Karukurichi P Arunachalam

Nadaswaram is a unique instrument in that it is one of the few reed instruments in the Indian music scene. Other than Shehnai, the rest of the reed instruments like clarinet are imports from the western music. Also, given its large size, the demands on the physique of the player are quite high and it is not surprising that it not easy to master which explains the small number of performers of this instrument. The other interesting part about this instrument is that the holes on the instrument are pretty small and unlike in the case the flute, one does not control the minor notes by ha;f opening the holes, but by literally singing the desired note (similar to many brass instruments in the western music).

You may ask why Karukuruchi and not T N Rajaratnam Pillai; well I have no specific reason other than that listening to his ‘rAma ninnE’ in husEni on the radio made me great fan of him. I do expect that I will get around to posting the concerts of TNR as well very soon.

The last 2-3 weeks have been nothing bit Nadaswaram music for me, and that too Karukurichi Arunachalam. It was a bliss listening to his wonderful renderings, particularly the main piece of the concert that easily are anyway between an hour or two. Given that he passed away in 1964 at an age of 43, the fact that we have so many recordings of his concerts is a great blessing an honor to him.

I believe that the post on Sruti about him is an excellent one and there is not much one can add to that. Click here for the blog post on Sruti.

Few interesting observations from the recordings I have below:

  • Like so many other artists, he has his favorites which he plays frequently
  • Compositions are simply a means for his improvisation on the alapana or swaraprastara; there are few others who follow this model, but the Nadaswaram players pretty much follow this model.
  • He has phenomenal breath control and stamina in playing not only long concerts, but also long passages (you can clearly hear is breath intake).
  • He must have been a great fan movies, not just tamil, as can be seen in a concert where he has played a couple of hindi film songs.
  • I am guessing that he was a big fan of GNB (perhaps vice versa too) based on the compositions that he overlaps with GNB repertoire.

Here are the recordings, starting with the tribute by the Sri Lanka broadcasting corporation. Some of them do have quality issues which is to be expected and I hope you enjoy them as much as I did. I have included the start time for the pieces in some of the concerts.

As usual I have a couple of issues:

  • Unable to determine a few compositions – help on this front will be greatly appreciated.
  • It is mentioned that the tavil vidwan is ‘Nachiarkoil’ and I have no idea who it would be; which is why I have added a question mark after guessing that it would be ‘Natchiarkoil Raghava Pillai’; help on this front would be appreciated too.

Tribute By Srilanka Broadcasting Corpn

Yazhpanam Dakshinamurthy Pillai – tavil
Needamangalam Shanmugavadivel – tavil

  • ??? – nATa
  • ranjani niranjani – ranjani
  • ??? – vasantabhairavi
  • pallavi – tODi & rAgamalikA
  • tirupugazh – hamsanandi
  • tAmadamEn swAmi – tODi (incomplete)
  • sogasugA mrudangatALamu – sriranjani
  • swAmikki sarievvarE – kEdAragowLa
  • nannupAlimpa – mOhanam
  • subrmanyEna – suddhadhanyAsi (incomplete)
  • sAdinchanE – Arabhi
  • raghuvara nannu – pantuvarALi (incomplete)

Natchiarkoil Raghava Pillai(?) – tavil

  • 0:00 vallabha nAyakasya – bEgaDa
  • 8:40 sAmajavaragamana – hindOLam
  • 28:28 mAmavasadA janani – nATakurunji
  • 45:03 sabhApatikku – AbhOgi
  • 59:00 sogasugA mrudanga tALamu – sriranjani
  • 1:05:30 subrmanyEna – suddhadhanyAsi (incomplete)
  • 1:24:35 ??? – hamsanandhi
  • 1:42:50 pallavi – kAmbhOji
  • 2:09:10 chinnanciru kiLiyE

Needamangalam Shanmugavadivel – tavil
Natchiarkoil Raghava Pillai(?) – tavil

Note: distortion because of tavil in the first 90 minutes; gets better after about 90 minutes

  • 0:00 varNam – kAnaDA
  • 13:00 praNamAmyaham – gowLa
  • 25:50 sivakAmEswari – kalyANi (swarams incomplete)
  • 47:35 ??? – bhairavi
  • 1:03:15 akshayalinga vibhO – sankarAbaraNam
  • 2:11:08 sri kAntimatim – hEmavati
  • 2:25:55 tani avartanam
  • 2:47:00 chakkani rAja – karaharapriyA
  • 3:02:32 nagumOmu – AbhEri
  • 3:20:14 ??? – sankarAbaraNam
  • 3:24:30 bhAvayAmi raghurAmam – rAgamAlika
  • 3:47:20 sindhubhairavi (incomplete)

