Close this search box.

Margazhi Report: Heartbeats – Ghatam Karthick & Co.

Chennai December season offers a colourful variety for different taste buds. On 12th December, the Carnatic ensemble of Ghatam Karthick viz., “Heartbeats” performed in the Naradha Gana Sabha main hall.

Karthick and his core team of players Embar Kannan (violin), Poongulam Subramaniam (Mridangam) and Satya (Keyboard) are always a delight to watch on stage. They take the audience through a journey of aural bliss regardless of their musical conginition. The mainly percussive venture was further strengthened by Venkatraman on Kanjeera and Raman on Morsing.

Technical for informed, yet simple enough for the ignoramous in presentation, the concert was well packaged with traditional and contemporary arrangements.

The sparsely crowded concert started of with a Mallari in Gambheera Nattai, a regular feature in temple processions set to a complex tala structure of Sankeerna Jampai (12 beats). Seemingly simple number to deal with, the finger counts, tap and turn actions make this thalam a considerable feat to conquer.

Silky tones from Kannan’sSilent violin” and stellar handling of the eletronic keyboard with utmot dextrity of flying fingers of Sathya, well punctuated patterns by the rhythm quartret of Karthik, Subramaniam, Venkatraman and Raman of this medium tempo piece made it easy to visualize a royal procession of grandeur.

Pulse”, the next item in the raga Rathipathipriya is already in their audio CD. But everytime one hears it, new dimensions are revealed, especially in the hands of Kannan. A raga which was immortalized by M.M. Dhandapani Desikar by his own composition “Jagath Janani” has been a rediscovered jewel after almost two or three decades and seems to have become a favorite of new age Carnatic performers. Meditative in his playing, his playing was equally superb in long sustained notes as well as short notes of speed and splendour.

A short lyrical interlude, composed and rendered by Karthik, vocally had predictable tuning of the phrases. Being an excellent rhythm arranger, Karthik should confine himself to the areas where he can excel. Singing is obviously not his forte. Sathya’s playing was hardly heard, probably due to poor audio arrangement on the stage.

I was not sure if it was feedback system for the performers or loose contact of the electronic systems, (The few concerts I have been to in NGS, have had innumerable audio malfunctioning), the audio quality suffered for rest of the program regrettably. Though the mixed output was heard in the hall, with some imbalance between the instruments, the performers looked utterly dismayed with this discomfort.

Pulse” was rather weak perhaps due to these starting problems.

The main item, a regular feature in major concerts, ragam-thanam-pallavi in the ragam Vakulabharanam, set to Misra Triputa, was a rarity as an elaborate center piece of the whole performance. The 11 beat thalam executed as two sub-beats for each beat made the pallavi more challenging to be executed. The words, “Sadhashiva priya kari, shankari, shambhavi, bhairavi, pahimaam, parameshwari” with the count-ending phrase of Bhairavi and the lyrical beginning of 3/4th place after the thala beginning made is sufficiently complex to both melodic duo (Kannan and Sathya) and the percussive quadret.

Equally split between Satya and Kannan, the ragam delineation of Vakulabharanam was with predictable transitions. A scale before Mayamalava Gowlai (MMG), (known to all beginners) has Ni-2 instead of Ni-3, one can not help but feel the ragam was sounding more like MMG in phrases in most places.

The garland of ragams which is a regular feature in most RTP renditions, had a good, short, crisp playing of Reethigowlai (K), Amruthavarshini (S), Thodi(K), Vaasanthi(S) alternatively played by Kannan(K) and Sathya (S) in thaanam, with Sathya concluding in the reverse order all the ragams culminating in Vakulabharanam again.

The same was reversed in Kalpana Swaras (imaginative solfa syllable pattern exchanges) by the duo again, this time Kannan taking it from Vasanthi to Vakulabharanam, a whirlwind trip of ecstacy and asethetics. The “thani” follwed by the percussive department was executed fairly well with usual reductional patterns.

The concert came to a nice conclusion, with a medley of compositions of Beethovan, Mozart and Dikshitar, Subramania Bharathi with most audio woes either resolved or accepted by then.

Carnatic bands, if I may call them so, are sprouting everywhere these days. To have a standing with a mix of both traditional as well as new age musical ideas and stay as a committed group, is really applaudable. This gang of three Karthik, Kannan and Subramaniam, have been doing it for over 10 years now. Watch out for more of their performance during this season and many more years to come!


Stay with Score for an indepth concert review of the Carnatic Brothers – K N Shashikiran & Ganesh – and K.J. Yesudas, tomorrow!

Related Posts
Share this


Sign up to our

Get every issue straight to your inbox for Free

Subscribe now