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For Private circulation only

December 2008

sues s i e Mor issue per

George Harrison I Lounge Piranha I Margazhi Ragam Volume #1 Issue #5

Contributors Anand Krishnamoorthi A location sound engineer based out of Chennai. He is currently a teacher of films at Prasad academy.

George Thomas A producer of films like Theekanal from the age of 22. He is experienced in running theatres and film distribution.

Vijay Iyer Vijay Iyer is involved with the K M Musiq label and can be reached at vijay.mohan.iyer@

Sunandha Ragunathan A literature student from the University of Westminister. An ardent admirer of Chennai which has her hooked on to its every nuance.


he edit Pad

A fresh whiff of balmy evening air whisks my face just as the inviting smell of just-baked confection reaches my nostrils and everything is a sudden blur with the unannounced downpour. Bustling homes, carols in school, anticipation of vacation, jingle bells, merriment, and laughter. The holiday season has obviously arrived. There’s one addictive, evergreen flavour though that stays on through the seasons, extending beyond borders. The Beatles arrived decades ago, bringing with them a religion, the cult that has weathered many a rockstar/ pop icon storm. Chances are you probably didn’t notice it’s festive season yet, but there is no way we’re letting you miss a hallmark from BeatleLand. Forty long years and George Harrison’s guitar weeps on. We explore the universal charm of one of music’s quintessential Gods and the magic of his song in our cover story this month. Pegs of every kind of music you can ask for topped with the usual goodies, all wrapped this time in a refreshing new style. Grab all the cheer we spread through the pages for you this issue. Spread the joy!

Nikila Srinivasan Vanipriya Jayaraman A computer science graduate and professional. Trained in carnatic vocal music under P Sunder Rajan.

Editor in chief

Nikila Srinivasan has been a columnist and contributor for several reputed national publications and has authored three books. She has had the honour of being one of India’s Olympic torchbearers at the Athens 2004 Olympic Torch Relay.

Brand Partners Mihir Ranganathan An Illustrator, designer, cartoonist, and a guitarist who overdoses on music and considers it an art.

Radio Partner

Ashok Subramaniam A software professional, trained classical musician and a teacher based in Morgan Hills, California.

Solomon Porres A popular Radio Jockey with Radio City and much sought after commentator, music enthusiast and critic.

‘The Score Magazine’ is wholly owned and published by Y215 ,2nd Avenue ,Anna Nagar ,Chennai-40

For advertisements and feedback +91 9840050450 Reproduction in whole or part of any text, photography or illustrations without written permission from the publisher is prohibited. The publisher assumes no responsibility for unsolicited manuscripts, photographs and illustrations. Views expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of the publication and accordingly no liability is assumed by the publisher thereof. Advertising copy and artworks are the sole responsibility of the advertisers.

Contents 40

08 18

04 December 2008

On the cover: George Harrison The Dark Horse Years (1976-1992) Somewhere in England Photographed by Brian Aris


Road tripping Lounge Piranha trudged back to Bangalore after their Going Nowhere India Tour. The dope on the bands biggest trip thus far, unfolds...


Chris Brown Running it the R&B way.


fusing streams Indian Ocean swept Chennai’s shores and as always, stirred up quite a storm


Through the looking glass Manikanth Kadri candidly speaks about his choice of lifestyle, ease in the music industry down south and life after Avakkai Biriyani


Gurulekha Etuvanti A discussion on St Tyagaraja. VaniPriya talks to her master P Sunder Rajan


No Way to treat a lady A movie review by George Thomas


margazhi Raagam The day when live raagams rise from the sabhas to the silver screen, has finally arrived.



Musicology Improvisational aspects of carnatic music-facts and fallacies


Destiny’s Tune “I look at the trouble and see that it’s raging,While my guitar gently weeps. As I’m sitting here, doing nothing but aging, Still, my guitar gently weeps.” AC/DC and black ice Getting high on voltage


Editor-in-chief Nikila Srinivasan Executive Editor Daniel Thimmayya Copy writer Pradeep R Photography G Venkata Krishnan, Ashwin Ramesh Content and Operations Ajay Prabhakar Concepts and Creatives Alan H Hadle Production and Logistics Fayaz Mohammed Chief Designer Mohammad Irfan Marketing and Sales G Venkata Krishnan, Arvind T, Lohith Reddy, Ashwin Shekar, Indrani Kalyan Content Advisor Solomon Porres, Murugavel T, Samuel Dawson Art Advisor Mihir Ranganathan

The Score magazine


Daniel Thimmayya

Lounge Piranha trudged back to Bangalore after their Going Nowhere India Tour a while back. The dope on the bands biggest trip thus far, unfolds...



The Score magazine

06 I

f reports of a weird wheeled object decked with arachnids in varying positions of menace speeding through the lanes of your city reached your ever so sensitive ears a while ago, don’t just dismiss it like the recently conjured smoking ban in pubs. You would actually do well to pay heed to the accounts of terror fearfully delivered in fits by them that were affected by direct exposure to the phenomenon (which according to some sources emitted noises and lights at intervals) What perhaps most terrified the victims was the prophecy of doom spelt forth in a spidery hand on the flanks of the beast ‘Going Nowhere’ it said. But somewhere it certainly did seem to be rushing to and somewhere it did go! Welcome to the world of the Piranha-wagon. And before thoughts of ice-laden carts peddling fish on the west coast enter your train of thought, let’s get our basics straight (for those who have proverbially been coming in late). Lounge Piranha (Piranha for short) are one of the most popular acts to have emerged out of Bangalore and quite literally consumed most rock addicts body, eye and sole, at least by the long and short of it. But then again, it isn’t the Piranha’s unapparent lack of coherent reasoning behind their name or their wackily spaced out custom-art comic, Shatrix that we are here to talk about. In fact it isn’t even about their uniquely ambient evolution of post-rock. It is about that most daring of escapades that took them from coast to coast;ten brave stalwarts, a heap of assorted hardware (of the electronic kind) and lest we forget, two mannequins, possibly purloined from some unfortunate clothing merchant, no less! If you are still in doubt as to what all the hype is leading up to there are but two courses you could follow; for one you could see the movie Almost Famous or you could choose to read on. On second thought, to hell with the movie, just read on. After all you’re more likely to trip harder on Indian stuff! By being the first band in the history of organized Indian English music (NOT indi-) to actually do an old-school tour with a bus and merchandise to promote their first album, they’ve created history in the making. The fact that the entire gamble was taken up completely as an initiative of the band and their buddies and scored zilch on the sponsorship run speaks a lot for them. To put it in a nutshell then we are talking about Lounge Piranha’s Going Nowhere IndiaTour. Looking at the album, that object that has been the root cause of this exercise, the recording at Clementine Studios provided a slick well mastered product that featured seven of their choicest (to promote the fever, we add piranha-est) tracks showcased as always with some ethereal creatures set in dull yet thudding water colour artwork, courtesy George Mathen, who drums for the band in whatever time he has left after creating tons of psychedelic and visually challenging artwork! Of course, Lounge Piranha being who they are seldom allow space to be outdone in and thus had on offer posters and t-shirts (displayed on afore mentioned m’s) at strategic locations all along the tour. Wonder what the fancy pub managers said to the extras! In any case returning to the tour, they say all good things begin at home, or something to that effect. The Piranha wagon got set rolling in true traditional style by beginning

the tour at the auspices of the Bengaluru chapter of their fan base, with an intense session of concentration and well… elevation at that citadel of Celtic education, The Alliance Francaise de Bangalore (them stubborn Frenchmen). Needless to say, it did set the wheels in motion; more literally somehow, as the famed mid-size tour bus that bore the entire jamboree and trudged across the length and breadth of the country, first made it’s acquaintance with the inhabitants at this historic juncture. It would be nice, if I could claim rather emphatically, that the rest, as they say, (who though I have frequently wondered?), is history. After all, gigs will be gigs, organizers will be organizers, and hiccoughs will be … well omnipresent. But that I suppose it what makes history, eventually. The journey had well and truly begun. Hyderabad was first up and rain and sound issues notwithstanding, everything seemed to be cruising along till the venue’s management (A pub which shall-not-benamed or Anonymous if you please) really threw a spanner into the band’s works by charging a whopping cover amount as entry, turning away the more economic fan toward lesser pastures beyond the door. With the initial organizers having Backed out rather morbidly, the Piranha landed up at one of their more favoured hunting ground in Chennai- The Unwind Centre, which was more than happy to host them. Packed to the hilt and overflowing at the seams the crowd braved the congestion to set the mood of the band back on track. With schedules somehow never really working, the next stop turned out to be Mumbai after a marathon 40-hours on the fabled NH’s. The cops though decided to poach the orange ray, thus ensuring a complete lock-down for everyone who valued their display panes. The band kept their fingers crossed and uncurled them only to count the number who crept into the Hard Rock Cafe that night. Pilani was on the cards next and having tided over economic constraints, frequent negotiations and a long show by Euphoria, Lounge Piranha began what they all agree was the best show of the entire tour. After all playing to a pepped up crowd at four in the morning isn’t how its normally envisioned. The energy though being present ensured a heightened performance from the band and lasted all the way into the last gig at Manipal. Taking stock, one would have to agree that the attempt did come off; in style at that. Not that it was ever expected to be easy sailing at any level. Of course, they’d know best, the most important thing though would have to be the experience of the Whole thing about which Abhijeet Tambe said, “The tour was super fun but also took a great deal out of everyone in organizing and not to mention actually doing it. I think after returning to Bangalore everyone just disappeared from each other and went off into their own directions. But this is one thing with the band anyway, every year we kind of drift away from each other for a month or two and then come back together and there’s new sounds and material to work with from the break. So yeah, everything’s good at the moment, and looking back I’m really glad, and proud I think, that we pulled it off.” Not that an extensive amount of planning had not already gone into the tour but Lounge Piranha being as gadget-

That’s the pinch of pepper they’ve learnt to sneeze away with that solid sense of humour. After all, when it goes beyond the music or the visual aids or the experience, it’s quite simply about how much you’re willing to do towards what you like doing. In any case, this is one musical trip that has exceeded any manner of expectations that I had initially harboured for it. So go ahead sample the Piranha experience online; however much you can, anyway. But believe me, no myspace page or even their album can quite replicate the entire scheme of a lounge piranha experience. For once words fail me; what’s the use, if you haven’t seen them, you just won’t get it. Redemption though might well be at hand, after all Bengaluru is just a hop, skip and NH4 away!

w w w . g e o r g e m a t h e n . c o m

happy a crowd as you’d ever get to see, there were bound to have been loads of things that patient suffering beast of burden must have been subjected to, “Well we got a bus so we had no excuses. All our instruments, an amp or two, CDs and merchandise, a couple of mannequins, a couple of photographers (I think we lost one), a couple of projectors (I think we lost one here too), and the band. I forgot my swimming trunks, which is unusual, but I bought a pair in Gokarna so I was OK!” they said cleverly delving into the various streams of process that had occasioned from the planning premises outlined above. Which is what it’s all about really. There are loads of bands playing their guts out all over the place, but with all due respect, what sets this one apart is just that, they dreamt it and now they’ve done it. What if it isn’t quite ‘Veni Vedi Vici’ all the time?

