T.N. Seshagopalan @ Musiri Chamber Concerts, Chennai

Venue: 28/2, Musiri Subramaniam Road, Mylapore

Date: 09 Apr 2007

Organizer: Sri Musiri Subramanya Iyer’s family (Musiri Chamber Concerts)

Vocal: Vid. T.N. Seshagopalan

Violin: Vid. M.A. Sundaresan

Mrudangam: Vid. T.K. Murthy

Khanjira: Vid. Anirudh Athreya

List of songs:

1) mErusamAna – mAyAmALavagowLa – Adi – thyAgarAja (ONS)

2) chandram bhaja mAnasa – asAvEri – chatusra maTyam – muthuswAmi dIkshitar

3) nIvada nEgAna – sAranga – kanda chApu – thyAgarAja (AS)

4) enta vEDukondu – saraswati manOhari – Adi – thyAgarAja

5) brOvavammA tAmasamElE – mAnji – misra chApu – syAma sAstri

6) nI bhajana gAna – nAyaki – Adi – thyAgarAja

7) nagumOmu ganalEni – AbhEri – Adi – thyAgarAja (ANST)

8 ) rAgam tAnam pallavi (RTP) – Anandabhairavi & sindhubhairavi – kanDa tripuTa (2 kaLai)

pallavi wordings: “pArvatI para,mAnandabhairavi”

kalpanA swarams in Anandabhairavi, sindhubhairavi, amritavarshini, sAlagabhairavi, lalitA (?)

9) marulukonnAdirA – khamAs – Adi – rAmanAtapuram srInivAsa iyengAr

10) tU dayALu dIn – rEvati – Adi – tulsidAs

11) niraimadi (tiruppugazh) – hamsAnandi – Adi – aruNagirinAthar

12) nI nAma rUpa mulaku (mangaLam) – sowrAshTram – Adi – thyAgarAja

13) sriya kAntAya (slOkam) – srI

(Key: O=raga outline, A=raga alapana, N=neraval, S=kalpana swaram, T=taniavartanam)

My favorite singer. My favorite concert venue. What more could I ask for !!! I had started making plans to attend this concert right from the time I saw it listed in last Friday’s “The Hindu”.

The concert lasted for about 3.5 hours and was an absolute delight. Just like TNS says in his harikathas – “there is so much to say that I am confused what to leave out and what to say”, there are so many things in today’s concert that can be praised that I am confused what to write about and what to leave. If this is my condition with whatever limited knowledge I have got, I can’t but imagine the bliss more knowledgeable people would have experienced !!!!

TNS sang most of the initial set of kritis slowly and with a lot of involvement. It was really nice getting to sit so close to TNS and observe him sing. The most beautiful part of hearing this concert at this venue was that I could hear his natural, unamplified voice from time to time. I was in a totally different world whenever I could hear those lightning fast bhrigas in his natural voice. “mErusamAna” was superbly rendered with very good accompaniment by Sri M.A. Sundaresan and veteran mrudangam maestro Sri T.K. Murthy. Sri Anirudh Athreya followed Sri T.K. Murthy well. TNS showed his mastery with kanakku (calculations) in the kalpana swarams. He had such great control over all the jugglery he did. I could just go on and on, praising everything that TNS did with the choicest adjectives I can think of.

In my opinion, the piece that contributed to the resounding success of the concert was the RTP. It came just when I was speculating on what might TNS sing after a grand treatment of “nagumOmu ganalE“. TNS looked towards the organizers and asked how much more time he had to which they replied in sign language that he can continue till he wished. TNS thought for a few seconds and started his alapana which he did in three stages. The first stage comprised an Anandabhairavi alapana and lasted for about 6.5 minutes. Then came a majestic sindhubhairavi alapana that lasted for about 15 minutes. I haven’t heard anyone sing so many patterns in sindhubhairavi till now. Sri M.A. Sundaresan’s reply was also excellent. The third stage was according to me the toughest. TNS would sing one pattern in Anandabhairavi and a related pattern in sindhubhairavi. He went on alternating between the ragas and doing a sort of a kuraippu for about 5 minutes and then launched into a beautiful tAnam. Sri M.A. Sundaresan was very impressive here also.

