Spotlight on women composers — From Andal to Ambujam Krishna and beyond

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From the primary century CE, the Sangam interval, to the current day, quite a few girls composers have emerged from south India. Whereas some had been revered as saints, most had been girls who straddled home duties with their ardour for writing. Some remained closet-composers out of necessity.

Beneath the auspices of Kala Prashala (a division of SciArt Providers), hosted on Fb by Vanitha Suresh and Revathi Subramanian, Dr. S. Sowmya and musicologist Dr. Radha Bhaskar shared their ongoing exploration of ladies composers, aided by vocalists Ok. Gayatri and Vidya Kalyanaraman. The ladies sang transient excerpts and shared illustrative recordings of different vocalists too.

Experience in music

One in all solely three girls Nayanmars, Karaikal Ammaiyar, sixth century, demonstrated her data of the intricacies of music, referring to the saptaswaras, varied percussion devices, and even the veena at a time when it was the yazh that was in vogue.

Karaikkal Ammaiyar  

Andal (seventh/eighth century), the one lady Azhwar, composed the Thiruppavai when barely 15. She noticed no obscenity or vulgarity in expressing her innermost wishes in essentially the most descriptive method and didn’t fear about society’s expectations. In Nachiyar Thirumozhi, she tells Manmatha (the god of affection) that she is nurturing herself solely to be given to god and, due to this fact, can’t be given to simply any human being. She wouldn’t dwell if that had been to occur.

When within the twelfth century in Karnataka, Akka Mahadevi’s husband informed her that every thing she owned, together with the clothes she wore, had been his, she shed every thing, even her garments, and wandered about within the nude which, Sowmya mentioned, is paying homage to Sadhasiva Brahmendral. Akka Mahadevi informed her horrified mom that she cared for no earthly attachments and wished solely to merge along with her chosen god, Chenna Malikarjuna.

Helavanakette Giriamma (18th century) was the one lady Dasa of all of the Haridasas. She set her verses to tune, principally in keertanai format in easy Kannada.

Radha spoke of how girls composers visualised the divine in numerous methods — as accomplice, companion and pal. A few of them additionally composed from the male perspective and conveyed feelings like sarcasm.

Talapaka Tirumallamma (fifteenth century), spouse of Annamacharya, was the primary Telugu poetess — she wrote Subhadra Kalyanam about Arjuna’s marriage to Subhadra. Molla, additionally fifteenth century, was a younger village woman, who was the primary to write down the Ramayana in Telugu, weaving into it, like Tyagaraja, imaginative anecdotes.

Avudai Akkal, a toddler widow of the seventeenth century and a follower of Sridhara Ayyaval, composed many verses, specifying ragas for a similar. Andavan Pichai, mothered ten youngsters and lived till 1990 to age 91. She wrote a number of compositions, many on the god Muruga.

Muddu Pazhani (18th century) of Andhra Pradesh, a Devadasi, wrote an erotic narrative poem in regards to the conjugal relationship of Radha, Krishna and his new spouse Ila. Going through extreme opposition, it was quickly banned by the male bastion, with the unique model seeing the sunshine of day solely after Independence.

Bangalore Nagarathnamma

Bangalore Nagarathnamma  

Bangalore Nagarathnamma (1878-1952) composed the favored Kannada javali ‘Maataada Bhaaradhaeno’ in raga Khamas. She was a pioneer in lots of spheres, together with bringing the work of different girls to gentle. Nagarathnamma was additionally in a position to persuade males to not simply be a part of, however actively champion her causes together with combating for ladies to carry out on the Tyagaraja Aradhana.

Each Radha and Sowmya additionally referred to the numerous girls poets who needed to compose in secret due to restrictive social mores. Radha spoke of the essential function performed by members of the family and different musicians in bringing many such works to gentle.

Abused and traumatised after dropping her first six youngsters, Ok.M. Soundaryavalli propitiated Ghatikachalam and went on to conceive seven youngsters. She mentioned she seemed ahead to her menstrual cycles, when she obtained time for herself, to compose unhindered. Soundaryavalli wrote many compositions, together with some 30 on Tyagaraja, for which notations can be found. Her daughter and son-in-law actively publicised her work.

Including music to kritis

Ambujam Krishna wrote a number of compositions however didn’t tune them, preferring to entrust the duty to stalwart musicians who went on to current them at live shows.

D. Pattammal

D. Pattammal
 

A number of different girls composers, nevertheless, set their items to music themselves. Different names that got here up throughout the session had been D. Pattammal, Mangalam Ganapathy, Kalyani Varadarajan, Neela Ramamurthy (elder daughter of Papanasam Sivan), and Padma Veeraraghavan (defined by Vidya Kalyanaraman) too.

Mangalam Ganapathy

Mangalam Ganapathy
 

V.M. Kodhainayaki, who was married at age 5, was a author, writer, novelist and performing musician. She gave her first vocal live performance for AIR Chennai’s inauguration the place Rajaji was the chief visitor. Her husband was most supportive of her actions. She wrote many patriotic songs and was jailed for her activism. Moreover mainstream ragas, she additionally composed in ragas that she coined.

Ok. Gayatri spoke of her late guru, Suguna Purushothaman’s, compositions that mirror large understanding of melody, layam and lyrics, the usage of ragas that mirror the subject material, the adjustments of nadai (gait), and the totally different compositional kinds like thillana, kritis, varnams and ragamalikas she labored with.

Rukmini Ramani, daughter of Papanasam Sivan, composed lots of of items, together with on the 108 divya desams and the shakti peetams.

Of their exploration of this wealthy legacy, Sowmya and Radha traced the evolution of ladies composers from poetesses with a powerful underlying bhakti theme to performer musicians who melded lyrical experience with musical acumen and class. In subsequent periods, the panel hopes to give attention to composers from Kerala in addition to present Carnatic composers from throughout India, a lot of whom are lively performers as properly.

The writer writes on classical music and musicians.



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