When I first heard the title, it rang a bell within me…yes, it is the name of a famous sitcom that I used to watch as a child – that features the misadventures of a rich american Manhattan family who adopted the children of their late African American maid …
While this performance was in no way related to that play, Different strokes was named so, due to the multitude of music sounds that could be created from traditional Indian percussion instruments.
National Arts council Indian music competition winners Sanjay Vanen and Govin Tan played the Mridangam and Tabla respectively. But today I happened to witness the morsing and konnakkol also. Prapancham Ravindran – who composed, conducted and also played the konnakkol. Morsing was played by Devarajan. Morsing is played by stroking a small metal cantilever suspended between a horse-shoe shaped rod. Konnakkol is an art getting into extinction. It is about reciting the mono-syllabales with intonations, just as an instrument.
The event started with Ramkumar on the Veena, who played an improvised piece called the alapana on the scale mohana. He created sheer melody by often pulling the strings. He followed this with a thanam – which is a rhythmic expression of the raga – A unique melodious piece with the background of jingling bell sound. I understood that veena is the only instrument that brings out the thanam effectively.
This, he followed with the pallavi – which is a 2-liner score – when the other performers joined him. The performance started with a slow buildup of individual instrument scores, and towards the end, narrowed down to an awesome conversation between the four, which culminated into a breathtaking finish. While young players Sanjay and Govin excelled in their individual style, Devarajan provided able support.