Saturday, 4 September 2010

NottuSwara – Muthuswamy Dikshitar’s European airs

Now some of you must have heard that Baluswamy Diskshitar - Muthuswamy’s brother introduced the Violin to Carnatic music as I mentioned some months ago while writing about Ettayapuram in the article Cat (Kattabomman) Etappa & Dumby.

Well, the British rule in India has to be thanked again for without the violin, there is no way a Carnatic recital gets complete today. How Baluswamy learnt violin is also a matter of contention. Some opine that he learnt it in Manali thanks to the Mudaliar sponsorship; others say it was at the courts of Ettayapuram and a third faction states this happened at Tanjore with the help of Vadivelu.

Anyway it is difficult to figure out how that happened, but Baluswamy learnt Violin and bits of Celtic music. He practiced it at home in Manali and the master composer and elder brother Muthuswamy took note. Later Muthuswamy set Sanskrit shlokas to the tunes and we know it today as the Nottu Swara Sahitya. There are some 36-40 of these works set around the Raaga Sankarabharanam. The song you heard was one of Dikshitar’s compositions.