Not quite the Rolls but beats camels (clockwise) Abhijeet Tambe, Kamal Singh, Rohan Ramesh & George Mathen

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Daniel Thimmayya

Indian Ocean swept Chennai’s shores and as always, stirred up quite a storm

using streams


or a country that boasts of a musical heritage so exhaustive that several libraries could do little justice to containing it’s profundity of volume, the concept of infusing it’s choicest styles with several others, the world over and building it into a genre of infinite possibilities is not recent. Yet the number of artistes who have lived to tell a success story are far and between; bands, fewer still. One name though has transgressed all of these levels and has quite easily entered the realm where superlatives prove injudicious. Indian Ocean. One might be apt to wonder what it is that has allowed the Mumbai based outfit to stand out from the rest. Beyond the expertise, beyond the flavour, beyond the presence and even beyond the music, the clinching note lies with the mass appeal that the four have garnered over nearly

two decades of existence. Quite simply something that stems from two easily discernible factors; their easy reach ensuring a constant presence and their extreme relatability, musically and personally. A task that Susmit Sen, Aseem Chakravarty, Amit Kilam and Rahul Ram set out to do a long long time ago. The most apparent indicator of their success is their longevity; a factor that grizzled bassist Rahul Ram could not help but take a dig at, “We’ve been together for nineteen years, which is longer than most marriages last these days!” The other of course quite apparently, is their global presence which really warrants no mention; from Europe to the not-so-mysterious East, there have been few who have given Indian experimental fusion as much of an identity as this band, “To club all the international tours would be wrong as the first one was Edinburgh

for the Fringe Festival where the crowd was completely European as that is the format of a festival but the U S on the other hand has largely had Indians because we have played a lot of fund raisers. Our recent trip to South Africa had a predominantly African audience; we say African because there were third and fourth generation Indians who have lost touch with their roots to a large extent. On The whole we have always had a good mix of Indians and foreigners at most our shows abroad.” concluded the band addressing doubts as to what type of audience they were flown out to cater to. Looking back though, one cannot help but marvel at them for having taken a plunge into an industry that is not quite a safe bet two decades hence. Especially entrusting their existence into the hands of a fickle record demand scenario and at a time when paid performances were quite literally, meager, “It was a huge risk back then and still is a risk for anyone who does want to throw caution to the winds and make their own style of music, the operative words being own style of music because if you want to do commercial work now the avenues are huge but if you have innovated a style of music then it’s still very tough. Gigs were actually none! We played one concert in the first few years of Indian Ocean coming into being and it was risky and tough but all enjoyable as the end product is that we stuck to our guns and today make only the sort of music we believe in and what comes naturally to us.” Watching them live can be much like witnessing the filling of an enormous canvas by diverse artists bringing together colour, form and texture with flourish, vigor, a tinge of abandon and all these liberally laced with a tangy dose of humour. Understandable enough, considering the number of shows they do every year; regardless of the magnitude of the event, ranging from events of national standing to headlining obscure college gigs, in the remotest corners of the country. This of course raises the question of the kind of audience that the band successfully caters to, “If by that were we catering to a certain age group and hence were surprised at the response we got then it isn’t so as even now a large part of our touring includes colleges and we have had some of the best concerts in these institutions”, they confidently state. What immediately will strike you though is that all four of them share vocal duties, quite in tandem, while working through a musical set. The interesting part is that though it is customary for most bands to pitch in with backing vocals, it’s beyond a rarity when every member functions as a lead vocalist; each with a distinctive style. “The simple fact is that we all can and do sing with different ranges and songs get composed organically and one chooses to sing the parts that best suit ones voice”, they justify diplomatically. The knack of creating just the right mix of traditional sounds from that mild Sufi touch to a profound western element with harder riffs, is what contributes to a song’s appeal and therein it’s success. This has sometimes prompted bands to include classical musicians of repute to boost the intrinsic value of the performance; a trend that Indian Ocean have largely refrained from, “Honestly, we’re not a good jam band as our compositions are fairly complicated and the composure of the band is such that we have not jammed a lot with other artists.  The ones we have played with have been a great experience but not always logistically pleasing on stage. And it really is about doing music the way you like it without making a mathematical equation of it!” Strong words that betray the hours of practice that go into each number! Somehow there has always been a disparity of sorts between mainstream music production in Indian cinema and performing bands; another rarity that Indian Ocean

has successfully set a milestone in, when they cut the sound track and score for Anurag Kashyap’s Black Friday. What has warranted mention here is that the attempt was a runaway hit both commercially and critically and has occasioned fond memories with the four, “ It was a learning experience and a nice one at that. The producer and Director were great guys who gave us a lot of freedom and time and it was a nice ride otherwise we would not have agreed to do it again with Hulla and Bhoomi and a third one on the cards” they say of their forthcoming cinematic ventures. Having performed in Chennai after quite a spell, the socially active outfit was playing the show for an organization campaigning for clean drinking water in the state. Surprisingly the choice of an indoor venue and a sit-back concert, though ill-received by most music lovers who crave the ambience of the suitablygreat outdoors, did eventually go unopposed as the heavens opened up with a fury just before the show. Indubitably, for a city that has a pronounced language barrier issue, Chennai did prove that music does transcend boundaries. “We have played very few times in Chennai but every time has been wonderful. We hope to keep coming back and all this barrier talk does not bother us because if people in Japan can sing along and dance to Ma rewa and others all around the world can sing along with our songs, our own countrymen, will undoubtedly surpass this so called language barrier every time.” , they attest emphatically The world has viewed them as a symbol of performance; their ardent fans as the gurus of grunge and ghazals, their critics concede that finally the par has been set; truly none other could have earned the status of an epitome; a personification that has resulted from a legacy spanning decades. The waters may rage just off the tip of the peninsula with storms drifting in off the Indian Ocean, but the harmony of peace and the philosophy of fusion can only emanate from within. After all, oceans never do run dry! For once the namesake has surpassed the original.

Photo Feature

The All India Salon of Photography organised by the Photographic Society of Madras (PSM)

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A brief glance at the highlights of this years Margazhi Maatham

2008 -09

hennai Music Season

he month of The ‘Maargazhi’, mid December of current year to mid January of the new year has been talked about in literature and scriptures as the most auspicious of all months, as it is considered to be the early morning hours (Brahma muhoorath) of celestial beings and is worthy of worshipping the trinity. With this connotation in mind, great poets of the bhakthi movement Andaal and Manicca Vachagar have composed Tamil hymns Thiruppaavai and Thirvembaavai, and Thiruppalli Ezhuchi to worship Lord Vishnu and Shiva. Chennai Music Season has its beginnings traced back to 1928, when the first music conference was begun and the octogenarian body of Madras Music Academy was born. By 1933, Indian Fine Arts Society and subsequently over the years, many Sabhas appeared in the horizon, each one of them holding their own season of concerts and musical conferences, inundating the city with concerts and other forms of cultural and arts expose’ galore. Many a great stalwart has congregated in Chennai, especially in and around Mylapore and T.Nagar, year after year since then, and the Madras Music season has become iconic of Chennai’s event calendar every winter. Great music, latest fashion-parading, silk-saree adorning women folk, caustic critic circles, heated debates, research presentations of exponents/wannabes, new audio and music related software releases, great canteens, commerce of all kinds targeting the floating population of the city, increasingly curious, enthused NRIs as well as non-Indian crowds, are all part and parcel of the month long festive scene. Season 2008 will not be very different. December 1 of every year, the major newspapers publish the schedule of all concerts held by different sabhas, during the season. The internet age has taken advantage of the Web to publish all the schedules in a consolidated fashion. One of the popular sites would be : madras08/index.html. Chennai Music Academy, Indian Fine Arts Society, Sri Krishna Gana Sabha, Naradha Gana Sabha, Sri Thyaga Brahma Gana Sabha,Tamil Isai Sangam are all the major Sabhas that have conducted music series for many decades now. All of them give fancy titles to deserving and sometimes not so deserving artists. Arts, politics and controversies are so much interwoven in the fabric of the season, and this year will not be different again, in those aspects.

What may be more interesting apart from concerts would be the lecture-demonstration (popularly abbreviated as “lecdems”) and research presentations by many practicing research minded artists! Following are some of The Music Academy “lecdems”. Prof. S R Janakiraman, a musicologist of repute will be presenting Eka Krithi (only one song) raagas of Saint Thyagaraja on December 16 th . Apart from the Krithis, the arrays of ragas covered in this talk are all very rare. Sooladi Taala structural analysis by Dr. Sachidevi of Bangalore on 19 th ,   Creating and maintaining music archives by Dr.Shubha Choudhri on 20, Multifacets of Khandam and Thrisram (Guru Pazhani Subbudu style) by Trichi Sankaran on 21 st , Comparing the music and language faculties in humans by Vidvan K.G. Vijay Krishnan on 22 nd ,  Oothukkadu Venkata Kavi – perspectives through internal evidence by Chithraveena Ravikiran on 23 rd , Hindustani Ragas and their adaptation in Carnatic Music by Sriram Parasuram on 24 th , An Analytical study of the abhyasa gaana by Vidushi Rajashree Ramakrishna on 26 th , Konnakkol by Thiruchi Thayumanavan on 27 th ,  Different Schools and styles of Dhrupad Singing by Prof. Rithvik Sanyal of BHU are all some of the “lecdems” worth attending for common interest topics in music. Among the Narada Gana Sabha series of “lecdems”, Music Traditions in Temples by B.M. Sundaram on 23 rd , Veenai- The Saga of evolution by Veena Vidushi Jayanthi Kumaresh on 25 th ,  Ethukkadai, Chitta swarams, Swara sahithyams by Radha Bhaskar on 26 th ,  Importance of Sahithyam in compositions by Madural Sundar and party are all general musical topics of interest for most season attendees. In general, Sri Krishna Gana Sabha and Kalakshetra series will have “lec dems” mostly dance oriented and some music oriented too. Tamil Isai sangam will have presentations based on Tamil Isai and Pann (Raaga in Tamil). Apart from the concerts, these lecture demonstrations will help the serious attendees to understand the historic developments, perspectives, bias politics, current practices, of the Carnatic music world well.  Every one of these places will also have fabulous canteens feeding and displaying the culinary arts expertise of various established kitchens. As the popular Thirukural  says,  when you have no food for your ears, you can feed your stomach - that too with rich and varied cuisine.   

Art By Chinnaraj

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Vanipriya Jayaraman


urulekha Etuvanti

Shri Delhi P Sunder Rajan,is undoubtedly a very gifted and talented musician. He is a veteran violinist and an accomplished vocalist. He also teaches music with students from all over the world. We caught up with him at his residence recently, and we got into a discussion on Saint Thyagaraja.

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J : Shri Thyagaraja didn’t have the many vicharams, or in fact he had none. What is the single most important thing that comes across when I mention Thyagaraja. DPS : Actually, it isn’t just a flash but a huge cluster of thoughts that come to my mind about Thyagaraja. Thyagaraja to me is “Devotion personified”. His Bhakthi (devotion) to Lord Rama was sans pareil; that he could be called “The Ultimate Devotee” in our modern terms. He felt so close to the Lord that he could easily relate with him and look at him as his savior, his friend and his parent. In fact, it was as if it was just the Lord and him alone that he knew of nothing else. And of course, he was such a great composer, that his music has become almost synonymous with carnatic music itself. I am just wonder struck looking at the way he has handled the same raga in different krithis. Thodi is not the same in Kaddanuvariki as it is in Dasarathi. He has looked at a raga as a mode of addressing his Bhakthi rather than just a scale of seven notes, so much so that the expression is as succinct and varied as the mind itself. It just shows how exact and unassuming he was in expressing what he felt, without thinking much about the musical content very technically. His songs were straight from his heart and as it was filled with the

thoughts about Rama alone, there was no need for him to think about the technicalities of music. It was nothing but flawless. And when he sings Makelara vicharamu. I would definitely not ask for more! VJ : There is in fact nothing under the sun and above the pathalam or even beneath and beyond, that he hasn’t conveyed in his compositions. Even the way he has handled Navarasas is so magnificent. DPS : Absolutely, no doubt about that. Let me quote an example of how he has defined music as such in the krithi, Swararaga Sudha Rasa. He says that understanding the divine Nada(sound) emanating from the primal source in the body shows one the way to attain the Bliss Supreme. Being a Nada Yogi himself, he says that identifying the seven swaras of the music scale in the body, referred as the Chakras, is by itself a Yoga leading to salvation. To him, Music was the vehicle to attain Mukthi (Salvation). The same is also discussed in Sobhillu Saptaswara, where he urges everyone to pray the seven notes, which glow in the navel, heart, neck, tongue and nose – Nabhi Hrt Kanta Rasana – Nasadulayandu. His krithis were just not meant for his enjoyment or just expressing his Bhakthi to Rama. Every krithi was a scripture by itself, looking at the way in which social messages have been contained and

