music out of the ordinary

Still buried under tons of miscellaneous activities but felt compelled to write a short note.

Heard just a few seconds of some music and felt there was something unique about it. My aunt was viewing Doordarshan for a change, and the violinist playing the music was Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan

The extraordinary thing was the unpredictability.

Usually while listening to any music, we almost half-expect the next note. There is a certain sequence to it, and when that sequence is pleasing it becomes music for us. But sooner or later, we get tuned into this sequence, and the listening becomes more and more passive and uninvolved. We eventually lose the freshness of every single moment.

Here the extraordinary thing with this music was that it – not just the notes, but also the sometimes long pauses of abrupt silence between the notes – seemed to be totally random – somewhat like noise, but at the same time, it was not noise but beautiful music! Almost like a contradiction! That tendency to just becoming ending up becoming a passive listener wasn’t possible at all, one felt compelled into becoming an active listener for each and every moment!

Since I’m writing this in a hurry, don’t know if I’ve made any sense 😉

35 Responses to “music out of the ordinary”

  1. preethi Says:

    Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan music is divine…It is so sad that the media does not publicise these musicians enough..

  2. Shruthi Says:

    Finally, something about which I disagree with you 🙂
    Kunnakkudi Vaidyanathan’s music is more about impressing the masses. It is not music, per se. He might have absolute mastery over the instrument. But that does not mean he should deviate from music. Music sounds best when played for oneself, without any pretensions, without any attempts to impress. Also, music should be pleasing to the ears. I am not saying that unpredictability is not pleasing. The build up, the guessing, makes music much better, makes you feel wonderful. But not when it is more of noise than music.
    I might be conservative, but I don’t think what he plays is music at all!
    Also because of his showmanship, he is given a lot of exposure by the media. It is those people, with divine music in them, who sing more for the joy of singing – these are the real musicians – and these people are the ones who need exposure and publicity.

  3. bellur ramakrishna Says:

    kunnakkudi Vaidyanathan used to play very good music till some years ago. have listened to his concerts and love his pancharathna kruthis and also COLOURS(with zakir hussain). but yes, he plays more for the masses than the classes.
    once i shot him when he was performing in a concert in malleswaram. took 9 snaps. and he gave 9 different expressions for me!
    and another time, i had the oppurtunity to meet him and Zakir Hussain before a concert. interviewed them and took snaps. but wanted to take one more with both of them in action. when i did click, KV was all smiles while Zakir Hussain stopped playing and made a big scene. and i love that snap b’coz of the contrasting expressions from both!

  4. Prasanna Sastry, Hyderabad Says:

    There are some songs which I never like to listen if Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan Plays For Eg Saamaja Varagamana– During the swaralaya he even plays rukh rukh arey baba rukh……. . He may appeal masses loving jazz or fusion not the one who likes pure carnatic music.
    I prefer to listen to Kadri,Kanyakumari, MSG,Mysore Trio

  5. bellur ramakrishna Says:

    one thing most people agree is that during his ramanavami concerts at fort high school grounds or at sheshadripuram, there would be many waiting to listen to VAARA BANTHAMMA, which the masses would love.
    actually, i have a cassette of KV playing HITS of DR.RAJ. in that, he has even tried playing those bits where ANNAVRU says AA..HAA in the songs.
    but yes, he tries too much from those 4 strings and his bow.

  6. msanjay Says:

    Shruti personally I don’t bother whether he is trying to impress anybody or not. In fact I liked his music (first time that I heard it afaik) even before I saw his comical facial antics- quite entertaining that actually 😉 Haven’t listened to that much of Carnatic music, maybe if I listen more I might see what you and Prasanna are saying.

