Umayalpuram K Sivaraman ‎– Rhythm Fantasies

Sense World Music ‎– SENSE051
CD, Album


1 Part 1 7:39
2 Part 2 19:15
3 Part 3 18:48
4 Part 4 14:37
5 Part 5 11:43

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  • Barcode: 801786705123


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August 14, 2015

Rhythm Fantasies- Umayalpuram K. Sivaraman.
Umayalpuram K. Sivaraman.- Mrudanagam
M.A Sundareswaran- Violin
E.M Subramaniam - Ghatam
'Rhythm Fantasies' is an exciting musical collaboration led by Mrudangam virtuoso Umayalpuram K. Sivaraman featuring some of India's most skilled percussionists. The ensemble reflects the rich variety of drums and percussion that have been played in South India for more than 3000 years.
The performance style featured on this recording is known as 'Tala Vidya Kecheri' and involves several percussionists locked into an intense rhythmic dialogue. The interplay is improvised and its success depends on the high technical skills of the participants and their willingness to engage in a healthy spirit of musical competition.
In contrast to Northern India, the South was never successfully invaded by the Mughals and its musical forms thus represent a culture untouched by outside influences. However, both North and South share the basic concept of tala (rhythm) and raga (melody). "Sruthi Mata Laya Pita" a saying popular with both musicians and students states that in Indian music the notes are Mother, and the rhythm, in the form of tala is Father!
Throughout the performance the main rhythmic themes are outlined by Umayalpuram K. Sivaraman, one of the most respected and revered mrudangam players in modern times.
Sri Sivaraman's percussion career, spanning over 40 years, has been a colourful spectrum of accompaniment to a legion of Karnatic music maestros. Since his first major performance in his early teens he has been renowned for his new techniques, innovations and creative ability in accompaniment, solo renditions, and jugalbandis. "I liken the mrudangam to the ocean and the player to a fish...the more you delve the more you discover," he remarks with typical boyish enthusiasm.
Sri Sivaraman learnt this divine art under four great and illustrious masters: Sri Arupathi Natesa Iyer, Sri Tanjavoor Vaidyanatha Iyer, Sri Palghat Mani Iyer, Sri Kumbakonam Rangu Iyengar. It was a thorough apprenticeship lasting over a period of fifteen years. Besides his performing career, he had undertaken the very laudable task of doing original research in the art of mrudangam. He makes time between performing to disseminate knowledge of this divine art at music conferences and seminars in India and abroad, always ready to share his valuable insights on the techniques and nuances of the instrument he loves.
There are many myths and legends associated with Mrudangam. It is said the Bull God Nandi, a master percussionist played mrudangam to accompany Lord Shiva for his 'taandav', the dance of destruction. The sound of the mrudangam was also used to accompany Indra, the King of the Gods riding majestically through the heavens on the back of an elephant.
Sri Sivaraman has chosen the popular eight beat rhythmic cycle known as Adi tala as a framework for this performance. The concert was recorded on the 12th January 2004 at the twenty fifth Saptak Festival held in the city of Ahmedabad in India. The keeping of time or taalam was managed by N. Hariharan throughout the concert by beating the right hand gently against the right thigh while seated with legs crossed. This practice is an essential visual aid to the other percussionists, similar to the role played by the conductor in western classical music.
The auspicious sound of the Conch shell sounds out for the beginning of the performance. Conch shell is a major Hindu article prayer, associated with Vishnu. It is said to ward off evil spirits. It certainly is an effective way to draw the attention of the audience!
This is followed by an introductory passage played on the Violin in Raga Mohanam, the equivalent of Raga Bhopali in North Indian music. Initially M.A Sundareswaran plays in a free style with great lyricism before introducing an identifiable motif which outlines the framework of the eight beat rhythmic cycle and acts as a cue for the entrance of the percussion. In turn Mrudangam, Chenda, Ghatam, Morsing and Edakka are introduced with short solos. The Mrudangam is the primary concert drum of the South Indian tradition. It is a wooden double headed barrel drum with two skins on the left head and three on the right. The lower skins are thinner and made from goat skin while the outer skins are made from cow hide and cut away to reveal some of the underlying skin. On the right head a permanent load is affixed consisting of a combination of boiled rice and manganese. On the left head semolina dough is applied as a temporary load for each performance. Chenda played by Mattanur Sankaran Kutty, is a drum from the South Indian state of Kerala and parts of Karnataka. It is an indispensable accompaniment for the Khatakali dance form. The Karnataka version, known as Chende, is also used in the dance drama known as Yaksha Gana. It has heads on both ends but only one side is played. The drummer suspends the Chenda from his neck such that it hangs more or less vertically and with two sticks held in both the hands, he strikes the upper parchment.
The Ghatam is a clay pot. E.M Subramaniam uses both nails and the flat, the knuckles and sides of both hands to hit the walls of the ghatam but he also uses his belly to cover the mouth of the pot, generating controlled tuning bringing out notes in the lower octave. The instrument is traditionally thrown up in the air towards the close of a rhythmic solo, and caught successively in consonance with rhythm.
The Morsing is a lyre instrument, a Jew's harp. It originates from Greece and like the Ghatam has been traditionally used to accompany rural folk songs before being adopted into classical Carnatic music in the last century. The instrument is held between the teeth and mrudangam syllables like, 'tom, taga, taga dam' are spoken through the tongue.
Edakka is an hour glass shaped drum not dissimilar to the African talking drum played with a stick on one hand while the other hand is used to pull the strand to effect changes in tone. This is a small, delicate drum capable of producing all the swaras, or notes, of Carnatic music in the range of one octave. Porur Unnikrishnan has played Edakka in the first part of the performance then moved on to Timilla, a hand drum with its roots in the folk music of Kerala. After each artist takes turn to solo, the ensemble join in unison together for a grand finale treating the audience to a fluent feast of tonal richness and polished rhythmic virtuosity.
Mattanur Sankaran Kutty- Chenda
Porur Unnikrishnan - Edakka & Timila
Srirangam S Kannan - Morsing
N. Hariharan - Talam