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Damal Krishnaswamy Pattammal ( ) (28 March 1919 – 16 July 2009) was a prominent Carnatic musician and a playback singer for film songs in many Indian languages. She along with her contemporaries M. S. Subbulakshmi and M. L. Vasanthakumari were (and still are) popularly referred to as the Female trinity of Carnatic Music. This trio initiated the entry of women into mainstream Carnatic Music. She has been appreciated all over the world by Carnatic music lovers.

Early life and background

Pattammal was born in an orthodox Brahmin family in Kancheepurammarker of Tamil Nadumarker, Indiamarker. She was named as Alamelu, but fondly called "Patta" as a child prodigy. Her father, Damal Krishnaswamy Dikshithar, who was deeply interested in music, inspired her to learn Carnatic music. Her mother, Kanthimathi (Rajammal), although a talented singer herself, was not permitted to sing even for friends or relatives in line with strict orthodox tradition. Despite her orthodox background, Pattammal sang and showed considerable music talent at an early age.

She received no formal gurukula training. As a child, Pattammal would sit through the concerts, and on returning home, would notate the kritis she heard, and key phrases of ragas. Her brothers D. K. Ranganathan, D.K Nagarajan, and D. K. Jayaraman - later her vocal accompanists, helped her in this task. She would also sing simple devotional hymns and songs that her father had taught her.Later, she received tuition from an unnamed Telugu-speaking musician, whom she would call "Telugu vadyar" or "Telegu teacher". He'd also offered to teach her Telegu and Sanskrit.

Singing career

At age 8, Pattammal won first prize for singing Thyagaraja's "Raksha Bettare" in Bhairavi, at a competition conducted by C Subramanya Pillai (popularly known as Naina Pillai). Naina Pillai, whom Patta admired deeply, used to host Thyagaraja festivals in Kancheepuram every year, and was a veteran in the art of singing Ragam Thanam Pallavi.

In 1929, at age 10, Pattamal gave her first radio performance for Madras Corporation Radio (now known as AIR), and 3 years later, she gave her first public concert at Madras Rasika Ranjani Sabha in 1932. One year later, she moved to Chennaimarker to become a regular performer in concerts and gave her first performance at the Mahila Samajam (the Egmore Ladies Club), and won acclaim. In 1939, Pattammal married R. Iswaran. She quickly rose to stardom, and her musical career spanned more than 65 years.

D. K. Pattammal's knowledge was encyclopedic; she was considered as an authority on Muthuswami Dikshitar's compositions, and is also known for her renditions of these. She learnt authentic versions of these compositions from Ambi Dikshithar, a descendant of Muthuswami Dikshithar, as well as Justice T. L. Venkatrama Iyer, an authority on Dikshithar's compositions. She popularised several Dikshithar's compositions in her concerts, and also would sing Tiruppugazhs and Tevarams that she learnt from Appadurai Achari. Pattammal also learnt many compositions of Papanasam Sivan, directly from the composer himself. She went onto popularise these compositions of Papanasam Sivan, as well as those of Subramania Bharathiyar, both in film and Carnatic music.

Pattammal started a few revolutionary trends in Carnatic music. She was the first Brahmin woman to have performed this genre of music publicly. Brahmins ranked as the highest in the caste hierarchy prevalent in India in the early 20th century, and society considered it taboo for a Brahmin woman to perform on stage.

Pattammal was also the first woman to have performed Ragam Thanam Pallavi in concerts. Ragam Thanam Pallavi, which was classed as a male stronghold, is the most difficult concert item in Carnatic music, as it calls for great skill and a high degree of concentration to handle the rhythmic complexities involved. Pattammal went further to perform very complex Pallavis in intricate tala (rhythmic cycles); impressing and earning the respect of her male peers, connoisseurs and fellow-musicians. Her singing of pallavis was technically perfect, and aesthetically pleasing. For this reason, she became dubbed “Pallavi Pattammal”. She learnt a few pallavis and compositions from Naina Pillai, and several from Vidyala Narasimhalu Naidu, the nephew of Tirupati Narayanaswami Naidu, a prominent composer of javalis. Today, many female Carnatic musicians perform Ragam Thanam Pallavi as the main item in their concerts.