    Hmm Ramakrishna interesting story… btw I’ll probably borrow that tape from you soon… 😈

  7. usha Says:

    Last weekend, happened to visit classical music section at Planet M , brigade road, and picked up B N Suresh’s flute recital cd , surprisingly cd was priced at Rs 38 only,

    concerned if the recording or music would be accroding to the cost, but when i played it, i was lost in the magical world of Bangalore N Suresh(No more with us-people say he died an early age at mid forties) one of the finest flutist of that generation.

    I am looking for more details about this forgotten maestro, any further information about this personality is welcome,

  8. bellur ramakrishna Says:

    Usha, Just got these details about BN Suresh. Will let you know if I get to know more. For now you can go through these:

    ****. Bangalore N. Suresh born on July 7th, 1946, studied with Shivaramiah and K. Venkatarama.

    **** B.N. Suresh was an Engineer by profession. Not sure if he trained under Mali (rumour was that he learnt by listening to Mali), but his flute playing was really fascinating.

    **** On 10th January 2005 a unique programme was organised by close disciples of Late Bangalore K. Venkataram at the Veenapani Centre of Arts, Jayanagar, Bangalore. The programme started with a welcome address by Sri B.N.Ramesh during which he recalled his fond association with BKV and the affection of BKV for his brother Late B.N.Suresh and how he helped shape Suresh’s career.

    **** Sudha Raghunathan has told in an interview that Suresh is one of her favorite Instrumentalists from the past.

    **** visit this link: Info regarding Bangalore Sri Suresh

    **** Download this BN Suresh’s concert from Boston Oct 1982. Please download before June 28, 2006.

  9. Prasanna Sastry, Hyderabad Says:

    Bellur you are fantastic, I used to have a sony cassette wherein we had recordings of BNSuresh whihch my father recorded when he came to Ooty for a Concert organised by Niligiri Kannada Sangha ( i think in 1970s when i didnt know what bhooloka means ??? ), i called my mother today morning after seeing your comments and asked if that cassette is still playing and if so requested her to ship to Hyd. After she played it she is in no mood to send it across .

  10. usha Says:

    Yes rasikrapriya.netand sangeethapriya that way is paying silent tribute in popularising these forgotten artists, and giving us sangeetha bitti rasadoutana 😉 , My heartfelt thanx for those rasika’s who have uploaded the music albums for free.

    Thx Bellur for info,

    ha ha i agree. Prasanna anyone after listening to suresh would never return those albums 🙂 , no wonder your mom has held it back. I remember my fights with my brother for retaining my fathers audio and book collection :).

  11. bellur ramakrishna Says:

    Usha,

    I remembered that you had wanted to know more about Flute BN Suresh. I have been enchanted with B N Suresh’s flute music for a long time. The tonal quality of his flute reminds me of Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavatar’s voice. Suresh, who died of of Liver Cancer at the relatively young age of 44 in 1990, was very well known in Karnataka but was only selectively known outside (As I have written earlier, Sudha Raghunathan, the vocalist lists him as one of her favorite instrumentalists along with S Balachander and Chitti Babu). I would easily put him in the same class as Dr N Ramani.

    As far as I am aware, his discography consists of just 2 albums – one which has an excellent Hemavathi (“Sri Kanthimatim” of Muthuswami Dikshitar) and a sweet
    “Kanjadalayatakshi” in Kamala Manohari (also by Dixitar), among others (HMV STHVS 56903). He is accompanied by Lalgudi Jayaraman, Vellore Ramabhadran, and Bangalore Venkataram. This is a must have. The other album is of Purandaradasa’s kritis accompanied by Mysore Manjunath (Violin), Praveen (Mridangam), Bangalore Venkataram (Ghatam), and HP Ramachar (Kanjira). If you are aware of other albums by him, please let me know. I wish All India Radio releases his radio concerts from its archives.

