Prof TN Krishnan Lec-Dem on Raga Bhairavi

In the first part of a series of lecture demonstrations organized by Sampradaya titled “TNK – Raga Vision”, Sangeetha Kalanidhi Prof. T. N. Krishnan (TNK) gave a lecture demonstration on the rAgA bhAiravi at Raga Sudha Hall, Luz Avenue, Mylapore, Chennai yesterday. After the usual speeches and introduction by Chief Guest Mr. Sabarathnam and President of Sampradaya Sri Alleppey Venkatesan, TNK started the lec-dem by playing an outline of the rAgA bhairavi highlighting many important patterns that characterize the raga. He then took questions that the Sampradaya people had compiled as well as questions that people in the audience had passed on to the organizers on chits of paper.

Sampradaya has video-recorded the entire lec-dem for archival purposes and they said they will also be coming out with excerpts from the informative Q&A session in print.

Though it is impossible to put in words all that transpired in the close to 2 hour session as most of it was in the form of demonstration on the violin, here are a few excerpts from what I managed to note down:

  • On why he had chosen Bhairavi for the first part of the lecture, TNK said that his father had taught him the Bhairavi ata tAla varnam when TNK was 5 years old and since then TNK had been regularly practising, playing or teaching the varnam almost everyday. He had thus got so used and attached to playing the raga and hence chose it for the first session
  • On how to achieve the divinity that seems to be present in his music, TNK said it comes only by constant practice and devotion to the art.
  • One of the things that TNK stressed on as being very important while playing rAgA AlapanAs is the knowledge of what patterns one should not play. He then went on to demonstrate how shades of Karaharapriya, Huseni, Mukhari etc can come in bhairavi rAga AlApanA and how one can easily miss out and play such patterns and highlight some other rAgA if he/she doesn’t take care.
  • On the importance of the “Sound of Silence”, TNK stressed that it is important to give pauses between the phrases that are played in the rAga AlApanA. Pauses help the audience to get time to appreciate what has been sung/played and help the performer in also thinking what best to sing/play next.
  • On whether the reduced time allocated for rAga AlApanA these days in concerts has had serious impact on the quality of the AlApanAs, TNK said that if one is trained to remove unnecessary things from the rAga AlApanA during his initial days of training itself and if one concentrates only on the important patterns and phrases, it is then possible to play a quality AlApanA even in a reduced duration of time.
  • TNK also said that it is not necessary for an accompanying violinist to absolutely develop the entire rAgA and play the entire AlApanA once the main performer finishes his elaborations. It is enough if he takes from where the main performer has left or highlights a few quality patterns. This was how TNK said violinsts used to do AlApanAs in the olden days. But off late, he complained that AlApanAs by accompanying artistes last almost for the same time or even more than that taken by the main performer and are in most part repetitions of what has already been highlighted by the main performer. He also said that concerts in the earlier days were like examinations where one didn’t know what was coming in the question paper and would be eagerly waiting for the same and giving answers to the best of his/her ability with lot of improvisations. He humorously remarked that concerts these days are like examinations with leaked question papers đŸ™‚ with many of the compositions that are being sung having been already told to the accompanists
  • In response to how nagaswaram artistes had contributed to bhairavi rAgA, TNK demonstrated on the violin a few patterns that were used and made popular by great nagaswaran vidwans like Sri T.N. Rajarathinam Pillai

TNK ended the lecture by complying with Sri Alleppey Venkatesan’s request for playing AlApanAs of the rAgAs sindhu bhairavi and surutti. surutti is one of my favorite rAgAs and I must say that TNK played it really beautifully on the violin.

Sampradaya haven’t yet announced the dates for the rest of the parts of this lecture series (I actually thought I heard someone mentioning during the lec-dem that the next one might be on the 3rd or 4th of Jan 2006, but am not sure)

Prof T.N. Krishnan celebrates his 78th birthday today and Shruti, the 24 hour Carnatic music channel from Worldspace, will be broadcasting his recordings from 9PM to 11PM in the artist highlight section today.

4 thoughts on “Prof TN Krishnan Lec-Dem on Raga Bhairavi

  1. Very good summary and review of the lecture. Your site is very hjelpful to people like me who want to learn more about carnatic music. Keep up the good work.

  2. Ram: I’ve been following your blog for some time now, being quite the Carnatic music enthusiast, and being one who is too far from Mds. to properly indulge himself. I have to ask — how on earth do you manage to pack in so many concerts and lec dems? Not that I mind! On the contrary, I wish you could somehow defy physics and be at two places at once, on the days there are multiple good concerts taking place.

  3. Its just that I try to attend as many good ones as I can, having recently come to Chennai. Navaratri followed by some festivals + Dec season after that ensures that there are enough concerts to keep oneself busy in Chennai during this time of the year.

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