conveyed in them. Look at Mosabooku Vinave, where he tells the importance of good company and consequences that bad company can lead to. The Navarasa needs no introduction. And it would take another episode to talk in detail about that. VJ : Of the trinity, Thyagaraja has more importance than the rest. Is it simply the numbers? DPS : The answer is very simple. It is nothing but the simplicity of his krithis, in structure, language and expression. I would like to give an analogy with regard to the compositions of the Trinity. Thyaragaja’s compositions are like Grapes; Dikshitar’s like a Coconut and Shyama Shastri’s like a Banana! To understand the depth of Shyama Shastri’s krithi, is like eating a vazhai pazham. You have to peel the skin off the banana to actually get to the edible part. Dikshitar’s krithis are like a coconut; to get the real feel of it is like breaking the coconut’s shell and then actually getting to the core of it. As we all know, Dikshitar’s krithis are complex and convoluted compared to that of Thyaragaraja. Whereas, Thyagaraja’s krithis are straight forward. They are offered right away on a golden platter ready to be tasted without any strain or stress. This doesn’t mean that the quality of the music is great with one and not with the other. It just shows the different approaches that the three had towards their music and compositions. VJ : Thyagaraja Aradhana is celebrated this extravagantly world over, but not a Dikshitar or Shyama Shastri Jayanthi. At least they aren’t celebrated with the same magnitude. nor is a practice of singing the Navavarnams or The Swarajathis like the Pancharatna Krithis. Does that have to do with mass appeal and popularity alone or other reasons? DPS : Well of course these days the weightage has been given to all composers; not just the trinity but also to their contemporaries. Dikshitar Jayanthi’s and Shyama Shastri Festivals have been celebrated, but yes, not on such a scale as Thyagaraja Aradhana. This is again due to the ease with which people are able to relate and identify themselves to Thyagaraja’s compositions. From what I’ve read as a performer, to a commoner or the mass a Bantureethikolu or Ramanannu Brovara is more reaching than any other song which is more musically complex and challenging. Of course times are changing, and the audience is not the same always. I also would like to share a thought that some people have about his language. Due to the fact that he was in Thiruvarur, his Telugu is simpler and colloquial. Also, another reason is tradition. For something to be as popular today, it is n othing but a continuation of its popularity and fame that it had gained over the ages. And as far as Carnatic Music is concerned, it is nothing but Tradition. Carnatic, itself means Archaic or Traditional. If a performer in the west, would be lauded for his performance of a composition of Beethoven or Bach, it would be majorly because of precision with which he

performs the piece as notated by the composer. But as far as our music is concerned, one is expected to improvise in the forms of Ragam, Swaram and Neraval around the Krithis within the limitations and the framework of the raga, keeping in mind the emotions and expressions with which the composer could’ve composed the song. For a performer to perform this way, one would’ve listened to the same Krithis sung by their guru, who would teach in a way that was taught to him, which had been passed on to him through the ages. And also one has to listen to the various other ways the same song has been performed by various musicians. If somebody is singing Apparamabhakthi with all its grandeur, it is because it has been passed down the time line to him by so many positive innovations that has been brought about in the way it has being projected on stage. For this to have happened, it must have been popular for a long period of time and the performers of those days would’ve taken this up, because it had made an impact with them, not just as a song, but as a meditative tool to attain Mukthi. In Thyagraja’s case, his compositions score over the rest, due to there simplicity. Of course, when it comes to presentation, it would be wise to first follow tradition, and not just blindly try to indulge in innovation. Innovation on the lines of Tradition is what succeeds. And that’s what has happened here too. VJ : What does Thyagaraja signify, symbolize and epitomize to you? DPS : As a musician, I look at Thyagaraja as an epitome of musical excellence. His musical genius is beyond comprehension. I am in fact searching for the best word to describe his music. As I have already mentioned, the way he has handled the various ragas is just amazing. In fact most of the learning can be done from Thaygaraja’s krithis alone. I’m often awed looking at the ways the same raga has been sung differently. The many permutations, combinations of the notes, without being actually so, make me think “Well this could also be sung this way”. True with the Endaro Mahanubhavulu for example or the Panchartnams as a whole. Looking at the Swara-sahithyams, it just gives you an idea, of how the swara singing of those could have been. As a teacher, I am dumbfounded by the way he has handled the vakra ragas. Take for example, KokilaVarali whose Arohanam-Avarohanam is S R G R M P D N D S – S D N D P M R G R S. But when you look at the krithi, Samukhana Nilva, it is as simple as any krithi in a simpler ragam like Mohanam. This just shows how evolved a musician he was and how easily he could convey even complex things in a uncomplicated manner. As a Rasika, obviously, I am a fan of Thyagaraja. Show me a follower of Carnatic Music, who doesn’t like Thyagaraja’s compositions. None – he/she doesnt exist. If it did exist, it would be the greatest anomaly of all times, on the face of the earth. I always, as every other rasika, enjoy the krithis of the greatest composer of all time.

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Vanipriya Jayaraman

The day when live raagams rise from the sabhas to the silver screen, has finally arrived.

L ights.. C amera.. Kutchery


hat is a specific, special genre of movies in other cultures, “Musicals” have been the de facto of Indian cinema since its beginnings. The Indian movie industry which had its roots in Indian Theatre, obviously had to bring in and adapt the same style, to the newer medium for lack of better ideas and also based on what society could digest during that era. Men and women of rich culture and background in classical music who were successful on stage, started making it big on the silver screen during those initial years. M K Thyagaraja Bhagavathar, T R Mahalingam, P U Chinnappa, Nagaiah, S Rajam, S Balachandar, Nagarkoil Mahadevan, Serukalathur Sama, P S Govindan, M R Santhanalakshmi, T R Rajakumari, P A Perianayaki, S D Subbulakshmi were all the singing stars of those years. Soon, many notable classical musicians

who were successful on stage, lured by the glamor and glory of silver screen also started appearing and taking lead roles in movies. Nightingale of Indian Classical music, M S Subulakshmi, the man of million swirls, maestro G N Balasubramanian, Musiri Subramania Iyer, Papanasam Sivan, and Dandapani Desikar were all concert artists and great crowd pullers that donned roles on the silver screen. There were great many music directors that were so rooted in classical music that set music for movies of those years. Evolutionandemergenceofnewtechniquesandtechnologies brought in more musicians through background music and singing. M.L.Vasanthakumari, N.C.Vasanthakokilam, P.Leela, Radha Jayalakshmi, Sulamangalam Sisters, Balamurali Krishna, Seergazhi Govindarajan and T.M.Soundarrajan, Yesudas and T.N.Seshagopalan were all soaked in classical music that rendered voices for the popular faces on the screen. Even recently current day concert artists like Bombay Jayashree, Nithyashree Mahadevan and Unnikrishnan have

been phenomenally successful. “Cinema Songs” were created, records were cut, with movies routinely having seven to eight song sequences of several emotions depicting the moods of characters, and embellishing the story lines. Background scores also started gaining more importance since the arrival of Ilayaraja and subsequently new age music directors like A R Rahman. Amidst such a trend where Music has followed the script always, for the first time there seems to be the dawn of a new era wherein a Movie has been made to reflect Music in its truest form. Margazhi Ragam is a full length feature film, which has entirely captured the live performance of a Classical Carnatic Music Recital. For the first time, a concert has been filmed without the distractions such as side conversations, people trying to figure out ragams, poor audio, disturbing fans, faint faces of artists, and poor ambience in general. Directed by Jayendra Panchapakesan, with cinematography by P C Sreeram and audiography by the late H Sridhar, awardwinning craftsmen of the trade, it truly promises to be both an aural and visual treat to the audience. It features a whole length performance of top-notch musicians Bombay Jayashri and T M Krishna. The concert on silver screen is totally as traditional, spontaneous and creative as any other concert that you might get to hear at a sabha hall. What makes this pure stage concert so special and unique? Carnatic Music has mostly kept technology at arms distance. Be it the traditionalists who felt technology should never be let to diffuse the traditional aspects, or the artistes who got into the depth of the performance forgetting everything around them let alone technology, or the audience who didn’t expect anything beyond music or the organizers who were very happy with such an attitude around them, providing the minimalistic namesake equipment and infrastructure. There have been so many instances, when the acoustics are so poor and the balancing so imperfect, that some concerts fail to reach the audience and provide them a total aural experience; rich and vibrant. What can be a divine euphony ends up being disturbing cacophony sometimes. And these were the exact few thought that made the Director Jayendra conceive and execute this project. In his own words Jayendra says, “I always thought Carnatic music hasn’t paid much attention to the presentation. Kutcheris were held with little thought to aesthetics in visual and audio presentation and I wanted to change that. I have known Bombay Jayashri for a long time and had been discussing about it for over 4 years now. Recently when I got the right technology, I thought it was the best time to translate my dream into reality.” Indeed it was a dream for Bombay Jayashri too, who says that she derived inspiration from a Broadway show “the Lion King” that she had watched . She says that the importance that was given to sound systems, aesthetics were so outstanding , that she always wished that this was also done with Carnatic performances. Having seen both the worlds - Cinema and Classical Music, she was always hoping that the marriage of these two worlds, would result in a presentation medium so effective for Carnatic Music. Having worked with Jayendra on a lot of jingles and music videos, she decided to team up with leading vocalist T M Krishna and go ahead with this venture, when Jayendra came up with this idea . The transformation of a dream into reality, from a concert to a movie, from a concert recording to a sound track, from performing musicians to compelling screen personalities, this movie has a whole list of “first timers” in it, besides that,

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this is the first time ever, that a concert has been made into a movie as such. Besides, the performances and the music, it has one of the best visual and aural experiences seen on screen. With names like P C Sreeram and H Sridhar having controlled the two horses of this chariot - video and audio presentation , no wonder, the movie compels the audience to immerse themselves in a Carnatic Music experience , one that they haven’t come across before. Apart from these, the stage direction and decor stand out tall. From whatever little glimpses that I could get in the trailer, the extravagant appeal of the stage as such, is sure to make a huge presence that will be felt throughout the movie. The movie boasts of some of the latest technology to be used. Its the programme in the world to be shot with 7 Red 4k cameras and first ever Classical music content to be shot and post produced in 4k resolution. Not just that, on the audio front, it is the first classical music programme that will be mixed in 5.1 (ie. 6 channel sound) to THX certification. With so much creativity and spontaneity involved, one could understand the relative amount of effort that this would have required. Jayendra goes on to say that this movie required a lot of preparation from his crew, who were mostly Carnatic-illiterate. He says “Six weeks before shoot, we went and did a test recording in the auditorium (Muthu Venkatasubba Rao Auditorium, Chennai) where we were going to shoot. This was to decide on the mikes to be used, the relative distance required between musicians. Based on these we designed the stage. We didn’t want mikes standing in front of singers and covering their

faces. Yet we wanted vocal, violin, mridangam and ganjira seperate in terms of tracks while recording them live. Then we had stand-ins for musicians to do the lighting. Care was also taken to align and sync the cameras used.” The next question that arises, would be on the musical content that has been developed. Interestingly, no particular theme has been followed in the recital . But the creators and the artistes had taken care of choosing the songs and ragas to highlight the best of what Carnatic Music has to offer. The artistes had met regularly before the production, to conceptualise and decide on the playlist. T M Krishna says “We looked at a theme first . But then we all felt that a theme might restrict the musical possibilities. We ensured that content wise it represented carnatic music at its best and thats what we implemented too.” The trailer shows a gamut of compositions of great composers, extempore pieces like the Ragam Thanam Pallavi and a Virutham too. The most important thing that both the artistes and the creators have stressed upon, is about the aural and visual experience of the movie. So much importance has been given, that it makes the audience connect to the performance at a personal level. The movie aims at creating a transparent medium where the music transcends from the souls of the musicians to the hearts of the audience. One often wonders, how different this would be from a recorded version of a usual concert. And the answer lies at the intelligence and creativity of the director and technical crew, who have worked on presenting music in a totally different dimension. Speaking about how different this is

from a DVD recording of a concert T M Krishna says , “This is completely different. This is a visual experience of the music produced when you watch this movie you will see the music being created by every artist in a way that you never thought was possible. The visual will make you see the artist produce music not from his voice but from his whole self which is what music is. It is for every person in the audience . This will be a concert performed for each them. Of course the sound is outstanding and the aesthetic of the stage take the performance to the next level.� The audience will get to see music being made right upclose. Bombay Jayashri asserts that the credit should go P C Sreeram and H Sridhar , who have captured all nuances so perfectly , it looks as though Sridhar could read her mind and Sreeram her eyes. This goes on to say how well the mood of the musician has been captured by the camera. One aspect of technology that has enabled this is that the lighting has been orchestrated to the way a song moved. It definitely would make the audience travel with the musician, in this musical journey. For somebody, who have been accustomed to being on stage or behind the mics in the studio, the musicians seem to have been at their comfortable best during the shooting, despite the fact that there was a huge crew and 7 cameras revolving around them. Both of them stress the fact that no compromise was made to the performance and that it was as total, complete and spontaneous as any other concert that they would perform in a sabha. This makes it even more interesting and a well-rounded performance, worth spending the time and money in watching it. The director says that the songs were shot from beginning to end, without any retakes, barring a couple of instances where the crew had issues with synchronizing the light

to the music. As Carnatic Music cannot be lip synced, this movie lets the audience view their musicians sans the mics in front of them. The movie being a regular Carnatic Concert, which will definitely make a mark with the classical music audience, hopes to entice the non-Carnatic music lover as well. Krishna reasserts that this might not be a education drive , but a presentation of music in a rather compelling way with equal appeal, visually. He adds that the trailers have been well received in the theaters and through the web site as well. Bombay Jayashri goes on to add yet another dimension of the response. She says that this has appealed to the next generation of listeners, most of whom perceive carnatic music as something, thats complex and tough to enjoy as well as perform. Slated to be released on December 18th during the peak of the December Music Festival, it features Embar S Kannan (violin) Patri Satish Kumar (Mridangam) and Chaitrra Prasanna and Keerthana V Nath (Tambura) accompanying Bombay Jayashri and R.K. Shriram Kumar (violin), K. Arun Prakash (Mridangam) ,B.S. Purushotham (Kanjira) , Emmanuelle Martin and Rithvik Raja (Tambura) accompanying T M Krishna. The movie is also planned to be released on Blue-Ray, which is yet another entry to the movie’s first timer list and as well as in DVD, VCD and Audio - CD formats. With so many positives, one hopes that Margazhiragam creates a new wave of musical performances and cinema in the future. To know more about Margazhiragam , check out its website :

