A Golden Voice - S. Rajam on N.C.
Vasanthakokilam, as told to S. Janaki, Struti, August 2007
was not very healthy, but her voice belied her weak physique. Although she was
thin and frail, her voice combined melody with tensile strength. I have heard
her sing without a mike.
NC was perfect in whatever
she sang � intonation, sruti suddham, emotion and clarity of words. The purity
of notes in her rendering and her adherence to sruti were remarkable. Her voice
could traverse the middle and higher octaves with effortless ease. Her voice
rang with vibrancy, a reenkaara, as she crossed the tara shadja and dwelt on the
It is my impression that M.S. Subbulakshmi
took NC�s music as a model. In the Simhendramadhyama kriti Unnai allaal verey
gati NC sang a number of sanchara-s above the panchama and in the tara sthayi.
Listeners were astounded by her rendition of this Kotiswara Iyer composition.
She would often take up niraval on the phrase �Kai mel palan arul deivamey�. The
song was a great hit. Thanks to NC, this song gained in popularity and other
musicians also started including it in their recitals. NC carried the music
lovers along with her on the strength of her simple music and fine voice.
Like MS, she too was guided by a Sadasivan. In this case Sachi, as he was better
known, supported and assisted her but he was not a patch on the famous
Sadasivam. I knew C.K. Sachi because he directed �Radha Kalyanam� the second
film in which I acted, for which the music was by Harikesanallur Muthiah
Bhagavatar. Sachi took NC under his wing but she did not live long and succumbed
We must be thankful that she has
left behind many recordings through which her music lives on.
Remarkable musical and emotional consciousness
- Sulochana Pattabhiraman in Struti, August 2007
Sangeeta vidushi N.C. Vasanthakokilam truly had the
voice of a �kokilam� combined with the magical quality of spring. She was a
worthy member of a female musical triad � M.S. Subbulakshmi, D.K. Pattammal and
Although nothing much has come to light about her
novitiate and the gurus who had moulded her inherent talent to performing
levels, it cannot be gainsaid that she established a very special equation with
Her repository was overflowing with compositions of
Tyagaraja, Muthuswami Dikshitar, Papanasam Sivan, Gopalakrishna Bharati,
Subramania Bharati and other greats. Her raga alapana-s were marked with
substance and style and studded with euphonious prayoga-s that immediately
targeted one�s heart. Her kriti renderings had remarkable musical and emotional
consciousness that lifted the ambience to an elevated plane.
D.K. Pattammal had the reputation of being a laya virtuoso and a past master in
the rendering of intricate nadai pallavis. Once this writer heard
Vasanthakokilam at a chamber concert rendering the inimitable Bhairavi varnam of
Adiyappaiyer, set to Ata tala. The ease and fluency with which she negotiated
the composition in various nadais left an everlasting imprint in the minds of
the handful of rasika-s assembled. Among the rasikas was the inimitable Alathur
Venkatesa Iyer. Even he, the uncompromising great, gave a nod of approval after
the rendering of the Viriboni varnam.
occasion, when she presented a concert at the Srinivasa Gandhi Nilayam, her
delineation of Kambhoji in the three octaves held the audience captive.
Sarasadala nayana in Khamas, Mayetvamyahi in Tarangini, Sundari nannindarilo in
Begada and the piece de resistance Tanthai taai irundal in Shanmukhapriya, were
some of the sparkling gems in her vast repertoire. It is a pity that she crossed
the great divide before her song could be adequately sung.