Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Ashwini Bhide....

What: A review of an ICMCA sponsored concert of Indian Classical Music
Who: Ashwini Bhide (Vocal), Vishwanath Shirodkar (Tabla), Seema Shirodkar (Harmonium)
Where: Casa de Luz, Austin, Texas
When: 7 pm-10pm June 11, 2010

This review is offered as a service to the community interested in Indian Classical Music. We believe that reviews can be important channels for feedback to the artists, audiences and aficionados of music and are necessary to keep the field vibrant and the discussion lively. In this spirit comments on and reviews of this review are also most welcome.

The concert began at 7:20 pm with Raag Maaru Behaag, an evening melody. The Vilambit (slow) Khayal was set to the wording ``Rasiya na Jaa" and came to the Sum (first beat of the Tabla) with the notes S M G-S, G M P-MP-(upper case letters denote raised and lower case letters denote flattened notes). Maaru Behaag is a favorite Raag of Maharashrians and the predominantly Marathi audience immediately responded spiritedly to Ashwini Bhide's tuneful rendering of this beautiful Raag. Although the emphasis is on the GMP-MP- phrase, Maaru Behaag also sounds very beautiful in its approach to the Komal (flattened) Madhyam m (fourth note F) as in the phrase S m P G and the artist skillfully exploited this specialty of the Raag. The Vilambit Khayal was followed by a Drut Khayal (both were set to 16 beats Teentaal and Addha equivalently Sitarkhaani, respectively) which had the same ending note cluster as in the Vilambit. The artist displayed her impressive virtuosity and voice control with many fast Taans and complex Layakari (rhythmic patters) and the total treatment of Maaru Behaag lasted over 40 minutes.

The next item was a Thumree with the wording ``Sunder Saari..." due to the 15th century North Indian Brij Bhasha poet Surdas to whom over 1500 poems have been attributed. The artist blended a number of light classical Raagas including Piloo, Khammaach, Maand and Shivranjani to render this lovely and lyrical song, which as she explained in the beginning had an obvious (soiled Saari) as well as a deeper philosophical meaning (body versus soul).

After the intermission the artist began with the late night Raag Maalkouns in which she first presented a Vilambit composition in Roopak Taal, of seven beats. The Sum was chosen to be on S and the wording was ``Naada Saagar Aparampaar, Maha Katthin, Jo Paayo Na Paayo". She elaborated the Raag with care and in detail and explored it thouroughly before moving on to the Drut (fast) composition in Teentaal (16 beats). The emphasis now shifted to the upper part of the octave with mukhra (S d, g-m n-).The fast composition had many fireworks and came as a wonderful and welcome contrast to the Ati Vilambit Khayaal.

At this point it is necessary to mention the outstanding accompaniment provided by Seema Shirodkar on the Harmonium. She very quickly established herself, early in the concert, with her brilliant and tasteful improvisations while not overstepping her supportive role. I have not heard this level of great music from a Harmonium player and was truly overwhelmed as was the entire audience. She drew repeated applause from the enthusiastic audience.

The next item was a Bhajan in Raag Iman Kalyaan with wording composed by Sant Tukaram the 17th century (1577(?) -1650) Marathi saint. The music of this beautiful composition was set by Ashwini Bhide's mother and Guru Manik Bhide. Although Iman Kalyaan has the same set of notes as Maaru Behaag the treatment and approach are quite distinct and the artist gave a great account of this important and central evening Raag. The Bhajan ended with the refrain ``Pandurang Vitthala", a prayer to Lord Vitthala (Krishna), worshipped by Tukaram.

The performance concluded with an Abhang (Marathi) Bhajan in Raag Bhairavi which has become a traditional concluding item in evening concerts even though it is a morning Raag. The singing was emotionally intense and spirited and ended in a highly charged atmosphere.

Ashwini Bhide is a truly great artist. So is Seema Shirodkar. Vishwanath Shirodkar provided able and spirited Tabla accompaniment and was most communicative with the audience. Dr Bhide has a Ph.D in Biochemistry but nowhere in the publicity did she flaunt this fact. This is indicative of her modesty and is highly commendable in today's environment where titles such as Pandit and Ustaad abound and are often self-bestowed. The Austin concert was the 25th US concert for this group, on the present tour, and it is easy to see why they are in such demand given the brilliant concert they presented.