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Ashok Subramaniam

mprovisational aspects of Carnatic Music


sk any regular carnatic concert visitor/listener, the casual to all-comprehending souls, as to what draws them towards this form of music. Invariably, you will have the same answer – ‘’the improvisational aspects from abstract raagaa elaboration to often perplexing “neraval” (taking a small phrase and spreading it along the timeline and beat cycle with some constraints and yet not ruining the words within) and to absolutely astounding swara swinging (no, it is not typo for “singing!”!) acrobatics, known as ‘Kalpana Swaras Singing’. While both classical systems of music in India have the specific delineation of raagaa elaboration, they vary widely in pace, tempo, mood, time of singing/playing, duration and different parts of this aspect. What sets Carnatic music really far apart from Hindustani counterpart is its ‘Neraval’ and ‘Kalpana Swara Singing’. The basic building blocks of Indian music system, especially Carnatic, are Gamakaas (graces), without which the improvisational part of our music would be bare, boring and even bane. The “gamakaas” of Indian music system are essentially simultaneous and concurrent manipulation of both frequencies and volume up and down. As simple as it looks, the above statement does not explain much to an uninitiated person. Some examples may elucidate this aspect further. As any keen listener would observe, a note is a not a note on its own in our music system, like what you see in a Piano or a keyboard – meaning, it is not discrete, singleton value. It is a flow between notes, mostly between the previous and itself. Our musical phrases are not a continuous stream of disjointed notes sung/played in succession. They are more like trend curves as opposed to a line graph. Let us take a short detour before the main subject to peek

into what gamakaas really are! For example, let us take the raagaa, Mayamalavagowlai, which is used to teach new students of music, the basic swara patterns, and to gradually take them through musical training, like Sarali, Jantai, Dhattu, Alankarams, etc. Regardless of the raagam, the notes Sa and Pa are anchor notes and don’t have variations like other notes. Some misconstrue and misinterpret these as notes without gamakaas, because they are known to be “achala notes” (“achala” in Sanskrit means non-wavering).  Prof. S.Janakiraman, a renowned musicologist differs from that opinion and has amply demonstrated the same in his lec-dem series. A reasonably skilled musician would definitely agree with that. In fact the phrase “sarva swara gamaka varika raagaa” used to mention raagams that have all swaras with gamakaas, including Sa and Pa. Any  The notes Ri, Ga, Da, and Ni have three variations each and the note Ma has two variations, in terms of their positional and frequency values on 12 key/16 note scheme which is in use today.  Most teachers of carnatic music believe that teaching without gamakaas initially, is the best way to get the tonal, positional as well as pitch alignment of notes across to the students. However, a few others believe otherwise and introduce gamakaas early on in the training. Gamakaas vary for the same note depending on whether the mode is ascending or descending and also, which note they originate from.  Let us have a glimpse of how a typical gamakaa is executed, through the note ascending Ri (known as Rishabam). The first variation of R viz., R1 (Shuddha Rishabham) is sung as SRSRSRS with the notes starting with Sa and with soft and high intonations for S and R respectively and repetitively, for the duration the note is sung. R2 (Chathusruthi

Rishabham) is a little farther away from base S, so it is mostly executed as SGRGRGR in a similar fashion as R1. R3(Shatsruthi Rishabham) is the farthest from S and hence mostly sung as SR3R2R3R2. Similarly, Ga is sung as GRG or MGMG depending on from which note it is traversed to! In general, every note has, when not sung as disjointed from previous note, the shades of previous note and sometimes the following couple of notes. What is even more fascinating is, in some raagams a note like M (Madhyam) is perceived and presented as an average of two notes, preceding and following note. For example, in a raagam like Begada, the note Ma has several shades, one of them does not have “Ma” at all. Instead it is executed as GPGPGPG in succession, apparently giving the sensation of Ma. So, when someone mentions that there are “anuswaras” (microtones), apart from swaras (should they be called macro tones?), they simply mean these combinational execution of a note which gives the oscillatory aspect (gamakaa) of carnatic music. Most importantly, the notational representation of any raagam which just gives a scale, is hardly anything like how each note within the real raagam is sung/played. The subject of gamakaas is worth a volume if one has to elaborate and has to be supported by audio samples. Just writing about it does not give much insights into what they are. Even the above discussion is an approximation what the true understanding should be.There are quite a few interesting articles on this subject in the website hyperlink, http://www. More specifically, articles by M.Subramanian and K.S.Jayalakshmi. So, without lingering further on detour, let me come to the main subject. Much of the improvisational part of Carnatic music would not be as interesting and intriguing without the Gamakaas. So in a way, Gamakaas are the basic building blocks of Raagaa Alapana, Neraval, Thaanam and Kalpana Swaras, improvisational components of Carnatic Music. Raagaa Alapana is typically defined to be a melodic sketch without any lyric and rhythm tied to it. It is best depicted as a free form of aural painting or sculpting, where the moods, imaginations and constructional pace and ways are individualistic, but the structure and methodology are essentially the same. Depending on, who the artist is, the details and nuances of presentation vary. Once again the perception and appreciation of any art form for common persons and connoisseurs vary depending on the individual tastes and artistic environment they have been living in. Neraval: This tamil word has the meaning of taking a some spreadable object and spreading it over a limited area. In the musical context, the object is a short phrase, rich in some contextual meaning, worthy of spreading across the time line confined to the beat cycle. To explain this further, take a blob of paint and spread it over a square space or an oval space of any space of definite contours, with some artistry in mind, so that in the eyes of viewers it looks like a simple painting job or an intelligent art work depicting some abstract concept.  Neraval is a similar exercise, by taking an appropriate short phrase such as “sannuththaanga sri venkatesa neevu” in the Shanmukhapriya krithi “marivera dhikkevarayya’ by distributing phrase along the beat cycle. This is done by breaking the words appropriately falling in their respective place, yet certain syllables are stretched and others shortened.

Invariably, this is one aspect, where most musicians tend to take the freedom to butcher the words and sometimes ruin the beauty of the poetry or the words, as originally intended by the composer. One of the finest examples of Neraval is the great Late Smt. M.S.Subbulakshmi’s “Hari Ayanum kaanaa ariya jyothi” in the krithi “Paraathparaa Parameshwaraa” of Papanasam Sivan – A perfect, clean and crisp rendition of how to sing Neraval, without ruining the beauty of the words. Thaanam: What used to be a “Fretted instrument’s” unique feature, has somehow crawled its way into vocal music and other instruments. Vocal musicians use the words “anantha” (meaning infinite), “aananda” (bliss) and some of the percussive syllables such as “thanam”, “thaanam”, “nam” to sing thaanam. While it is an interesting way of exposing semi-rhythm based improvised phrases, usually, there is not much creativity exhibited by most artists, except a few, of extraordinary caliber like S.Kalyanaraman, TNS and Alathoor Bros who have exhibited standout, stupendous creative sparks in their Thaanam singing time and time again. Through the years, it is strange that none has really analyzed and questioned the true purpose of this specific aspect of music! Even the most knowledgeable musicians and musicologists cannot explain whether it makes sense to sing this gibberish form. In the days of “Pallavi in any raagam”, regardless of the mood conveyed by the pallavi line, or the raagam, people sing thaanams, apparently conveying bliss to the audience.  Imagine a thaanam in raagams like Mukhari, Neelambari, Subhapanthuvarai, Revathi or Sivaranjani. Well this again is a contentious topic for anyone to discuss without falling on the wrong side of commercial musicians. Of course every form of popular music has some gibberish aspect. But, for classical music it does not fit much when rendered vocally. This also, seems to be a favorite of movie music directors to build the moods of extreme emotions like range, frustration, happiness supported by weird camera angles on the silver screen. Kalpana Swarams:  Most fascinating element of Manodharma Sangeetha is singing Kalpana swarams extempore. This facet of carnatic music has developed over the years, thanks to many available recordings of great stalwarts on the magnetic media that it has become rather a routine and fearless pursuit for most concert artists these days. Creating mind boggling, blowing patterns given the grammatical structure of any raagam in terms of ascending and descending notes with exciting Korvais (sequences) and mukthayis (ending note patterns) and starting at the right eduppu (starting point) are all highly demanding of artist’s creativity, and alertness and sense of number partitioning ability. The muktahyis are usually some patterns of preset variety sung 3 times successively before the eduppu. Keen students of Carnatic music who have formally been

well trained and learned almost 20 to 25 Varnams and 50 to 100 Krithis can easily indulge in this exercise and be successful to a reasonable degree. However, the ability to conceive complex musical patterns of swaras, at the same time not sounding repetitive is a real challenge, requiring sheer hard work and experience. It is like a talented/ experienced painter’s every stroke being right...! What is sometimes missing in most artists and performances of today, is this  “extempore aspect” . By listening to a specific artist for a while, and after a few concerts of close following a rasikaa can predict and be right 99% of the times, what the next sequence or musical phrase from the specific musician would be. Complex pattern arrangements, known as (Kanakku) are again a pre-formed and probably memorized pattern sequences, successfully executed in the concert platform. If the performer has worked on, say, 200 to 300 korvais and mukthaayis and have worked on them for a few years, most of these patterns are well etched in the memory. The act and art of singing korvais and mukthaayi becomes a job of an efficient database scan and appropriate pattern match based on starting finger or the sub-count there in. So, in a lot of cases, Kalpanaa swaram singing is mostly pre-formed kalpanaa, very patiently rehearsed and skillfully executed.  Rarely, one would find an artist who would throw surprise after surprise in terms of rendering unusual patterns. Even in those cases, it is highly doubtful if the patterns were yanked out of thin air, extempore. Not to trivialize this, there are other elements of pace and gait involved in some advanced swara singing pursuits, which again is achievable by hard work and practice only. The muktaayi korvais are typically groups of 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 notes and combination of them sung three times in some kind of progressive order.  These groups could be with or without kaarvais (deliberate pauses).  To explain this simply, one must use the percussive syllables like ta, ka, di, mi, ja, nu, ki, na, thom etc., to visualize formations of rhythmic patterns played on mridangam, kanjira, ghatam etc,. Let us try some patterns and see how they would be arranged. Ta-ki-ta – equivalent to 3 short letters in notes sa-ri-ga. Ta-ka-di-mi – equivalent to 4 short letters in notes sa-riga-ma. Extending the same for other groups, we would get phrases like ta-ka-ta-ki-ta (5) , ta-ka-di-mi-ta-ka (6),  ta-kadi-mi-ta-ki-ta (7) and so on and so forth. Now if we have to introduce the concept of kaarvais, deliberate pauses (symbolically denoted by “,” for one syllable unit of time and “;” for two syllable units of time), we will come up with phrases like ta-,-ka (3), ta-;-ka (4) and ta-,-ka-ta-ki-;-ta (8) etc,. Now translate these into sequence of notes, we will get groups like grs, grsnd, gr,snd, gr;snd etc,. A typical basic and simple muktaayi korvai would be grsndrsndp-sndpm – Eduppu of the pallavi line where the swara

kalpana is done. The notes of korvai should be formed in such a way as to lead into a smooth beginning of the pallavi line. The korvai under consideration has 15 notes. A pallavi sung in normal speed in Adi Talam (8 beat cycle) would have 32 counts, each count of the beat accounting for 4 notes. This means the singer would start the ending phrase 17 notes after the beginning of the thaala cycle (known as “samam”.). It is this aspect of deciding on how complex the muktaayi korvai is going to be and to finish it properly, where the singer would have to start from the beginning, which makes it really thrilling for a beginning concert musician.  As the reader of this article would figure it by now, what I have just outlined is a very simple, rudimentary kalpanaa swara singing sketch only. Depending on how well soaked one is into the art form, how vivid and varied the imagination is, and how conversant the musician becomes with notes of specific raagam, thaalam, eduppu place etc, the musician can weave complex patterns finishing with fireworks like muktaayis of complex patterns, sometimes extending over several thaala cycles. So, Manodharma sangeetha or improvisational music is all about 90% perspiration and 10 percent imagination. As always, space is a constraint when one has to do justice to a topic of such complexity. But, hey look at the bright side. We have at least tried to break down the constituent parts of basics, to understand the concepts at least from 10,000 feet/meters level. There are excellent reading materials and research works available online for a keen enthusiast. As always, I am only an email away for your questions. If I know it, I will share it without hesitation, or

would be happy to co-explore with you. So what are the facts? - Improvisational music is a very systematically developed, often well thought out, rehearsed and executed plan for most artists. - Korvais and Muktaayis and Kanakku are all preformed Kalpana (imaginations). - It is within the reach of every musician who has developed a fine sense of the raagas and thaalaas with years of learning and listening to many greats artists of past and present. And what are the Fallacies? - Improvisational music is impromptu. - Kanakku is some complex algebra, geometry and high order calculus that is beyond the grasp of non-science students. Kanakku is mostly simple number partitioning exercise as to how to divide a given number into many ways of interesting possibilities. - Musicians are Magicians and show some sort of wizardry on the fly every show. Remember, even David Copperfield, the famous magician does his home work and so do our musicians.   Finally, I don’t want to make the enormous body of knowledge sound so trivial, but the enormity and the apparent complexity of the scope and study of improvisational music, need not scare and despair anyone anymore, as long we are willing to score and explore more…! Until next time, so long!

