Nadasurabhi Cultural Association located in Koramangala, Bangalore is in the forefront of promoting Classical Carnatic Music. Nadasurabhi conducts the highest quality music concerts every month and a week-long Annual Festival in November, free of charge to all rasikas. Our other events include a youth festival, Thyagaraja and Purandaradasa Aradhana, and music competitions for children.
Written by Sri.V.Sriram. Extracted from the book Carnatic Summer with the author’s kind permission and published in Nadasurabhi Souvenir 2007
|A brief history of Carnatic Music|
Tyagaraja was the most prolific among the three and emotion was his forte. He composed in his mother tongue Telugu, in several popular ragas and some rare ones. Though most of his songs are on his patron deity Rama, his songs have several observations on the day to day life in his times. They are indeed valuable sociological works apart from being gems of music.
Syama Sastry, the eldest of the three, was hereditary priest at the Bangaru Kamakshi temple in Tanjore. He composed on the Goddess and his songs, mainly in Telugu, are excellent in melody. Their true strength, however, lies in the way the rhythm is woven into the song.
The youngest of the Trinity, Muttuswamy Dikshitar, had an interesting life. His younger brother Baluswami observed the violin used by Westerners in Madras and adapted it to Carnatic music. Muttuswami Dikshitar travelled in the company of his guru to North India and was influenced by the Hindustani stream as well. A very learned man, he composed in chaste Sanskrit and adopting a peripatetic existence he visited a number of shrines in south India and composed on them. His songs excel in their structured usage of ragas.
Coming as they did at the same time, the Trinity eclipsed all earlier composers. Carnatic music having relied on the oral tradition, many of the songs of the pre-Trinity period completely vanished. The disciples of the Trinity spread far and wide propogating their songs, and soon their compositions began dominating Carnatic repertoire. The era immediately after the Trinity witnessed the rise of a number of performing musicians who were also composers such as the Tanjore Quartet, Maha Vaidyanatha Sivan (1844-93), Patnam Subramania Iyer (1845-1902), Ramanathapuram Poochi Srinivasa Iyengar (1867-1919), and several others such as Harikesanallur L. Muthaiah Bhagavatar (1877-1945) and Mysore Vasudevachar (1865-1961). These composers created songs in several forms such as varnams, javalis, and tillanas. They looked to the royal courts for patronage and with the decline of the Tanjore court in 1799, others such as Mysore, Travancore, Pudukottai and the smaller estates such as Ettayapuram, Ramnad and Sivaganga took over. An important personality was the composer Swati Tirunal (1813-1846), who ruled Travancore. Unlike the Trinity, several of the composers who followed did not consider composing on patrons to be beneath their dignity and there are several songs in the honour of kings, including Queen Victoria, King Edward VII and George V !
Around this time the violin became the favoured instrument for accompaniment and later acquired solo status. Two violinists who shot into prominence very early in the history of the instrument were Tirukodikkaval Krishna Iyer (1857-1913) Malaikottai Govindasami Pillai (1879-1931). Soon many artists took to becoming violinists. The advent of the violin saw the gradual decline of the veena, though there were several prominent vainikas such as the Karaikkudi Brothers- Subbarama Iyer (1883-1936) and Sambasiva Iyer (1888-1958) and later S. Balachander (1927-1990). The instrument, due to its low volume, was ideally suited for chamber performances and has been a casualty in the explosion of sabhas with poor acoustics.
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