

Post by bilahari »

Balummi, thank you for your reminiscences. I have great fondness for both MMI and MDR, and I have always wondered what they thought of each other. Would you mind describing the kAnaDa RTP concert more? It is a concert where MMI is just utterly at peace with himself and his art (as he usually is, but even more so in this particular concert, I feel), and every item in the concert sparkles with sowkhyam.

cacm
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#30 Re: Madurai Mani Iyer - a tribute from the heart and mind

Post by cacm »

Dear Sri. Balummi,
As you have written there have been several instances when MMI took NO money but blessed the person. A similar instance was when he sang at Vani Mahal for the wedding reception of MY friend Late S.S.Venkataraman's sister at Vani Mahal with LGJ, Tiruchy Sankaran & Alangudi Ramachandran-I am sure many have copies of that concert- He not only did not take any money but presented the newly weds a hundred rupees with his blessings!....I doubt we will see another MMI as a musician as well as a human being for a very long time to come! VKV

Balummi
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#31 Re: Madurai Mani Iyer - a tribute from the heart and mind

Post by Balummi »

Dear VKV Sir ,
The magnanimity of MMI did not end at that . He had given Rs.100 to the violinist telling him that it was his remuneration given by my grandfather's brother Sri SA Venkatrama Iyer, father of Dr. SAK Durga , and he played the mirudangam for the concert ! Nobody knew about this incident including Sri SAV until after a long time when the violinist revealed it! My father is not able to recollect who the violnist was. Sri MMI had given the money from his own pocket and did not want that to be known to others! A rare soul unimaginable now.

Suryaprakash
Posts: 62
Joined: 03 Feb 2010, 10:09

#32 Re: Madurai Mani Iyer - a tribute from the heart and mind

Post by Suryaprakash »

Part IV

Sthaana Suddham

Sthaana suddham is the purity of the note or gamaka rendered relative to another reference note, for example, adhara shadjam. My uncle used to say "While many mahavidwans rendered the swarams with perfection it was only MMI who rendered even the gaps between the swarams with perfection!" He actually meant the connections or anuswarams also in perfect alignment with sruti. Not just in perfect sruti suddham but having the same intensity as the connecting points, eschewing artificial modulation in the guise of “bhava”. Once I was conversing with my Guru’s father (Shri.Vembu Iyerwal) on the modulation of voice. He told me there is a natural and there is also an artificial modulation. He quipped that it was not correct to deliberately thin out the voice, with the intention of being demonstrative about introducing "thick and thin" in one's music. This artificial modulation, according to him spelt the speedy death-knell of one's sruthi suddham. He told,"you must sing all notes as 'PERISU' or 'BAARI' (fullbodied articulation) and then coolness and modulation will come naturally within a course of time, with practice, and that is real "gana-naya" or "thick and thin"".

The factor which gave the rasikas maximum thrill as soon as a “la…” was uttered by MMI was probably his sthaana suddham, since the human mind subconsciously visualizes a swara in relation to another swara sthana and gets the imagery of the raga.

The sthana suddham is achieved by giving the right pushing force to reach the next swara from a given swara sthaana, taking perfect cognizance of the distance between the two notes, just like climbing a ladder, sure-footedly, the only difference here being the rungs are not equidistant! The push given should not be aggressive or obvious, otherwise it will sound as “adhattal” and the sowkhyam is lost. The perfect and "pushpamaana" (gentle) pushing force achieved by MMI with respect to swara sthanas was enough to grant him the “Unnatha Sthaana” in the music world!

I propose to write more on the speciality of MMI in laya, krithi rendition, raga vistara, neraval, swaraprasthara(of course!) etc., at the same time I remind myself that I have to practice the new krithi in Kalyani for the season concert!

P.S. : The MMI Centenary Celebrations are underway already, inaugurated by my Guru and a host of celebrities such as S/Shri T N Krishnan , N.Gopalaswamy(former Election Commisioner), T.K.Murthy, R.Krishnaswamy (Secy. NGS),
K Jayaramakrishnan (Vice President, Tata Consultancy Services), Y.Prabhu (Secy. SKGS) and R.Sunder (Secy., Hamsadhwani) at Sri Krishna Gana Sabha on 12/11/2011, the Janmanakshathra of the doyen.

arasi
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#33 Re: Madurai Mani Iyer - a tribute from the heart and mind

Post by arasi »

Surya,
Thank you for writing more about the master--bringing each facet of his greatness to focus. And, how well you write!
After the busy season, please continue to write. Sri. Vembu Iyer has said it beautifully. I love the expression 'pushpamAna'.

Have you published your schedule on your blog? Have a great season!

perarulalan
Posts: 93
Joined: 06 Feb 2010, 10:03

#34 Re: Madurai Mani Iyer - a tribute from the heart and mind

Post by perarulalan »

I happend to listen to one of the LecDems of Prof SRJ on Muthuswami Dikshitar. When he talks about Kambodhi, he says and I quote:
"You need not depend upon lyrics to move you, the words which carry some emotions to move you. Even the combination of sounds and phrases are enough!! A tender lover handling his love... not molesting his love!" ...
Sings some phrases..."Thottu thottu vidanum swaratha.. (Touch Touch!!)....That is the life of Madurai Mani Iyer's music!!!" and then continues with his rAga development and Sri SubramanyAya namastE... I guess the best combination is "MMI and Kambodhi" (Of course other rAgas too!)

venu sundar
Posts: 157
Joined: 19 Oct 2009, 22:23

#35 Re: Madurai Mani Iyer - a tribute from the heart and mind

Post by venu sundar »

The next session is on NOVEMBER 26th SATURDAY.
madhura nEram - மதுர நேரம் 6pm to 8pm With SNACKS PL CONFIRM!

