BANGALORE: The percussion instruments, even in classical Indian music, have a chequered history and heritage. These instruments are being played for rituals, dances, ceremonies and just for fun too. But the concept of a percussion ensemble as an “independent musical entity in Carnatic music,” that is, as a group for giving concerts, has been successfully realised by a couple of percussion ensembles over the years drawing a sizeable and enthusiastic audience not only in Karnataka but also throughout the world.
One of the pioneering and leading percussion ensembles Laya Lahari performed on the second day as part of the three day 17th Aradhana annual music festival held under the joint auspices of TSK School of Music and C V Nagaraj Memorial Trust at Sri Varaprada Lakshmi Venkateshwara Temple, SVK Layout, Basaveshwaranagar.
The air was heavy with anticipation from both the audience and the percussionists. The mood was very serious and sombre until the young percussionists Anur Dattatreya Sharma (mridanga), A V Kashinath (khanjira), T Srinivas (maddale), Somasekhara (ghata and konnokkol), B Dhruvaraj (pakhavaz), R Sathyakumar (dholki), Ravikumar (dolu), Jagadish Kurthokote (tabla), Anur Ananthakrishna Sharma (second tabla and other effects) and Arunkumar (drums) prompted by seasoned flautists M K Pranesh and Praveen Godkhindi and as directed by Anur Ananthakrishna Sharma took us on a journey through many different rhythmic patterns, sounds and emotions, as did the pieces played. The rasikas’ ears were taken on an adventure.
The ensemble showcased the many different sounds that can be made with percussion instruments. It was amazing how many unending permutations and combinations can be created by playing on something. There were drums and percussion instruments of almost every kind. The manner in which the sound was created by the ensemble when they all played differently, together and all at once was very impressive.
When playing all together, the ensemble could create a sound that would not be possible if one person did not play their part. It was inspiring. Displaying a tremendous control over their instruments and a precise knowledge of rhythm, the members of the ensemble enthralled the rasikas.
A brief alapana in Nata facilitated both Pranesh and Praveen to render a popular krithi Jaya Jaya Janaki. Pranesh laid an artistic foundation for a glowing rhythmic edifice through his swaraprastara accompanied by all the instruments. Praveen in his solo turn very melodiously played a short alapana and rounded it off with sargams to the accompaniment of tablas. True to the name of the raga Kadanakutoohala, a crisp composition in its name by Ananthakrishna Sharma aroused the readiness and force for a rhythmic group action.
The climax was reached in the delineation of a raga, tana and pallavi set to Keeravani raga. Though it was in a simple adi tala, the passionate percussionists etched a vibrant world of laya. The manner in which they played in separating themselves into four or five groups and negotiated the pancha nadais (trishra (3), chaturashra (4), khanda (5), mishra(7) and sankeerna (9) resulted in an invigorating array of enchanting and intricate laya structures filled with percussion curiosities. Shivu and Somasekhar’s sankeerna was just enthralling. The show proved why this ensemble has been so durable for so many years.
Nagaswaras and tavils resonate
The Aradhana festival began with the resonant sounds of the nagaswara duet by Tirupathi Sathyanarayana and M V Subbaramaiah. They were accompanied by Mannaragudi Vasudevan and Pondicherry Balamuralikrishna on dolus (tavil). Chandrasekhar and Mariyappa guided the rhythmic beats with their talas. The nagaswara vidwans created such vivid sounds that one could almost imagine seeing the sound waves moving through the air and bouncing off of one another. The performance was appropriately knit in terms of pitch and balance.
Vasudevan and Balamuralikrishna in their laya vinyasa were profound and they were able to have the control both on their instruments and laya to go from one end of the spectrum to the other without skipping a beat. The timing was also amazing. Each of them played something different and it all came together perfectly. It was a completely fascinating performance which was packed with an enormous palette of sounds using both sides of the tavils powerfully and gracefully too. Their virtuosity, versatility and charming play received a standing ovation.
Starting off soft and almost haunting with the Bahudari varna, the nagaswara duet methodically gained energy and increasingly complex instrumentation as the songs and the manodharmic occurrences progressed. Thyagaraja’s rare krithi in Suruti raga and the expansive extension of Shankarabharaga with alapana, krithi (Manasu), sahitya and swara prastara was the central piece of the concert. The duo provided a fascinating juxtaposition of sounds and effects from their instruments to make it an animated performance throughout.
The meritorious mridangist Anur Dattatreya Sharma presided over the three day Aradhana festival. He was conferred with the title of Aradhana Sri on the morning of the concluding day (Sunday).
A dance duet Rangaarpana by young sisters Vaishnavi N S (Ananda Poorni) and Vardhini N S (Nithya Supriya) in the august presence of Sri Paramahamsa Nithyananda Swami at Nithyananda Dhyanapeetha, Bidadi last Sunday morning was of quite exceptional finesse. Trained by an accomplished artiste and Guru Ranjani Ganeshan Ramesh, the sisters showed that they both are capable and can delve deep into the characterisations. The duo dealt with the emotional aspect appropriately. The dance duet summed up the dancer-sisters’ style of subtle lyricism and perfect matching of colour and dance structures.