Jayanthi Kumaresh’s recital of Shanmukhapriya is deeply emotional and speaks of her ability to constantly innovate and surprise her audiences. In this Darbar offering, we bring to you a 51-minute, full concert of this raga performed by the veena exponent at the 2013 Darbar Festival.
She elaborates the raga with command moving on from alapana to tanam with her versatile phrasing and then the composition, bringing out the best in this raga.
Jayanthi was 3 years old when she was initiated to the veena. The choice was her mother’s, she reminisces that at such a tender age, no one is able to make a choice for himself. She believes that music chooses the medium of expression for a person and not the other way round.
The saraswati veena is an ancient instrument, named after the Hindu goddess of arts and learning. But Jayanthi’s gently electrified version produces a strikingly guitaristic tone, igniting Carnatic classical melodies with sweeping bends.
She learned under her mother Lalgudi Rajalakshmi, before leaving home aged 13 to study with her aunt Padmavathy Ananthagopalan. She also received instruction from her great-uncle, violinist Lalgudi Jayaraman, and noted veenai S Balachander. A few years later she became one of the youngest artists to receive an All India Radio ‘A’ grading, earned a doctorate in veena history, and founded the Indian National Orchestra, uniting musicians from India’s classical traditions in a large ensemble. On recent recordings she has experimented with recording seven layers of veena on top of each other, and continues to write for dance and film.
Shanmukhapriya’s melodic structure is often associated with Murugan, the god of war, and Shiva, the destroyer and has an intensely energetic, heroic and courageous disposition. It is a sampoorna (seven-note) ragam, ascending and descending symmetrically as SR₂G₂M₂PD₁N₂S. There is a wide interval jump between Re (2nd ) and Ga (3rd) and its distinctive shape has been widely used for composition of songs for centuries.
Recorded for Darbar Festival 2013, at London’s Southbank Centre
Jayanthi Kumaresh (saraswati veena)
Patri Satish Kumar (mridangam)
RN Prakash (ghatam)
Mithila Sarma (tanpura)