The address of the venue where the monthly MMI listening session is happening is given below. I've also attached the route map. (though this is the permanent venue, providing address for couple of new invitees)

Renganathan E N
#4/4, Kumudh Apartments (1st Floor, Road-facing entrance)
Lakshmipuram 1st Street,
Royapettah,
Chennai-600 014
Ph: +91 90030 27857
S. Venugopalan: 98413 13527



S.Venugopalan
7-A, Prashanthi Apts.
T.M.Maistry St.
Vannandurai
Chennai - 600 041
Ph: +91 44 42151321

venu sundar
Posts: 157
Joined: 19 Oct 2009, 22:23

#36 Re: Madurai Mani Iyer - a tribute from the heart and mind

Post by venu sundar »

Believe it or not!On April 12th 2012 at 6-30PM the ARKAY HALL AT THE LUZ was overflowing with 300+rasikas of Madurai Mani Iyer 44 years after the death of the legendary musician and it was an emotional evening.The live concert was held during the RAMANAVAMI SERIES AT THE VENUS COLONY ALWARPET IN 1966 APRIL 12TH.MMI Birth Centenary Commitee organised the function to listen to the Master MAdurai Mani Iyer and the accompaniments were again the legendary Chowdiah on Violin and Palghat Mani Iyer on Mridangam and PMI 100 is also coinciding with the MMI 100!Sri Krishnan was on the Kanjira.MMI started off with Telsirama folllowed by RARA MINTIDAGA and APPA RAMA BHAKTI!Sarasa SAMA DANA was the main piece in Kapi narayaini and the concert included Entha Sowkiya Panile a Kapi ragam and incidentlaly MMI was a true good Coffee lover.MMI focussed on songs on LORD RAMA and it was MUSIC filled with BHAKTHI
all the way.The audience were the lucky lot and they responded very well and the hall was JAM PACKED TO SAY THE LEAST>ALL along 2and half hour concert all the fans of yesters of MMI PMI TS AND KRISH sat and stood in full attendance in spite of the fact it was Tamil New Year EVe and also CSK match was at the Chepauk on 12th evening.The organisation of the event was SIMPLY SUPERB one.Full credit goes to the parnership of the DUO S/S JAYARAMAKRISHNAN AND SLS AS HE IS known SLS NARASIMHAN for the FANTASTIC efforts.SLS was incharge of AUDIO and it was like MMI came down and treated us with his company of TS PMI AND KRISH.JRK SHOULD BEcomplimented for his silent and sincere work which brought out such great musical event.Arkay organisers did a fine job.KUDOS TO ALL

VK RAMAN
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#37 Re: Madurai Mani Iyer - a tribute from the heart and mind

Post by VK RAMAN »

Thanks Vid. Suryaprakash for such eloquent explanation and write up on MMI. Look forward to more such write ups.

RSR
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#38 Re: Madurai Mani Iyer - a tribute from the heart and mind

Post by RSR »

This refers to
viewtopic.php?p=365003#p365003
( by Lakshman_ji)
and to Raju Asokan upload of Kutchery set of Madurai MaNi Iyer (1934)
Madurai Mani Iyer - Kucheri Set of the 78RPM era, circa 1934
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yl-3TMLFkC0
------------------------------------------
Info added by Raju Asokan
-----------------------
Madurai Mani Iyer - Kucheri Set of the 78RPM era, circa 1934- accompanied by Kumbakonam T.K.Jayarama Iyer-violin, Tanjore Vaidhyanatha Iyer-mridhangam & Madras Venu Naicker-kanjeera. மணி அய்யரின் சுருதி 4 கட்டை.
Sri Raghukula-Hamsadhwani (Columbia GE 632)
Anuragamule- Saraswathi(Columbia GE 632)
Vidajalatura- Janaranjani(Columbia GE 633)
Marugelara-Jayanthashree(Columbia GE 633)
RTP_ Kalyani_Bhajare Raghuveeram(Columbia GE634-GE635)
Ethani Vithangal- Virutham-Ragamaligai (Columbia GE 636) Emijeyutu- Javali(Columbia GE 637)
Madarpirai Kanni-Thevaram-Arabhi(Columbia GE 636)
Thirupugaz- NIraimathi Mugam- Hamsanandhi & Mangalam(Columbia GE 637)
============================================
Information added by a rasika
---------------------------
Ragas are Hamsadhwani,
Sarswathi,
Janaranjani,
Jayantasri,
RTP Kalyani, Viruttam ( Kedaragowla, Bhairavi, dhanyasi,Mohanam),
Paras,
Devaram in Arabhi,
Tiruppughazh in Hamsanandi,
Mangalam followed by few strands of Madhyamavati.

venu sundar
Posts: 157
Joined: 19 Oct 2009, 22:23

#39 Re: Madurai Mani Iyer - a tribute from the heart and mind

Post by venu sundar »


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