Stories From My Home – 8: Amma’s Tambura

We don’t always have to travel to seek stories; they are right there in our homes too. In “Stories From My Home“, I examine the many objects surrounding me at home and attempt to document and share the memories associated with them, one story at a time.

Amma was a trained Karnatik Classical vocalist and the tambura (or tanpura) was an integral part of her musical journey. The tambura that features in this story was her second — the first one broke when her younger siblings got a little too rough with it.

My maternal grandmother told me that Amma was heartbroken, and had cried for days. It was only when she got the news that a new tambura was on its way for her, all the way from Tiruchirapalli, that she cheered up. This was in 1952 and since then that tambura was her musical companion.

In 1980, Amma developed a problem with her vocal chords rendering her unable to sing, to perform, to speak even. Eventually, Amma regained her ability to speak, but could never sing like she used to again. Her music went silent and so did her tambura.

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My “now” song: Kangna in Raga Malkauns

Do you ever have a song, an idea, a storyline, or an image stuck in your head? And it just refuses to go away? For some time at least? I have this with music—it could be a song, an instrumental piece, a jingle, etc. This becomes my ‘now’ song, and the “nowness”  (pardon my English here) could be for any length of time.

My now song is “Kangna” by Fareed Ayaz and Abu Mohammad. Do watch the video and listen to the song before you read the rest of the post.

One of my colleagues, AS, is an amateur musician. Thanks to him, I get to listen to a wide range of music and though not all the genres are unfamiliar, some of the artistes definitely are, like this one.

Fareed Ayaz and Abu Muhammad are brothers and qawwali singers from Pakistan and this short 16-minute piece in Raga Malkauns is mind-blowing, particularly the first 4 minutes. I have always found Raga Malkauns to be sombre and serious, but this rendering was so different—mischievous and light-hearted. I also like the way some Farsi lines have been woven with the traditional brajbhasha lyrics. And I am amazed how Fareed Ayaz is able to sing with a mouth full of paan !

I like this song so much that I am listening to this song even as I type out this post.  Thanks, AS, for recommending this song 🙂