musings on music and life

January 26, 2016


Filed under: Carnatic Music — Tags: , — sankirnam @ 10:45 am

U     K     S.

Umayalpuram K. Sivaraman.

U     K     S.


The three initials that denote excellence not just in mrudangam, or Carnatic music, or percussion, or music in general, but excellence in life.

It’s exceedingly rare that you actually feel grateful to be alive at the same time as another person; I can count on my fingers the individuals who evoke that kind of deep respect from me. Umayalpuram Sivaraman sir is one such person.

The 80th birthday of this extraordinary vidwan was celebrated today at the Madras Music Academy – details can be found here. These celebrations were originally going to be held on the 5th of December last year, but were postponed to today due to the crazy flooding in Chennai at that time. I was initially going to title this post “Happy Birthday UKS Sir!”, but since his birthday is actually on December 17, I changed it lest people accuse me of spreading misinformation on the internet *rollseyes*.

I’ve been meaning to write on UKS sir for a while now, since I have written about Palghat Mani Iyer and Palani Subramania Pillai previously, and the apropos time has come!

I feel extremely privileged to be a part of Sivaraman sir’s bani; my guru Neyveli Narayanan sir is one of his senior students, making UKS sir my grand-guru. I remember at my arangetram many years ago, he mentioned he was very glad to see his pera-sishya (grand-student) keeping up his traditions.

There is nothing I can say about Umayalpuram Sivaraman sir here that isn’t already inscribed in the annals of Carnatic Music history; nonetheless, I can give a personal perspective on his music. I have listened to countless recordings of his concerts, and have had the good fortune of being able to attend his live concerts over the past several years. Each is a gem, and Sivaraman sir brings 100% to every concert, regardless of whether he is performing with senior or junior vidwans. When I was younger, I would be giddy with excitement from the anticipation of actually getting to hear this legendary musician live. I particularly remember actually shaking with excitement during his concert, and actually getting goosebumps (usually that is used as an expression, but it actually happened to me)! I also vividly recall sleepless nights after his concerts going over how he played for every song, sangathi, kalpana phrase, and the sequences in his thani.

As with anything in music, you can write volumes and volumes about an artist or a piece of music, but nothing compares to actually listening to it. It’s like the saying, “a picture is worth a thousand words”. Let’s go!

This is a particularly famous piece of music among Carnatic music collectors. The thani UKS sir plays after the krithi Shri Valli Devasenapathe is noteworthy mainly for the incredibly fast kalapramanam (tempo)! Sivaraman sir makes it look so easy, and even with the thalam going at this incredibly fast speed, he still manages to pull off some super-fast farens phrases. The approach he uses in the thani is also unique, as he brings in a sort of tabla flavor with some of his teka phrases.

It might seem unusual to put a clip from a Tamil movie here, but this is very germane to the topic of this post. Umayalpuram Sivaraman was a “mrudangam consultant” for the Tamil movie Mridanga Chakravarthy (Emperor of Mrudangam), in which Sivaji Ganesan acted as the main character.

UKS-Sivaji Ganesan

Sivaji Ganesan and Umayalpuram K. Sivaraman.

In any case, Sivaji Ganesan’s overacting aside, the clip features a high-voltage mrudangam performance by Umayalpuram Sivaraman sir and the late Madurai T. Srinivasan. UKS sir does the mrudangam for Sivaji in the movie, and the final climax is something I’ve listened to over and over. I am still at a loss for how someone can possibly have such amazing skill, stamina, power, speed, and ultimately, precision in his or her playing! This amazing performance may not have been recorded on the fancy equipment we have today, but nonetheless, Sivaraman sir’s artistry shines through.

I mentioned the word precision in the previous paragraph. This particular clip demonstrates that in spades. Umayalpuram Sivaraman is playing a thani in Adi thalam 2 kalai (16 beat cycle) to the thalam provided by an electronic rhythm box. Thus, there is no room for error! Human thalam will subconsciously adjust since our hearing process is dynamic; playing for the static beat of a machine is a huge challenge. Again, UKS sir makes this look so easy, playing some relatively complex korvais absolutely accurately to this thalam!

I’ve used the word “play” quite a bit here, as in the sentence “Umayalpuram Sivaraman plays the mrudangam”. But in the case of Sivaraman sir, it is literally playing! The mrudangam literally becomes a plaything in his hands, and the thalam is like a toy. This is the result of discipline and hours upon hours of dedicated, consistent practice over the years.