ICMCA has therefore once again brought great music to Austin and Austinites and deserves congratulations. Nevertheless a few critical remarks may be pertinent to future events. First the concert began late, a pattern that has come to be associated, regrettably, with Indian functions in general. In this case 20 minutes was not excessive by Indian standards and even understandable because of the unexpected turnout (140 people). The venue was quite inadequate and a disservice to such a great artist. Its physical appearance was dismal and so were the acoustics. Lastly, ICMCA's regular sound man appeared in his usual uniform sporting a pair of rather short shorts, squatted in the front row on the floor with raised legs, and repeatedly pointed his toes toward the artist. This is unacceptable in the concert culture of Indian Classical Music. ICMCA may be reluctant to impose a dress code on the audience but surely it can impose a simple dress code on their soundman: No shorts or armpit revealing cutoff vests. ICMCA has acquired a good reputation for hosting outstanding artists. They can greatly improve their wonderful musical presentations by eliminating some of the relatively minor irritants mentioned here.

Sur Saadhak

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Jayteerth Mewundi...

What: A review of a house concert of North Indian Classical Vocal Music by Jayteerth Mewundi
When: May 14, 2010 7pm-10-45pm.
Where: Kamlesh Saxena home, Austin

This review is offered as a service to the community of music lovers. Like most reviews it is subjective and its purpose is to promote discussion, interest and awareness.

The artist started the evening's performance with Raag Puriya in which he rendered a short Alaap, vilambit (slow) composition set to Ektaal (12 beats) and drut (fast) composition in Teentaal (16 beats). The beautiful Alaap was rendered in a serene and composed style and blended exquisitely with the atmosphere of the evening sunset visible through the tall glass windows of the elegant Saxena home. The Vilambit composition continued the slow and elaborate introduction of the Raag. The artist was most ably supported by Guruprasad Hegde on the Harmonium. The voice was in perfect Shruti as Jayteerth systematically progressed through the Raag paying careful attention to each note and cluster of notes. This style of treatment was reminiscent of the approach of the late Ustaad Amir Khan. The slow Ektaal khayal was ably supported by Bharat Kamath on the Tabla which was appropriately tuned to a lower register. The fast composition was breathtaking and the artist's voice gained in power and control as the Raag proceeded to its conclusion with many lightning fast Taans ranging over three octaves and more. Raag Puriya is a beautiful but difficult evening Raag and only seasoned artists can handle it. Its notes are the same as of the more popular Marwa which has the signature line Dha Ni re (with re atikomal). Puriya's chalan is more like that of Iman Kalyan and it must be kept distinct from Raags Puriya Dhanashree and Gouri. Jayateerth's rendering of Raag Puriya is one of the best I have ever heard.

The second Raag was Joag in which the artist sang a beautiful Tarana composed by the late Ustaad Amir Khan. The composition was set to Madhya Laya Teentaal and the medidative and introspective as well as heroic moods of Joag were in full display. The artist showed great command over his voice and deep understanding of the Raag and explored its structure through intricate and fast Taans. The accompanists rose to the occassion and supported him with exquisite Harmonium accompaniment and lively and responsive Tabla accompaniment.

After the intermission the artist rendered Raag Shankara. He explained that the stalwarts of the Kirana Gharana including Ustaad Abdul Karim Khan and Ustaad Abdul Wahid Khan had imbibed many musical ideas from the Carnatic tradition and he demonstrated this in his gorgeous treatment of Shankara. Thi was followed by several Marathi Abhangs and Bhajans including the well known Bhajan of Purandara Das ``Bhagyada Laxmi Baaramma". The concluding item was Raag Bhairavi which converged to Pandit Bhimsen Joshi's famous song ``Jo Bhaje Hari ko Sadaa". The rendering was spirited and full of Bhakti Bhaav and emotion leaving the audience spellbound.

Apparently this is Jayateerth's first trip to the USA. It was indeed a rare privilege to hear such a great artist in a house concert setting. I am sure he will be visiting often and I hope this was an eye-opener for those in charge of planning for the Music Societies.

Sur Saadhak

Ghulam Farid Nizami...

What: A review of a concert of Indian Classical Music
Who: Ustaad Ghulam Farid Nizami (Sitar) and Shiv Naimpally (Tabla)
Where: Radiance Dome, Austin, Texas
When: 7:30 pm-9:30pm May 14, 2010

This review is offered as a service to the community interested in Indian Classical Music. We believe that reviews can be important channels for feedback to the artists, audiences and aficionados of music and are necessary to keep the field vibrant and the discussion lively. In this spirit comments on and reviews of this review are also most welcome.