    Suresh’s style was characterized by strong, clean, and clear tone without any hiss and an incredible control over laya (you can time him with a stopwatch – I have seen him in concerts become irritated with the mridangist or the violinist if they tended to speed up or slow down – he would put down his flute and start keeping the tala!). Like Mali, he also used a high pitched flute (5-katte) believing that it was only when the flute was played at 4 or 5 katte, that its sweetness, beauty, and clarity came through. His style (bani) was his own, having taken lessons on the flute only for a short while – he admired Mali and was influenced by him but did not try aping his style. His guru, I believe, was the Ghatam/ Mridangam player, Bangalore Venkataram who taught him by singing and having Suresh vocalize on the flute. He has also said that he was influenced by the Alathur brothers. A Suresh
    quirk is that he sometimes got into a manic, fast, and almost repetitive playing of swara passages with staccato notes (in the Purandaradasa kritis album he does this in the swara prasthara for the kritis in Vasantha and Shubha Pantuvarali). He does not seem to have done that in the concert posted at http://www.rasikapriya.net

    To mark his first death anniversary, a number of rasikas and musicians from Bangalore and Mysore released a booklet called, “Poet of Flute”. The book has a decent biography of him and a few articles but it soars because of the photographs it has – it has one of Suresh, as a boy of 9 in “knickers” (shorts) sharing the stage with Mali and another where he is the main artist again in knickers (age 12 or so) with M S Gopalakrishnan on the violin!

  12. Shreeni Says:

    I can never forget BN Suresh. Way way back in the 80’s when I was a young priest at Sri Raghavendra Mutt at 8th cross Mallewaram, BNS played a couple times for the annual Aradhana celebrations and I will never forget his rendition of Baaro Krishnayya. It was out of this world. I also remember his mercurial temper too. He would just stop and wait for the accompanists to catch up if they missed a taal or slowed down. Overall a fantastic artist.

    I also insanely fell in love with Kunnakudi’s violin during the same time/years. Once, for the Ganesh festival concerts which used to be held on the steep inclines of Malleswaram 10th cross in front of Ubhayavedanta Kalyanamantapa, Kunnakudi was invited to perform. For us and many he was literally unknown and RRK ( RR Keshavamurthy ) who frequented our temple and the Ganesh temple adjacent, joked that we were in for a free “soole kunitha”. He totally disliked him being a traditional violinist. However Kunnakudi played into my heart with his Raghuvamsha Sudhambudhi, Vatapi Ganapatim and Ninnuvina. One of my friend had a rare Sanyo cassette recorder ( I used to gawk at it always 🙂 ) on which he recorded the entire concert and we used to play that in our temple for years.

  13. usha Says:

    lovely Info.. bellur.. Thx a ton..

    I will be in the look out for the albums u mentioned… dont forget to share it if u find any..

    Was planning to visit AIR and doordarshan sometime to chk new releass, may be we should go and place a request in their suggestion box… for BNS archive release.. what do you say?

    Is HMV still in the market, do we still get these collections from them? i heard Saregama had bought them over and are re-releasing HMV’s collections… is it true? I can never forget huge collection of MSS and Ustad Bismillah khan’s albums.. they were amazing

  14. bellur ramakrishna Says:

    happy that you found it useful.
    yes, we can place a request at AIR. You can still get HMV cassettes. Will let you know if i get hold of any. and what a coincidence that me too a great fan of MS! you can read about my date with the legend here: Rambling with Bellur: MS: Music Sublime
    [by the way, just wanted to tell you that i got this info on suresh in a bonda shop in malleswaram where the paper containing this info would have been packed with bonda, bajji and pakoda and finally would have reached a dustbin!
    fortunately, i saw this paper and searched all the papers the bonda guy had. he made me sit inside the shop and some lady thought i was working there and scolded me for not packing bondas and wasting time seeing papers!
    was a hilarious scene later.]

  15. bellur ramakrishna Says:

    dear shreeni,
    thanks for sharing your experience. it was nice reading about BNS.
    And also about Kunnakkudi. I remember taking a few snaps of kunnakkudi when he was performing at 8th cross during Vasavi mahotsava. each snap had a different expression. i love his COLORS and Panchrathna Krithis.

