Flautist N. Ramani, who imbibed the best elements of playing the flute from late T.R. Mahalingam and developed his inimitable style, died here on Friday. The cause of death was cancer.
He was 82 and is survived by his wife, two sons, including flautist R. Thiyagaran, and two daughters. His grandson Atul Kumar is also a flautist.
Born in Tiruvarur in 1934, the birthplace of Carnatic Trinity — Thyagaraja, Muthusamy Dikshitar and Shyama Shastry — Ramani had his early lessons from his maternal grandfather Azhiyur Narayanasami Iyer.
Ramani’s mother Saradambal was also well-versed in music and it was she who wanted to mould him like T.R. Mahalingam alias Mali, who was a relative. Ramani was also the winner of the Sangita Kalanidhi award of the Music Academy.
“His first concert was held at the Sikkil Singaravelar temple. While playing in Nagapattinam, Mali listened to him and invited him to Chennai to continue his lessons. He moved to Chennai in 1950,” said his son N. Mohan.
Ramani was an experimenter. The concept — Venu, Veena and Violin — in the company of Trivandram Venkatraman on veena and Lalgudi G. Jayaraman on the violin was a hit. He also played together with his childhood friend and clarinet maestro A.K.C. Natarajan and even with K.V. Nararayanasamy in his vocal concert.
“The suggestion came from me. I had to substantially reduce the sound of my instrument to ensure the sound of flute was not overshadowed. Whether it is rendering the ragas, keerthana and understanding of layam, few can match Ramani. It is a great loss to the music world and I have lost a personal friend” said Mr. Natarajan, who knew Ramani since his Tiruvarur days.
Mr. Natarajan said there used to be a lot of concerts in the composite Thanjavur district in the 1950s and 1960s and he and young musicians like N.Ramani got an opportunity to play and learn. “He embellished his blowing techniques through hours of practice. We exchanged ideas and when we had doubts we clarified them with great maestros,” said Mr Natarajan.
Historian V. Sriram said Ramani had few equals when it came to tonal purity and blowing quality. “One should listen to him playing with K.V. Narayanasamy to experience his great music,” said Mr Sriram.
Ramani also performed jugalbandhis with Hariprasad Chaurasia, M.S. Gopalakrishnan, N. Rajam, Pandit Viswamohan Bhat and even with later mandolin U. Srinivas.