This clip was actually played earlier today at the Music Academy as part of UKS sir’s 80th birthday celebrations. They mentioned that UKS sir had accompanied the doyen Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer for thousands of concerts over a 40+ year span. As a result, UKS sir and Semmangudi developed such chemistry that some of their concert recordings are still sought after by collectors and students. This is a clip of Thyagaraja’s Maarubalka, a krithi that Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer popularized and took to great heights. The climactic buildup in the anupallavi by Sivaraman sir and the crescendo of farens phrases in the pallavi after the anupallavi is marvelous, as demonstrated by the thunderous applause that follows. This is taken from a concert at the Madras Music Academy in 1968, with Lalgudi Jayaraman on violin.

Umayalpuram Sivaraman sir’s solo albums also deserve mentioning. Garland of RhythmDrums of India, and Laya-Dhara are all spectacular demonstrations of the infinite potential of the mrudangam in Sivaraman sir’s hands. In fact, Drums of India was recorded in just one take with the thalam provided by an electronic rhythm box! Any serious student of mrudangam or even percussion in general should buy these; these albums are worth listening to over and over.

Umayalpuram Sivaraman sir was also one of the pioneers in digitizing all the lessons in his bani, releasing a set of DVDs covering everything from the basics of mrudangam to advanced lessons. Mridanga Chintamanih  and Mridangam Moras & Korvais are aimed at students of mrudangam or anyone with an interest to learn. Of course, these do not substitute for actual instruction from a dedicated, involved guru.

There are many, many krithis where Umayalpuram Sivaraman sir has put his authoritative stamp on how the composition should be accompanied. Krithis like Maarubalka, Thaye Yashodha, and Bhogeendrashayeenam, among others, are all accompanied now following Sivaraman sir’s style.

This thani is taken from a concert with Dr. M. Balamuralikrishna in 1962, which would make Umayalpuram Sivaraman sir 27 years old at the time of this concert. Already one can see the establishment of the “UKS stamp”, with the use of araichapu phrases and the mel kalam tisram farens phrases. This thani also concludes with a mohara and korvai in tisram, which became a trademark of UKS sir, and one of the surefire ways to identify him in a recording.

Kanjira vidwan K. V. Gopalakrishnan uploaded this last piece, and I think his words suffice:

Speed, Clarity and Perfection personified. This is Instrument Handling at THE highest level. Pranaams & Salutes.

To finish, Many Many (belated) Happy Returns of the day to Umayalpuram Sivaraman sir! The celebration today at the Music Academy was simply unforgettable, and done in a grand style befitting a vidwan who has elevated mrudangam artistry to the world stage.

P. S. This is the first post I’ve written about a a vidwan so far that isn’t an obituary! I am glad that this belongs to Sivaraman sir, who I hope will be able to serve as a beacon to the music community for several more decades.


July 21, 2014

Sangeetha Kalanidhi 2014

Filed under: Carnatic Music — Tags: , — sankirnam @ 10:08 pm

Congratulations to Shri T. V. Gopalakrishnan on being appointed as the Sangeetha Kalanidhi designate for 2014 by the Madras Music Academy! This is a richly deserved title to a multifaceted genius.

My experience with TVG sir is primarily as a mrudangam maestro. I have had the privilege of hearing him play live in Chennai several times, and each is an unforgettable experience. Even at his age, his speed, vigor, and stamina are indescribable. He has pioneered new playing techniques on the mrudangam, including new ways to play melodic notes on the thoppi (left or bass side). He pioneered a new type of drumhead for the valanthalai (right or treble side), the kambi type (complementary to the traditional kucchi or kappi). The kambi valanthalai is prepared by insertion of a very thin metal (usually copper) wire underneath the meetu skin. My mrudangam maker in Chennai has told me that these are extremely difficult to make, as the wire is prone to puncturing the skin (once the skin has a hole, it loses any ability to make the desired sound). But when done properly, these mrudangams are renowned for their rather exaggerated sound in the dhin and chapu strokes. Their harmonics can last up to 20 seconds!

TVG sir also uses a wooden stand for the mrudangam, as opposed to the traditional posture of resting the instrument on the calf of the right leg.