The concert began with Raag Madhuvanti an evening melody that is supposed to remind one of the scent of honeysuckles and other flowers at dusk. Nizami's Sitar was well tuned and he was able to capture the mood of this exquisite Raag in the short Alaap and the Vilambit (slow tempo) and Drut (fast tempo) Gaths (compositions) that followed. He was ably accompanied by Shiv Naimpally who gave solid rhythmic support. The next Raag was Iman Kalyan a popular evening Raag whose main moods are peace and devotion. Nizami once again did a great job of evoking the mood of the Raag in a short Alaap followed by two Gaths in slow and fast tempos respectively.

After a short intermission (during which Samosas, cookies and Chai was served in the Dome) the second half opened with Nizami presenting the vocal music part of the concert. He accompanied himself on the Harmonium very ably during this part and rendered a beautiful composition in the springtime melody Raag Bahaar and several songs from North India. The opening piece was the famous Rajasthani song ``Kesariya Baalam" in the Raag Maand. Nizami's singing was passionate and tuneful and reached the higher registers flawlessly. The audience could easily relate to the music on an emotional level despite the language barrier and gave the artists a standing ovation.

The concert was billed as a Sufi Music event. Nizami himself referred to it as ancient music (1000 year and 700 year old respectively) from Pakistan. Ancient Pakistani Music? In view of the fact that Pakistan did not exist until 62 years ago I was intrigued. What exactly is Sufi Music? Does Sufi Music refer to North Indian Classical Music sung by Pakistanis? What music has originated in Pakistan since its creation? Why was it that Nizami not once stated that his music was 100% Indian Classical Music?

Perhaps the answers to these questions can be traced to the schizophrenic attitudes of the Mughal Emperors of India towards all things Indian. They loved the Music but hated to acknowledge its Hindu origins from Vedic times and pursued a relentless campaign to Islamicize the music. As a result all Hindu musicians in the Mughal courts had to convert to Islam or adopt Islamic names. A prominent example of this is Ustaad Wazir Khan (1840-1932) the Guru of Ustaad Allauddin Khan (1862-1972) and 19th century leader of the Senia Gharana, whose private Hindu name was Chhatrapal Singh.

It is appropriate to point out that Nizami claims allegiance to the Jaipur branch of the Senia Gharana and has recently obtained political asylum in the US based on his claim that he cannot pursue his music in Pakistan. Indeed the Islamic regime of Pakistan continues to have an ambivalent and hostile attitude to this music and has almost destroyed this rich culture in Pakistan. After attending a concert, the late Pakistani dictator President Ayub Khan approached the musicians and asked them to rename the Raags after deleting the names of the Hindu Gods and Goddesses!

Nizamiji is an excellent artist and a wonderful addition to Austin's growing slate of talented resident musicians pursuing this type of Music. Austinites are generous and liberal but Nizami should not underestimate their knowledge, intelligence and sophistication especially when he performs at a place like the Radiance Dome where the audience is devoted to the spiritual teachings of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and the ancient Gandharva Music tradition.

Sur Saadhak

Kushal Das and Kumar Bose...

What: A review of a concert of Indian Classical Music sponsored by India Fine Arts, Austin (IFA)
Who: Kushal Das (Sitar) and Kumar Bose (Tabla)
Where: Jones Auditorium, St. Edwards University, Austin, Texas
When: 6:30 pm-9:30pm April 25, 2010

This review is offered as a service to the community interested in Indian Classical Music. We believe that reviews can be important channels for feedback to the artists, audiences and aficionados of music and are necessary to keep the field vibrant and the discussion lively. In this spirit comments on and reviews of this review are also most welcome.

The concert began with Kushal Das announcing cryptically that he would play Raag Monomanjari. No further explanation of the genealogy, origins or structure of this Raag was offered. Since Monomanjari is not a well known Raag by any stretch of the imagination this reviewer felt that the artist did an injustice to the audience by omitting any explanation of this Raag and its characteristics. The least he could have done was to mention that this Raag was a creation of the late Sitarist Pandit Nikhil Banerjee, that it essentially was an embellishment of the traditional evening Raag Puriya Kalyan with the addition of Komal Ni.

Kushal Das played Alaap, Jor, Jhala, Vilambit and Drut gats in Raag Manomanjari for a total of 1 hour and 20 minutes before declaring an intermission. The playing was full of virtuosity with the artist displaying good command of the Sitar. However the Raag did not come to life at any point of the performance and the listener was left to wonder what the mood or message of the Raag was. The Komal Ni crept into the beautiful structure of Puriya Kalyan as an anomaly and at best was a curiosity with no particular significance or meaning. The two gats in Teental were lacklustre with both gats sharing essentially the same melodic structure.

