Gudalur Narayanaswamy Balasubramaniam (1910 – 1965), popularly known as GNB, was a vocalist in the Carnatic tradition. He did diploma in music with Madras University (first batch) where Tiger Varachari was the principal. He gave his first concert in 1928. He was also a tamizh movie actor and performer, but we are concerned about the composer here, aren’t we.
His unique style, regulated tempo and masterly delivery were the delights of performances. His mellifluous voice would traverse the three octaves and the three speeds with ease. His brugas were infectious and he kept his ears and mind open to receive what was best in other musicians. This style probably reflected in his compositions too.
He composed over 250 compositions krithis in Sanskrit, Tamil and Telugu. He invented ragas too viz., Chandrahasita, Sivasakti, Amrita Behag. I am listing a random few compositions here:
- sonnadhai seidhida sahasama a Ragamalika
- ni padhame gathi in Nalinakanthi
- ranjani niranjani in Ranjani
- samana rahite in Saranga Tharangini
- sadapalaya in Mohanam
Listen to… Sikkil Gurucharan sing unnadiye gathi in raga bahudari. My memory and stealthy concert recordings reminded me of this song 😉 Though this video is just a sample, it has almost until charanam, so enjoy listening.
He had many students, most of them popular in the Carnatic Music industry, such as M. L. Vasanthakumari, Radha Jayalakshmi, Tanjore S. Kalyanaraman, Trichur V. Ramachandran, M. S. Subbulakshmi, T. Balu.
On a parting note, I would like to leave a line from an article on GNB: “…did not agree with those who maintained that the last in composing had been done by the Trinity and that it was a sheer waste of time to attempt to produce anything that may be greater than the works of those three great masters.” I agree.
References: Wikipedia, Karnatik, the Hindu