Films

Pattammal was one of the earliest Carnatic musicians to sing in films, and was introduced in this medium by Papanasam Sivan. Although she received many offers to sing for films, she only accepted those which involved the singing of devotional or patriotic songs, and declined offers involving romantic songs. The first film Pattammal sang in was Thyaga Bhoomi (1939). A scene, towards the end of the film, consisted of a group of freedom fighters marching in a procession, carrying the Indian National Congress party flag, with "Desa Sevai Seyya Vareer" being sung by Pattammal in the background. The song which was tuned by Papanasam Sivan and written by "Kalki", highlighted the Freedom Movement and invited people to join. The fame that the film and the song generated led to both being banned by the British government.

Pattammal popularised several patriotic compositions of Subramania Bharathiyar. In Nam Iruvar (1947), her renditions of "Vettri Ettu Dhikkum", and "Aaduvome Pallu Paduvome", a utopian creation celebrating a free India, went onto be big hits. In Rama Rajyam (1948), Pattammal popularised Subramania Bharathi's "Thoondir Puzhvinapol", while she popularised his composition, "Theeradha Vilayattu Pillai", in Vedhala Ulagam (1948). Pattammal's singing, along with the dancing of Baby Kamala in the film, made the latter of these especially memorable. In AVM’s Vazhkai (1949), where Vyjayanthimala was introduced in film, Pattammal also sang his "Bharatha samudhaayam vaazhgave". Pattammal had the rare honour of performing at the foundation-laying ceremony of the Bharati Memorial at Ettayapuram.

Pattammal also sang in other films including Mahatma Urangaar (1947), Pizhaikkum Vazhi (1948), Lavanya (1951). The last song Pattammal sang in film was at the age of 80 for the Tamil film, Hey Ram (2000). Ilaiyaraaja and Kamal Haasan carted recording equipment to her home and had her sing "Vaishnav Janato", a favourite of Mahatma Gandhi, for the film.

Tours

Pattammal has performed in all major states, sabhas and venues throughout Indiamarker, as well as numerous destinations around the world, including the United Statesmarker, Canadamarker, Francemarker, Germanymarker, Switzerlandmarker, Sri Lankamarker and other countries.

Disciples

Pattammal's style of singing attracted many students, foremost among them her younger brother D. K. Jayaraman, who sang with her in several concerts, and who himself received the Sangeetha Kalanidhi in 1990. A few of her other popular students include her daughter-in-law Lalitha Sivakumar, Geetha Rajashekar, her granddaughter Nithyasree Mahadevan, and Bhavadhaarini Anantaraman. Pattammal has taught students from several countries.

Death

Pattammal died of natural causes in Chennai on July 16, 2009 at 1:30 pm. She is survived by her husband, R. Iswaran, her sons I. Sivakumar and I. Lakshmankumar, as well as her grandchildren Rajguru, Gayathri, Nithyasree, and Charan.

Awards and titles

D. K. Pattammal has received several awards and titles throughout her career. Most notably these include:



Notes

  1. The Hindu: Front page: Pattammal passes away
  2. Profile - Sangita Kalanidhi D.K.Pattammal
  3. The Hindu : Chords and Notes
  4. Music with feeling
  5. A lifetime for Carnatic music
  6. 'Enough if I get 100 discerning listeners'
  7. Pattammal passes away
  8. The Hindu : Opinion / Op-Ed: Elegance, not flamboyance, was her forte
  9. Matriarch of music
  10. The Hindu : Friday Review Bangalore / Tribute : The voice that touched the skies
  11. The Hindu : Friday Review Chennai / Tribute : Perfect and aesthetic
  12. The Hindu: Dignity personified
  13. A lifetime for Carnatic music
  14. A progressive film-maker
  15. The Hindu : Friday Review Chennai / Tribute : Memorable voice, evergreen songs
  16. Sleeman , p438
  17. The Hindu : Friday Review Chennai / Columns : Life time bond with music
  18. The Hindu : Pattammal touch evokes nostalgia
  19. The Hindu : Friday Review Thiruvananthapuram / Interview : Musical legacy
  20. D. K. Pattammal
  21. The Hindu : Karnataka / Bangalore News : 'A momentous occasion for the music fraternity'


References



External links




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