This is the third post of the series of Guru Vandanam. The post is about Prince Rama Verma, from the royal family of Swati Thirunaal Maharaja and Raja Ravi Varma, and the disciple of Dr. M Balamurali Krishna. Though He does vocal and veena concerts, he is a true blue teacher at heart and does workshops in Chennai and Bengaluru and also music residential camps in a village in Karnataka, Perla.
It was in one such workshops that I started to learn from Prince Rama Verma. It is quite possible that we might not have a teacher – student bond (he might not even know I exist), because these workshops always have intermediate organizers and are one of type. Nevertheless, I did learn and understand a lot from these workshops.
He used to give rational explanations or historical stories to things Carnatic, in between teaching songs, some words of wisdom which I share below.
“Silence is very under-rated. The performers don’t give the importance to a long ‘kaarva’, instead think that heavy, fast brugas establish our superiority over music. The lay people who appreciate old Tamil classical songs, say that these classical concerts are drab and annoying. We in turn brand them illiterates gnana shoonyam). In reality, the gnana shoonyas are us! In case you give a half aavarthana of silence and your accompanying artiste might not follow the same, please warn him before hand in the green room!!” He means that certain Carnatic music performers fill a song/concert with such heavy detailing to just show their prowess and this could possibly be a reason why Carnatic music isn’t interesting enough to a lay person.
It seems there is a logical reason as to why Mayamalava Gowlai has been the incontestable starter raga for Carnatic music beginners all along. Since one of the instruments our music is based on is the Veena, and for a kid to handle a veena and play the initial lessons would be difficult, MMG with swaras coupled next to each other was the perfect choice. (i.e.) [SR1]-[G2M1]-[PD1]-[N2S].
Few of my favourite songs learnt – Omkaarakaarini in Lavangi (by Balamurali Krishna), Pankajamukha nottuswaram by Dikshitar, Aliveni in Kurinji by Swati Tirunal, Karuna Cheyvan in Yadukula Kamboji by Irayuman Thampi.
Here is a lecture video link to give a sneek peek into his classes.