Wednesday, November 16

A Frenchman who can sing Carnatic music. Now I've heard everything. (UPDATED)

(Update at end of page.) Before I turn to the Frenchman, this post does double duty as a get-well greeting to Charles Cameron, who underwent heart surgery recently after a heart attack.  So I'll start with a quote from the "Therapeutic Effects" section in Wikipedia's article on Carnatic music:
Post-operative patients can ease their pain and reduce their dependence on pain-killers by listening to one of the famous Ragas of Carnatic music, Anandha Bhairavi.[55]

The source note links to a 2012 article in The Times of India, which mentions that the raga is not the only one with therapeutic benefits. But with Charles in mind I embarked on a quest at YouTube to locate a version of  Anandha Bhairavi to add to this post -- a task easier said than done, as there are many versions recorded by many singers posted at YouTube. 

I was also hampered because I wasn't familiar enough with classical Carnatic music to determine which singers and renditions of that particular raga were superior or at least acceptable.

After more trips to Wikipedia and YouTube, and to cut a story, here is the Anandabhairavi (often written as one word) by Dr. M. Balamuralikrishna, one of the greatest Carnatic singers in modern times. 

He was another of those child music prodigies I've been stumbling across in my far-flung explorations of music during the past year. Now 86, he started singing at the age of six, was recognized as a talent and put under the tutelage of a great Carnatic master. He gave his first full concert at the age of eight and by 15 years of age, "... had mastered all the 72 melakartha ragas and had composed krithis in the same." 

(I haven't gotten to Wikipedia's article on krithis yet).

Now what is Carnatic music? From the Wikipedia article:
Carnatic, Karnāṭaka saṃgīta or Karnāṭaka saṅgītam is a system of music commonly associated with southern India including the modern states Andhra PradeshTelangana, Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu, but also practiced in Sri Lanka. ... It is one of two main subgenres of Indian classical music that evolved from ancient Hindu traditions, the other subgenre being Hindustani music, which emerged as a distinct form because of Persian and Islamic influences in northern India. The main emphasis in Carnatic music is on vocal music; most compositions are written to be sung, and even when played on instruments, they are meant to be performed in gāyaki (singing) style. ...
Frankly I  didn't know that any Westerner was able to sing Carnatic bhajans -- or any kind of traditional bhajan, for that matter, without causing the Hindu gods to don ear muffs. Yet a Frenchman has been singing these bhajans since he was 15 years old, according to his Facebook page. 

For French speakers, there is a brief interview with him, in French, posted at YouTube (see below). So maybe he explains a little more about his background during the interview.

His name is -- well, at his Facebook page it's Lauret Yannick but other places, including the interview video, he's listed as Yannick Lauret and it seems he's addessed as Yannick. The Google translation of his Facebook note, in French:
Singer of devotional Indian music bhajan since the age of 15 teaches lessons in Saint Louis Saint pierre and Piton Saint Leu
A two-and-a-half month internship at Kalashetra School Music in Chennai, Besant Nagar in Music Carnatic Vocal and Violin.
Only two-and-half months of formal training? It's very hard to believe.

How good is his singing, really? Surely he still considers himself a student even though he teaches. Singing these bhajans is very technical; it's a craft that can take many years to master, and I can't speak to that part. 

But I am impressed in that the song sings him, rather than the other way around. There is no straining for effect; the words, the language are enough and I believe that's the way it should be.

I'd be interested in hearing from Hindu readers, especially those with an interest in Carnatic music, about what they think of his singing. 

"Diodi Yard" - 4:38 minutes
Accompaniment: Association Ragamalika

Interview followed by bhajan with traditional invocation
Accompaniment: Association Ragamalika


I'm adding links to two sets from the same peformance in which "Diodi Yard" was sung:

Maleï mélé



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