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Music  Composers

The very first musical composition came up in the Sangam era. Paripadal is a collection of about 30 musical compositions, in praise of Vishnu or Siva Subrahmanya or some other deity. Each song contains the name of the individual who set it to music.

From the 7th century upto the 12th Century AD, we have a lot of musical compositions in Tamil by the Saiva & The Vaishnava Saints. SAmbandar, Naavukkarasar, Sundarar, The Twelve Azhwars, Manickavasagar, Arunagirinadhar, Ramalinga Adigalar are great Composers of Tamil compositions.

Bharathiyar, Bharadhidasan, Periyasamy  Thooran , Namakkal Ramalingam PIllai are the Composers of Tamil.

The Carnatic music trinity—Tyagaraja 1767-1847 A.D., Muthuswami Dikshitar and Syama Sastry - that gave a new fillip to the kriti-form and gave it the shape that prevails even today. Tamil Isai Moovar  Muthu Thandavar (14th century), Arunachala Kavirayar (18th century) and Marimuthu Pillai(18th century), were also called the pre-trinity composers lived in Srikazhi. Arunachala Kavirayar was born in Thillayadi, Marimuthu Pillai in Thilaividangan and Muthu Thandavar in Sirkazhi. The three are regarded as the Tamil-trinity in recognition of their Tamil compositions to Carnatic music.

The kriti format was first handled in Tamil Nadu by Muthu Tandavar.  It was further used by Margadarsi Sesha Iyengar in his compositions Another early composer who deserves mention in this context is Oothukadu Venkatasubba Iyer. Arunachala Kavirayar of Seerkazhi, who lived in the 18th century, composed Rama Natakam. Thirupanthuruthi Narayana Theerthar  who lived near Thiruvaiyaru composed Krishna Leela Tharangini.    A multitude of composers appeared on the scene including Subbaraya Sastri, Annaswami Sastri, Ananta Bharati, Patnam Subrahmania Iyer, Vaiyacheri Ramaswami Iyer, Subbarama Dikshitar and Ramanathapuram 'Poochi' Srinivasa Iyengar. Among latter-day composers, the contributions of Mayuram Viswanatha Sastri, Gopalakrishna Bharathi and Papanasam Sivan also deserve mention here

 

 
 

Bharathanatyam (Sathir)

The Tamil nadu especially  Thanjavur District, has always been the seat and centre of learning and culture. It was the famous Thanjavur Quartet of Chinnayya, Ponniah, Sivanandam and Vadivelu of the Tanjore Court during the Marathi King Saraboji’s time (1798–1824) which made a rich contribution to music and Bharata Natyam and also completed the process of re-editing the Bharathanatyam programme into its present shape with its various forms like the Alaripu, Jathi-Svaram, Varanam, Sabdam, Padam and Thillana 

The pada vama-s of the Tanjavur Quartet-- Chinniah, Ponniah, Sivanandam and Vadivelu-- are still popular in the field of dance. The Pandanallur style of BharathaNatyam is mainly attributed to Minakshisundaram Pillai (1869–1954). He was a dance Guru who lived in the village of Pandanallur, which is in the Thanjavur District. After Minakshisundaram Pillai, it was his son-in-law Chokkalingam Pillai (1893–1968) who became the doyen Guru of the Pandanallur style. Subbaraya Pillai (1914–2008), Chokkalingam Pillai's son, was the next leading Guru of the Pandanallur style. The Vazhuvoor  style of bharatanatyam was made famous and was introduced by Padmashri Vazhuvoor B. Ramaiah Pillai

 
 

Vocal

The Carnatic music kutcheri as we know today had its beginnings barely a hundred years ago. The early stalwarts of Tamil Nadu who sang for the public were Patnam Subrahmania Iyer, Maha Vaidyanatha Iyer, Coimbatore Raghava Iyer, Poochi Srinivasa Iyengar and Madurai Pushpavanam, to name only the prominent vidwans. These were followed by giants who created a public following for classical music, like Konerirajapuram Vaidyanatha Iyer, Mazhavarayanendal Subbarama Bhagavatar, Kallidaikurichi Vedanta Bhagavatar, Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar, Musiri Subrahmania Iyer, Maharajapuram Viswanatha Iyer, Kanchipuram Naina Pillai, Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, G.N. Balasubramaniam and Madurai Mani Iyer. Among women, M. S. Subbulakshmi, D.K. Pattammal and M.L. Vasanthakumari, described as the Female Trinity of Carnatic Vocal music

 
 

