Dr.M. BalamuraliKrishna- Himadrisuthe, Na Jaane, Maa maa nee ni Nee dha ga mani
I was asked to write a short biographical sketch of Dr.M. Balamuralikrishna in the last week of November 2016 urgently for a magazine within one hour and I managed this.
Himadrisuthe, Na Jaane, Maa maa nee ni Nee dha ga mani
Dr.M. Balamurali Krishna, I would like to do only one thing with him and about him and that is to listen to him sing.
However, unfortunately he is no more with us in flesh and blood but the vibration of his music still stirs our flesh and stills our mind into meditative mood.
So, instead of listening only to his singing with intense attention, which was almost my favorite routine for many years at home through cassettes, in concerts and sometimes at his house, now I am also forced to write about such a great musical soul albeit while listening to his invigorating Bhairavi rendering.
I do not believe in doting out chronological details of date of birth, place or other prosaic information which mere googling or Wikipedia downloading can provide.
Prosaic presentation of his biographical sketch of Dr. M. Balamurlai Krishna or merely sharing anecdotes would be doing great injustice to a person who was unbothered about perturbing the addictive status quo traditionalists and was a personification of uncompromising originality with unwavering affinity to aesthetic sensitivity and unblemished voice quality and all these without distorting basic grammar; unbelievable creativity without deviating from musically perfect formats; unfettered conviction in whatever he was rendering without ever disturbing the laser sharp precision of scales and appropriate gammakas; unimaginable panache and ease with which he executed everything and the unflinching flamboyance in whatever he did without any unnecessary frills, be it his dressing or composing or singing or folding the betel leaf.
His virtuosity was so interesting for listeners, inspiring for many musicians, music lovers and learners and naturally intimidating to some jealous critics.
How difficult is it to do a critical review of multiple volumes of encyclopedia of music and all music related aspects.
Till date no one has better articulated than him in a program on voice culture specifically for classical music several years back about the delicate, measured and harmonious balancing of guttural and nasal tones to create perfect gammakas. It was a Door dharshan program available in internet now.
He was so well versed in many languages; his mastery of nuances was not confined to music but in many languages too, he would give very nuanced and nice replies to nail the novices.
Once when in the company of T.T. Vasu sir, Dr. Srivatsa one young chap asked rather impertinently, ‘ Sir your raga alapana elaboration the purist say is not correct’. Dr .BMK smiled and said,
“First I am not singing only for those others who come to concerts to give opinions and listen.
Second I want you to know the differences between both the denotations and connotations of the words:-‘ Purist, Traditionalists, Different schools of music, classicist, aesthetically sensitive artists, people who perform art for art’s sake, those for whom art is just a livelihood, those for whom it is a mere hobby, those who follow it merely as critics, those who follow it as a desultory hobby, then most importantly people for whom life is art and those for whom art is life – it is the last category who perform with total intensity and intense totality.
Third this beginning of my alapana to you and do you have time or are you willing to listen to me elaborate further with all the other nuances”.
At this point that chap said, ‘Sorry sir, I do not know much about music in detail but was only trying to find out why some say so’. BMK replied, “They and you come in point number ten but you want to run away after third point”.
However it is irresistible not to share some rare anecdotes which may not find place in google or wikepedia, when I went to his house with my mother the first thing he did was he stood up and said, “ Maami neega first Ukarungo” [ madam you first take your seat please].
Then he asked me to come for audition at Bharathidasan road.
Everything about him was unique in all aspects.
I have never come across a greater all rounder in music.
Everyone knows his various avatars mostly as a great vocalist with a wonderful voice suited to and capable of rendering many genres of music with the same ease and also he was equally a good player of viola and miruthangam.
But many may not know that he could play with ease any instrument and people who have been part of the movies for which he rendered the songs and was the music director, mostly those of G.V. Iyer in Kannada and Sanskrit be it the 1975 Hamsageethe or 1983 Adi Shankara would vouch for that and know how he used to tune almost all the instruments and also play and show the pieces to played inspiring everyone.
