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Madurai Mani Iyer


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Madurai Mani Iyer was born into a family of musicians, deeply interested in classical music. His paternal uncle, Madurai Pushpavanam Iyer, was one of the three celebrated vocalists during the first quarter of this century.

Madurai Mani Iyer’s first teacher was Rajam Iyer, noted for his singing of swarams. But, it was his second Guru, the renowned Mutthiah Bhagavatar, who shaped Mani Iyer into a full-fledged musician. Young Mani was a prodigy and commenced giving concerts when he was 12.

He soon became a vocalist par excellence, and never looked back for four decades. He built up a vast repertoire of compositions of various kinds but his forte was swaram singing. This feature in Carnatic music is the inherent tonal relationships of a ragam delineated through solfa passages. Mani Iyer evolved an unusual pattern of weaving the notes of a ragam into a fabric of melodic and rhythmic consonance. His uncanny sense of the sruti or subtle microtone enabled him to produce extraordinary musical effects. He was noted for flights of imagination and originality in structured note patterns across the body of a ragam.

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