Dancing to the rhythm and melody of Ghatam - The New Indian Express

Dancing to the rhythm and melody of Ghatam

Published: 12th November 2012 10:34 AM

Last Updated: 12th November 2012 10:34 AM

Mastering the art of Ghatam — a clay pot with a narrow mouth — is no easy task. Here is an artiste, Sukanya Ramgopal, who has crossed several hurdles in her career and has been successful in establishing herself in the industry.

This artiste, a resident of Subedarpalya, Yeshwanthpur, spoke at length to City Express about the importance of early training in music, the hurdles she faced, about her troupe Sthree Taal Tarang and her future plans. Sukanya's passion for music and percussion instruments grew at a tender age.

Speaking about her childhood, she said, "As I was really passionate about percussion instruments I practised on tables and plates initially. During Sankranti festival, I brought a small Khanjira from Chennai and often played it when my sister sang," she said. She learnt vocal music under the tutelage of Thazakudi Ayya Swamy Iyer. She also undertook violin classes under T H Gurumurthy. When asked her about percussion classes she explained, "I had to pass through Sree Jayaganesh Talavadya Vidyalaya to attend my vocal and violin classes. I was mesmerised by the resonating rhythms of the mridangam and ghatam. So I decided to approach T R Harihara Sharma, founder of the school. He immediately admitted me and taught me various aspects of mridangam."

Within the span of three years, Sukanya started performing for concerts at the age of 12. Later, she chose to take up Ghatam, which has made her popular among music connoisseurs today. Sukanya also narrated an interesting incident that led her to master the ghatam.  "T H Vikku Vinayak Ram, son of T R Harihara Sharma,  would take time out to teach us. Back in those days, I had assisted him in some of the concerts. And soon, I was inspired to experiment with the instrument. As I started playing ghatam, some musicians questioned my teacher as to why a girl was being taught to play? But my teacher taught me wholeheartedly."

Ghatam, khanjira and morsing are always considered to be additional percussion instruments in the Carnatic classical music industry. According to Sukanya, many artistes are struggling financially today. This is when she started the Ghata Tarang in 1993. "I started to experiment with different nuances of rhythm. In 1997, I gave a lecture-demonstration. In 2000, I felt there was a need to spread awareness about the melody of percussion instruments, this is when I came up with the idea of Sthree Taal Tarang."

Sthree Taal Tarang is an encompassment of five artistes on mridangam, veena, morsing including Sukanya on ghatam and konnagolu. The troupe has travelled across the country and has also performed all over the world. "We have got good appreciation from the audience. Now, we have also grabbed the opportunity to play at Akashavani Sangeeth Sammelan for an hour which is a great honour."

Like Jyotsna Srikanth, she has also faced gender discrimination in the industry. "In the initial days, many musicians were hesitant to play along with me. But I had to work hard to prove myself on stage and today I have overcome the problem.”

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