Veena

Veena  is a very ancient Indian classical musical instrument.  There are many type of  Veena used in the music world. They are Saraswati veena,  Vichitra veena, Chitra veena and  Rudra Veena. Saraswati and chitra veenas are used in the South Indian Carnatic music.  The Rudra and Vichitra veenas are used in North Indian Hindustani music.  The Hindu Goddess Saraswathi, is seated upon a swan  and  playing a veena. It is 52” Long, 24 brass frets and 7 strings.  Saraswathi Veena manufacturing centre is in Thajavur. It has only four playing strings and three drone strings. The Rudra veena has a long tubular body made of wood. Two large-sized, round resonators are attached under the tube. It is 54” Long, 22 brass frets and 7 strings. The another name of Chitra veena is Gotuvadyam or Gottuvadyam or chitra vina.  It was popularized by Tiruvidaimarudur Sakharam Rao ,  Gotuvadyam Narayan Iyengar and his grand son N. Ravikiran. The Vichitra Veena is 48” long, 22 frets and 7 strings.

During the last century, most of the vocalists of Tamil Nadu were vainika-s also. Veena Perumalayya, Veena Rama Kalahastayya, Dasavadyam Krishna Iyer and many more were in the court of Tanjavar. The names of Veena Dhanammal and Karaikudi Brothers, of the recent past, are still cherished by the rasika-s.

Gottuvadyam

Gottuvadyam is a stringed instrument which is given new fanciful names by every artist. One calls it gottuvadyam, another contends it is chitraveena Tiruvidaimarudur  Sakharama Rao  is the pioneer. Latter-day artists of Tamil Nadu, like Budalur Krishnamurthy Sastrigal, Tanjavur Duraiyappa Bhagavatar and Mannargudi Savitri Ammal, exhibited extraordinary proficiency in playing this instrument. A. Narayana Iyer, D. Kittappa, Madhavachar and few others were also prominent.

 
 

Flute

The Indian Flutes are made up of Bamboo.  It is an important instrument in the classical music.  God Krishna is considered a  Main Deity of  the Bamboo flute. They are two types. One is Bunsuri  and another one is Pullanguzhal.  Bunsuri Flute is used in the Hindustani Music of Northern India and Pullanguzhal is used in the Carnatic Music of South Inda. The South Indian flute had only seven finger holes or eight finger holes.  The North Indian flute has six finger holes and one embouchure hole.  The music which is produced by Pullanguzhal is  “Venu Ghanam”.  The best bamboo for flute is grows in the Nagarkoil area in South India. The Sharaba Shastri  who is in Kumbakoam format the unique style or bani of playing  the flute in an efficient way and then . his disciple Sanjeeva Rao. Follow this method.

Sarabha Sastrigal 11872-1904), an eminent flutist, was probably the first one to play in concerts. He was followed by Palladam Sanjeeva Rao, Kumbakonam Nagaraja Rao and others. T.R. Mahalingam or Mali, born in Tiruvidaimarudur in 1926, was a prodigy, and a genius turned legend. He introduced an entirely new way of playing Carnatic music on the flute. He passed into eternity in 1986.

 
 

Jalatarangam

The name of Anayampatti Subba Iyer (1881-1961) became a synonym for jalatarangam. Azhwar Tirunagari Appadurai Iyengar, Madras Ramaniah Chettiar, Avudayarkovil Harihara Bhagavatar and a host of others learnt from him.

 
 

Violin

Tanjavur Vadivelu who played Carnatic music on the violin for the first time, though, in the opinion of some others, the credit should go to Balaswami Dikshitar.  After Vadivelu and Balaswami Dikshitar, stalwarts like Seerkazhi Narayanaswami Pillai, Tanjavar Venkoba Rao, Tirukodikoval Krishna Iyer and Malaikotai Govindaswami Pillai helped establish the place of the violin in Carnatic music. Two of the eminent violinists of the recent past were Kumbakonam Rajamanickam Pillai and 'Suswaram' Tiruvalankadu Sundaresa Iyer.

 

 
 

Mridangam

The instrument gained a golden touch at the hands of Tanjavur Narayanaswami Appa. Tanjavar Pakkiri Pillai, Kumbakonam Azhaganambi Pillai, Tanjavor Ramdoss Rao, Tanjavur Vaidyanatha Iyer, as well as other eminences from a different district, like Pudukotai Dakshinamurthy Pillai and Palani Subramania Pillai, were responsible for carving for the mridanga the vital role it enjoys today in Camatic classical music.

 

 
 

Khanjira

Khanjira, the South Indian tambourine, was at one time mostly used in processional bhajan-s, since it is very handy and easily portable. Dr. U.V. Swaminatha Iyer, the great savant of Tamil literature, has mentioned Tiruvidaimarudur Radhakrishna Iyer and Kumbakonam Krishnamachariar as two khanjira players. The instrument was given a lift by the leonine Pudukotai Manpoondi Pillai (1857-1921) who was a formidable figure on the concert platform. Complete rhythmic manipulations came to be used in concerts only from his times. Manpoondi Pillai's illustrious disciple, Pudukotai Dakshinamurthy Pillai, was a wizard in playing the khanjira as well as the mridanga.

