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Tribute: A masterly musician – Chingleput Ranganathan, was a perfectionist (The Hindu / ….

Posted by ElJay Arem (IMC OnAir) on July 22, 2011

Chingleput Ranganathan (@ Facebook page)

Chingleput Ranganathan (@ Facebook page)

The Hindu: Today’s Paper » FEATURES » FRIDAY REVIEW

by S. Sivakumar

Tribute A pallavi exponent, Chingleput Ranganathan, was a perfectionist.

Sangeetha Kala Acharya and Kala Rathna, Chingleput Ranganathan, hailed by many as a laya-loyalist of exacting standards, passed away on July 12. He is survived by his wife and two sons, who are performing flautists.

He was the serving Principal of the Teacher’s College of Music at the Music Academy and was a hard task master. He was open to new ideas and was sought after by vidwans.

His connection withmusic began with his mother Rajalakshmi and H. Ramachandra Sastri, the flautist, who directed him to the Alathur School to continue his learning. His vehicle was his bicycle and he wore only white.

The pallavi may have been his forte, but he was much more than a mere rhythm master. He was a “Paripoorna Vidwan,” a multi-faceted genius who had composed about 50 tillanas, set to tune about 150 Tiruppugazh hymns and also musically embellished Tiruppugazh by presenting it as a 72 Melakarta novelty.

Ranganathan held aloft the Alathur tradition and guru-bhakti dominated his thought, word and deed. Paying him tribute, musicians and scholars emphasise his principles and musical upbringing.

T. R. Subramaniam : He was agood-natured person who never had ill-will towards anybody. He had mastered many complicated pallavis and freely shared them with whoever sought to learn them. Also he had learnt to sing Tiruppugazh using rare talas.

He learnt music the tough way, going through the rigours of Gurukulavasam. But for all the contribution he made, he did not get what he deserved.

P. S. Narayanaswami : He was my dearest friend for 55 years and it is an irreparable loss to me and to the music world. He knew many rare kritis, which he could sing beautifully and his expertise in pallavi is, of course, well known.

A man of great dignity he did not covet kutcheri opportunities, his service to All India Radio (AIR) and thus to rasikas, was immense.

J. Venkatraman : Mere words cannot express my grief. He was my affectionate brother and I have seen him work hard to acquire a high level of scholarship.

A committed teacher, his voice became a casualty in the bargain. But he never worried about concert chances and the money attached.

Not only did we do Gurukulavasam together, but also performed at a few places. It was an enriching experience. Rivalry never entered the picture. I believe in karma and Ranganathan has no rebirth. If it happens he will be born as a genius.

N. Narasimhan : Though he belonged to the Alathur school, Ranganathan developed his own pattern and style. Even simple nadai pallavis were a speciality with him.

He respected everyone irrespective of their age. We were colleagues at AIR, and he was put in charge of the Tamil section where he made a mark with his simple and delicate tunes for many pasurams, his teaching method and disciplined approach. Seetha Narayanan : As an Aasan he opened my eyes to the world of niraval, a delicate affair of art and craft and he showed how laya was an integral part of tanam.

He would sing with ease multi-kalai nadai/tala pallavis, that would begin after 1/8th of the even level (samam), and he would teach them too. He also made me understand the range and depth of pallavis and the unwavering concentration required to execute them perfectly. He was a purist and did not believe in improvisation of sangatis.

Generous and open in praise, he would point out errors politely in privacy.

An eclectic, he once had listened to N. Rajam‘s Bagesri on the violin and was so impressed that he incorporated many of the usages in one of his own compositions.

R. Vedavalli : We received the AIR award in 1955 together and he became a friend ever since. His genius was commended but never recognised. He was excellent at Sandha Tala Tiruppugazh and incorporated these in his pallavis.

He followed the order with sangatis and never missed the nuances as he learnt them from the Alathur Brothers. And he would not give up until his disciples got them right. He therefore, stuck to certain core values. A great and noble soul!

Alathur Thiagarajan, son of one of the Alathur Brothers (Subramaniam): A perfect example of one who learnt under the ideal Gurukula system, he served three masters – Alathur Venkatesa Iyer and the Alathur brothers, a feat that could easily classify Ranganathan as an extraordinary man.

His delectable grammatical nuances for Nayaki and his unmixed treatment of Bhairavi or Mukhari, for example had to be heard to be believed.

His laya command and its labyrinthine structures made accompanists wary of sitting next to him on stage.

He had the privilege of learning from Alathur Venkatesa Iyer (my grandfather) from 1956 to 1958. ‘Kuttipayya,’ as Ranganathan was fondly called, had unsurpassed knowledge, calibre and capacity.

His worry, as he taught, was that the student could not adhere strictly to the Alathur style. He had exceptional capacity for sangatis and calculations. He was a true devotee of Tyagaraja and was present at the Tiruvaiyaru Aradhana every year.

(Source: 07/2011 – The Hindu | Today’s Paper » FEATURES » FRIDAY REVIEW )


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