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The Tanjavur Quartet

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When music and dance ruled
Some months ago, we traced the route taken by exponents of Carnatic music in the Vijayanagara kingdom to Tanjore, where the Maratha Nayaks patronized them. That there were a number of music and dance forms in vogue already, is pretty clear, but with time new systems became the norm. The new forms flourished but with pressure from the British rulers and missionaries, some of the old practices were getting forced out. One of the older forms that underwent change was what was termed Dasiattam and four brothers known as the Tanjai nalavar got involved (together with some others) in its revival and restructuring into what we know as today’s Bharatnatyam. However for certain reasons they were forced to move to other regions. Let’s go to the Tanjore of those periods and retrace the steps of the famous Quartet to Travancore and their stay there.
The history of Devadasis is very often misunderstood and confused with anglicized definitions of courtesans (A courtesan w…

MS Baburaj - The legendary musician

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The very mention of the name brings up a wistful smile in the countenance of most Malayalees. Many hearing it would have something to say if not about the music, about that period when melody was king and quickly drift away into a nostalgic and melancholic mood. Some of us know his music and we all believe in his genius, but how many of you know the person behind the music? You may have seen an odd documentary or tribute, you may have read an article here or there, and a rare enthusiast may have chanced upon a book or two about him.
Well, he was indeed a genius without parallel. Such was the endearing quality of this great musician who gave us so many gems to remember that even the new generation happily pick up his songs without hesitation. Interestingly, even his name, Babu which eventually went on to become Baburaj or fondly as Babukka - a household name in the 70’s, was never a given name, but an adopted name, adopted for survival. A study of his life is also somewhat of a study…