Chittibabu-TVG (Chittibabu (veena) with a young T. V. Gopalakrishnan on mrudangam)

TVG sir is also an excellent vocalist and violinist. Unfortunately I have not had the opportunity yet to hear his violin, but Vidwan S. Varadarajan is his most famous violin student and is a torchbearer of TVG sir’s style of violin playing.

On the other hand, I have had the good fortune to hear TVG sir’s vocal music. My aunt worked with him for a year or so and helped him publish a book on voice culture. Around that time, I attended TVG sir’s lecdem at the Madras Music Academy (during the December 2007 music season) on different types of thanam. My aunt helped prepare the powerpoint slides for the lecdem. I vividly recall TVG sir’s demonstration of the various aspects of thanam, as taught to him by Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar. Most notably, I remember him demonstrating a type of thanam sounding like that of a frog croaking! Not surprisingly, he received the best lecture demonstration award that year, if my memory serves me correctly.

TVG-L Shankar-PR (TVG (vocal), L Shankar? (violin), and Palghat Raghu (mrudangam))

TVG sir has several mrudangam students, but so far the ones I have heard are Ambur Padmanabhan and Vijay Natesan. I distinctly remember last December Vijay Natesan performed with Bharat Sundar at the Music Academy; after a brilliant thani by Vijay Natesan, I saw TVG sir get up and leave…but not before giving his student a big two thumbs up!

This is a thani from a concert of Dr. M. Balamuralikrishna in Bombay (don’t know what year or sabha, unfortunately). The uniqueness of TVG sir’s style is amply evident here.

May 6, 2014

MORE clips!

Filed under: Carnatic Music — Tags: , — sankirnam @ 1:58 pm

This is the thani from the concert I played in on February 15


I have the worst luck when it comes to recordings; the line-in devices did not record that day, and so this is from a pocket recorder on the stage! Also, the mrudangam sruthi kept decreasing throughout the concert for some reason. Hopefully it is not too glaring in the recording (it is rather noticeable to me in the first round).

EDIT (9/28/2016): Found these clips of the concert on YouTube!

April 7, 2014

Adi thalam thani

Filed under: Carnatic Music — Tags: , — sankirnam @ 3:48 pm

Just recorded this at home a few days ago:

There was a strict 12 minute time limit for the recording, which is why I rushed at the end to complete the mohara and korvai. It’s insane how I managed to end on exactly 12 minutes to the dot. I had planned a rough outline in my head of some of the things I wanted to include (such as the beginning sequence with chatusram/tisram and the first korvai in 3 speeds), but the rest is pretty much improvised. If I had timed things better, I would have played the final farens, mohara, and korvai in kandam (5 per beat).

March 11, 2014

Misra Chapu solo

Filed under: Carnatic Music — Tags: , — sankirnam @ 9:08 am

Good news! This can now be shared publicly:

I had submitted this for the IndianRaga Fellowship last month, and since it was a blind audition, did not share the recording with anyone else. Now that the first round (which this was submitted for) is over, it can be identified with me.

Many thanks to my sister for putting the thalam accurately! The challenge in preparing this recording was mainly in structuring a complete thani (solo) within the 7 minute time constraint. Fortunately I have a lot of experience in doing so from playing numerous concerts in Chennai, and for whatever reason, Misra chapu is the easiest one for me to structure for a short time. It is all too easy to lose track of time when playing something like Adi thalam or Misra Jampa.

I’ve always had a soft spot for Misra chapu. It seems deceptively simple at first, with the 3+4 (or 1.5+2 structure, depending on how you look at it), but it allows for enormous scope and can get very complicated. In chatusram itself, you can split it not just as the usual 6+8, but 7+7, 5+9, 10+4, 12+2 (and these can be noncommutative as well, in the sense that playing 9+5 will sound different from 5+9). Tisram in misra chapu also leads to several new ideas. The base can be kept as 7+7+7, but 9+3+9 is also possible, and 6+3+6+6, and 6+5+5+5, 5+7+9, etc. This is the basis for kannaku (calculations) in carnatic music, and as one can see, it is all just arithmetic! Of course, the bottom line is aesthetics. Beauty in form is paramount. The most complicated calculations are worthless if there is no elegance in how it is perceived by the ear.

The late mrudangam vidwan Palghat Raghu sir was also very fond of Misra chapu, and drew a lot of inspiration from the solos of Palani Subramania Pillai. Unfortunately, recordings of Palani are scarce, but one can get an idea of how he played from listening to his star student, Trichy Sankaran sir. All of these vidwans laid the groundwork for a lot of the splittings I mentioned in the previous paragraph, establishing them and showing their scope.

