Articles by Chitra Srikrishna

Chitra Srikrishna is a Carnatic vocalist and writer living in Bengaluru & Columbus. Chitra blogs for Sruti, runs the podcast Raga Ruminations and produces RaagTime, a radio show on Indian music. Her albums include devotional poetry of Tamil Alwars & Dasa kritis, & thematic compositions on Rama and Hanuman. She's the musical half of a multimedia performance duo HumRaag. Her program BHAKTHI explores the journey of the mystics of India. Her latest Antah Prerna -A Musical Telling of an Entrepreneur's Journey debuted at Bangalore International Centre in 2018.

A small town in the Cauvery delta comes alive in January each year. Carnatic musicians and rasikas all over the world turn their focus to Thiruvaiyaru (city of five rivers) in the Tanjavur district of Tamil Nadu. Many even travel from around the world to be there. Thiruvaiyaru is where carnatic composer TyńĀgaraja lived and composed some of the most well-known songs of the genre. On Bahula Panchami‚ÄĒthe fifth day of the lunar month Pushya‚ÄĒJan 25 this year, five songs of TyńĀgaraja, simply referred to as the ‚Äúpancharatna kritis‚ÄĚ were sung in one voice by millions of people all over…

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Tyagaraja was a prolific carnatic composer. As he travelled to different places around Thanjavur he composed songs praising the deities of the local temples. When he visited Lalgudi, he composed five songs collectively known as the Lalgudi Pancharatna Krithis. These five songs are Isa Pahimam in raga Kalyani, Deva Sthree¬†Tapa Thirtha in raga Madhyamavathi, LalitheShri in raga Bhairavi, Mahitha Pravriddha in raga Kambodhi and Gati Nee Vani in raga Thodi. Here is a video of Shri Lalgudi Jayaraman singing Gati Nee Vani in raga Thodi along with his daughter and disciple Lalgudi Vijayalakshmi.   In a collaboration with Ananya based…

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"Did you see how she did that?" I was lucky enough to attend numerous concerts, most often at the Bangalore Gayana Samaja, with my late guru Seethalakshmi Venkatesan. In every concert, we had attended together, she unfailingly pointed out nuances brought out by the performer of the day. ¬†i Recently when a friend shared a video of Carnatic vocalist Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer performing at a sabha in Chennai, I was reminded of this when I saw the audience at this concert. A virtual who's who of today's Carnatic music stars were seated in the audience listening to the stalwart sing.…

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A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops. Henry Adams Sripadaraya (1422-1480) is believed to have laid the foundation of the Haridasa movement in Karnataka. He was a teacher of the Madhavacharya school of philosophy. He was the advisor to one of the kings of the Vijayayanagara¬†empire, Saluva Narasimha. Sripadaraya expressed his lofty thoughts through his songs and poems using colloquial¬†Kannada which resonated with the common man. In a harikatha performance of Haridasa compositions today, the invocation usually begins with a tribute to this saint. He used rangavittala¬†as his nom de plume in his devarnamas.¬†Here is…

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Minstrels and troubadours were travelling musicians of the medieval age. Their songs and ballads reflected themes of love and chivalry. The performance was usually a single voice with a single instrument like the harp or lute. Later other instruments were heard accompanying the voice such as stringed instruments like the flute, fiddle and percussion instruments like the drums, bells, tambourine and cymbals. Here's a modern performance of how the music of the minstrels and troubadours might have sounded. The Bhakthi saints who made their appearance around the 7th century in India spread their message through music. Their songs were spiritual…

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When British entrepreneur William Seighart founded National Poetry Day his intention was to promote poetry and recognize the works of talented poets. In his words,"They (poets) shouldn’t be embarrassed about reading their work out aloud. I want people to read poetry on the bus on their way to work, in the street, in school and in the pub." National Poetry Day became a global phenomena. This year it was celebrated on Monday, the 21st of March. As we learn to appreciate poetry, let us look at the work of poets closer home in Karnataka and how their poems are being presented in…

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It's almost like a switch is turned on and two things happen. People get up from their seats and head towards the doors in two different directions. Most of them make a beeline towards the restroom while some presumably head towards the canteen in the opposite direction. I am attending a classical concert at the Gayana Samaja while I watch this scene unfold in front of me. Ranjani and Gayatri are the main artistes of the evening. The auditorium is overflowing with music-lovers. Before the concert begins, all the seats are taken. The stragglers end up standing near the doors while…

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When three women - a flautist, a violinist and a vainika - got together to give a Carnatic concert a couple of years ago it was the beginning of a new journey. The venu-violin-veena concert team of Vani Manjunath, Prema Vivek and Shubha Santosh has been making waves in the Bangalore concert circuit. Here's what they shared about their team dynamics and musical journey. How was this idea of forming such a team conceived? How did it develop? The concept of forming an all-women concert team was the brain child of mridanga vidwan H.S.Sudhindra of Bengalooru. The motivation for this…

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In the recent Marathi film Katyar Kaljat Ghusali the song "Ghei Chand Makarand" is sung by two singers in distinctive styles.The song which originally featured in a Marathi musical play or Natyageet was popularized by the late singer Vasantrao Deshpande. In the movie the song is first sung in a slow tempo by Shankar Mahadevan who also plays a lead character in the movie. Then the song is sung in a fast-paced manner by the character played by actor Sachin Pilgaonkar. The playback singer for Sachin is Rahul Deshpande who incidentally is the grandson of Vasantrao Deshpande. Both styles are…

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The excitement around the upcoming Bangalore Literary Festival has been marred by controversy. Writers threatening to boycott the festival and founding director Vikram Sampath stepping down has raised many questions in the minds of Bangaloreans. The good news first. Thanks to social media, citizens across the country are weighing in with their opinions on a variety of issues. The bad news is the tone and tenor of many of these discussions leaves much to be desired. Ironically, many commenters have been intolerant in the ongoing debate about intolerance in our nation. Some of this has coloured the discussion around the…

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