The performance livened up considerably when Kumar Bose entered the arena. His playing was brilliant and extremely responsive to the instrumentalist's improvisations. The percussionist's virtuoso accompaniment drew several rounds of enthusiastic applause. The solid tone of the Tabla and the colorful Benares style of playing was in full display and highly impressive. Kumar Bose's communication with the audience was also upbeat, positive and enthusiastic and in sharp contrast to the Sitarist's lack of interaction with the audience.

The second half of the concert consisted of the single Raag Khammach. The Sitar playing was mostly on frets and there was hardly any Meend work. A Raag such as Khammach can be played in a feminine Thumri style or orthodox masculine classical style. Kushal Das seemed ambiguous as to which style he was presenting and as a result, once again, the character of the Raag did not come to life. And once again Kumar Bose brought life to the concert in both the vilambit (slow) Rupak (7 beats) and drut (fast) Teental (16 beat) compositions with his virtuoso and stylish accompaniment.

Both artists were billed as Pandits. This listener was left to wonder how such a title is obtained in the present musical scenario in the context of North Indian Classical music. Is it conferred by the sponsoring organizations, by audiences, by All India Radio or Sangeet Kala Academy? Or is it self-conferred by the artist?

Sur Saadhak

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

All Night

The Frog and I happened to attend Chhandayan's annual whole night concert in New York City last weekend. We witnessed three of present day's best artists in full form consecutively for six hours, and since then I have not been able to lead a normal routine of work.

However, the highlight of the concert was undoubtedly Ulhas Kashalkar, whom I had last heard about seven years back in a live concert. As far as I remember, it was either at the SRA or the GD Birla Sabhagar in Calcutta, where he sang Raga Bihagda. I remember the whole audience singing the mukhda of the famous vilambit bandish with him in tandem. It was extraordinary.

At the Synod Hall last Sunday, he sang Raga Ramkali as a bada Khayal. The ambience was incredible since Rashid had just sung a long Jog, and had ended with a Bhairavi Thumri. Early rays of sunlight were just seeping in, through the stained glass windows of the cathedral auditorium, as the vilambit progressed. His layakari has evolved to the highest standards and at times it seemed like listening to Pt. Mansur in a live concert. The tabla and the harmonium mixed with his vocals as if the three were made for each other, much like the duo of Ali Akbar Khan and Swapan Chaudhuri. Ramkali's drut "Hoon To Baari Baari Jaun" was followed by a short khayal in Hindol Bahar. The two components - Hindol and Bahar were blended by the master so exquisitely that it created magic at the transitions.

I am dying to hear more of his renditions now, since there is so much to learn; fortunately I just received plenty of his new live recordings to listen to, and am feeling very privileged.

Monday, April 02, 2007

My journeys in tuning the guitar

Tuning a guitar is a tough job. For two reasons, it’s tough to have perfect ears, and most of the time the ears respond to aural clues not coming from the guitar too; and secondly because of equal temperament. I have wanted to write this article for several years now, because every day in my musical journey, I am fascinated by the trap of the tempered third.

The easiest way to tune the guitar is by using an electronic tuner. You turn the pegs until the tuner clicks and tells you that your string is tuned perfectly. Easy, simple and takes the least amount of time. But of course, if you are the perfectionist, this mechanism is rarely going to satisfy you.

The problem is compounded if you are going to play with a fixed pitch instrument (Which is not an electronic keyboard). There is a small chance that there is a conflict between what your tuner says and what the instrument says. In such conditions, it’s always best to tune your guitar to the fixed-pitch instrument, which will enhance your performance and the purists will have lesser areas to frown upon. Ideally, of course, all fixed-pitch instruments should be tuned to concert pitch, but they are sometimes way off, sometimes clearly lying between two notes on the electronic tuner, and that’s where the guitarist’s problems are compounded.

There was an informal jam session I participated in, in which there were five of us, and another guitarist who was new. He was not new to the guitar, he was new to us. So everything was fine, until he decided to join in. So he takes out his guitar, his electronic tuner, tunes his guitar and joins in. The jam session was wrecked. He was on concert pitch, but none of us were, and he was unaware that he was way off – possibly, because he was hard of hearing, or partially tone-deaf. I had contemplated telling him to switch to another guitar, or tune his guitar for him, but as one is painfully aware, the social dynamics of tuning another guitarist’s guitar for him is a non-trivial matter.