February 24, 2014


Filed under: Carnatic Music — Tags: , — sankirnam @ 12:58 pm

Many thanks to Indu Nagarajan for providing these clips from the concert on Feb 1:

July 24, 2013

Thanjavur Upendran

Filed under: Carnatic Music, Uncategorized — Tags: — sankirnam @ 10:05 pm

My guru Neyveli Narayanan sir is conducting his annual function in the memory of his guru Thanjavur Upendran soon:


I have been meaning to talk about Thanjavur Upendran (or Upendransir as my guru calls him) for a while now, and the apropos time has finally come.


The photo above is accurate; Thanjvaur Upendran was a left-handed mrudangist, but to my knowledge did not face the same hardship that Palani Subramania Pillai faced. Nonetheless, he had a very bright career as a Carnatic musician, which was cut short by his untimely demise at the age of 52. His memory is kept alive today by his students (most prominently my guru). Other students of Thanjavur Upendran include Thanjavur K. Murugabhoopathi and Thanjavur Kumar. I should also mention that Upendransir’s grandson, Thanjavur Praveen Kumar, is an outstanding upcoming young mrudangist. Oftentimes the gift for music skips a generation or two; there are numerous cases of not the children, but the grandchildren of famous musicians also having a gift for music.

Thanjavur Upendran developed an extremely distinct, unique style. He was well known for his finesse in accompaniment, which led to him being extremely in demand throughout his career. He played for all the famous musicians of his era, such as M. Balamuralikrishna, D. K. Jayaraman, Maharajapuram V. Santhanam, Dr. S. Ramanathan, T. R. Subramaniam, T. R. Mahalingam (flute Mali), N. Ramani, and Chittibabu, among others. He also accompanied female artists, including the Sikkil Sisters (flute) and M. L. Vasanthakumari. He was very meticulous in tuning his instruments – he was a fickler for perfection of the sruthi and only ever used kappi mrudangams. I’ve learned some of these aspects along the way; when checking the sruthi, the chapu, dhin, and nam strokes must all be aligned. Most vidwans do not check all three of these. The meetu must also be at the same sruthi; in fact sometimes Upendransir (and my guru) tune the mrudangam on the meetu alone! His style of accompaniment was very sensitive, and he was always quick to adjust his approach to that of the main artist; he was very popular with veena artists due to this reason.

This is a video of a concert from Mysore with D. K. Jayaraman (vocal) and M. Chandrashekaran (violin).

Above all, he is remembered today for his personality moreso than his music. I have read stories by so many of today’s mrudangam vidwans (including Tiruvarur Bhaktavatsalam and Mannargudi Easwaran, among others) who acknowledged the help and encouragement they got from Thanjavur Upendran at the slow points in their careers. I still remember when I met the late Thiruvengadu Jayaraman (my sister was taking vocal lessons from him), he had remarked “You are Narayanan’s student? Good. He was Thanjavur Upendran’s student… who himself was a true gentleman!”. Upendransir was very close with a lot of artists. In fact, he was the person who convinced Balamuralikrishna to settle in Chennai and initially used to accompany him a lot in concerts. Upendran later did the same with U. Srinivas, convincing him and his father to shift to Chennai from Andhra Pradesh. Upendransir used to take Srinivas to all the sabha secretaries as a kid and tell them to arrange his concerts, staking his reputation on him!

To describe Upendransir’s playing style and the resulting bani he established is tough. But, there are a few key points that can be made. I liken Thanjavur Upendran to his contemporary S. Kalyanaraman. Both were unsung innovators in Carnatic Music; I often tell my students “what Kalyanaraman was to vocal music, Thanjavur Upendran was for mrudangam!”. As far as I can tell with what little I have learned and what research I have conducted, Upendransir was the only mrudangist to actually incorporate tavil kannaku and other aspects in his style. This was because his father-in-law was none other than the legendary tavil vidwan Valangaiman Shanmughasundaram Pillai! The tavil influence came in the form of sollus based on meetu strokes to mimic the sound of the tavil, as well as the development of sankirna nadai. Most mrudangam vidwans shy away from playing sankirnam because the calculations often end up with non-integral values for each beat (4.5 as opposed to 3,4,5,7 or 8 per beat). But Upendransir formulated the nadai in an aesthetically pleasing format for mrudangam, cleanly developing 2 speeds and various korvais and nadais for each. There are stories that Upendransir and the late kanjira vidwan G. Harisankar used to explore sankirnam in their thaniavarthanams for up to 30 minutes! Alas, with both of them passing on, sankirnam has again fallen into disuse.