  16. msanjay Says:

    ROFL bellur you ROCK man!! 😆

  17. Shruthi Says:

    Haha haaaa !! Bellur, I demand a post on the aforementioned hilarious scene! 😀

  18. msanjay Says:

    A lot of terminology in this discussion is greek and latin to me. Hope one of you guys let me tag along to a good concert (along these lines) sometime so that I could get to appreciate it better.

  19. usha Says:

    Sure Sanjay.. We willkeep u informed of any good concerts in City.

    Bellur, do we have any organisations like SPICMACAY at local levels, Bangalore (It can be for any music) Are any organisations working towards conserving and encouraging folk music and folk arts in the state, do you know of any NGO’s in this category.. pls let me know if you come across any. Thx

  20. bellur ramakrishna Says:

    Usha,

    SPICMACAY-Bangalore, P.B. No. 444, Basavanagudi, Bangalore 560 004.
    Contact: Geeta Bhatt, Chairperson (Bangalore Chapter)

    Their website is still under construction (pillars haakidhare, maralu-cementu barbekanthe innoonu)

    anyway, address idhu: http://www.spicmacayblr.org.

    mail id gottilla work aagatto ilvo antha.
    spicmacayblr@hotmail.com.

    Letter bareyode BESTU.

    In 2004, the sub-chapter of SpicMacay was inaugurated. Vani Ganapathy was the chief guest antha odhida jnaapaka. The SpicMacay PES sub-chapter bagge PES Degree College, Hanumanthanagar, Bangalore – 50 illi vicharisibahudu annisutte.

    I also suggest you another non-profit, cultural organization ANANYA. Bahala olle kelasagalu madidare ivaru. The orginazation was established for promoting, propagating and nurturing the varied cultural art forms of India. It is located in Malleswaram.

    Read more here: http://www.ananyaculture.org/

    It is very close to my home. Yenadru help bekadre keli, vicharisthini.

  21. Shruthi Says:

    Ananya avaradde allva, ondu music library kooDa irodu? Have been to loads of concerts in Ananya.

  22. bellur ramakrishna Says:

    You are right, Shruthi. Same here. I have all their calenders and some books too. It is near Malleswaram Girl’s High School.

  23. usha Says:

    Bellur,

    Geetha (SPICMACAY)is a good friend of mine, I worked with Spicmacay till 2005.Apart from being chairperson of bangalore chapter, she is a multi talented person, Sitar player herself, she is master of Ekebana and Japan Tea ceremony, She also is a promoter of dying folk arts. She also runs lot of programs for Parikrama and other NGO’s.

    Another institution involved in Music oriented is Vani school (Adhe Nam DD rasaprashne conductor adra Principal- Lakshmi antha irbeku avra hesru, Tumba support madthare SPICMACAY and related programsge avra scoolnalli)

    Eega Spicmacay HQ and bangalore chapter nalli thumba confusions.. with regard to power, relations with HQ etc.. adakke nan regular illa alli… 🙁

    Annanya bagee gothirlilla, visit madbeku.. Bellur can u pls share their calenders

  24. bellur ramakrishna Says:

    Bellur can u pls share their calenders

    sure usha, maybe in the near future.
    hope you found the info useful.

  25. Chaith Says:

    you ppl rock.
    i’m from chennai and i stumbled on this page searching for kunnakudi vaidyanathan.
    a neo age rock star he is and his pure mastery over the ragas and his instrument is wat sets him apart.
    His music is not divine but is marinated in earthly delight.

    hit me with ur ideas and some good music .

  26. Ram Says:

    Hi Chaith,
    Kunnankudi may be a master of the ragas, but he dilutes with nakhras. He is losing melody. Moreover, he plays only a certain set of krithis and ragas. Of course, last time I heard him live was in Mysore a couple of years back during Ganeshothsava. To me, he is not creative. He makes use of his accompanists than to the nada of his violin.
    Anyday, the violin concerts of TN Krishnan, Parur, L Subramanyam are definitely better. If you like you can also listen to M Nagaraj and Manjunath (brother duo). This you can listen online at http://www.sangeethapriya.org Have a nice time.