The best way, and something that has been supporting me lately in my exploits with the guitar is the D tuning. Tune the D (4th string) to the concert pitch, or what all of you in your informal jam session agree to as the concert pitch D. Using this D, tune the other strings using the open 4th string as a reference. The reason I ask you to do this, is because in this case, you won’t be basing your references on thirds or fifths to tune, but all your tuning would be based on the pure interval – which is the octave.

The problem is created now by the major third interval (that is the F# note on the key of D). This is important in most of all the music that you hear and most of rock, folk, country music anyways, that you would want it to sound good. Play your D chord now; and you will notice that it doesn’t sound good. Do you want to tweak the strings which play the F# so that it sounds good? You would be tempted, as I am all the time. But I guess that’s the peril of equal temperament, something that was experimented with for years, and ultimately resulted in a fret-board in which one perfect chord leads to other imperfect chords. The human ear which would always be more satisfied by the just temperament simply fails to agree with the guitar which wants to be tuned to equal temperament, with the result that most guitarists are moody people who are rarely happy.

So what is this equal temperament thingy which musicians have been so worried about over the years?

The scale is divided into equally-spaced semitones, and each semitone is around a hundred (100) cents away from each other. So a cent is 1/100 of a semitone. Simple concept.
Before we had equal temperament, all musical instruments were tuned according to the overtone series – which is the sequence of harmonics which we hear when a particular note is sung, plucked or blown upon. And that resulted in what is known as just temperament, something that nature designed every individual scale to be.

But that was not easy for the piano, which cannot be tuned in between a performance which shifts from one key to another. Thus arose equal temperament, which was first experimented with by Bach, who wrote his famous The well-tempered clavier, with a series of fugues and preludes in both major and minor keys to illustrate that with all it’s failures, equal temperament is the way to go, because it makes all your thirds slightly off, but not so far off as to actually sound discordant when played as a part of a musical performance.

So what’s the problem with equal temperament? Taking heed from the hundred cents which separate each semitone from its next (or previous), if we investigate the equally tempered scale, we find that the third (the major third) is 14 cents sharper than what the actual major third is supposed to be. So the actual major third on your equally-tempered piano is 14/100 times sharper than the actual third which occurs on that scale using the overtone series. The octave however, in equal temperament, is perfect, it’s exactly double the frequency of the lower note in the same key. Which implies that it’s always best to tune using octaves, something which I mentioned in the very beginning of this article. Tempered fourths and fifths are not very far off from their actual sounds in the equally tempered scale, in that the fourth is 2 cents sharper than the actual, and the tempered fifth is 2 cents flatter than the actual. The minor third, incidentally is a bigger problem than the major third, in that it is around 16 cents flatter than the actual minor third which is a part of the scale as per the overtone series.

This concept is academic in the case of fixed-pitch instruments, like the flute, the oboe, or the recorder, which can only change their ranges slightly but the pitches which these instruments can play are fixed in the mechanism of the instrument. The violin and stringed instruments, on the other hand, are more tunable, because of the pegs which are provided with the instrument, and that is what you notice concert fiddlers doing in the middle of performances. They change their pitches ever so slightly to adjust with the new key which the next concert piece is going to be played on. Guitars are stringed instruments but they should not be regularly tuned to the key because the frets are a limiting factor, making the instrument prominently like the piano as far as equal temperament is concerned.

So what is the trap of the major third as I mentioned in the beginning?

Let me illustrate with the simplest G – open chord. The 2nd string in the G open chord is also open, and it plays a B, which as we all know – is the major third in the G major chord. Now let us say, using the electronic tuner which we recently purchased, we tuned the guitar perfectly as per instructions and played the G chord. Well, to most ears, it will sound right – but to ears which were born fussy and inconclusive, the G will not sound good, the 2nd string sounds distinctly off. Wouldn’t it be nice, if I tuned it down a little, turned that peg just a little bit, and make the G chord sound like the most beautiful thing in the world? Well, that’s what I used to do when I first played the guitar; and that was a big trap. I always used to get a world-class G chord, but when I decided to play the next song on the scale of E, I sounded terrible. I spent days trying to understand what I was doing wrong, until I decided to ask someone who knew more than me, and that’s how I learnt all this. What was happening was that in my urge to get the perfect third in the G major chord, I was tuning the B open string (2nd string) to the perfect B, which is actually 14 cents lower than what it should actually be as per the equally tempered scale. On the E scale, however, the B is the fifth of the scale, which even in the equally tempered scale should never be more than two cents off, but because of my efforts, was actually 14 cents off, and hence my E chord always sounded horrible.

