An icon's music and musings

At his concerts, he would try his hand at rare ragas. Legendary singer K J Yesudas does this to salvage those wonderful musical strains from sliding into oblivion, it is said.
With unfeigned humility, he would also try to drive home a point or two. All that comes from his musings on music or from lessons life has given him.

He is never known to have wallowed in his ‘hard-earned’ glory and stopped ‘sadhakam’ (practice). And it would be right to say that affluence and fame just meekly trailed his gifted talent which was practised to perfection. Like for hundreds of thousands of music buffs, for me too, his music has been a wonder, a pampering, and an inspiration.

A staunch believer in unified God, he has often said, the Almighty sings through me and I’m only his instrument. Yes, his music —  that has the charm to catapult one to rapture of sorts —  is itself evidence to Godliness, I have surmised.

When the singer gave a concert at the Ramanavami Music Festival in Bangalore recently, I didn’t miss the chance to savour it.

For the packed audience, the special treat was ‘Kamoda kadga dharini’, a soothing but rare raga in Carnatic music. “I recently stumbled across this treasure and got acquainted with it, but I’m yet to go into its depths,” he said and sounded off: “When our old saint musicians have bequeathed us a great musical legacy, our younger generation is more after Western genres.” He then tagged to this musing, a request to Chief Minster Yeddyurappa who was also present there: Sir, please include Indian classical music in school curriculum for good.

The raga ‘Simhendramadhyamam’ was picked up for a lengthy ‘alaap’. The 70-year-old icon effortlessly traversed the three octaves while S R Mahadeva Sarma, a young artiste backed him up on the violin.

By now, it had started raining, which took my thoughts to my hometown in the God’s Own Country, where Navarasam Sangeetha Sabha, a cultural organisation had recently conducted a concert to please Rain Gods.

What awakened me from this nostalgic diversion was a thunderous applause that merged with the patter of the thunderless shower outside.

The ambience became more charged when percussionists on mridangam and ghatam took the beats to a crescendo.

Somewhere in the middle of the ‘kutcheri’ (concert), the maestro had intoned: “I could not complete my Sangeetha Vidwan course because of health and financial problems. But I’m happy as I’ll ever be a student of music and learn more and more everyday.”

“What an irony?” I thought and inferred: great talents don’t need any degree!

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