The Score magazine

Photographs Sony bmg


Varsha Natarajan


He’s anything but ordinary, yet he’s your classic boy-next-door.  The piercing eyes on his album covers that make you look once again could just be the soft gaze of a now nineteen-year-old.   He might have turned the world topsy-turvy with his debut single, but the successes of this teenager rest but lightly on his clear voice.  One minute he’s the lovable schoolboy begging for just a couple more minutes of sleep, and the next, he’s all around the country on tours and performances, giving interviews and recording albums.  Playing with his dog and dribbling his basketball, you’d never imagine CHRIS BROWN to be the boy who made it straight from Tappahannock, Virginia. 

unning it the



aking it big from a town not larger than 6.9 square kilometers, Chris Brown has indeed put Tappahannock on the map.  The very fact that he’s made it big affirms that dedication, hard work and charisma still have a place in the music industry. “I always imagined that I could be what I wanted to be, I just hoped that I could do it,” is what this Grammy-nominated teenager humbled by experience has to say today, having found his place in the industry he’d always wanted to be.  Singing the way he does coupled with the time and energy he spends on each of his chef d’oeuvres, it’s not surprising that Brown has the dedication it took for his role models and heroes - Sam Cooke, Stevie Wonder, Donnie Hathaway, Michael Jackson and Usher (to name a few) – to make it right to the top.  Not a wonder that his style of music has been compared to theirs.  But it’s not hard to see that Brown does have a style of his own, and needless to say, huge talent that’s definitely his own!  Listen to Chris Brown and it’s not hard to believe that it was this sixteen-year-old that made people go gaga with his debut single, complete with irresistible tracks, vocals par excellence and that soaring, incredible voice.  It might have been the beginning of his musical career, but for millions of his fans, Brown definitely broke into a steady run with Run It in 2005, which featured Juelz Santana in an irresistible up-tempo dance. With Run It having quite a dream run and topping the Billboard Hot 100, Brown became the first male artist to have his debut single top the charts.  His self-titled debut album CHRIS BROWN synthesized not just Chris’ ongoing journey through adolescence with emotion, but with it the journeys of every average youngster.  An album that took Brown’s listeners along through teen hangouts, dance floors, lonely nights and crowded malls, Brown’s debut album made such madly innovative and fresh combos, both in themes and style, that it literally floored over 3 million people across the globe into his kind of music.  Chris Brown’s sense of “Yo” had a whole new tang and twist to it.  The slang greeting the name of the producers’ favourite in his debut album, Yo is a song where the average boy can’t let go of a gorgeous girl he’s seen.  “It’s about a girl that you maybe saw at a party or at a mall. You’re telling your boys, ‘I need to holla at her’ but you don’t know her name and you just say ‘YO!’”  The soulstirring, soaring vocals bring together so many hues of love and music, the lyrics deep and touching, the casual nonchalant ‘yo there’ meaning so much more than just the syllable.  Not much of a surprise that Brown’s Yo went on to become his second top 10 hit in the US. Be it in the vocally demanding Your Man Ain’t Me, the tender, mellifluous tones in Is This Love (both produced by The Underdogs), or playing the young man giving himself the trump card in Gimme That, Chris Brown plays with the complex emotions and hopes of teenage love. In Young Love, (produced by The Underdogs including an interpolation of Blue Magic’s ‘70s classic “Side Show”) Brown makes the space to talk about puppy love.  What sets him apart is his sensitivity to being just himself – and

nothing more or less than that.  “You don’t want to come out too sexual,” he explains. “I’m young. I want to appeal to people my age as well as older people. This gives me time to grow with my audience so I can make that change when I’m about 20. But for right now I don’t wanna be too kiddie but I don’t wanna be too grown.” Neither here nor there – that’s teenage love – and Brown’s album made magic exploring just the right dilemmas, and the oh-so-right moments.  When Brown said “I think all the teenagers can relate to it,” he jolly well had hit the perfect chord for the beginning of a glorious career.  The signs of his leanings towards R&B and pop began early when the ‘eclectic’ music his parents listened to influenced Brown enough to begin teaching himself to rap and dance at a young age.  “I was 11 [in my house] and watching Usher perform My Way, and I started trying to mimic it,” Brown said in 2005. “My mom was like, ‘You can sing?’ And I was like, ‘Well, yeah, Mama.’”  With that began Chris’ obsession for music, dance, entertainment and of course, like most boys of his age, rap. Chris rapped for a few years before his mum tried taking him around to different producers.  At age 15, Brown got his first major breakthrough with a performance for L.A. Reid and was subsequently signed in 2004 to Jive Records. It was in early 2005 that the groundwork on Brown’s sensational chartbuster started, in collaboration with biggies including the likes of Scott Storch, The Underdogs, Dre & Vidal, Bryan-Michael Cox, Bow Wow, and Jermaine Dupri. “When I hear these songs, I feel something. I know I can relate to them. I take myself out of the artist box, I become an audience member and I critique myself.”  That’s what Brown had to say as a debutant.  The optimism and maturity in the now 19-year-old artist hasn’t ceased to amaze the entire industry.  Brown’s award-winning streak, not unexpectedly, began in 2006, with awards in three categories, including the Artist of the Year at the Billboard Music Awards.  Chris Brown, with the release of Exclusive, his sophomore album for Jive Records in 2007, got closer to earning a place alongside his heroes. “Exclusive is something that not everybody can get,” Brown says, explaining the title. “I feel it’s an album especially for my fans. It’s not for the critics or the haters… or people that get it just to fit in. It’s only for those who truly want to hear my music.” Exclusive, coming two years after Brown’s first album, consists of a mix of up tempos and ballads in keeping with his energetic fusion of R&B, hip-hop and pop. “I would say it’s just me being mature, getting older,” he admits, “growing a little bit more hair and peach fuzz on the bottom of my chin. This time, I was more physically and mentally into the whole process. I just jumped in head first and delved into everything. It’s another stepping stone for me. Every day is a learning experience when you’re in the music industry. From day one, I’ve learned how to be a better artist, working on my music and with other people.” Every breath of the album is proof of his hard work and willingness to learn.  If there was any hesitation or coyness

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in his debut chartbusters, Chris Brown paints the town red with Exclusive and he does do it the ‘exclusive’ way.  From the very first single, the Sean Garrett-penned Wall to Wall (which leaked to New York’s Hot 97) to the flawless collaboration with and Tank in Picture Perfect, Brown explores a variety of styles and breaks stereotypes all the way.  Says Brown about Picture Perfect, a tribute to a stunning supermodel, ‘We wanted to write something that was kinda fun, but talked about me… I may not be dating cover girls now, but hopefully in the future, I will be.” Tho’d is a celebration of Chris’ transition from sixteen to what he is today; from the R&B to the dance-floor beat.  “The song is about just loving the fact you’re with this girl,” says Brown.  One of the most popular tracks in Exclusive is perhaps Kiss, Kiss, (co-written and produced with T-Pain) a track that has been a monumental hit with Brown’s female fans.  Not surprisingly, Kiss, Kiss “is about what we like in girls,” says a naughty Brown.  While Get at ‘Cha, produced with the Underdogs, has Brown chasing after the girls, Fallen Angel reaches out to embrace a girl who has been criticized and misunderstood.  The ranges of maturity in both performance and presentation reached a superlative degree with the success of the singles in E xclusive.  While Kiss, Kiss beat Wall to Wall to #1 on the Billboard top 100, the re-release of Exclusive in June 2008 renamed Exclusive: The Forever Edition paved the way for The Exclusive Holiday Tour in support of the album. For Mark Pitts, President of Urban Music for Zomba Label Group, Chris has always been his age – and that’s what gives him the boy-next door image.  “He was a real 15year-old when I signed him,” Pitts says. “He wasn’t trying to be 21 or older. He represented something that was refreshing.” One of the top officials of the Jive Team, Tina Davis believes it was Brown’s rooting to reality that caught her attention when she met the 15-year-old.  “The first thing that hit me was his unique voice,” Davis recalls. “There was nothing like that on the radio. And he was a handsome young man who could dance his butt off. I thought, ‘This kid is a star.’ Brown is now a sensation and it’s not just his music that drives his fans mad.  With more than a couple awards in his kitty, Chris Brown is definitely the R&B face of tomorrow.  The readily apparent sex appeal quite doubtlessly keeps his young female fans screaming and collecting pictures. After a nationally televised performance on the Grammy Awards night with Lionel Ritchie and Smokey Robinson singing a medley of their respective hits, Brown went on to win a Soul Train

award (Best R&B/Soul New Artist), two BET awards (Best New Artist, Viewer’s Choice), a Teen Choice Honor (Choice Music Breakout Artist Male), and a World Music Award (2008) (World’s Best Male R&B Artist).  He was featured on Bow Wow’s hit single Shortie Like Mine, and with Jordin Sparks in their soul-searing duet, No Air.  If that wasn’t enough, the most recent addition to Brown’s awards includes three titles including Pop/Rock, Soul/R&B along with the Artist of the Year at the American Music Awards.  The fusion of various contemporary styles in his music, his flexible body, amazing footwork and to-die-for smile, aren’t the only reasons for Chris Brown’s crossover appeal.  Brown’s memorable appearances on TV shows such as The O.C. and UPN’s One on One, as well as the hit feature film, Stomp the Yard, have extended his image from being just an artist, to becoming an actor.  “Crossing someone over from music into film is more difficult than you might think,” says Andrea Nelson Meigs, Brown’s film agent at International Creative Management, also the agent for Beyoncé and Mary J. Blige.  What’s remarkable is that Brown has made the transition at such a young age, and so successfully.  With a meatier role in This Christmas, a holiday film starring Regina King, and many other roles that are considered on a daily basis by Tina Davis, Brown’s manager, Chris Brown has come closer than ever before to achieving his dream – being an “entertainer.”  “I want to show people I’m not just a singer, but an all-around entertainer,” is what Brown has to say.    Another side to this young all-rounder – as Brown would love to be known – is the fact that this teenage sensation is regularly involved in charity work and has been an incredibly dedicated supporter of the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, internationally recognized for its pioneering work in finding cures and saving children with cancer and other catastrophic diseases.  Brown raised over $50,000 donating 50 cents from each ticket sold during his 2006 “Up Close & Personal” for St. Jude’s Math-A-Thon program, a school-based fundraiser where students ask their friends and family to sponsor them to do math. “I’d rather be known as the first Chris Brown,” he says.  With both of Brown’s albums having gone platinum (if not multi platinum), Chris Brown has not only carved for himself a niche in the hearts of his fans, but has also made a bold statement that he’s here to stay, and to be known.  For his own worth, music, talent and effort, it’s now his turn to inspire. 

