Thursday, October 24, 2019

Dil dhadakne ka sabab - once again

Ghazal is a genre I love, but am generally apprehensive about singing since I'm always worried I'm going to make it 'sound Carnatic'. This particular one has been a longtime favorite and after many attempts through the years (one of which featured on this blog about a decade ago!), I couldn't resist recording and sharing this version. Asha, the one and only QUEEN - and Ghulam Ali, the maestro of ghazals - are the stuff that beauty and brilliance are made of. I wish some day my voice would roll with that kind of ease :/ Please compare this version to the original at your own risk.



Monday, October 07, 2019

Happy Saraswati Puja

May the force of learning be with you!



Monday, September 02, 2019

Jaya jaya gokula bala - Narayana Teertha

I learned this Narayana Teertha Tarangam about quarter a century ago along with my mom and sister from our then guru Smt. Ranganayaki Sridharan - resurrected it now thanks to my mom. Enjoyed recording this with the husband!



Sunday, August 18, 2019

Brovavamma Bangaru Bomma - Nilambari

Thanks to motivation from the husband, I learned this gem of a song recently - the epitome of the tenderness of Nilambari.





Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Lesser Known Gruhabhedams: Lalitha and more

Here's the fourth and the last one in the Lesser known Gruhabhedam series.





Sunday, August 04, 2019

Live concert at Bhairavi, Pondicherry

About a month ago, thanks to my father-in-law I sang a live concert at Bhairavi Carnatic Music Sabha in Pondichery. As always I was extremely nervous given that I don't do live concerts very frequently. While I think overall it turned out okay, there's a long list of things I'd do differently if I were to do it again, from the small fixes to the more long term changes: start the varnam at a slightly higher pace; practice a whole lot more so voice and shruthi remain stable throughout; try to reach a state where I can be more relaxed and enjoy the process more and be less tense. Anyway, here it is for you to appraise:

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLywv8st08uvQyagIT8NOQ4DP2wxSTVjcr


Friday, July 12, 2019

Lesser Known Gruhabhedams: Lalitha

Here's the third in the Lesser known Gruhabhedam series.



Sunday, June 09, 2019

Lesser known Gruhabhedams: Nattakurinji

Here's the second in the Lesser known Gruhabhedam series.



Friday, May 24, 2019

Medley of Evergreen Hits - IndianRaga

Raga Behag has always been a personal favorite and I absolutely loved working on this with these fabulous musicians - check it out!



Thursday, May 16, 2019

Lesser known Gruhabhedams: Rageshri

First of a series of videos on relatively lesser known gruhabhedams in classical/ film music.



Saturday, March 16, 2019

Shades of Kalyani - IndianRaga

Here's another one for IndianRaga. I enjoyed doing this out-and-out classical piece focused on improvs, with these awesome co-musicians. I hope you like it!



Saturday, February 16, 2019

Amba Neelambari - IndianRaga

This came out a while ago but I haven't had a chance to update this space. It was a wonderful experience learning and rendering this timeless krithi.



Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Sarasadala Nayana - IndianRaga

Here's yet another piece I worked on for IndianRaga. I learned this song when I was about 10 along with my sister, from Smt. Ranganayaki Sridharan - my guru at the time. One of the rarer compositions by Dikshitar in one of my favorite ragas, I'll always be grateful to Ranganayaki Mami for teaching me this. I learned the kriti in Tishra Triputa thalam. My co-singer here - Kamaladeepthi Vempati - had learned it in Chaturshra Jhampa though, and her reasoning that the first line fit the latter much better since then the second 'na' of "nayana" would land exactly on beat made sense to me and we went with that. Don't mind all the extra smiles and nodding :) Consider them unavoidable side effects of the medium.

If you like this do let me know, and pass it around to friends!



Monday, September 10, 2018

Bindumalini Thillana - IndianRaga

Here's my second production for IndianRaga - a resurrection of a piece I had posted for the first time on this blog, nearly ten years ago! (See here.) It's a thillana composed by yours truly, with lyrics by my mother Smt. Viji Bhakthavatsalam. The team that came together for this production has done a fabulous job and I'm so grateful to them for bringing my composition alive.



If you liked this, please share widely and spread the word!


Thursday, August 09, 2018

Kalyanarama - IndianRaga

Happy 12th, Octaves!

After resisting joining IndianRaga for the last 4-5 years that they have existed - due to being camera shy and thinking of myself as more a singer than a performer among other things - I finally took the plunge. While it was quite nice collaborating with other musicians, I ended up joining and/or leading 8-9 productions in all and it turned out to be an extraordinary amount of work for several months - not just creative, but also logistical and technical. But it's gratifying to see the final output and to be recognized for it. The first of my productions - a group Carnatic piece - was released a week ago:


If you like it, please do share it around and spread the word.

I'm very excited about some of my other productions to be released over the next six months or so. I'll update this space as and when they get released. Stay tuned!


