Artistes lending vocal assist might not draw the consideration of the viewers, however they’ll improve or mar a live performance

Artistes lending vocal assist might not draw the consideration of the viewers, however they’ll improve or mar a live performance

Unnamed at live shows, they occupy the house behind the predominant artiste, typically with a tambura in hand. Though the backing vocalist is not anticipated to attract the consideration of the viewers, offering vocal assist is an artwork by itself. It calls for not simply dedication and perfection however reverence to the guru. The latter high quality ensures that again up is not used merely as buffer; it echoes the predominant artiste’s thought course of, model and strategy.

A supporting artiste might not steal the present, however can improve or mar a live performance. The problem for such artistes is to take their job critically. They ought to study to adapt and mix with the lead artiste’s voice, bear in mind of his/her improvisational expertise, know the lyrics and sangathis by coronary heart, perceive the emotion and nuances of a composition, fill in the gaps throughout swara segments, gauge the temper of the viewers, and construct a rapport with the co-artistes on stage.

Crucial features

In classical music, imbibing the technical features of a raga or kriti is as crucial as internalising its aesthetic nuances. For occasion, ‘Chakkani raja’ in raga Karaharapriya is a stunning composition with tons of sangathis and sequential raga contours. This will be one of the most demanding items in a live performance. Learning such kritis will help enhance the data and confidence of a vocal assist artiste. ‘Dharini telusu konti’ in Suddha Saveri, and ‘Koluvamare gada’ in Thodi are mammoth kritis with back-to-back sangathis that beautify the raga and likewise assist to grasp it.

A vocal assist artiste also needs to guarantee a seamless circulate of musical concepts that heighten the aural pleasure. ‘Sruthi mata and layam pita’ ought to be the guideline. Palai C.Ok. Ramachandran, whereas offering vocal assist to Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, was known as ‘sruthi bhagvatar’ as a result of of his constancy to sruthi.

Accompanying the guru

Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer accompanied by V. Subrahmaniam.

Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer accompanied by V. Subrahmaniam.
| Photo Credit: The Hindu Archives

Most of the previous masters had a sturdy ‘vocal assist system’ in place. This was extra like an internship for his or her formidable line up of sishyas to make them performance-ready. Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar, who is mentioned to have put the trendy live performance sample into practise, had B. Rajam Iyer and Ok. V. Narayanaswamy to call a few. V. Subrahmaniam and Palai Ramachandran served Semmangudi for the longest time. V.R. Krishnan, Ok.R. Kedaranathan, T.M. Thiagarajan, P.S. Narayanaswamy, and Kumara Kerala Varma have additionally assisted the maestro. The checklist is fairly lengthy, but it surely’s not potential to say all the names. D.Ok. Pattammal had her brother D.Ok. Jayaraman sing along with her.

D.K. Pattammal with D.K. Jayaraman

D.Ok. Pattammal with D.Ok. Jayaraman

Men sing in decrease sruthi whereas ladies singers desire greater sruthi. Yet Jayaraman sang in unison, and rasikas who’ve heard them are, certainly blessed. Melody queen M.S. had daughter Radha Viswanathan and Vijaya Rajendran accompany her. MLV had an array of sishyas accompanying her, Sudha Ragunathan being the most distinguished. Sisters Brinda and Muktha sang collectively, complementing and supplementing one another’s music.

Occasionally, in a live performance the sishya could also be requested to sing a half of the alapana or swara repartees to supply a breather to the predominant artiste. The supporting artiste ought to preserve the circulate of the raga sung, and comply with the swara sample as the case could also be. The most cherished moments, nevertheless, are when they can match the grasp’s expectation and musical normal and get a spherical of applause from the viewers.

The supporting artiste ought to be unobtrusive and never overpower the lead voice. V. Subrahmaniam used to say he learnt a lot when sharing the stage with Semmangudi. This studying is crucial to make one a full and profitable artiste. Many musicians of reputation started as vocal assist artistes for his or her gurus. Their life and journey are an inspiration to younger learners.

The Chennai-based author is a music connoisseur.

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