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Monday, July 18, 2022

music for Emperuman ! ~ the century-old musical instrument

It is July (Tamil month of Aani) and it rained sporadically !  - amidst rain and melee, the 10 day Aani brahmothsavam of Sri Azhagiya Singar was conducted in a grandiose manner – this year at Thiruvallikkeni there were 4 brahmothsavams !


During every brahmothsavam, there is purappadu in the morning and in the evening.  In the evening there occurs ‘Pathi ula’ – and oyyali to vahana mantapam – then- s hundreds of people wait before Vahana mantap  for the darshan of Emperuman on vahanams -  as expectations would build-up, there would be melodious Clarinet music with the accompaniment of band.  Sri Ganapathi is a veteran, known to all of us coming to Temple regularly.  Besides himself rendering service by playing the instrument before the Lord, he has ensured that the tradition prospers with his son too a great player – more still, his grandsons too come regularly.  It is divine to hear Ganapathi, Sri Vignesh, Sriram performing .. ..


Not many of us would have observed this century !  .. ..    When radio waves were still a new phenomenon in technology, a young scientist was experimenting with it in his laboratory at the Physical Technical Institute in Saint Petersburg — then called Petrograd — when he noted that the apparatus made strange sounds if he moved his hands around it. Lev Sergeyevich Termen — who later became famous by the name Léon Theremin — was also a classical musician, trained in the cello, and the strange observations piqued his interest. He “played” with the sounds for a while and concluded that he had created a new musical equipment, one that was played without touching. It was the world’s first electronic instrument, called the Theremin. The Theremin turned 100-years-old couple of years back !! 

Automobile buffs and Insurers would know about Vintage Cars .. and classic Cars.  According India Motor Tariff, any car manufactured 31-12-1940, but before 31-12-1970, is considered as a Classic Car by the Vintage and Classic Car Club of India.  While any car manufactured prior to 31-12-1940 is Vintage car which attracts special rating !  

Getting back to Thiruvallikkeni, if you have observed it right – with the thundering band, there is Clarinet and .. .. saxophone too .. .. Many people just love the woody, rich sounds of the woodwind family, but when it comes to picking an instrument,   people debate if the saxophone or clarinet is better.   

Cyrano de Bergerac is a Parisian poet and swashbuckler with a large nose of which he is self-conscious, but pretends to be proud. He is madly in love with his cousin, the beautiful Roxane; however, he does not believe she will requite his love because he considers himself physically unattractive, because of his overly large nose. .. … .. plot of  Cyrano de Bergerac  a 1990 French comedy-drama film directed by Jean-Paul Rappeneau and based on the 1897 play of the same name by Edmond Rostand, adapted by Jean-Claude Carrière and Rappeneau. 

Called a mangalavadya, the nadaswaram is played in the southern states to mark auspicious occasions such as weddings and temple festivals. Thanks to Kadri and some of his illustrious predecessors, the saxophone became  part of the mangalavadya ensemble in these parts. Over the last few decades, it has made inroads into southern classical culture. The saxophone is now heard solo or alongside the nadasawaram in temples and at weddings. Kadri Gopalnath’s most popular non-film album, Raag Rang, belongs in the genre of what is loosely called fusion music. He collaborated with flautist Pravin Godkhindi and became  a wild hit.   

The saxophone (referred to colloquially as the sax) is a family of woodwind instruments usually made of brass and played with a single-reed mouthpiece. Antoine-Joseph "Adolphe" Sax (1814 – 1894) was a Belgian inventor and musician who created the saxophone in the early 1840s, patenting it in 1846. He also invented the saxotromba, saxhorn and saxtuba. He played the flute and clarinet.


Its cousin Clarinet, is much older !!  Klarinette is a  single-reed woodwind instrument used orchestrally and in military and brass bands and possessing a distinguished solo repertory. It is usually made of African blackwood and has a cylindrical bore of about 0.6 inch (1.5 cm) terminating in a flared bell.  The has  finger holes and key mechanism, sound a step lower than written. The cylindrical pipe, coupled to a reed mouthpiece, acts acoustically as a stopped pipe. The invention of the clarinet in the early 18th century is ascribed to Johann Christoph Denner, a renowned woodwind maker in Nürnberg.  The clarinet has a cylindrical bore. The clarinet is made out of either grenadilla wood, plastic, or metal.   

Some of the above details may be odd and irrelevant – to us, it produces melodious music and that too for Emperuman at Thirukkovil.  The tailpiece as heard from Vidwan Sri Ganapathi is – the one in his hands has been handed down through generations and is more than 100 years old !


Celebrating music and appreciating the commitment of those performing at Thirukkovil.  

If you had observed it right – in this photo  Sri Ganapathi plays the Clarinet, while B Srivignesh studying X std and B Sriram 7th Std play the Saxophone !! (both of them involved in kainkaryam from their 5th standard!)


adiyen Srinivasa dhasan
Mamandur Veeravalli Srinivasan Sampathkumar
PS: photos of different purappadus at Thiruvallikkeni divyadesam.



  1. Thats awesome and wonderful writeup to match their involvement and contribution

  2. Yes, because my grandfather (Mr.Nagarajan) is master to both 😊...