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Athirupa Manichandar

G Venkat Krishnan


hrough THE LOOKING GLASS Manikanth Kadri candidly speaks about his choice of lifestyle, ease in the music industry down south and life after Avakkai Biriyani


opalnath Manikanth Kadri is by no means stranger to the music scene. But it is only after the music release of his Telugu film Aavakai Biriyani, that this accomplished composer has made everyone sit up and take notice of him.  A programmer by profession, Manikanth went on to make a career out of his passion. Being the son of Kadri Gopalnath, it would seem the most obvious career choice, with such a legacy to live up to. But his surname had little to do with how things panned out for Manikanth. “My foray into the field was not premeditated. I was never serious about music even though I have been training from a very young age in classical music from Shri Srinath Maratha . But all this aside, there was never really any intention to follow it as a career option.”

In fact his father refused any sort of recommendation for his son, so it does come a some surprise that he ended up making it big in the industry “My father wanted me to focus completely on my career; he would get livid even if I were to mention music. He didn’t mind it so much as a hobby.” Fate had altogether other plans for young Manikanth. “One of my father’s friends, wanted him to compose music for an album, and quite by accident heard the stuff I had done” and so in 2001, Manikanth cut his very first album, a fusion album titled the ‘Dream Journey Vol. 1’ and this was swiftly followed by three more volumes. With many music directors vying for the top slot, there are plenty of opportunities for music directors to just lift or copy tunes, however Manikanth strongly opines on

the subject, “I would never indulge in remakes and neither would I call another musicians work my own. There could be inspirations, a recreation of a style perhaps but all that is part of the creative process” and the strategy has paid off. In fact Milliblog (our favorite piracy and quality watchdog) said of Avakai Biryani “After a spate of Kannada and Malayalam films, Kadri Gopalnath’s son finds his mark with this impressive soundtrack.” After ‘Dream Journey’ came a spate of projects. ‘Tantric Journal’ was an English feature film for which he did the background score. It was screened in eight International Film Festivals. But it could be said that what put him centre stage was Director P. Unnikrishnan’s Malayalam tele film ‘Annum Mazhayayirunnu’. An excellent rapport was established with the director ensured he was given a completely free hand. “Unnikrishnan and I never met till the premiere of the movie. Our thoughts were so much in sync that until then our interaction was only over the phone”. Little did he know at that point that his background score would be an impetus for his next project. When ‘Annum Mazhayayirunnu’ was telecast for the first time, Director Biju Verghese was very impressed with his work and immediately signed him on for the art film ‘Chandranilekkoru Vazhi’. The film went on to win the John Abraham award though he wasn’t quite as lucky. “Awards do not define my work or my efforts. They’d be welcome but I primarily see myself as an entertainer.” On the international front too Manikanth has made a mark. He is the only Indian to work on the music for Damian Montagu’s ‘Making Tracks, The Sea’ and also for ‘Chaurahen’ a Hindi crossover film.  His methods of working are revolutionary to say the least, especially with ‘Aavakai Biriyani’. “All the tracks were composed when I was travelling. I used to think that to compose I’d have to sit down and give it my all. Over a period of time my views have changed and I have now realized that being on the move works best for me”.      He is currently working on three movies including M.S Sathyu’s next project starring Meera Jasmine.  Manikanth is pretty forthcoming about his own progress as a composer. ‘I have hardly covered ground. I still have a lot more to learn and achieve.’  With his determination and vibrant talent it is evident that Manikanth Kadri will go far and fulfill the underlying ambition of all his efforts – to do his father proud.

G Venkat Krishnan

The Score magazine



Neeraja Iyengar

xuding class with blasé


Pioneers of designer clothing in the city, Maurya, is one of the most exclusive store around. Its all about leisure shopping.

truly am at a loss for words to describe this very elegant Boutique, whose garments are all pieces of art and as all works of art should be, they truly reflect the calibre of the artist. The garments of Maurya speak for themselves. The pictures perfectly illustrate what I mean. Kamlesh Gupta, who is the heart of Maurya, started the store 25 years ago when Chennai knew little about Boutiques. For a city which has mainly worn Kancheevarams, Kamlesh pioneered the entry of silks from other places of India like Banaras and Orissa and the beautiful Kantha work, which is now known to many, was first brought in by her. Her silks bring in clientele from all over the world. I must add that her last promotion of Ikhat was mind-boggling. Apart from exquisite saris, Maurya also houses very smart Indian and IndoWestern outfits in silk and cotton, stoles, dupattas and fabric in khadi, cotton and silk. Their array of tribal jewellery deserves a special mention as they perfectly complement the outfits. Maurya also has a vast collection of silver jewellery,

artefacts, cushion covers, quilts, durries and some tastefully-made stationery in hand-made paper. In just a visit or two, you begin to identify with the store, its garments and the able people who run it, so much so that you keep wanting to go back. The ambience is very serene and has a soothing effect on an ever-restless shopping mind. The provision of ample car parking only adds to the shopper’s delight. All these factors contribute toward making shopping at Maurya as unique an experience as can be, with it’s classy old-school charm to draw you. Maurya is a must for the discerning shopper who does not compromise on quality and finesse in clothes. On the anvil is a promotion of brocades from Banaras covering all varieties of traditional Indian garments. Maurya is situated at no 41, Anugraha, Nungambakkam high road, Next to the Taj Coromandel, and is open between 9.30 am and 8 pm on all days except Sundays. You can reach the store at 044-39122876, 79. Happy Shopping!

Featuring the Cream of romantic songs of 2008

Featuring the best dance numbers of 2008

Featuring the Super Hit songs of 2008

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o an outcaste


Productions by the Madras Players are rarely meant to be missed, but Outcaste Eternal was off centre

utcaste Eternal was staged by Madras Players at the Museum Theatre late November. The Madras Players, a 53-year old Chennaibased theatre group, claims pride as the oldest functioning theatre group in the country. “We have long been exploring the use of varied media such as music and dance in theatre.” stated PC Ramakrishna, a veteran actor and one of the eminent members of the Madras Players.  Outcaste Eternal, based on the Malayalam novel Brustu by Matampu Kunhukuttan and translated into English by Dr Vasanthi Sankaranarayanan, was first staged in Singapore with a multi-ethnic Singaporean cast. Now, nine years later, the production has been resurrected and restaged under the helm of Vasanthi Sankaranarayan and Nirmala Seshadri with a Chennai cast, in memory of L Vaidyanathan, who had originally composed the music for it.   The tale is set in a community of orthodox, upper-caste Namboodri brahmins of Kerala in the early 1900’s. It depicts the true life story of Paptikutty and the revenge she wreaks on a rigid, oppressive community. Married at the age of 14 to the younger brother in a Namboodri family, she is brutally raped by the deformed, eldest brother-in-law on the night of her wedding as her husband stands guard at the door. She is later put on trial for her sexual escapades and excommunicated. She decides to take revenge on the enitre community. She goes about it by seducing sixtyfour prominent upper caste men, all the while ensuring that she has ample proof of these sexual liaisons. When brought under trial Paptikutty argues her case and proves that if she is to face excommunication, so must the sixtyfour men involved and for the first time in the history of Kerala, eminent men were removed from the community resulting in the break up of numerous families. 2008 marks the 101st anniversary of Paptikutty’s trial, a landmark in

the history of Kerala which caused many social reforms. This play is the first ever stage dramatization of this controversial event in Kerala’s history. Comprising of a cast of 18 actors and dancers, Bharatanatyam was used predominantly, with Kerala folk dance forms and Malay dance movements as well. The style of theatre adopted called the ‘Theatre of Transformation’ is a form prevalent in the ritualistic dance Theyyam. Here the actor transforms into the character by employing the principles of trance and possession. The play ran for about two hours with no intermission. It seemed a bit too long and tedious for the audience to handle in spite of the central ides being so promising. The dance pieces, although captivating did not seem to contribute much to the central theme of the play. The lighting was simple, yet beautiful and was handled very well. The music of the play was rather loud for the mood of the play. The play was majorly a mime but had lengthy monologues from the protagonist. The cast included veterans like PC Ramakrishna, TT Srinath and Shankar Sundaram and many youngsters like Amitash, Shyam Sunder and Sachin creating a good balance on stage. The young actors would’ve had a great experience in learning from the veterans during rehearsals and by being on stage itself. There were moments in the play, like the dance between the older and younger Paptikutty, the seduction dance of Mathukutty, the piece ‘Omana tingal kidavo and the scene where the maid of a rich household gets possessed. Although the story was captivating, the execution of the play did not meet expectations. One couldn’t connect with the play at all times. It was a showcase of interesting dance pieces but didn’t quite come together as a whole.

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George Thomas

Cast Rod Steiger (Christopher Gill), George Segal (Morris Brummel), Lee Remick (Kate Palmer), Eileen Heckart (Mrs. Brummel),


thoroughly enjoyable film about a pitiless serial killer of middle-aged women, that is aimed for laughs at the expense of the victims. It is a black comedy, acclaimed for its stellar performances, especially by Rod Steiger as Christopher Gill, the psychologically warped killer with a severe mother fixation. He uses a number of disguises and commits various murders and commits each one as if he were on-stage; an absolutely natural performance, considering that he was an accomplished Broadway actor, a well-known theater owner and the son of a great actress. George Segal plays Morris Brummel, a likeable Jewish detective who is assigned to investigate the murders. Morris has issues with his stereotypical Jewish mother, Eileen Heckart, who offers him her possessive love and nagging. This presents an interesting contrast with the way the killer handles his neuroses. Segal, takes his daily punishment in stride, offering a bon mot here and there and sometimes just a resigned look, but without really complaining, rather feeling resigned to his fate and accepting it like a mensch (man). His performance is endearing and Heckart’s is amusingly right on target. Also noteworthy, is the beautiful and giddy shiksa (non-Jewish woman), Lee Remick as Kate Palmer, who becomes romantically involved with the nice Jewish boy as a result of the case. Her romance with the bashful Segal has been well-conceived, as she leads him on by her womanly flirtations and draws out of him how much he loves her as a whole person and not just for her body, as her past lover did. She also has this great line, in response to him complimenting her on her looks, “Getting dolled up is easy; looking natural takes time.” This is an actor’s film and they all make the most of it. In the first scene, Steiger is disguised as an Irish priest, merrily walking into his first victim’s tenement

saying “top of the morning” to the art museum guide who is later called on to become an eyewitness to identify the killer. Steiger knocks on Mrs. Mulloy’s door and gains entry by saying he is the new priest in the neighborhood. He drinks some port with her, tells her some absurd stories, and he begins to tickle her like his mother liked to be tickled, and, as she goes into a ticklish convulsion, he strangles her to death. He leaves her in the bathroom with his trademark signature for the murder; lips smeared on with lipstick across her forehead. Segal is assigned the case and is quoted in the paper as giving the killer a rave review, saying how well-planned and executed the murder was. Steiger calls him the next day and offers to become Segal’s telephone confidant, but tells him, “Remember, I am smarter than you are.” He commits five murders and only fails to call Segal after the first and fourth. Steiger next poses as a German plumber and after eating some home-made cake with the middle-aged woman who was born in Frankfort, a place where he pretends he’s from, he strangles her and does his lipstick bit again. He then calls Segal and gives him the latest victim’s address. This role is a hammy actor’s dream, a role in which Steiger gets a chance to outshine the indomitable Peter Sellers, the master of disguise. Steiger also dons the disguise of a gay hairdresser, a police officer, a woman, and an Italian waiter with a southern accent. There is one very funny scene where a midget confesses to the crime, but becomes upset that Segal doesn’t take his confession seriously. When told an eyewitness says the killer was of normal height, the midget responds, “See, I’m a master of disguises.” It was difficult not to find this witty film funny and its romantic subplot equally charming. It was adapted from William Goldman’s novel.

The Score team expresses its condolences to the family and friends of H Sridhar, one of the greatest Audiographers of India, who passed away on December 1, 2008. A pioneer in his field, he has sound engineered for over 200 films so far and has worked closely with directors like Mani Ratnam, K Balachandar, Bharathiraaja, Shankar, Kamal Hassan, P C Sreeram, Priyadarsan, Sibi Malayil and Ramgopal Varma. He has the credit for having engineered all the works of A R Rahman. He was also a recipient of the National Award , for four times and also the President’s Gold Medal. He is also credited for having introduced the use of Digital Sound for Indian films in the DTS format. Undoubtedly one of the best ever audio engineers, who provided a lot more than just sound engineering, his demise has left a great void in the musical fraternity.


ou will be missed

For the first time in an Indian studio, there was a gentleman who came up and spoke to me about RAP... real rap music history.. to the legends... to the way it worked.. and that he loved the Baba Rap! To me, he was the ultimate man of musical knowledge unlike anybody I have ever known. Mr.H Shridar. Wisdom personified. Ever since my first meeting with him at Panchathan studios, to every single song i have ever done with A R Rahman, he has been the man behind the sound. He taught me, ‘ how to hold a mic - correctly.’ yes - he taught me how to monitor myself. He taught me how not to get caught up in this hustle of an industry, and he has patiently made sure that everytime my voice is on a song, it would sound ‘just right’ because he made sure it did. When we toured the US, he was so amazing ! He was a man who would do so much work, and still be smiling. His smile was infectious, and i long to see that smile again. A longing which is not allowing me to think or write in clear ways. .. During one of the tours in the US, we were at a huge basketball stadium, and he was engineering the sound for our concert from the centre on his console... on the walls around were jerseys of famous basketball stars, and as I shot that on my vdo cam, he mentioned that i should give him a copy... it still is with me... I need to give it to his sons, though my guilt is killing me for my laziness to act then. In Atlanta, during our last tour, he came with me to the music store and he told me to buy my current ‘in-ear monitors.’

