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". Karaikudi Sambasiva Iyer was the younger brother of Subbarama Iyer who was KSS' direct grandfather through Subbarama Iyer's third daughter, Veenai Lakshmi Ammal.
The Karaikudi Tradition is a composite style of playing vina and basic practices severally shared by all those who belong to this Karaikudi family tree, collectively identifiable as 'Karaikudi Vina Bani' (please visit the following link for further information on the Karaikudi Lineage). The quintessence of the Karaikudi Bani remained with Sambasiva Iyer’s two well-known disciples, one outside of the Karaikudi family, Srimathi Ranganayaki Rajagopalan (the senior-most disciple) and the other within the family, Srimathi Rajeswari Padmanabhan, KSS' elder sister.
Subbarama Iyer with his guru who initiated him into Sricakra mantra pooja.
Sambasiva Iyer with his disciples Ranganayaki Rajagopalan (back faced to the came) and Rajeswari Padmanabhan.
After Karaikudi Sambasiva Iyer's demise, KSS continued to learn and perform with both his sister and Ranganayaki Rajagopalan. This enriched his experience of the Karaikudi Bani from two different perspectives. This enriched his experience of the Karaikudi Bani from two different perspectives.
His work "South Indian Vina - Tradition and Individual Style", a doctoral dissertation as partial fulfilment for a PhD in Ethnomusicology submitted to Wesleyan University, analyses the Karaikudi Style of vina playing from an ethnomusicological perspective. This study further enriched his understanding of the Karaikudi style. Karaikudi Subramanian believes that the seed of the Karaikudi Bani is in the fundamentals with its musical aesthetics, techniques and the discipline that circumscribe the Karaikudi Tradition.
Karaikudi Subramanian's aim is to expand the Karaikudi Vina tradition through the COMET principles and thereby making it globally relevant.
The study of vina in the COMET methodology is characterized by a holistic and meticulous practice of the basic principles of Karnatak music as insisted in the Karaikudi Tradition. The core elements of Karnatak music - sruti, sthana, svara, laya and gamaka - are carefully studied with attention to detail, through relevant techniques and multiple approaches according to the individual needs of each student. This alone eventually empowers the student to accurately self-learn any composition from any musical style.
From L-R: Karaikudi Subramanian, Rajeswari Padmanabhan, Srividya Chandramouli (listening), Ranganayaki Rajagopalan & Dr. S. Seetha (playing the vina with her back faced to the camera).
Karaikudi Vina Tradition: Sri Varalakshmi
Dr. Karaikudi S. Subramanian & his five disciples perform 'Sri Varalakshmi' - a characteristic composition from the Karaikudi Vina repertoire