December 27, 2009

GNB Style : Lec-dem by Trichur Ramachandran

On the birth centenary year of the celebrated musician G.N. Balasubramanian, (GNB to his rasikas and GN Sir to his fellow musicians)one of his senior disciples Trichur Ramachandran presented a lec-dem on GNB's unique style or bani.

He started the lec-dem by saying bani is nothing but presenting the music in one's own manodharma displaying his or her personality. He began with a tribute to his guru by singing his composition on Vinayaka - Vara Vallabha Ramana in Hamsadhwani.

He said GNB was an embodiment of all things nice and aesthetics - music, presentation of his self, his pattern of concert presentation... His alapanas used to grow like a painting. The layers of the raga finally elevated the audience to a different level, he said. He could sing a raga alapana for a minute in its crisp form as well for an hour bringing all the swaroopas of the raga, he added.

You can listen to Trichur Ramachandran sharing his experience of what he learnt from GNB in this part of the video:

The other points he shared in a nutshell :

  • He learnt many things by listening to great vidwans, though he did not have a 'guru' for himself.
  • He was efficient in adding his touch to the kritis like fitting a perfect swarksharam in the right place, but not imposing for the sake of a 'Swaraksharam'.
  • He had clear understanding with his accompanists. He chose different songs dependingon the accompanist of the day. While there were different kritis for Palghat Mani Iyer, he used to chose completely different ones for Palani Subramania Pillai.
  • Palghat Mani Iyer was an admirer of GNB and used to refer his tala gnanam as Brahmalaya.
  • He used all the 'pracheena pidis' adding sophistication to them.
  • He was bold to use landings in Shuddha swarams and discovered 'sruti bhedam' by singing the ragas starting from different notes.
  • GNB insisted on building up a raga and used to say that raga alapana too has a kalapramanam.
  • Though GNB used to present Todi ragam in many of his concerts, every Todi was different.
  • He used to sing Pallavis even in ragas like Nattakurinji. The Pallavi he presented at Sri Shanmukhananda Sabha in Bombay in 1964 along with M.S. Gopalakrishnan on the violin and C.S. Murugabhoothy on the mridangam was remembered for a long time.
  • GNB used to tell his disciples that music should not pour like water from a tap, but should be let out in uniform flow.
  • He also guided the students on how to open the mouth while singing and control the voice according to the kriti rendered.
  • Every year, he introduced a rare composition by vaggeyakaras including the trinity. He introduced Chenchukambhoji kriti 'Vararagalaya' in 1964 at The Music Academy
  • GNB's repertoire was vast. He even knew padams, which he was not using in his concerts very often. Once in Manapparai, he sang a padam and surprised the listeners.

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