Words of wisdom from a vidwan!

A winner of many awards and titles,  including the Padma Bhushan, and Kalaimamani from the Tamil Nadu government, Vidwan P S Narayanaswamy is certainly a torch bearer of the Semmangudi Tr

Published: 10th December 2011 11:59 PM  |   Last Updated: 16th May 2012 03:27 PM   |  A+A-


P S Narayanaswamy | EPS

A winner of many awards and titles,  including the Padma Bhushan, and Kalaimamani from the Tamil Nadu government, Vidwan P S Narayanaswamy is certainly a torch bearer of the Semmangudi Tradition, evolving a style of his own with ‘Manodharma Sangeetham’.

He spoke to City Express with the refined sensibility of a consummate Carnatic vidwan...

On present day Margazhi festival

Most welcome a trend. The participation of many young musicians is a delight. Sponsorship for the concert is very essential these days, taking into count the economic considerations. But yet, I am sad that ‘influence’ plays a major role in accommodating them in the season, in which many deserving candidates are left out for want of ‘public relations’.  

On manodharma sangeetham

The manodharma sangeetham will never become shallow. The niraval nowadays, mostly seem to be a mere repetition of the Sahitya in different octaves. The manodharma sangeetham cannot be taught, but could be acquired only through intent listening.

Over the years, manodharma has become a casualty. Earlier, we used to learn only through Gurukulavasam. This doesn’t mean that they should stay with the guru, but the focus should be on the absorption of the intricacies and acquisition of knowledge of music. I had the good fortune of staying with my guru, Semmangudi Mama and learning the intricacies through the process of perseverance.

On present day mode of learning

Now, life has become fast-paced, and by learning through ‘recorded music’, the vidyarthis may not be able to comprehend a composition and understand the intent of the composer, which is required for revealing the ‘jeevan’ (Bhava) of the composition.

On knowledge of


What is important is to understand Lakshana, Krama and Bhava before singing, but yet digging too deep may stunt the imagination. The presentation should be a fine ideal of blending of Lakshaya and Lakshna. The creative instinct of a musician should never be curbed.

On extemporisation on stage

On extemporisation on stage, though we call it Alapana, Kalpana Swaras as ‘Manodharma’ , most of it is already in our mind, as traditional phrases. Each time we sing, we add only a few phrases. If one tries to discover a Raga ‘under the garb of manodharma’, it may spell disaster.

My goal

I will dedicate the rest of my life to training aspiring students in chaste classical music.

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