This is a thani from a concert of TNS from 1975. Upendran starts the thani with tisra gathi and then skilfully blends into sankirnam, playing the keezh kalam (lower speed, 4.5 per beat) for several minutes. This is an example of tavil kannaku (calculation). The development of this speed of sankirnam using farens phrases is distinctive and is his trademark. He concludes the sankirnam section with the standard adi thalam mohara. Then, he uses 9’s to convert to kandam (3+3+3+1)! This is especially interesting. After the kandam section is concluded, he goes back to chatusram (4 per beat), and then back to tisram, and he plays the standard adi thalam mohara in tisram followed by one of his signature korvais.

There are also some interesting moharas and korvais composed by Upendransir based on the phrase “thalangu thom” or “tha thalangu thom”. Some of these were composed specifically to highlight the strengths of the mrudangam – none of the other ‘upa’pakkavadya instruments have the chapu sound, and so when these are played, the mrudangam will be the highlight. They are also very misleading; it’s difficult to tell where they start or end, and so the main artist must be very confident, alert, and have a strong laya sense.

Besides his music, there is a personal connection for me as well. Upendransir was good friends with Madurai T. N. Seshagopalan. After Thanjavur Upendran’s untimely demise, TNS took an interest in my guru’s career, bringing him to the US on two concert tours in 1992 and 1994. Many years later, when I did my arangetram, we had invited TNS sir to come. Initially he was noncommittal, but that day I got a huge shock when he arrived early! Not only that, but he stayed through the whole thing and also gave a very nice speech with some words of encouragement which I still cherish to this day. This illustrates the power of Thanjavur Upendran’s friendship and lasting influence in the Carnatic music circle.

Most of what I have mentioned here is what has been told to me over the years by my guru Neyveli Narayanan; as I mentioned before, he maintains the memory of his guru through his playing style and this annual function.

April 22, 2013

Lecdem 4-21-2013

Filed under: Carnatic Music — Tags: — sankirnam @ 9:55 am

I gave a lec-dem yesterday on thalam aspects in Carnatic music at the invitation of some families in Irvine. It was very heartening to see the huge turnout and interest in our community in this subject – even though some people may say that laya aspects are very esoteric and difficult to grasp, there is still enormous interest in our community in rectifying the situation. This bodes very well for the future of Carnatic Music.

A lot of what I covered yesterday has already been mentioned in some detail in this blog. Starting with the fundamental nature of rhythm, derived from the periodicity and repetition of natural phenomena, I moved to an introduction of various thalams (rhythm cycles), and introduced the concept of jaathi and nadai. The crowd present was very mixed, with some people having substantially more knowledge than others, so it was a challenge to cater to everybody. The concept of different eduppus was also introduced. Just for fun, I also demonstrated a few tricks with the Bhairavi varnam Viriboni (including singing it in Adi thalam with chatusram and tisram). That very thing was what won Bharat Sundar the Carnatic Idol a few years ago – where’s my prize? I kid…

In the time allotted, that was all that could be covered. But, there were people in the audience who were interested in having more such lec-dems in order to cover more topics in greater depth.

January 9, 2013

internet fame

Filed under: Carnatic Music, Internet craziness — Tags: — sankirnam @ 9:36 am

Well, not really. But someone did add my name to the list of “current mridangam players” in wikipedia (as of January 6, 2013)


I’m flattered that it comes under Tiruvarur Bhaktavatsalam’s name too. This is just to set the record straight that I did not add my name! I’m not that narcissistic…

Also, my dream of getting in a shot edgewise during a Jaya TV program was realized last year:

(see between 2:45-2:50).


August 15, 2012

Palani Subramania Pillai

Filed under: Carnatic Music — Tags: — sankirnam @ 8:50 pm

In my previous post, I had linked the famous AIR recording of the jazz session involving Palani Subramania Pillai with Dave Brubeck. This segues naturally into a post on Palani, since I have not done one yet (though I have been meaning to do so).


