At Brhaddhvani, we give you the essence of the traditional practices on the vina as intensely experienced by Dr. Karaikudi S. Subramanian during his 'gurukulavasa' (1957-1958) with the legendary maestro Karaikudi Veenai Sambasiva Iyer, the younger of the "Karaikudi Vina Brothers".
The Karaikudi Tradition is a composite style of vina playing and fundamental practices shared among all members of the Karaikudi family lineage, collectively known as the 'Karaikudi Vina Bani'. The core essence of the Karaikudi Bani was preserved and passed on by the two prime disciples of Sambasiva Iyer, Ranganayaki Rajagopalan and Rajeswari Padmanabhan. Ranganayaki Rajagopalan, from outside the Karaikudi family, was taken under Sambasiva Iyer's guidance at the tender age of 2 and holds the position of the senior-most disciple. Rajeswari Padmanabhan, KSS' elder sister and a member of the Karaikudi family, began her tutelage under Sambasiva Iyer at a very young age. Both of them continued to uphold and perpetuate the Karaikudi Bani.
Subbarama Iyer with his guru who initiated him into Sricakra mantra pooja.
Sambasiva Iyer with Ranganayaki Rajagopalan (facing away from the camera) and Rajeswari Padmanabhan.
After Karaikudi Sambasiva Iyer's passing, KSS continued to learn and perform with both his sister and Ranganayaki Rajagopalan. This allowed him to gain a richer experience and understanding of the Karaikudi Bani from two distinct perspectives.
His work, titled "South Indian Vina - Tradition and Individual Style," served as his doctoral dissertation, submitted to Wesleyan University as partial fulfillment for a PhD in Ethnomusicology. Through this research, KSS conducted an ethnomusicological examination of the Karaikudi Style of vina playing, which provided him with a unique and comprehensive academic perspective on the tradition, blending both theoretical insights and practical applications.
The essence of the Karaikudi Bani lies in its foundational elements, encompassing its musical aesthetics, techniques, and the discipline that define the Karaikudi Tradition. In the COMET methodology, the study of vina is characterized by a holistic approach to the fundamental principles of Karnatak music, as emphasized in the Karaikudi Tradition. The essential elements of Karnatak music, namely sruti, sthana, svara, laya and gamaka, are carefully studied with meticulous attention to detail. This holistic approach ultimately empowers the students to proficiently self-learn any composition and transcend musical styles with accuracy.
From left to right: Karaikudi Subramanian, Rajeswari Padmanabhan, Srividya Chandramouli (listening), Ranganayaki Rajagopalan, and Dr. S. Seetha (facing away from the camera)
Karaikudi Vina Tradition: Shankari Nive