He was very busy, but took the time out to get me that set and taught me how to use it too. I joked that one day, i would use it a concert where only he would do my sound... recently when the credit lists for yuvvraaj were out and my name was missing, i had been told that he wrote the credits and yet they printed wrongly... due to all the mess, it finally came through that he had Indeed written it correctly, yet they* messed up.. he was truthful, sincere and a gem of a human being. I miss him a lot. About 2 weeks earlier, on the last few days of slumdog millionaire mixing, i spent some nice nights with him in studio. He was smiling, working and puffing along... he reminded me not to smoke! He spoke about so many things that nobody else knew about rap. who will i talk to now? He then mentioned how he had made my voice sound so smooth on the Dating song, for its hindi release and he had enjoyed it. He was there to make sure we sounded good, always. He spoke to me about the thirukural song, ‘Respect,’ which i dedicate to him, as he loved the way he had mixed the voices so precisely... When you guys out there hear the song, you will know what i mean. Respect to you, Sir.. Respect for your life’s dedication to music... Respect to your loved ones... Respect to Sound... ... for your sound lingers in my heart always and forever... in all i do... and all i hear... With Love... and prayers... ... ... though i may never have told you straight up - I love you man ...

The Score magazine

D 40


Daniel Thimmayya

“I look at the trouble and see that it’s raging, While my guitar gently weeps. As I’m sitting here, doing nothing but aging, Still, my guitar gently weeps.”

estiny’s tune

nderdogs are inevitably present and noted for their impertinent appearance at the strangest of times and places and if recurrent can be quite prodigious; a concept that can well be applied to something as profound as a song. All right so the Beatles were undoubtedly up there; something that can warrant no conclusive debate. But that said and done, their larger-than-life spats did increasingly accelerate their eventual falling out. What it also did was nearly bury one of Harrison’s finest creations. Recorded for the first time, forty years ago, at their favoured Abbey Road studio this is the remarkable account of how ‘While my Guitar Gently Weeps’ made it through a testing phase to become a definitive clarion call for a country’s bid for life and existence. Funnily, the song came about when George Harrison decided to lyricise whichever phrase he came upon in a random book at a particular instant and as you’d have it‘gently weeps’ it was. Of course the rough composition of an artiste is hardly the way the product actually sounds on completion. The trend did not change much for the song, either. The song though was taken up with indifference by Lennon and McCartney and truth be told was never really taken seriously. The fact that the finally rupture of the band was a mere stone’s throw away must be taken into consideration here. Be as it was, the song was sidelined and so, felt Harrison was he as a musician and a person; which is where the song began to resurface. Once the Beatles officially disbanded, the otherwise diminutive guitarist finally began experimenting with his vocal parity and re-mastered a few of his compositions that he’d amassed during his time with the Beatles. When it came to ‘While my Guitar…’ however, for whatever reason, Harrison decided to go the rhythm route calling on none other than Eric Clapton to fulfill duty on the lead guitar front. The result was the phenomenally moving tune that has haunted many a fan of Beatlemania through the ages. Interestingly there was a lot of speculation

about whose work the lilting solo was, as it was a mangle of either of their otherwise distinctive styles. The credits only say that much and forty years is a lifetime. However several unplugged shows by the duo in later years proved that both of them sequenced it in tandem while being able to stick the original through, individually. Quite naturally, the tune, though not one of the former-Beatle’s most technically complex, proved to be his signature song, in terms of mass appeal. Critical appreciation was hard to come by for a new solo artist in those days, especially after breaking up with a favoured cult act. Its moment of undiluted splendour though was the very first time tit was played live to an audience. Harrison during his experiments in the Asian subcontinent had developed quite an attachment for the sitar and Pandit Ravi Shankar. Which is why when the Bengali maestro relayed the news of immediate aid required in Bangladesh to his famous pupil, Harrison went about to organize the massive Concert for Bangladesh at Madison Square Garden, New York. Names like Dylan, Starr, Billy Preston and Clapton featured along with that of Ravi Shankar and Harrison himself. After an exhaustive star studded musical performance, Harrison and Clapton took the stage again to finally offer their dedication for the ailing and impoverished populace of Bangladesh with the premier live offering of ‘While my Guitar…’ Personally, the spirit of concern for a people they hardly identified with on any plane, that the duo exhibited that day way back in 1970 that brought the world to it’s knees and kept it in tune, quite literally, is the image of Harrison and that most powerful of songs that has been etched with some depth into my realm of recall. This is one song that might not have set the charts on fire but at any rate set a flame of compassion alight in many a heart, if cigarette lighters were anything to go by. Inspiration comes in few more compelling forms, lyrically and harmoniously.

The Score magazine




AudioMedia is one of the very few institutes in Chennai that offer serious and professional music education.


or nearly five years now, T Selvakumar has owned and operated AudioMedia Education India. Initially it started out as a digital recording studio and it went on to further provide Apple certified courses. “People today still think that it’s risky to be a professional musician, so there’s very little advanced training available at a wide level,” Selvakumar says. “The Trinity College courses are there, but only up to a level that students in the West attain even while they’re in school.” Over the years, there has been an intense concentration on the electronic synthesis of music, but an overall decrease in the quality of live music, “Every good violinist around today, for example, is from his dad’s generation,” Selvakumar says. KM Conservatory, founded by the maestro A R Rahman has recently tied up with AudioMedia. This was done to ensure that each and every student is provided with a strong artistic, intellectual and practical foundation for professional careers in music technology. “The culture of the classical orchestra has declined in India. Maybe Zubin Mehta could have revived it, but

he has orchestras abroad,” Rahman says. “People have started thinking that the synthesizer can take over for the orchestra. But that’s just not true.” An incredibly perceptive statement from the man who brought the electronic music revolution to the country. Infusing the natural and the synthesized has always been Rahmans forte, merging what is Indian, and intertwining them with various international influences to provide a mellifluous, layered and seamless music. To enable this in others, to provide the sort of foundation which many musicians lack today is the ultimate aim of the organization says Selvakumar. With nearly half a dozen Apple certified courses, with courses ranging from “One Man Crew” which gives an opportunity for hobbyist to learn essential skills in photography and video shooting, to courses like Pro ToolLe, Audio Media offers it all, and in style. With a vision to surpass the best training delivery for Visual communication and audio engineering, to provide the essential fundamentals to all its students, Audio Media truly stands for the impact it has made.

The Score magazine


Rashmi Jethwani RecentlywhileIwassiftingthroughmyoldstuff,Icameacrossthisoldmood-boardof mine.ItisapartofabiggerprojectbasedonIndianmatchboxdesigns.Allyouhaveto doislookatitandthecompletepicturejustpopsintoyourhead.Amood-boardcan contain pictures, art, illustrations, text anything, but this particularmood-board also hasamindmap.Thewholethingcomestogether,andthefinalconceptisjustalook andalinkaway.

The Score magazine


Sunandha Ragunathan


n exercise in Expunging Guilt

here is a line towards the end of part one of Atonement that neatly describes the state of mind of one of the principal characters and the narrator of this tale. ‘Truth was strange and deceptive, it had to be struggled for, against the flow of everyday.’ It is this desire to seek truth that propels Briony Tallis to speak up. Witnessing an odd incident from her upper storey window; on the brink of adulthood Briony’s mind concocts a sinister meaning to an innocent flirtation and by the end of that sultry day, the lives of her sister Cecilia Tallis, Robbie Turner and her own are forever changed.  The kernel of truth and justice that incites Briony to action is shifty and Ian McEwan deftly makes it known to us by describing the same incident through different perspectives which alters the nature of the incident itself; one single incident acquires wholly contrasting meanings-one sensual and erotic and the other criminal and depraved. In a story that spans 59 years, Ian McEwan weaves a tale

of indictment, punishment, guilt and atonement. Divided into three parts, the first part focuses on a single day in the summer of 1935 when a million tiny eventualities roll together and create a cataclysmic change in the lives of all involved. The second and third parts describe the War, its bloody aftermath and Briony’s lifelong penance for her sin. Atonement begins innocuously but as the story progresses, the lives of these three principal characters inch towards a drastic change. Unbeknownst to them, the wheels of fate turn and propel them towards the point of no return. The story is simple enough. Briony and Cecilia Tallis (Cee) idle away their summer at a Surrey mansion where their mother escapes from daily life with fits of migraine and their father is hardly seen. Cee is the porcelain beauty who has just finished her course in Cambridge. In part petulant, lazy and restless, she waits for her patience to run out before she leaves home in search of something to do.  Robbie Turner is the son of the charwoman and has

been educated at Cambridge through the generosity of Mr.Tallis. Graduating with honours, Robbie returns home with a million ideas to pursue. In part dreamy, charged and intellectual, he stands on the cusp of greatness aware that the world is there for his taking. Briony, the young writer with a precocious imagination is expecting her brother Leon home. She writes a play to be staged for his amusement in which the Quinceys will take part. Cousins from the North, the Quinceys are escaping their parents’ acrimonious divorce. The Quinceys and Paul Marshall, the chocolate factory owner accompanying Leon, nudge these three characters towards their inevitable destiny.  Guilt that is a principal character in this novel is a very catholic emotion; born of sin, aware that the son of God died for their sins, Catholics cringe into their own psyches and torment themselves of every misstep in their lives. Briony’s torment is a million times stronger; she made a mistake and her mistake cost the happiness of her sister, Robbie and her own happiness but the War, the untimely, inhumane War magnified this error of judgement into an irrevocable death sentence.  McEwan’s expert handling of this emotion makes it an excursion into the psychology of tormented souls. In different ways Cecilia, Robbie and Briony are paying for that single day. His prose is sparing but his imagery haunts you.  ‘How guilt refined the methods of self-torture, threading the beads of detail into an eternal loop, a rosary to be fingered for a lifetime.’  Part One concentrates on the inner workings of each character. The stream of consciousness technique employed is effective in helping us understand the true nature of the event. With this understanding also comes a strong whiff of pity; we can’t help but empathise with these characters who are not masters of their fates but

are being puppeteered into a single act that shall forever define them. The War described in detail in the second and third parts could also be a metaphor for the War waging inside these characters. Not to overthink it, but the retreat of Dunkirk could symbolise the retraction in Briony’s mind. In a literal sense though, the reader will be treated to an exhausting account of war. McEwan’s perspective of War is a sense of organised chaos. There are no heroes here. Even the good guys are ruffians who pick on innocents, steal from the dead, protect themselves from bodily harm and are dull, foul mouthed youth who rarely have minds of their own. So much for the glory of the War and heroism!  Five years after part one, Briony is a nurse during the war, rejecting Cambridge she goes to the nursing school Cee went to and follows her sister’s footsteps in hopes of it being the penance for what she did. Briony’s account of her period of probation where the wounded soldiers were treated further cements McEwan’s take on the War. The blood, guts and gore can sometimes get a bit too much but how can you censor the truth? The mindlessness and senselessness of it reverberates even today and is perhaps all the more poignant because we are all forever on the brink of War.  Briony’s conviction that she was doing the right thing was what propelled her to do what she did on that day; five years later, relooking the incident through the glasses of maturity, she is now not so sure. But can she change what happened in those five years? Even if she were to make amends now, would that be enough to erase the happenings of five long years?  Will Briony spend a lifetime atoning for this error? Will she find peace that she seeks? Will she forgive herself and will Robbie and Cecilia ever forgive her? Atonement provides surprising and shocking answers to these questions!