There was this very small, cute kid listening intently to TNS sing the alapana and the tanam. As soon as the tanam got over, the kid announced: “ippo pATTu Arambikkum (The song will start now)” bringing smiles to everyones faces.

The pallavi was structured as follows (B=beat, 1 Avartanam of kanDa tripuTa 2 kaLai = 18 beats) (starts 1.5B after samam): pA (1B) Ar (2B) va (1B) tI (3B) pa (0.75B) ra (0.75B) mA (+ gap = 3.5B) Anan (1.5B) da (1B) bhai (1B) ra (1B) avi (1.5B).


Now for some kOrvais TNS used. The kOrvai that he sang to end the kalpana swarams in AbhEri went like this (, = 1 aksharam kArvai & ; = 2 aksharam kArvai):

tha ;; ki ;; Ta;;

tha ;, ki;, Ta;,

tha; ki; Ta;

(tha , tha ki Ta , – 2 times ) tha, tha ki Ta

(tha ; tha ki Ta , – 2 times ) tha; tha ki Ta

(tha ;, tha ki Ta , – 2 times ) tha;, tha ki Ta

Total = 96 aksharams when sung/played once. So sing/play once or thrice starting from middle point of Adi talam (2 kaLai) in chatusra naDai.

The kOrvai that TNS sang at the end of kalpana swarams for the RTP went like this:

I couldn’t properly get what he sang the first time.

It went like this the second time (all in chatusra gati):

tha ka tha dhi ki Na thom ; tha, dhi, ki, Na, thom – 3 times

tha; dhi; ki; Na; tha; dhi; ki; Na; thom;

tha, dhi, ki, Na, tha, dhi, ki, Na, thom, – 2 times

tha, dhi, ki, na, thom – 3 times

It went like this the third time:
tha ka tha dhi ki Na thom ; tha, dhi, ki, Na, thom – 3 times (chatusra gati)

tha ;, dhi;, ki;, Na;, tha;, dhi;, ki;, Na;, thom;, (chatusra gati)

tha; dhi; ki; Na; tha; dhi; ki; Na; thom; – 2 times (tisra gati – mEl kAlam)

tha, dhi, ki, na, thom – 3 times (tisra gati – mEl kAlam)

Total each time = 144 aksharams = 2 Avartanams of kanDa tripuTa (2 kaLai).


While singing the tiruppugazh in hamsanandi, TNS suddenly took rishabham as the base and launched himself into graha bhedam mode bringing out hindOLam. It was done very quickly and subtly and gave a very good effect.

The ovation TNS got at the end of the concert was testimony to his brilliance and to the concert’s success.

8 thoughts on “T.N. Seshagopalan @ Musiri Chamber Concerts, Chennai

  1. This time it is Anandabhairavi and Sindhubhairavi and just by seeing your song list, I could imagine the scene over there while this was rendered. He might have done the alternating of Ragam while singing the Tanam as well. Very interesting. Also, I have not seen anyone singing mEru samAna so well.

  2. Nice review as usual. when i was in chennai, i saw no concerts by murthy mama and thought he has retired.. I think he must be in mid 80s. the very fact that he is still playing is simply great..

    Interesting to find nothing written about tani? One more interesting thing is anirudh atreya is murthy mamas student and happens to be grandson of papa venkatramaiah. this was told by murthy mama when he was here for a concert last year..

  3. I thought Anirudh Athreya was the grandson of khanjira vidwan Sri V. Nagarajan. Pleasantly surprised to know about his connection to Sri Papa Venkatramiah !!!!

    Murthy mama is very old. May be he is not able to translate all that runs in his head into his hands but one can certainly see that his brain is constantly conjuring up one fitting calculation or the other.

    I was so overwhelmed with the TNS performance that missed out writing about the tani and now I have unfortunately forgotten its details. There were some good kOrvais played by Murthy mama which unfortunately I am unable to recall now.

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