Pt Venkatesh Kumar brought a fine aesthetic sensibility to his presentations

Senior Indian singer Pt.  M Venkatesh Kumar who performed at The Music Academy in 2015.

Senior Indian singer Pt. M Venkatesh Kumar who performed at The Music Academy in 2015. Photo credit: Krishnan VV

Music Academy and HCL Concerts Pt. In recital by Venkatesh Kumar Khyal. Accompanied by Satish Kolli (harmonium) and Keshav Joshi (tabla), they performed Raag Marva, Shankara and Konsi Kannada, Mishra Khamaj on thumri and a devotional couplet towards the end.

Venkatesh Kumar is a disciple of respected Pandit. Putraj Gowai, a school in Gadag, Karnataka, founded by the famous Panchakshri Gowai, a visually impaired musician, whose mission is primarily to impart music education to visually impaired and differently-abled students. Had to give. The latter learned from Ustad Abdul Waheed Khan and his music is situated in the idiom of the Kirana gharana.

Venkatesh Kumar, devoted to his guru and school, also absorbed other influences, such as the Electoral Pandit. Bhimsin Joshi – most evident in the projection of sound – and the maestro Ghulam Ali Khan. His Thumri song is particularly inspired by Khan Sahib’s style of singing. He brings a powerful and melodious voice, rigorous training, and a fine aesthetic sensibility to his performances. The accompanists also shined that evening and even if the two-hour concert had gone on longer, the audience would have wanted more.

As one listens to Venkatesh Kumar unfold the ragas around the traditional composition, the reality of the change in perception hits home. In Marwa the Valambit Khyal was a well-worn ‘piya more antha des’ in a rhythm. Following Ustad Ameer Khan, Venkatesh Kumar sang the makhra or avoided landing on the ‘dha’ in the lower region or saptak – the actual makhra of this composition falls in the middle saptak.

The construction of the makhra dictates the exploration of the melody to a certain extent, and Amir Khan Sahib needed this lower region for his langur style. Using his license as a highly regarded practitioner of music, he changed compositions under everyone’s noses or ears. Such intentional – or otherwise – changes in composition and ragas are more common than we like to believe or admit.

Venkatesh Kumar used Ameer Khan Makhra in the first part of the presentation and then changed to the original after Badhat moved on. He then used the two interchangeably. This is the freedom that the idea offers, and maintaining the integrity of the structure is the least of concerns in some households, especially Kirana.

Raga Shankara, who followed with his lively personality, made an even better impression, but brought with him the same problem of change. Shankara is an Uttaranga Pradhan Raga and is found in the highest regions above ‘Pa’. But paradoxically almost, its key phrase is in Parvanga – the phrase ‘ga pa ga ri sa’ but with an ‘alpa’ rishabha, which should be prefaced with a descending ‘sa’ and a quick touch. . ‘Ga’ just before this descent. That Rishabha – minimal, sharp and sublime – establishes Shankara in this sentence. When Venkatesh Kumar sang the phrase ‘pa re ga’, almost like a bhup or even yaman idiom, as we had heard the teora madhya on more than one occasion, it was surprising, as the altava of ‘re’ remained intact. was not. , and for that matter Tura Madhyam or Shuddha is not to be used in Shankara. Coming from a lesser musician, this would have been pointed out as a mistake. But, with Venkatesh Kumar, it is hard to accuse a lack of awareness of tradition and one can only imagine this departure from raga lakshan as possibly intended and deliberate. Then one looks for consistency in the composer’s overall personality – does he often deviate from tradition? And with Venkatesh Kumar, the answer is ‘no’. Hence his treatment of Shankara remains a mystery.

Shankara, being a great and ancient raga, has no doubt undergone changes over the centuries and its current lexicon is not immune to change. If the tunes change, it is through the agency of musicians with Venkatesh Kumar. But when that change occurs, it causes anxiety in some of us.

Hot Topics

Related Articles