South Indian Carnatic vocals
Carnatic music is a traditional art form for Southern India that dates back to ancient times. Carnatic compositions revolve around Hindu gods and goddesses and therefore aspects of devotion and spirituality are central to this traditional art form. Originally, Carnatic music was performed in temples and royal courts, but has been adapted for public performance during the last two centuries. Structurally, this form of music is based on rhythm, known as thalam, and the melodic line, known as ragam. Carnatic music combines the elements of devotional rendering and melodic improvisation. Thus, a Carnatic musician must have technical expertise for the improvisational aspects, as well as the ability to convey the emotions inherent in the pieces of music.
Hailing from Kerala, India, Padma Kutty began learning Carnatic music over fifty years ago as a young child under Sri Neyyattinkara Vasudevan and subsequently with Kadakyavur Ranganatha Bhagavathar and the RLV Academy of Music. Recognized in the United States and in India for her artistry, Padma is also sought after as a teacher offering comprehensive vocal training to a legion of students in Orange County. Padma says, “Carnatic music means everything to me. It provides me with sustenance and I can not survive without it… This divine music has not only helped me incorporate devotion, self-respect, and discipline in my life… In addition, it has also given me a valuable medium through which I can pass on aspects of the rich Indian cultural tradition to [children] in the community.”
As a master artist in ACTA’s Apprenticeship Program in 2014, Padma worked with apprentice Hasini K. Sundaresan to develop her skills in Carnatic classical vocal traditions, preparing her to perform at a concert level.
Padma was a master artist in ACTA’s Apprenticeship Program in 2011, with apprentice Divya Asuri. The apprenticeship focused on Divya’s improvisational skills, increasing her ability to evoke bhaavaa (emotion) and bhakthi (devotion), ultimately preparing her to perform in a concert setting.
As a master artist in ACTA’s Apprenticeship Program in 2009, Padma worked with apprentice Anirudh Venkatesh, focusing on increasing Anirudh’s song repertoire and developing his improvisational skills and devotional feeling, or bhakti.
The following video features Padma Kutty performing for and with her students in 2014:
The following video features Hasini K Sundaresan in concert after the culmination of her apprenticeship with Padma Kutty in 2014:
Master South Indian Carnatic vocalist Padma Kutty. Photo: ACTA