Unsung songs

Print edition : September 05, 2014

Gana singers B. Pasupathy, R. Vicky, A. Ismail and A. Kaadhar at Doomming Kuppam beach. Young boys who want to become professional Gana singers begin their learning process at the age of 14 or 15. Photo: M. Karunakaran

A song-and-dance sequence from the film "Aadukalam". Although Gana is basically an oral tradition, it has taken in ideas from written lyrics of film music, making this a wonderful blend of both.

'Gaana' Ulaganathan on the Marina beach. Gana music began travelling beyond the boundaries of death ritual from the late 1980s. Tamil films became most captivated by this form. Photo: R. Shivaji Rao

Gana singers Mylai S. Venugopal, an exponent of Kunankudi Mastan Sahib's songs and Islamic devotional songs, and S. Dharman, whose songs revolve around subaltern lifestyles. Photo: K. Pichumani

Marana Gana Viji is a funeral singer of repute. Photo: By Special Arrangement

Female members of the fishermen community singing Oppari (lament) at Nochikuppam. Gana seems to have been influenced by Tamil music traditions relating to death rituals, such as Oppari, Maradi Pattu and Aravana Maradi Pattu. Photo: THE HINDU archives

The music director Deva. He popularised Gana in Tamil cinema, making his name synonymous with the form.

The Zinx team which performed "Renaizzance-The Musical Evolution of Carfusion" in Chennai in October 2008. Music director A.R. Rahman allowed this band, formed by students of Padma Seshadri Bala Bhavan school, to use his studio to cut an album after it topped the table of bands at a band hunt show on television. Carfusion stands for Carnatic fusion. One of the three founding members of the band, keyboardist Anirudh (left), is already an established music director. Photo: S.R. RAGHUNATHAN

At a performance by the fusion music band Oxygen. Chennai is flooded with musicians who are trained in Carnatic music, Western music or musicians from the film world coming together to create new music, which they believe is accessible to all. Photo: S.S. Kumar

Students dancing along with a musician of the French rock band Matmatah during the annual cultural festival of IIT Madras. College culturals have been a major platform for bands. Photo: THE HINDU archives

The Carnatic vocalist Bombay Jayashri performing at the Kapalisvara temple in Mylapore on March 18. In Chennai, there exist two dominant musical forms: The largely popular film music with its ever-changing sound and the much-celebrated classical form, Carnatic music. Photo: R. Ragu

While the earthy Gana has emerged as a separate genre of performing art in Chennai, several other dynamic sounds have permeated and enriched its musical landscape.
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