In a previous post, I had talked in detail about Palghat Mani Iyer and his impact on modern Carnatic music. While Palghat Mani Iyer was considered one of the undisputed giants of percussion while he was alive, he was not without professional competition. People back then (and still to this day) claimed that there was a “holy trinity of mrudangists” comprising Palghat Mani Iyer, Palani Subramania Pillai, and Ramanathapuram C. S. Murugabhupathi. Palani Subramania Pillai’s position in the annals of modern mrudangam artistry is rather interesting for several reasons which I will go into.

Palani Subramania Pillai belonged to the Pudukottai school of percussion, as opposed to the Thanjavur school that Palghat Mani Iyer belonged to. Both names are geographically derived from the respective towns. However, the Thanjavur school is specifially named after Thanjavur Vaidyanatha Iyer, one of the great gurus (teachers) of mrudangam. Similarly, it could also be speculated that the Pudukottai bani is named after Pudukottai Dakshinamurthy Pillai, although I have not heard of any such claims. Dakshinamurthy Pillai was the guru of Palani Subramania Pillai, and was the reigning kanjira vidwan of his time. In fact, the introduction and development of the kanjira as a classical percussion instrument is one of the hallmarks of the Pudukottai school; its creation is credited to Pudukottai Maamoondia Pillai, the guru of Dakshinamurthy Pillai.

A lot of the artists in the Pudukottai tradition were also tavil vidwans, including Palani Muthaiah Pillai, the father of Palani Subramania Pillai. Thus, the notion arose that the “Pudukottai school is more characteristic of tavil playing”. Based on my experience, that is not completely correct; however, there indeed are (or were) some mrudangam vidwans who actually did incorporate tavil concepts and sollus into the parlance of mrudangam, but that is material for a later post. Even for a (relatively) knowledgeable person like me, it is difficult exactly to clearly elucidate the differences between the Thanjavur and Pudukottai banis (traditions). One can attempt to grasp the differences by analyzing the different approaches to playing employed by artists in either school. For example, Palani Subramania Pillai initially had a very high-level kannaku (calculation)-oriented style that he later modified to make more pleasing for lay audiences, by shifting to an almost pure sarvalaghu style. Palghat Mani Iyer, on the other hand, used to almost replicate the song and music on the mrudangam. However, further analysis is confounded by Palani’s early demise (1962) and the fact that there has been much blending of the two schools in the last 5-6 decades. I have heard Trichy Sankaran (Palani’s star disciple) play korvais that were taught to me as being Palghat Mani Iyer’s compositions, so it is difficult to come to an absolute conclusion in this matter.

Palani was the first left-handed mrudangist in the Carnatic music scene, which was slowly being increasingly dominated by the orthodox brahmin community. As such, he faced incredible hardship and harrasment (to a degree) before he managed to establish himself as one of the top artists of his era. Nowadays, there are lots of left-handed mrudangists active in Carnatic music, including Bangalore Arjun Kumar, K. Arun Prakash, Kalladaikuruchi Sivakumar, Anantha R. Krishnan, Delhi Sairam, and R. Sankaranarayanan, among others. The community of mrudangists owes a lot to Palani for paving the way and equalizing the field for left-handed artists as well.

Just like Palghat Mani Iyer, Palani was also an active teacher, and had many students who became popular vidwans in their own right. His seniormost student, Ramanathapuram M. N. Kandasamy Pillai, was a popular guru and tutored several of the mrudangists in the concert circuit today, including Arun Prakash, Neyveli Venkatesh, and J. Balaji. Other students of Palani include K. S. Kalidas, Erode Gururajan, Guruvayoor Dorai, T. Ranganathan, Dandamodi Ram Mohan Rao, and Mavellikara Krishnan Kutty Nair. Of course, special mention must be made of Trichy Sankaran, who was Palani’s youngest and most brilliant student. Palani liked him so much that Sankaran had the opportunity to play double mrudangam concerts with him; these experiences gave Sankaran much valuable concert experience early on and helped catapult him to his present position today as one of the top mrudangam vidwans in the world. Sankaran sir recently received the prestigious Sangeetha Kalanidhi award from the Madras Music Academy last year, and in his acceptance speech, mentioned that it gave him great pride to be the first vidwan from the Pudukottai school to receive such an honor.


Of course, I could go on and on, but in this case, an audio recording is worth a thousand words, so I will just end it here.

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