The All India music convention held in 1927 in Madras turned out to be iconic on a number of counts. One of the important thing points of the convention was the participation of the 17-year-old Thirukokarnam Ranganayaki Ammal. She was the one girl among the many 23 mridangam artistes who carried out on the occasion. When analysing music historical past from the start of the twentieth century one can discuss with Ranganayaki Ammal as the primary girl to have made it massive within the male-dominated subject of Carnatic percussion.
Born on May 28, 1910 (this 12 months was her 112th start anniversary), she was the second of seven siblings. Her father Thirukokarnam Sivaraman was a famend natuvanar, who was additionally identified for his avadhana pallavis — an artwork of enjoying totally different talas through the use of each arms, legs and the top. Perhaps impressed by his laya prowess, Ranganayaki took to the mridangam and went underneath the tutelage of the legendary Pudukottai Dakshinamurthi Pillai at the same time as she continued her coaching in Bharatanatyam.
She blazed a path by enjoying complicated mathematical combos with ease. Her intelligence was overtly acknowledged by her guru. Fragment of a letter written by Dakshinamurthi Pillai, most likely within the early Thirties, has fortunately survived and is an endorsement of Ranganayaki’s expertise. In the letter, Dakshinamurthi Pillai refers to her as ‘bhudhdhisali’ and recommends that she is supplied with appropriate alternatives.
Display of ability
The Thirties noticed her rise in stature within the music circuit. Several opinions of her performances together with the then well-known vocalist D.Ok. Pattammal have appeared within the Sangita Abhimani (1936). “It is tough to believe Ranganayaki Ammal has managed to add so much lustre to her tonal quality (nadham) in the last two years.” says a assessment. While predicting a shiny future for her, one other assessment declares her enjoying because the spotlight of the live performance, and makes a particular point out of her method to accompanying kritis aside from her dazzling show through the tani avartanam.
In the Nineteen Forties, she carried out with a number of main artistes akin to Brinda and Muktha and Flute Mali. The Music Academy live performance listings reveal that she had carried out within the prime slot in 1948, accompanying vocalist Chandra Ramamoorthy.
From 1950 onwards not a lot info is offered about Ranganayaki Ammal’s performances. According to mridangam and konnakkol exponent and nonagenarian Trichy Thayumanavan, who knew her properly, Ranganayaki Ammal actively carried out until the tip of Sixties. “She was a regular performer at AIR, Tiruchi and travelled to Tiruchi, Pudukottai, Madurai and Thanjavur for concerts. Perhaps her staying away from the Chennai music scene created the impression that she was not performing regularly.”
Thayumanavan provides, “She was calm and gentle, but her playing was powerful and majestic. She would make the audience sit up with her energy. My guru Dakshinamurthi Achari was one of the prime disciples of Dakshinamurthi Pillai. Since I belong to the same lineage, we shared a special bond. I imbibed a lot from her, especially her guru’s korvais and her own improvisations. I present them regularly at lec-dems.”
Ranganayaki Ammal’s brother, Ulaganathan Pillai, was a violinist, and her sister Siva Brinda Devi, headed the Pudukottai Thilagavathiyar Adheenam, the primary girl to take action. Facebook web page of the Adheenam has a number of images of the members of the family. One of the images is of Ranganayaki’s journey to Singapore within the Sixties.
Usha Vijayakumar at her arangetram with guru Ranganayaki Ammal
| Photo Credit: Courtesy: Usha Vijayakumar
In 1966, she joined the Padmavati College in Tirupati as college, and later labored on the Sadguru Sangita Samajam in Madurai. Gottuvadyam exponent Usha Vijayakumar, who was then a pupil of Bharatanatyam on the Padmavati College, remembers how regardless of her quick stature Ranganayaki Ammal had a commanding presence. She would recite complicated laya calculations effortlessly. She was extra thinking about instructing than performing. Apart from mridangam, she additionally taught Bharatanatyam. She carried out arangetram for a lot of of her college students together with Caroline, a pupil from overseas.”
Except for the Kalaimamani award, honours that Ranganayaki Ammal deserved evaded her. She fortunately shared her ability and information until her final days. She handed away on August 15, 1998.
It is unlucky that no recording of her enjoying is offered. One hopes if any personal recordings exist, they might be shared with music lovers.
The writer is a classical music author and researcher.