The Score magazine


Neeraja Iyengar

“…the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”


n a day, have we not come across scores of such messages, been inspired and then forgotten about them? But to one amongst us this quote is not just a way of life…It is life itself! 11 years ago Sister Geetha Mathew, resigned her job as a superintendent at the SCARF to pursue her dream of sheltering and treating mentally-challenged destitute women and thus was born “Friends for the Needy”, a public charitable trust situated at Thirumulavayal, Chennai. The Birth Through her working years at the SCARF, Sister Geetha observed a common ground of suffering in the poor families of mentally-challenged people- social stigma. These families faced constant humiliation and rejection at the hands of society. Siblings of such patients could not get brides or grooms; landlords did not want to rent their houses to them and the families themselves felt awkward accompanying the patients to social gatherings. Psychiatric treatment was very expensive and hence out of question. Sister Geetha decided to work towards a solution for such families and “Friends for the Needy’ has grown from a small rented building at Puzhal catering to just a few patients to its own premises now housing 40 patients. The journey was, no doubt, Herculean and full of challenges. The Work The organization provides free treatment, shelter and training to its patients made possible by donations from

the local philanthropic public. One on one training and counseling is given to the patients; therefore not more than 40 patients are taken at a time. Patients are trained to be independent, learn new vocations and are taught to carry on their daily activities, without help from others. Doctors from SCARF make periodic visits to evaluate the condition of the patients. All professional staff donate their services. Once they are declared fit, they are reunited with their families. So far, 170 patients have been rehabilitated in this manner. The organization also provides adequate counseling to the families to help understand such patients and treat them in a more sensitive manner. The Pledge To all our readers- have we not had moments of silent introspection, when we have asked ourselves, what have we done for the betterment of humanity? Here is your chance, stand up and be counted-sponsor a meal-it is such a tiny gesture for us but a huge step forward for Sister Geetha and ‘Friends for the Needy’. We, at ‘The Score Magazine’ hereby pledge to make regular contributions to this scheme. Readers please note that all contributions can be sent directly to ‘Friends for the Needy’, No. 58/812, C.T.H. road, Thirumulavayal P.O., Chennai 600062. Phone-04426376755. email All contributions are eligible for exemption U/S 80G of the income-tax Act.

The Score magazine



Vijay Iyer

et the music grow on you


he year 2008 has been more than satisfying for me musically as many of my favourite artists released their work. The year started with Rahman’s ‘Jodhaa Akbar’ OST and will end with the ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ OST. Along with his other releases, I also had to shuffle my MP3 player with music from Anoushka Shankar, Enigma & Nitin Sawhney. Listen I did but did I do justice to their work and my appetite for music? That I sincerely doubt because I never let the music grow on me.  How has the the digital music revolution changed our lives, the music industry and the musicians who are dependent on it? As deadly as the question of copyrights and payments are, it’s a smokescreen compared to the bigger issues that we’re not prepared to grapple with yet about the new ways in which we are gobbling up music now. At first glance, it looks heartening that the music lovers themselves actually dictated a format change like MP3. These plans were scuttled when people turned their computer’s CD burners into music manufacturing plants and peer-to-peer (P2P) services like Napster and Kazaa sprang up. The result was that music become available in the most transferable, portable format ever seen. But if we have the power now, what exactly have we won? Even though we have more shelf space without CDs, never before did we have such an impersonal way to get to our music. No album covers, labels, credits, or photos. In the digital format, music is stripped down to its bare essence of information with coding coldly showing tags telling us the basics like artist, title, song length...Bah! Are these details alone the only things that fascinate us about the whole music experience or are we missing out on the things that we’ve lost that helped to connect us to the music in the first place? Come to think of it, the physical package and details aren’t irrelevant. Since the tiny digital letters all look alike on the MP3 players, all songs seem

to have something in common and are deprived of their unique qualities without their visual wrappings. Yes, let’s all rejoice at the seemingly endless choices for music that we now have. Even with what’s available to us through downloads functioning as they should, we stand to choke to death at the choices now at our disposal. Let’s average a song at 3 minutes and then a decent MP3 version of that song comes out to about 3 megabytes. So, on a top end machine with a 100 gigabyte hard drive for space, you can cram in about 33,000 songs or about 3,000 albums. Even forgetting the amount of time taken from your life that you’d spend accumulating a fraction of that, when are you going to listen to all of it, even once? If music lovers can today bypass critics as gatekeepers of new releases, they’re stuck then with the same problem of figuring out what’s good, what’s not and how much listening time to devote to each little acquisition. Online communities spring up constantly to help sort out these matters amongst fellow music buffs but if these exist only through the internet, does that mean that we’re only connected with fellow music buffs when our modem’s functioning? And what else do we lose out on when we’d been accidentally stumbling across music that we didn’t even know we wanted at music stores. I still remember planning a trip from the suburbs of Mumbai where I stayed, all the way to Rhythm House near the Gateway just to buy an MC worth 45 bucks. The train fare, the sandwiches & the cola would cost another 45 but the experience of those few hours was priceless. A study explains that we use our MP3 players to control our own social environment as we travel or wait, suggesting that we don’t like to be alone with our thoughts otherwise. Stories of people briefly plugging into each others’ MP3 players to sample favorites is an encouraging social trend but also suggests that we’re cutting down our interactions literally to sound bytes. Even more funny and sad are reports that some feel obliged to add classy artists / tracks to their MP3 players just so that they look good when other people snoop around them. Has it really come to this for music fans? Among the music makers themselves, the more ambitious ones who want to create a seamless piece of work as an album are going to find more challenges. It might also mean that since time and space limits have been warped, a release might be anything from 10 minutes to a couple of hours or more. This can be daunting for an artist to figure out when they’re really done. Then they have the added bonus of getting pulled and pushed by record companies who try to figure out if they should strongarm artists to cut down on production costs or to include more extra goodies to entice consumers. Artists like Led Zeppelin, Madonna, Red Hot Chili Peppers etc are even against download because they think their albums should be heard as a piece and not have their songs picked out for individual downloads. But the majority of artists who don’t have one or more decent songs will have a much easier time figuring out how to deal with the format wars and changes. They will not have to worry about trying to pad out albums with fillers though that also means that they also won’t have a ready lock on as much moolah from fans who’l devour anything they pump out. Thankfully there’s still a sizable though not huge market for physicals (MCs, CDs etc) out there which fans, collectors and DJs still prize. Other than arguments over

sound quality and impulses, the whole idea of having and possessing that object, be it an MC or CD is something that still appeals to many. That might be heartening news for the labels but when they have to deal with the many more millions who’re ready to buy an i-pod, the problem of what’s going to get marketed starts getting interesting. If the idea of a 40-70 minute release is old hat, what do you push instead? Do labels switch over to singles artists or try to find a new way to push and sell the artists themselves above and beyond any particular product? Like never before, music is now tied to a bunch of technologies that doesn’t even settle for one single day. A decade later, all our fancy little electronic devices will be low-bid E-bay nostalgia items and we’ll be scrambling to get the hottest player device for whichever music medium temporarily becomes the standard for the that day. Some of us will lose our minds at the pace and path of these changes. Some of us are drooling in insatiable anticipation over this. Either way, it would do us a world of good to pause now and then and wonder how we get our information sometimes trumps the information itself. It’s more likely that we’ll keep plunging into the future, chasing technology at its tail and never wondering about how it’s changing us and our whole musical world and continuum.


Har jaga hai


Ashwin Ramesh

G Venkata Krishnan

G Venkata Krishnan

The Score magazine


Mihir Ranganathan

Two score and three years later, AC/DC’s latest offering Black Ice has proved that this Aussie metal machine isn’t going to stop rocking anytime soon.



etting High on VOLTAGE

he juggernaut began rolling way back in 1974, when brothers Angus and Malcolm Young from Sydney gathered a troupe of like-minded rock musicians to form the act that would shake the music world as people probably knew it to exist back then. Like many rock bands, they went through several line-up changes before they fixed on Bon Scott as vocalist and released their first album High Voltage in 1975 which was released internationally in 1976 with just two tracks from the original and 8 tracks from their second studio release T.N.T. Taking a more glam rock oriented approach, High Voltage did not exhibit the signature style of rock music AC/DC would be known for in the future. The album

was not well received by their critics and Rolling Stone Magazine went as far as to call it an “all time low” in the hard-rock genre. Not to be done-in by nay-sayers, Angus and troupe raised the bar with their next studio release, the hard-edged, rhythm and blues-based rocker T.N.T (again released for Australia only).  AC/DC had arrived. The winning combination of the Malcolm Young/Phil Rudd rhythm section, Angus’ energy, on-stage antics and scorching solos and Bon Scott’s manic screams powered the band through the late seventies. The Ozzie hard rock monsters went through a prolific phase, releasing 4 top-quality rock albums in four years including the classic Highway to Hell,

only to be stopped in their tracks by a major setback. On a February morning in 1980, Bon Scott was found dead in his car after a night of excess partying. The band briefly considered quitting but changed their minds knowing they owed it to Scott, to keep their flag flying. Having hired English singer and song-writer Brian Johnson, they stormed back into the hard rock scene with their tremendously successful Back in Black which has sold an estimated 42 million copies till date, making it second only to Michael Jackson’s Thriller as the best-selling album of all-time. Following the roaring metal masterpiece that was Back in Black, the legends enjoyed moderate success with a lull in the eighties and a phoenix–like rise back into the spotlight once again with Razor’s Edge in 1990. Inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003 and rightly so, the band has built up a mighty fan base all over

the world. Some critics say they have been the making the same album 12 times over, but it is the same formula of roaring power-chords, raunchy yet humorous lyrics, bluesy solos and infectious mid-tempo rhythms, that has been the secret of AC/DC’s success, and not to forget, the attitude, the feel-good nature of their music, and energy of their live gigs which has kept them in the reckoning with their legions of followers. While Angus and troupe may never have broken new ground with each release, they have more than made up for their alleged lack in originality with rock solid compositions AC/DC fans can vouch for. The battle-hardened band continues to add to their repertoire of catchy riff-tastic hard rocking songs. Though not as prolific as they once were, they still know how to belt out a good tune. Their latest offering Black Ice is proof enough. The legend of AC/DC lives on.

The Score magazine



The 2nd Edition of Blues meets Rock has just come back to town.

ust a while back the city was privy to a first of it’s kind experiment, at least in Chennai when Eddy Prithviraj and his rag-tag bunch of musicianenthusiasts brought about the Blues meets Rock festival at Bella Ciao. A commendable effort without doubt and one that did not seem to go unnoticed. As after an amazing response to the first edition of the franchise, The Exodus is all set to do it again on December 14, only this time around they return to the confines of their favourite haunt, no prizes for guessing this one, Top Storey at the Alliance Francaise of Madras. So, if you’re wondering who’s going all bluesy on you come Sunday next, we’ve decided to break the intense suspense surrounding the line-up. Go ahead, read up and in case you blame us for not having warned you, keep a pack of tissues handy; you never know when you’re going to need one of those these days, after all slavering is hardly looked upon with favour these days. Touch wood The boys from VIT, have made quite an impression within the short span of time they’ve spent on the circuit. A four piece acoustic jazz outfit, these guys call themselves predominantly a “Jam Band”. With influences from Steely Dan, Thermal and a Quarter and Jimmy Hendrix, ranging from grunge to Rock N’ Roll to the Blues, their music is an enigmatic mix of varied styles. The Rainbow Bridge Sanjeev Thomas and gang return again for the sequel quite faithfully! The Rainbow Bridge have made their

mark these last few years with their own brand of original music, a blend of original Rock’n’Roll with a twist of funk and blues, spiced with Carnatic and Hindustani along with the occasional splash of Folk. The outcome is a sound that can truly be theirs alone. Riding high on success tasted both at Independence Rock and the much coveted GIR it comes as no surprise that the band is extremely popular on the city circuit and is keenly looked forward to because of their low frequency of public appearances. But somehow they’ve always heeded the clarion call of the Exodus time and again, and thus have a reputation to keep! Junkyard Groove The toast of the city’s exuberant and excessively fluid rock scene, JYG have long kept their fans hanging in wait for the release of their debut album eleven:eleven. Getting acquainted with veteran drummer Maynard Grant the band will be seen performing alongside Belgian blues master, Roland van Campenhout; one of the biggest names in the circuit well known for his songwriting and skill at the harmonica. Says Eddy “Personally this is going to be a great learning experience to witness Roland on stage”, and we can’r help but agree with him. The Score Magazine would like to add here that we love this stuff, and we love what The Exodus has been doing. We love the fact that they are here to spread the music like we are, and that they’re doing it wonderfully well. The entry for the show is free so what are you waiting for. What better to break the mould of the laziest day of the week!

The Score Magazine, December 2008  

George Harrison Lounge Piranha and Marghazi Ragam

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