Needamangalam Shanmugavadivel – tavil
Natchiarkoil Raghava Pillai(?) – tavil

  • 0:00 praNamAmyaham – gowLa
  • 9:55 sAdinchanE – Arabhi
  • 22:32 EtAvunrA – kalyANi
  • 42:25 Ela nee dayarAdu – aTANA
  • 50:20 tani
  • 1:04:00 pallavi – tODi & rAgamAlika
  • 1:58:41 panchAshat peeTa roopiNi – dEvagAndhAra
  • 2:04:28 rAdhA samEtA krishnA
  • 2:10:15 ??? – sindhubhairavi
  • 2:16:04 ??? – sankarAbaraNam
  • 2:20:11 Engish Note
  • 2:25:55 mangalam
  • 0:00 pranamAmyaham – gowLa
  • 9:10 nenaruncinAnu – mALavi
  • 18:17 muddumOmu – sooryakAntam
  • 41:21 EtAvunara – kalyANi
  • 1:02:14 marivErE – Anandabhairavi
  • 1:17:12 chakkani rAja – karaharapriyA
  • 1:29:28 chinnanciru kiLiyE – rAgamAlikA
  • 1:44:11 mEra dil yE pukArE AjA (hindi film song – Nagin)
  • 1:50:58 yEh zindagi kisi ki hai (hindi film song – Anarkali)
  • 1:55:41 thillAnA – senjuruTi
  • 2:05:00 kandan karuNai puriyum vaDivEl – bhimpalAs
  • 2:11:23 maguDi
  • 2:18:35 English Note and various

Valangaiman A. Shanmugasundaram Pillai – tavil
Needamangalam Shanmugavadivel – tavil

  • 0:00 sAdincanE – Arabhi
  • 22:15 sArasAksha paripAlaya – pantuvarALi
  • 1:03:30 chakkani rAja – karaharapiyA
  • 1:45:15 ??? – vasantabhairavi
  • 1:56:25 pallavi – shanmukapriyA & rAgamAlika
  • 3:54:25 various
  • 0:00 sogasugA mrudanga tAlamu – sriranjani
  • 22:41 nagumOmu – AbhEri
  • 1:02:10 koluvaiyunnADE – bhairavi
  • 1:46:23 marivErE – Anandabhairavi
  • 2:12:51 mAjAnaki – kAmbhOji
  • 2:53:55 kaddanuvAriki – tODi
  • 3:43:32 various

Valangaiman A. Shanmugasundaram Pillai – tavil
Needamangalam Shanmugavadivel – tavil

  • 0:00 gyAna vinAyakanE – gambeeranATTai
  • 16:21 heccarikagA rArA – yadukulakAmbhOji
  • 32:26 ??? – AbhOgi (initially thought it could be sri lakshmi varAham)
  • 1:03:18 sri kAntimatim – hEmavati
  • 1:33:57 akshayalinga vibhO – sankarAbaraNam
  • 2:38:04 tani
  • 2:53:27 mAmavasadA janani – nATTakurunji
  • 3:09:29 pallavi – naTabhairavi(?) & rAgamAlika
  • 4:22:28 kandan karuNai – bhimpaLas
  • 4:31:22 chinnanchiru kiLiyE – rAgamAlika
  • 4:38:34 singAra vElanai – AbhEri
  • 4:46:24 English Note
  • 4:50:30 maguDi
  • 5:00:06 tirupugazh – hamsAnandi
  • 0:00 varNam – kAnaDA
  • 11:28 praNamAmyaham – gowLa
  • 24:07 sivakAmEswari – kalyANi
  • 47:26 ??? – bhairavi
  • 1:09:03 pallavi – tODi & rAgamAlika
  • 2:49:17 rAkA sasivadana – TakkA
  • 2:58:42 tirupugazh – hamsAnandi
  • 2:59:41 mangalam

Needamangalam Shanmugavadivel – tavil
Valangaiman A. Shanmugasundaram Pillai – tavil

Note: Speed variations thru the recording

  • 0:00 sAdinchanE – Arabhi
  • 21:16 ??? – vasantabhairavi
  • 31:55 pallavi – shanmukapriyA & rAgamAlika
  • 2:34:00 ??? – bAgeswari
  • 2:41:30 kAvaDichindu
  • 2:46:42 singAra vElanai – AbhEri
  • 2:54:57 tirupugazh – hamsAnandi
  • 2:56:48 mangalam

Valangaiman A. Shanmugasundaram Pillai – tavil
Needamangalam Shanmugavadivel – tavil

  • 0:00 sAdinchanE – Arabhi
  • 19:16 mariyAda kAdayyA – bhairavam
  • 30:31 sogasugA mrudangatALamu – sriranjani
  • 59:45 ??? – hamsAnandi
  • 1:20:23 rAmA ninnE – husEni
  • 1:34:47 ninnuvinA nAmadi – navarasakannaDA
  • 1:44:50 kaddanuvAriki – tODi
  • 2:40:19 pallavi – shanmukapriyA and rAgamAlika
  • 3:24:57 various
  • 0:00 yOchana kamalalOchana – darbAr
  • 5:25 nEnendu vedakudurA – karnATaka behAg
  • 18:01 sAmagAnapriyE – Anandabhairavi
  • 28:30 sivakAmEswari – kalyANi
  • 0:00 swAmikku sari evvarE – kEdAragowLa
  • 9:51 pallavi – shanmukapriyA & rAgamAlikA
  • 1:24:00 sri kAntimaTim – hEmavati
  • 1:30:32 ?? – dEsh
  • 1:37:07 kAvaDi chindu
  • 1:42:33 singAravElanE – AbhEri
  • 1:50:49 maguDi
  • 1:56:49 English note
  • 2:00:04 tirupugazh – hamsAnandi

  • 0:00 ee vasudA – sahAnA
  • 6:45 ADamODigaladA – chArukEsi (incomplete)
  • 11:17 nenaruncinAnu – mALavi