About Me

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I am a singer-researcher with expertise in Karnatik Music and Early Opera. I discuss intercultural music-making contexts. My work is available at www.charulathamani.com and at www.youtube.com/isaipayanam

Thursday, October 11, 2018


Will "sabhas" have the gall to ban the creeps named from the 'Carnatic cesspool' in the metoo allegations? Including those powerhouses in the US? Or are you all going to standby and watch these offenders thrive further? Isn't it about time? Veeravanallur V Sundaram: do you have anything to say sir? I ask this, because hierarchical power structures such as the Cleveland Thyagaraja Aradhana, CMANA, and the Sydney Thyagaraja Aradhana (to name only a few) have, over the last few decades, knowingly or unknowingly, with their "patronage", and almost devoted allegiance to several of the named "vidvans", allowed such filth to fester until it has now turned into putrid compost and blown up in everyone's face.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

I have to identify it!!!!

Dear Rasika,
The wonderful thing about Ragas in the Indian Classical music system is that they are unique, and each one of them have something that is typically only associated with them, that which is irreplaceable. It is easy to fool an average listener in a little game of "Identify the raga" in a post-dinner Carnatic music party, and chuckle as he identifies a Sri raga as a Madhyamavati or a Pharas as a Mayamalavagowla..but how many of us self-confessed aficionados of this great system really have a fool-proof method of unambiguously identifying, each time, every time, the raga correctly? I doubt very many of us do, and this includes the smug critic or the know-it-all mama-mami duo next door.
Lets face it - there are many factors that go into identifying a raga - the musical intelligence of the person who is playing or singing in the specimen recording, the level of sophistication of the music system, the extent of deafness of the listener or the lack of it, peer pressure, the presence of an intrusive well-meaning relative who eggs you on to make the wrong choice, and the like. If any of these factors are compromised, the result will be incorrect in most cases. Let's take the case of an innocent music lover, goaded into one of these matches, misidentifying a Mohanakalyani as a Bilahari. The poor devil didn't get the chance to tune into the prati-madhyama, or worse still the delicate fibrils of his inner ear couldn't sense the prati-madhyama frequency..or maybe it was the yelp of that dog? or the noisy two year old?
Anyway, let not be too harsh on ourselves if we fail to identify a raga correctly. It will surprise you, the number of frustrated rasikas who mail me saying they are unable to identify ragas correctly even after twenty thirty odd years of listening (and who did you listen to that long, that has made you so despondent my friend, I am often tempted to ask..). There's only one thing I tell them - it doesn't matter!!!
Do you care what ingredients in what proportion go into that favourite chutney of yours your mum used to make all those years ago? You just sat back, enjoyed it, and licked your fingers didn't you?
Do the same with music, my loved ones...do not try to analyse, music is like love, too much analysis kills it.
I am there to help with the analysis bit, so don't worry your pretty little heads with it.
Go on out there, listen to more great stuff, enjoy the strains that drift through the air, and give those weary grey cells a rest, RELAX.
Of course, go on and have some fun with the parlour tricks, too much raga never killed anyone..

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Passing of a Legend

The passing away of Carlo Bergonzi recently, marks the end of an era in Opera. One of the foremost Verdian tenors of the 20th century, Bergonzi will always be remembered and admired for his velvety timbre, impeccable taste, unsurpassed lyricism. Bergonzi's musicianship was exemplary, a master of technique and taste. Listening to Bergonzi sing, is like attending a masterclass in voice production, breath control, legato, colouring, one could go on and on...

While Bergonzi's interpretation of lyrical roles was the gold standard for many, including Edgardo (Lucia), Riccardo (Un Ballo), both Rodolfos (Boheme and Luisa Miller), Alfredo (Traviata), Pinkerton (Butterfly) and others, he still had the heft for successfully essaying heavier roles like Radames (Aida), Manrico (Trovatore).

Bergonzi was an exponent of the old-school "stand-and-deliver" style, with minimal emphasis on acting, preferring to act through his voice, with finely chiseled detail in his interpretations. We attended a performance of L'Elisir d'Amore at Munich this summer, where the very fit tenor actually climbed a lampost on set and delivered "Una furtiva lagrima" perched at the top! Bergonzi's performances were in contrast low on stage antics and maximal in musicality.

His career, spanning half a century, is a shining example to all singers, his last major public performance being at the age of 75! 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Sri Varalakshmi - Kriti for Varalakshmi Vratha

Sri Varalaksmi is a brilliant Kriti of Dikshitar that describes the importance of Varalakshmi Puja that happens on the Full moon day of Shraavan month, on. Friday to usher in the grace of the goddess of fortune Varalakshmi.
I have rendered the piece in Sri raga with a video.
Do listen, watch, enjoy and share the joy.

- love, Charulatha Mani

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Oslo - Geiranger Trip

Had an awesome vacation at Oslo and Geiranger in Norway with my husband. Thanks to my Norwegian friends Nalayani and Mohan for making our trip most enjoyable!