The Singing Violin

Celebrated Carnatic violinist Lalgudi Jayaraman was an incurable romantic,say his children who performed in Pune recently

Written by Debjani Paul | Published: April 25, 2013 3:28 am

Celebrated Carnatic violinist Lalgudi Jayaraman was an incurable romantic,say his children who performed in Pune recently

Changing a single note can change the entire raga and its expression,” said Lalgudi Krishnan. Then,Krishnan and his sister Lalgudi Vijaylakshmi picked up their violins and began playing Raag Bhupali or Mohanam. On its own,the raga shifted between playful and pensive,but as soon as the duo changed a note,the music changed completely and was filled with pathos. The audience applauded. Krishnan said,“When I was on tour with my father,he used this example at a concert to similar effect in the audience.”

The siblings are accomplished Carnatic violinists and the fifth generation of the Lalgudi Baani. Both have trained under their father,legendary Carnatic violinist Lalgudi Jayaraman. On Saturday,as the duo hosted a lecture-demonstration on Carnatic violin,they kept returning to the examples and lessons that Jayaraman had taught them. The audience gathered that day had no idea that it would be the last class about Jayaraman’s music before he passed away on Monday.

Jayaraman,82,had suffered a stroke earlier and had not been keeping well since. It is perhaps for this reason that the family decided to record his life and work in a biography that will now be released posthumously. A fourth generation Lalgudi musician,he was awarded the Padma Shri,the Padma Bhushan,and a National Award for composing music for the film Sringaram.

At the event,Krishnan and Vijayalakshmi spoke of the biography and their father. “It is titled The Incurable Romantic. And he was an incurable romantic when it came to music. Every class with our father was like a painting class. He would draw inspiration from nature,like comparing music to a blooming lotus,and he would always explain concepts with examples and sometimes even jokes,” said Vijayalakshmi.

This attitude lives on in Vijayalakshmi and Krishnan,as they also teach using simple humour or analogies from nature. “Humour and music go together; both require timing. So a good musician should also have a good sense of humour,” Krishnan said.

The siblings were born into a life of music,as their father would perform across India and taught the likes of Bombay Jayashri and Usha Rajagopalan,who went on to become famous artistes. “These days you go to a music class,shut the door,set the clock for one hour and begin practising. But in those days,students would just stay at home the entire day and practice everywhere in the house under my father’s guidance. As a child,I would move around in the house and listen to the music,so we never had to make any special effort to learn,” said Vijayalakshmi. Later,when they began learning from their father,they discovered the other side to him — the guru.

“He was a strict disciplinarian and a hard taskmaster. He wouldn’t spare the rod if it was required. He wanted perfection,especially more from his son and daughter,” Krishnan said.

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