Nadaswaram Bani

In the schedule of events, several concerts have a footnote that includes some raga visthara with a nadaswaram. This feature is a part of the GNB centenary that the Aradhana is celebrating this year. The influence of the Nadaswaram Bani has been one of GNB's lasting contributions to Carnatic music.

In GNB's days, the manodharma that vocalists performed tended to be rather staccato, with passages broken into short phrases. Ramnad Krishnan and Madurai Mani Iyer, who were his contemporaries, are good examples of this style.

Nadaswaram artists, on the other hand, used to play with long kaarvais, and filled in the gaps between phrases. This was typical of the periya melam style that was used in the music that accompanied religious rituals and festivals. T.N. Rajarathnam Pillai was a leading exponent of this style, and GNB greatly admired his music, often attending performances given by him.

It was GNB's insight that led him to incorporate the periya melam style into the traditional Carnatic music that was performed in concert halls. It certainly helped that his voice was versatile enough to handle the gamakam-laden nuances, crisp brighas, as well as the long sustained karvais that characterized the new style that he created. On top of that, his musicianship was such that he incorporated all of it in a manner that was pleasing to the ear.

GNB's style has pervaded Carnatic music since he introduced it. His music was wildly popular in his time, and his style has endured among modern performers as well. We would like to recognize this contribution, and educate listeners about the extent of his influence.

Before select concerts during the Aradhana, a leading musician will speak about a raga, how GNB handled it, what his favorite krithis in that raga were, etc. A nadaswaram artist will also perform that raga for a few minutes. The concert will feature a major piece in that raga, so that listeners can discern the elements of the nadaswaram technique in the performance.

We hope that listeners will find this introduction educational.