T. R. Mahalingam
T. R. Mahalingam
At age five, he observed other boys playing the flute and secretly, against his father's wishes, he picked up a flute and learnt to play the Viriboni varnam entirely by himself. His first concert was in 1933 at the Thyagaraja festival in Mylapore, at the age of seven. At the concert, two stalwarts in the audience, Parur Sundaram Iyer and Musiri Subramania Iyer, were so impressed that they left the concert to bring ponnadai (shawls) for him. After this successful debut, his father put him on a hectic schedule, leading to resentment on the boy's part. It was also hard to persuade well-known musicians to accompany him. Mali was the founder of the popular style of flute playing followed today by the Carnatic flautists. Before Mali, the style of flute playing was called Sarabha Sastri style, popularized by Sarabha Sastri's disciple, Palladam Sanjeeva Rao, and did not have any gamakas and involved playing the flute in discrete bursts.
Mali introduced new fingering techniques, and a style of continuous flute playing that provided gamakas, and an ability to better imitate the human voice. In Carnatic music, instrumental music seeks to emulate vocal singing which is considered the ideal, and it was only with Mali's style did all the nuances of Carnatic music become possible to be expressed on the flute. His style prevailed over the Sarabha Shastri style whose last follower, Ramachandra Shastri, a disciple of Palladam Sanjeeva Rao, died in 1992. The loss of Sarabha Sastri style is only an academic loss and Mali's style of playing remains to this day unparalleled.. Mali techniques came into greater prominence under Sri BN Suresh and is even to this day carried forward by Dr. N Ramani Due to his moodiness, he developed a reputation for playing truant at concerts, often turning up late (or not at all), as he became addicted to alcohol and later in his life to tranquiliser drug. According to his disciple Sundaram, "Mali says he sees god within five minutes of playing — he thinks it is meaningless to continue after that and stops." He would sometimes leave halfway, or play the same piece repeatedly, or simply breathe into the flute occasionally. On the other hand, he would sometimes play hours longer than the schedule, including playing for the Lord Muruga at Tiruttani for eight hours consecutively. He also enjoyed challenging his accompanists with difficult musical progressions, and tricking them into making mistakes.
The only accompanist he gave full rein to was the elder violinist Papa Venkataramaiah, whom he considered his mentor. He himself was an accomplished violinist, and claimed to be better on the violin than on the flute. He was also responsible for the initial encouragement to T N Krishnan's career. After moving to Bangalore in 1955, he went to seclusion in 1958, playing very infrequently. From 1980 to 1985 he lived in the United States, performing for $2000 per concert. He returned to India and died of a cerebral haemorrhage in 1986 at the age of 60. Discography * All India Radio Recordings * Divine Sounds of the Bamboo Flute Vol 1 & 2 * One and only Mali * Carnatic Flute References 1.
^ a b S. Shiva Kumar, Breath of the Almighty, The Hindu, November 11, 2006 2. ^ a b Alison Arnold (2000), "Karnatak vocal and instrumental music", The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music, Taylor and Francis, p. 234, ISBN 9780824049461, http://books.google.com/books?id=ZOlNv8MAXIEC&pg=RA2-PA234&dq=mahalingam 3.
^ a b Anita Nair, 1986. God at One’s Fingertips, a profile of T R Mahalingam 4. ^ a b Musical Nirvana biography, archived from the original on 2008-02-09, http://web.archive.org/web/20080209153401/http://www.musicalnirvana.com/carnatic/tr_mahalingam.html 5. ^ a b c d e f Bombay S Jayashri; T M Krishna; Mythili Chandrasekar (2007), Voices Within Carnatic Music: Passing on an Inheritance, Mātṛkā, ISBN 9788175255555, http://books.google.com/books?id=-HScGAAACAAJ 6.
^  7. ^ Ludwig Pesch, Of Bamboo And Magic - A Flautist At Eighty 8. ^ G.S. Rajan, Indian Bamboo Flute 9.
^ Indian Express, May 22, 2004. Padmabhushan -T N Krishnan-Violinist 10. ^ http://www.carnaticcorner.com/articles/tnk-interview.html 11. ^ Maithily Jagannathan: The maverick.
The Illustrated Weekly of India, June 7, 1987, pp. 42-43. External links * Documentary on T R Mahalingam at YouTube (Adobe Flash video) - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8OUSsOVtAnU * Forum thread at rasikas.org - http://rasikas.org/forum/topic506-trmahalingam-mali-flute.html * Interview with Sundaram, a student - http://www.carnaticdarbar.com/interviews/2008/interviews_sundaram.asp (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T._R._Mahalingam_%28flautist%29 ) Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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