When Promulgating Ones Platitudinous Ponderosities


Shri. SVK (S. V. Krishnamurthy) is a well known Carnatic music critic in Chennai who contributes regularly for the Hindu Newspaper’s Friday music reviews. Respected for his age and undoubted Carnatic music knowledge, at times he is spot on with his critique about a musician. However, most of the times he cloaks all his judgments inside muddle challenging his readers with a writing style presumed by himself and a few others (who are all dead for the past fifty years) to be in the league of Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy and at times even Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

It is my humble prediction that his collected works could someday replace the Voynich manuscript for the teasing muddle and delectable incomprehension.

To support this prediction, let me do an English to english translation of his recent review of a music concert by Smt. Sangita Sivakumar. The complete review is [ here ]

He starts of with

Sangita Sivakumar’s concert was a declaration of her loyalty to the classical contents of Carnatic music.

[this means] Sangita sings well, proper Carnatic music

Due to strained vocal articulation the interpretative part fell short of expectation.

but goofed today because of throat problems.

But her integrity lay in her sincerity to do justice to alapanas and kirtanas and not to trivialise their essentials.

Nevertheless, she tried sincerely

Two raga alapanas, Varali (‘Seshachala Nayakam’) and Khambodi, spoke of her imaginative capacities and their exposition was intensely vigorous.

and convinced me of her talent in Varali and Khambodi ragas.

Her musical equipment was sound enough to preserve the purity of Carnatic music with strict adherence to tradition and freedom of expression.

She has enough years of practice and sincerity,

In the tara sthayi sancharas, however, there was tonal strain.

still, goofs when she reaches the higher octave.

The twists and turns in designing the alapanas helped to make them come alive in her picturisation.

She was unpredictable for me in her imaginative exposition of ragas

She looked in great haste to mount sancharas in the higher octave, particularly in the development of Khambodi.

and was too flashy for me to comprehend and enjoy.

Overall vividness marked the effort. The kirtana was ‘Thiruvadi Saranam.’

I didn’t like it one bit.

In characteristic shades of Karnataka Kapi, her alapana, was evocative emphasising the raga’s subtleties.

I liked her Karnataka Kapi raga alapanai.

This was followed by Swati Tirunal’s slow-moving but highly emotional composition, ‘Suma Sayaka Vidura.’

She did a good job of the song too.

In the whole concert, this piece stood out for tranquillity and aesthetic content.

I liked this song the best as it was done with minimal experimentation and gimmicks, even though it was by Swathi Thirunal (I usually like only Tyagaraja songs).

‘Yagnadulu’ (Jayamanohari) and ‘Vaachaama Gocharame’ (Kaikavasi) were included in the programme.

There were good Tyagaraja songs too. I have come to like her concert.

Padma Shankar was the violin accompanist. Her alapana lines in her solo were precise with a good degree of felicity. The vinyasas were concise and carefully structured.

Padma Shankar the violinist had good bowing technique. Whenever given a chance, she played short and sweet.

Nellai Balaji was the mridangist. Without being too assertive, the percussive support was uniformly pleasing.


Nellai Balaji didn’t bang the mridangam; God bless him for that. But he was completely unimaginative and repeated identical rhythms throughout the concert.

There ends (the plain speak of) the review.

Do you agree with me about replacing Voynich manuscript with a compendium of SVK carnatic music reviews?

Perhpas one should caution SVK in his own style:

When promulgating one’s platitudinous ponderosities one must be aware of one’s ventriloqual verbosities and polysyllabic profundities lest one perceives a tapestry of text rich in quintessential gobbledygook conjuring the purport of one’s nascent thought articulations.

In other words…

Never mind, SVK will understand what I have written above.


(Original version written on Oct 02, 2007)