|Born||15 October 1934|
|Origin||Tiruvarur, Tamil Nadu, India|
Early life and background
N. Ramani was born in Tiruvarur in Tamil Nadu. Aside from the influence of his place of birth, Ramani was born into a musical family. Ramani's grandfather, Sri Aazhiyur Narayanaswami Iyer, was his first guru and was a well known flute artist and singer himself. Aware of young Ramani's keen interest in the Carnatic flute, Ramani's initiation to Carnatic music began at the age of five.
He is a disciple of the legendary T. R. Mahalingam, known more commonly as "Mali," who first popularised the Carnatic flute in Indian music. The birthplace of Ramani is symbolic in that Carnatic musicians consider Tiruvarur the sacred sanctuary of Carnatic music, being the birthplace of the "trinity" of Carnatic composers, Saint Tyagaraja, Muthuswami Dikshitar and Syama Shastri who laid the foundation for the tradition.
Origin of the Carnatic flute
Until the late 19th century, the Carnatic flute (better known in Tamil as the pullanguzhal), a 8-hole bamboo flute, the South Indian equivalent of the North Indian 6-hole bansuri flute, had never been used in Carnatic concerts. Sharaba Shastri has been characterized by his followers as a musical genius after experimenting and creating the Carnatic flute. He is also known for bringing the Carnatic flute to the fore of Carnatic music concerts as an influential instrument.
The Sharaba Shastri style or bani of playing was established and was carried on by his disciple Sanjeeva Rao. However it was the self-taught "Mali" who brought a revolution in popularising the Carnatic flute and whose legacy was carried on by Ramani and other national and international disciples of Mali. Dr. N. Ramani Interview about Mali
Although Palladam Sanjeeva Rao was Sharaba Shastri's successor, it was "Mali" and N. Ramani as well as K.S Narayanan (the first disciple of Mali), who brought international attention to the Carnatic flute both in their own distinct flute playing techniques, with the latter two improving on the former's methods.
He did so by studying the long bass flutes of the North Indian bansuri genius, Pannalal Ghosh which the later had incorporated successfully in Hindustani concerts. To further enhance tala dynamics, he followed the "GNB" style which was developed by the legendary G. N. Balasubramaniam. An interview with the Hindu
The "Mali" bani encompassed facial expressions such as slight tilting of the head, varied movement of the lips which produced the vocal effect in the Carnatic never explored before by Sharaba Shastri or Palladam Sanjeeva Rao.
Bringing out more of the tradition Mali introduced in the playing of the Carnatic flute, Ramani's distinctive style is the transformation of the Carnatic flute into the voice of a proficient Carnatic vocalist. Stressing such importance on the emphasis of vocal style of playing, he displayed characteristics of the human voice in his concerts often observed in his fast paced yet melodious performances. According to Ramani, "Mali's teaching methods were worth emulating. A good teacher should be open to learning from his students too. Mali learnt Aahiri raga from me, which I had learnt from T. Vishwanathan, Balasaraswathi's brother".
In 1996, he gained the most prestigious title/award in Carnatic music, Sangeetha Kalanidhi.
Honours and accolades
N. Ramani's performances in All India Radio (AIR) have received numerous praises from renonwned Hindustani and Carnatic musicians alike and his performances overseas had been recognised with numerous awards.
Some of the highlights include the Sangeetha Kalanidhi, awarded by the Music Academy in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India, the Sangeetha Acharya award from Wasser College, U.S., the honorary citizenship status in Maryland, Ohio, U.S., and the Padma Shri Award from the President of India. He holds an honorary Cultural Doctorate from The World University of Arizona.
Dr. N. Ramani
- A Student's Description.
- Meeting of the Legends
- IndiaMusicInfo - Official Biography
- Chowdiah & Parvathi Blogspot.com