Friday, February 02, 2018

Concert for Nada Vipanchi

I recently sang a concert for Nada Vipanchi in Raleigh, NC, thanks to my cousins Ashok and Godha. As always, I was extremely nervous before the concert. And as always there's a million flaws, but overall, I think it went fine. I particularly enjoyed singing a pallavi in Bahudari, for which I'd taken the first line from my mom's lyrics for the varnam I had composed eons ago.

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL6XG7q4FaVQFMtq9X-nUS6_Qef7HGDO-x


Sunday, December 03, 2017

Bahudari and Friends

Bahudari has been one of my first loves in Carnatic music for as long as I can remember. In fact the very first post in this blog was on Bahudari - I had posted a varnam I'd composed well over a decade ago now. (I've had the wisdom to restrain myself from composing anything in Carnatic over the years, but didn't know any better back then. As they say in Tamil, "aaruva kOLAru".)
Anyway - the raga and its ilk have always fascinated me, and here's a long-pending attempt at bringing together some of my favorite film songs in scales close to Bahudari, along with the piece de resistance: Thyagaraja's Brova bharama. I've concluded with a brief thillana-esque piece that I came up with, along with some improvs. This is probably the first time I've also really tried to do harmonies with some of the film song lines. The video was shot at one of the beaches in Malibu, CA.

Here goes -


Sunday, October 22, 2017

Tulasi Bilva

Happy Eleventh, Octaves!
Here's a video I recorded last night.



Monday, June 19, 2017

Thyagaraja on my mind

Some 10 days ago I was practicing music with a friend - we were working on Bhakti Bhikshamiyyave in Shankarabharanam. After that I started humming Mayamalavagowla and before I knew it I caught myself singing Bhakti Bhiksha in the ragam. It started out as just a fun little thing trying to transpose the pallavi alone, but then as I started thinking about it more the whole kriti seemed to fit in Mayamalavagowla quite nicely. I then wondered what the majestic Merusamana might sound like in Shankarabharanam. The results are here.

This exercise helped me better understand these ragas and made me ponder the connections between ragam, layam, sahithyam, and bhavam. Needless to say, both of these - in their original forms - are among my absolute favorite krithis of Thyagaraja as they are for thousands of other Carnatic lovers. I mean no irreverence here, and I did these purely for exploration.

Here they are:






Saturday, May 13, 2017

What were you thinking Rahman?

I've been meaning to do this for a while now: compile a list of Rahman songs we all adore, BUT for those few cringeworthy moments in them. Some cringes in life die down. Some, you learn to live with. But there are others which just won't leave you. The cringe is magnified manifold particularly when the song as a whole makes for a great listening experience and when you just want to forward/ mute out those few seconds.

A few notes: 1. I was a diehard Rahman fan up until the early 2000s and I'm most familiar with his work until then. So this (teeny tiny) list doesn't contain many songs post 2002/ 03. 2. I'm only talking about musical cringeworthiness, not w.r.t lyrics/ pronunciation stuff. (I imagine the latter would generate a much longer list.) 3. Obviously this isn't meant to be an exhaustive list - these are (according to me) few of the most obvious ones, and this list might continue to get updated. 4. Rahman, I still love you.

So without much ado... presenting to you the "What were you thinking Rahman?" moments (going roughly from most to least egregious):

1. Dil se re: Okay, this is inexcusable. Anupama and Anuradha mouthing the wrong swaras? Why Rahman? Why? "Sa sa sa sa ri ri ni ni sa ri ma ma pa pa ri ri sa sa sa ni" wouldn't have sounded any less "cool".
2. Thee thee thitthikkum thee: What a remarkable song and vocals. Why oh, why those swaras (ma pa ni sa ri sa...) in that first interlude? "Drishti"? Just. Doesn't. Fit.
3. Anjali anjali: Again, a brilliant song. Not a fan of the third flute interlude. Simply doesn't go. Random major scale/ hamsadhwani/ mohanam notes following a lovely (mishra) maand? Why?
4. Bol sajni: a) Kavitha's voice. Me no likey, sorry. b) That go-up-the-cliff-and-drop effect in the humming in both interludes. :( :( What a gorgeous song otherwise!
5. Poovukkul olindhirukkum: Seriously, what's with those interludes again? Both of them. What is usilampatti penkutti doing in here?
6. Alaipaayuthe kanna: Anupallavi doesn't start on beat! Mixing guy, this one's on you. Despite the "ting" to indicate samam!
7. Snehithane: Not a fan of the first three lines of the charanams. Call me old fashioned, but I can't get over these musical digressions.
8. Kannathil mutthamittal: Same as above. The charanam beginnings are a little too random for me.
Addition as of 05/16:
9. Avalum naanum: Nice, breezy (albeit very simple) pallavi - but what's with the post violin part of the interlude and ugh, the charanam start??
10. Yeh rishta kya kehlata hai: Again, the charanam. Aargh. (Not that I love the rest of the song too much, so this one's kinda okay.)

Anyone got more?