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A book of Lalgudi’s compositions

Lalgudi’s Creations, a two-volume book of the nice violinist’s compositions, comes with notations in English

Lalgudi’s Creations, a two-volume book of the nice violinist’s compositions, comes with notations in English

Lalgudi Jayaraman was not only a celebrated violinist but additionally a vaggeyakara. After Veena Seshanna, he was in all probability the one prolific instrumental performer who additionally actively composed. Jayaraman’s items had been broadly carried out in his personal lifetime by stalwart contemporaries together with Nedunuri Krishnamurthy, D.Okay. Jayaraman, Voleti Venkateswarlu, and M.L. Vasanthakumari. His compositions have been half of music and dance repertoires ever since.

To spotlight Jayaraman’s genius as a composer, his kids, the violinists G.J.R. Krishnan and Vijayalakshmi, lately launched a hardbound book of Jayaraman’s compositions, titled Lalgudi’s Creations, consolidating an earlier two-volume paperback. “This also includes many of our father’s later compositions and 15 of our grandfather V.R. Gopala Iyer’s songs,” says Krishnan.

Multilingual scripts

G.J.R Krishnan and Vijayalakshmi
| Photo Credit: Shikha Khanna

The lyrics in Tamil, Telugu and Sanskrit are introduced of their respective scripts together with English transliteration. They embrace thillanas, tana varnams, pada varnams, kritis, jatiswarams and a pushpanjali.

The Lalgudi bani is so rooted to devoted copy of the voice that every one instrumental college students should be taught to sing the compositions first earlier than taking part in them. The intertwining of vocal proficiency and instrumental adroitness provides depth to the taking part in and is vividly mirrored in Jayaraman’s compositions and their notations.

While the sooner books had been facsimiles of handwritten lyrics, this Lalgudi 90 version (commemorating Jayaraman’s ninetieth beginning anniversary two years in the past) is printed on thick paper, with notations in English, in Jayaraman’s bi-colour system — one for swaram (notes) and one other for sahityam (lyrics).

Unlike Western classical music, notating Carnatic music is not any easy process as a result of integral gamakams. Most obtainable notations are both rudimentary or require laborious interpretation. Jayaraman’s notations, nevertheless, are complete and logical, utilizing intuitive diacritical marks to point the tiniest element. Vocalist S.P. Ramh, Jayaraman’s senior pupil, skilfully notated many of the items, studying them on the spot as Jayaraman composed them.

Jayaraman belongs to a small subset of lyricists who additionally set their compositions to tune. Observing his methodical documentation, one wonders if he honed these expertise to go on the bani with out alteration and support his quite a few college students. That he was an efficient trainer is indeniable, borne out by accounts from his many protégés, who’re reputed vocal and instrumental performers and academics.

Krishnan says his father derived inspiration from nature, from requests by artistes and laypeople, and by listening to different musicians. He transformed his Nilambari tana varnam on goddess Saraswati, in Telugu, to a pada varnam in Tamil on Muruga, acceding to a request for a particular composition for a younger dancer’s arangetram. The thillana in Durga got here after listening to Ajoy Chakrabarty’s rendition of that raga in Chennai, and from listening to Ilaiyaraaja’s Ragavardhini kriti. As to why Jayaraman by no means used a signature, his son says, “He felt that the musical style was distinctive enough.”

Recorded renditions of the items would have made the book extra helpful and full. A digital model, providing portability and immediate entry, would have helped make the works of this consummate musician accessible to youthful folks.

Digital notation transcriptions are by Rangaswamy Venkataperumal and printing by A. S. Diwakar of Compuprint. The book is on the market at Saptaswara Musicals and Karnatic Music Book Centre. For additional particulars e-mail,

The author is a Kalpalata Fellow for Classical Music Writings for 2022.

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