 

 
 

Ghatam

The clay pot called ghatam appears to have been handled on the concert platfomm first by CoimbatoreAnantachar. Polagam Chidambara Iyer, Umayalpuram Narayana Iyer, Seranmahadevi Sundaram Iyer, Tiruvidaimarudur Hanumantha Rao and Lalgudi Saptarishi Iyer were other early performers. Later, Palani Krishna Iyer was an eminent ghata artist, but it was Alangudi Ramachandran, a Keralite settled in Tanjavur district, who raised the status of the instrument.
 
 
 

Mukharsangu(Morsing)

Mukhasangu (corruptly called morsangu or morsing) players were many in Tamil Nadu. Adichapuram Seetarama Iyer and Mannargedi Natesa Pillai achieved eminence by playing this harp skillfully to support Carnatic music.

 
 

Harmonium

Perur Subrahmania Dikshitar and Alathur Venkatesa Iyer were outstanding  harmonium vidwans, who played nothing but Camatic music on the keyboard instrument. Many others, like S.G. Kasi Iyer, Uraiyur T.M. Khader Batcha, K.S. Devudu Iyer and Madurai M.R. Vasavambal, and such others helped establish a place for the harmonium in Carnatic music, but their careers were restricted to the drama stage

 

 
 

Konnakol 

Mannargudi Pakkiri Pillai is path founder and expert in the art came to be called as konnakol  or 'vak karana'. the konnakol artist among the percussionists who renders the rhythmic phrases orally. Kanchipuram Ekambara Iyer, Mannargudi Vaidyalingam Pillai (son of Pakkiri Pillai) and Vellore Gopalachari were some famous konnakol vidwans

 

 
 

Nathaswaram or Nagaswaram

Tiruvaduturai Rajarathnam Pillai (1898-1956), whose name is a synonym for the nagaswaram. Tiruvidaimarudur Veeruswami Pillai, the first nagaswara artist to be honoured as the asthana vidwan of Tirumalai-Tirupati Devasthanams, was another great in the field. Mannargudi Chinna Pakkiri Pillai, Tirucherai Muthukrishna Pillai, Keeranur Brothers, Tiruveezhimizhalai Brothers, Semponnarkovil Ramaswami Pillai, Chidambaram Vaidyanatha Pillai and some others were highly proficient in rendering the Carnatic music on those days.

 

 
 

Thavil or Melam

In the domain of tavil, the celebrities were Srivanchiyam Govinda Pillai, Ammachatram Kannuswami Pillai (he was the nagaswara guru of Rajarathnam Pillai), Ammapettai Pakkiri Pillai, Vazhuvoor Muthuveer Pillai, Needamangalam Meenakshi Sundaram Pillai, Malaikotai Panchapakesa Pillai, Shanmukhavadivel and Yazhppanam Dakshinamurti.

 

 
 

Harikatha Kalakshepam

Krishna Bhagavatar (1851-1903) of Tanjavar, who was guided by Morganakar Ram Chandra Bawa, was the pioneer in performing Harikatha in Tamil. Tanjavur Govinda Bhagavatar, Tiruppazhanam Panchapakesa Sastrigal, Tiruvaiyaru Pandit Lakshmanachar, Mangudi Chidambara Bhagavatar, Chidambaram Srirangachariar, Chitrakavi Sivaramakrishna Bhagavatar, Soolamangalam Vaidyanatha Bhagavatar, Tiruvaiyaru Annaswami Bhagavatar, Embar Vijayaraghavachariar and many other story tellers also used music to telling effect. The first lady-bhagavatar was C. Saraswati Bai (1894-1974) and the one who followed her immediately was Padmasani Bai, trained by Melattur Bharatam Natesa Iyer. Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagavatar and Chitrakevi Sivaramakrishna Bhagavatar starts his live as concert musicians and then switched over to Harikatha. Sengalipuram Anantarama Dikshitar 1903 –1969 was a  scholar and also was a great exponent of the art  of upanyasas (discourses) on various subjects in Hinduism.

 
 

Bajan or Namasangeerthanam

Namasankeerthanam is the only easiest and simplest way to attain Bagawan  in Kaliyuga. Govindapuram Bodendral, Thiruvisanallur Sridharaiyaval, Maruthanallur Sathguru Swamigal are Trinity of Namasangeerthanam.

Taal or  Jalra is a musical instrument which is used in Bajans or Namsangeerthanam. It is a set of  instrument  which is usually made of Bronze, Bell Metal or Brass.

 
   
 
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