This is incidentally, one of the reasons why it will never be possible under realistic scenarios to play Carnatic classical music on the piano.

Monday, February 19, 2007


...Jayateerth Mevundi, a very young and very talented artist from the Kirana Gharana. Advay, my friend from the University of Pittsburgh introduced me to his Shuddh Saarang and it was incredibly promising. One gets reminded of Pt. Bhimsen's 75th birth anniversary recordings released by Music Today about 10 years back. Jayateerth's fast tans, especially the parts in the Tara Saptaka bears the Kirana signature. The sur-pradhan and simplistic approach again embodies the ghar's tradition. Here is an exquisite sample of a 6 minute Kedar. Interestingly, he hails from Dharwad from where come few of the greatest artists of the last century.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Yaman - Amir Khan

Yaman needs no introduction. Check out one of the most intense renditions of Yaman by none other than Ustad Amir Khan. It is astonishingly simple, but beautiful. I have a bias for Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, but this has the potential to be the most favorite Yaman of the unbiased.

1. Vilambit in Jhumra Tala (his favorite :)) (43'21)
2. Drut in Teentala (11'11)

Accompanied on the harmonium by Pandit Jnan Prakash Ghosh, and on the Tabla by Pandit Gobinda Bose.

Available here.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Kamalambam Navavarna Krithis

I'm not sure what to post here, because I'm not sure to what extent you listen to Carnatic music. I thought I'd begin by pointing at some very famous pieces, do let me know whether this is already well-known to you guys :) And I should add that I am not an expert, I've spent a few years learning vocals, and a few more listening; that's all. :)

As you may know, the krithi is the fundamental unit in a Carnatic musician's repertoire. The most common structure of a krithi is 2 lines of a pallavi, 2 lines of anupallavi, and 4 lines of charanam. The first line of a pallavi acts as a refrain, and is repeated after the anupallavi and charanam; on some occasions the entire pallavi is repeated. Each line of a krithi has a basic melodic structure given by the composer, but each school (and indeed each musician) may add different kinds of gamakams & improvisations to the lines in their renditions; these are usually built up from simple to complex. The basic melodic structure of a krithi determines to a large extent what kinds of gamakams can be sung on it; some krithis sound fine when performed by your average talented 12 year old, some others can be unbearable. Those others are also often the ones that offer the greatest scope for beautiful gamakams, and the Kamalambam Navavarna krithis fall into this category.

The Kamalambam Navavarna krithis are a series of 11 krithis composed on the goddess Kamalamba at Tiruvarur, by Dikshitar. (All of the krithis that I know of are devotional in nature.) All 11 of the krithis performed by D.K.Jayaraman are available as MP3s on the Carnatic Krithi Archive (scroll down a bit, look for the last file on each line: "original mp3"). They are in each in a different ragam, and a few different talams are used. Many of these ragams are "major", turning up regularly in concerts as main/sub-main pieces, e.g. Thodi (Hindustani: Bhairavi), Kalyani (Hindustani: Yaman), Sankarabharanam (Hindustani: Bilawal?), Ananda Bhairavi, Kambhoji, Bhairavi (I don't know the equivalents of these). The Carnatica website has a lot of detail on the beauty and complexity of the lyrics, but I've never really paid attention there.

The music, however, is brilliant. They are wonderful to listen to, over and over again, because their elucidation of the ragas -- at least in the ragas that I know -- is so very broad and complex. They are all also slow, majestic krithis, giving ample scope for each line of teachers to add a non-trivial stamp to their rendition of it. In the Kalyani krithi for example (the only one I can claim to have learnt), the T.V.Sankaranarayanan version here sounds to me nothing like what I learnt (the song itself goes from 4.50 to 10.05, the rest is an alapanai before and kalpanaswaras after), whereas the DKJ version above is a tiny bit closer, and the version by U.Shrinivas on the mandolin here seems a lot closer (song from 6.12 to 10.12).

I've never heard them performed all together, though a search shows that there are a few such concerts: usually, one krithi gets chosen as the main/sub-main piece of the evening, and performed independently. In fact, I've never heard the last few performed at all (but then I didn't grow up in India.) And because these krithis are so demanding, I can't imagine how it would be to perform them all together.

In the meantime, that's what recordings are for... I highly recommend listening to them, and of course, I'd love to hear your thoughts :)