Once in the 90s I called him to invite him for some program, he said he is not free on that day as he has a program at Music academy mini hall, I asked you have sir, he said yes you too come. When he says you too come who would say no, I went and to my surprise there was a Carnatic music concert in one of those antic big pianos played by a nun, it was Sister John Dorai Chetty, it was in September 1986. I went and sat next to him. She was playing ‘Jaga janani sukavani kalyani’ and then announced that she was blessed to have her teacher being present and listening throughout, it was none other than Dr. M. Balamurali Krishna.
His Jugal bandhis , his film songs, his Bengali songs and his compositions in many languages are well known and well documented.
His thillanas are a treat to rhythm loving ears; his raga alapna rendering are titillating to the brain cells with resonance; his knowledge based scrupulous perfectionism in rendering the words of the lyrics in any language he rendered is something which many musicians must emulate; his scales are crystal clear; his excellent voice enabled him to render kalpana swaras imbued with melody, bhava and excellent and complex multiple rhythmic patterns as well as varying tempos. When you dissect his concerts or songs into micro details to critically analyze you will not find any missing note, even the minutest anu swaraams will be clear at subatomic level;
When you prefer to enjoy his concerts and songs as mega macro package then it seeps in your whole system and reverberates throughout the day.
The subtle nuances that Gamakas produced when he rendered them literally touch certain nerve centers in a very aesthetic and hyper sensitive way and the nectar of its sweetness make us swarm around like the irresistible bees.
His compositions are a wholesome package of entertaining music, engaging ragas and enlightening lyrics.
Enlightening lyrics in the sense his compositions in Thodi ‘Maa maa nee nee ni dha ga mani dha sa rig a dha’ is the only composition where meaningful lyrics are woven around just the phonetic sound of the swaras/notes.
He probably tried very early in his career with Sa dha tha va padha in Shanmugapriya which was of course meant as a swara akshra enabling kriti.
In one of his kritis he explains the word ‘BHARATHA’ the very word used to name our great country mean 'bha' for bhakthi[dedication or devotion with sincerity ]- ra –for rakthi –emotional content that is bhava of the soul [doing with passion] and tha for thanmaythvam- aesthetc quality [ not a mere entertainment for pleasure but a mode of artistic experience for peace and joy] . Bhakthi Rakthi Thanmaythvan ithi bharatham.
Na Jaane (Hamir Kalyani)
While many prefer labeling him as a great experimenter, exhibitor of talent I would like to add he was basically more entrenched into the music of the spheres and enthralled audiences at all levels.
Such great musicians make you realize that music is mysterious and mystery is also musical.
Music is mysterious because it touches the chords of life through its multiple dimensions and the dynamics of its various dimensions.
The mystery of life is the energy which operates through vibrations and music is made of vibrations of sounds either with or without lyrics and if the spirit of individual human being grasps or is in the grip of specific frequencies of these vibrations then they stir deeper in the individual than anything else.
Certain individuals are privileged mediums through whom some sublime things or aspects of life and hitherto unknown things are expressed to the world, these individuals appeal to us so much at moments that they appear as the personification of what they represent or achieve or discover.
Universe in its great wisdom throws up many great souls to perform something extraordinary and these souls deserve all our appreciation, understanding and emulation too.
He gave lot of importance to lyrics as he felt that nothing is a mere prosaic lifeless word because every word is made of the same ingredient as music i.e. sound and in addition impregnated with meaning or meanings assigned etymologically or acquired through usage in various contexts or appropriated through misuse.
So word and music both express something through sound.
The word Universe itself is known as ‘ekashya kaviyam’UNI+VERSE =single verse expressing itself.
I would like to end with a quote of Thomas Carlyle, “Music should go right through you, leave some of itself inside you and take some of you with it when it leaves. See deep enough and you see musically, the heart of nature being everywhere music, if you can only reach it.”
Listen to Dr. M. Balamurali krishna’s recordings and read Guy Murchie’s book ‘Music of the spheres’ and your every cell will be filled with music with intense conscious awareness that no toxic elements can enter your cells.