Ever since I saw the announcement of the audio release of Dr Shrikaanth Murthy’s compositions, I was eager to listen to the compositions in these CDs. I had heard many of his compositions before, and was curious to hear the compositions featured in these CDs.
I got the CD set last week, and here I am writing a few lines about the CD set.
The CD set features compositions in Kannada, Samskrta, and Sanketi. Although there are many Sanketi speaking musicians, Shrikaanth should definitely get the credit for being the first one (as per my knowledge) to use Sanketi in a classical music setting.
The compositions are very lively, with a very good combination of rAga bhAva and sAhitya. Some of them are rendered quite elaborately too. Kangalu KambodillavE (Kambhoji), rAja rAjande rathu (madhyamAvati) and kaLLanArI rIti (nArI rItigouLa), rAjamAtangi ( suraTi) have become my personal favorites in this album set, making me repeatedly listen them.
There are several aspects in these compositions that indicate a strong influence from the style of Muttuswami Deekshita.Similar to Muttuswami Dikshita, Shrikaanth has included the rAgamudre in very innovative ways. I would like to cite a few examples here.
1. The kriti in rAga kOkilArava starts with “rAma unkOlilla ravayatneyu kanikaru” (ರಾಮಾ ಉಂಕೋಕಿಲ್ಲಾ ರವೆಯತ್ನೆಯು ಕನಿಕರೊ) , splitting the rAga name between two words, at the same time bringing the appropriate feel – “Rama, why don’t you have a grain of mercy?”.
2. Another kriti in rAga kAmbhodi says “kangaLu kaMbOdillave? kandana nODalu lakShmI” (ಕಂಗಳು ಕಾಂಬೋದಿಲ್ಲವೆ? ಕಂದನ ನೋಡಲು ಲಕ್ಷ್ಮೀ!) .
3. A pada in rAga nArI rIti goula begins with the pallavi “kaLLanArI rIti kouLikava mADida?” (ಕಳ್ಳನಾರೀ ರೀತಿ ಕೌಳಿಕವ ಮಾಡಿದ) -Who is this thief who indulges in deceit?
4. A kriti in rAga gourI vELAvaLi goes like “pAlana paNNa gourI vELa vaLi kANAdikkara bhakALa” (ಪಾಲನ ಪಣ್ಣ ಗೌರೀ ವೇಳ ವಳಿ ಕಾಣಾದಿಕ್ಕರ ಭಕ್ತಾಳಾ” – “Oh Gouri, it is the time you protect your devotees who don’t see a path ahead”.
Similar to Dikshitar’s style, the composer has included his signature at different places (pallavi, anupallavi, charaNa) in his compositions. Another nice aspect is the presence of madhyama kAla passages in several compositions, which is another feature of MD compositions too.
Ragas such as kOkilArava, jayashuddha mALavi, gouri vELAvaLi (asampUrNa mELas), and nAgadhwani are decidedly from Dikshita’s tradition. In terms of sAhity too, the compositions in Samskrta show Dikshita’s influence on the style, and flow. Whether the song is in Kannada, Samskrta, or Sanketi, they all follow standard poetic norms, and the sAhitya has been woven very well.
Volume 1 of the set features 9 compositions sung by Dr Satyavati and her desciples. Volume 2 features 5 compositions sung by Vidushi Sukanya Prabhakar.
One of the compositions is about Nacharamma, about whom I’d written before in a previous blog post.
As amply shown in these recordings, some of the compositions in these CDs are definitely “main”* or “sub-main”* material (kangaLu kAmbOdillave-kAmbhOdi, rAja rAjande rathu -madhyamAvati, mInAkashi-Ananda bhairavi etc) . I wish some other compositions of Shrikaanth, like mAtADabAradE (vasanta bhairavi) and kamalAmbikAyAm (dEsh) should have been included in this; but there is always the next time!
I’m glad to see some performers already singing some of the compositions of Shrikaanth Murthy in concerts. I wish more musicians take up these (and also compositions of other -not-so-well-known composers) and make them as part of their concert repertoire.
I’ll end this post with a few YouTube videos of Dr T S Satyavathi – singing a composition of Shrikaanth Murthy: Gurukripa illAde, in rAga kharahapriya as the ‘main’ item in a concert.
In the first, the vocalist makes a few comments about the composer, and the composition:
*: “main”, “sub-main” are terms that are used to describe how heavy a composition is in a concert perspective. A “main/sub-main” has to provide scope for improvisation. In a 3 hour concert, the “main” item can take as much as 45-60 minutes, and the “sub-main” something like 20-30 minutes.