  27. Anon Says:

    What Usha has said about Bangalore SPICMACAY is not correct. The chapter has been active with concerts of Ustad Bismilla Khan in May 2005( 2 concerts, one happened in Vani School which is so dear to Usha), Rajan Sajan Misra at IIsc, IIM, Gundecha bros, Alarmel Valli, shashank, Vishwa Mohan Bhat, Jayanthi Kumaresh etc. Pls write to spicmacayblore@yahoo.com for details. Also join spicmacay-in-banaglore@yahoogroups and SPICMACAY Bangalore community on Orkut.
    Smt.Geetha Bhat is no longer the chairperson of the chapter. The problem started with her declaring herself to be the chairperson without a proper election. The chapter has young students and professionals and we have been successful in doing 2 all night programs at IIMB in 2005 & 2006.
    Dear Smt. Usha, will you please stop making such statements about SPICMACAY Bangalore chapter? We all know your contribution to the movement. Please start attending the meetings at Chitrakala Parishat if you are concerned about the cause. Thanks.

  28. Anon Says:

    Dear Sanjay,
    Please apologise for having used your blog space for enlightening Usha about her ungracious comments about Bangalore chapter of SPICMACAY. We at B’lore Spicmacay never want to do something like this and we are against anyone interfering in someone’s space. The circumstances forced us to do this in your space and once again we apologise for our action. Please do drop in at CKP and be a part of the movement. Thanks.

  29. usha Says:

    My Appologies Anon for harsh comments, Of course problems must have got solved now, If they are I am definitely happy and delighted to learn that the chapter is rejuvunated by young volunteers, To give you a brief background behind reasons of my comment: I am indebted to Spicmacay for giving me opportunities to attend such wonderful concerts(I even attended National conference in bombay), i have very nice memories to cherish.. i never spoke ungracious statements about anybody’s work there, all who worked then was for a cause and who are working now are for a cause(The cause is to be only promotion of Spicmacay objective), only incidents were quite annoying at that time , Newcomers (New volunteers ) who joined were forced to join teams (sides)which made us to withdraw from the wonderful organisation, I would love to re-join and continue to offer my help anytime… i was always for the organisationa the objectives and not for the seat or person…my stand continues, I still respect Dr Kiran Seth, Shri Uncle Nagarajan, Nivedita, Geetha bhat for their respective contributions and other senor volunteers too who were there at that time, If only they had not fought 🙁 .

    In fact i have always felt proud and admired of the discipline followed in Spicmacay concerts and quote it everywhere :D.

    Vivek On a lighter note, Any community or organisation attains its objective and is successful only when the people involved in it are dedicated and committed isnt it? so people are reflections of the organisation… we need to realise and help it grow in the positive direction, volunteers and office bearers are key there.

    I hope you do not mistake my thoughts

    Sanjay -My appologies to you too since i used your blog to communicate my thoughts and got you invovled

  30. msanjay Says:

    good everythings all sorted out. Btw blogs are usually meant to communicate thoughts; I wasn’t involved at all – so no apologies required 😉 Good luck with your concerts guys… have fun! Hope to attend one of them sometime… 🙂

  31. TV Jagadisan Says:

    Kunnakudi’s antics on the stage are revolting.Even subtle ,melodious ragas are played as maelstroms.Such a master of the instrument,he must give up showmanship and play good classical carnatic music inthe traditional style.

  32. bavana Says:

    Kunnakudi’s antics on the stage are revolting.Even subtle ,melodious ragas are played as maelstroms.Such a master of the instrument,he must give up showmanship and play good classical carnatic music inthe traditional style.
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