Palghat Mani Iyer
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|Palghat T.S. Mani Iyer|
Palakkad, Kerala, India
|Died||1981 (aged 68–69)|
Palghat T. S. Mani Iyer (1912–1981) was one of the leading mridangists in the field of Carnatic music. He was awarded the Madras Music Academy's Sangeetha Kalanidhi in 1966. Mani Iyer was the first mridangist to win the Sangeetha Kalanidhi and Padmabhushan awards of the Government of India. He received the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1956. He, along with his contemporaries Palani Subramaniam Pillai and Ramanathapuram C. S. Murugabhoopathy, are revered as the "Holy Trinity of Mridangam".
Early life and background
He was born and raised in the old Kalpathy village of Palakkad, Kerala. Mani Iyer came into prominence after accompanying Chembai Vaidanatha Bagavathar in a music concert at Madras (now called Chennai). He also took his arangetram at age of 8.
Mani Iyer accompanied all the leading vocal artists of his era. He was also the guru for later mridangam players such as Late Palghat R. Raghu, Late Mavelikkara Velukkutty Nair, Umayalpuram K. Sivaraman, Kamalakar Rao, Late G. Harishankar (Kanchira),etc.
Before Mani Iyer’s arrival in the music scene, the three mridangists Nagercoil S.Ganesa Iyer, Alaganambi Pillai and Dakshinamurthy Pillai (who played the kanjira also), dominated the percussion scene. The way in which Mani Iyer played changed the style of mridangam playing from just keeping beat for the main artist's music to being an instrument in its own right. A comment from Y. G. Doraisamy: "It was Mani Iyer who started the now prevalent trend of the mridangam, not just keeping the time with tekkas and moras, but actively accompanying the musical phrasing, so as to be a rhythmic running commentary, reproducing on the drum all the subtleties and rhythmic complexities of the musical composition."
Palghat R. Raghu, a disciple of Mani Iyer, describes his guru as a genius in that he showed music followers the manner of blending with the music of the main artist in handling the kritis of every conceivable mood and tempo. By his consistent excellence he could raise the concert to thrilling heights.