Her music was known as much for its technical brilliance, as for its emotional appeal. One of the celebrated icons of Indian classical music, D.K. Pattammal, passed away at her residence here on Thursday following a brief illness. She was 90.Hailed as one of the “women trinity” – M.S. Subbulakshmi and M.L. Vasanthakumari were the other two — of Carnatic music, Smt. Pattammal carved a niche for herself, which was marked by an uncompromising adherence to tradition, deep engagement with technical nuances and emphasis on bhava and rakthi.
She was known for her rich repertoire, and particularly for her rendition of compositions of Muthuswami Dikshitar. She learnt some of them from Ambi Dikshitar, a descendant of Baluswami Dikshitar, brother of Muthuswami Dikshitar, and later, from T.L. Venkatarama Iyer, an authority on Dikshitar kritis. Her renditions, considered one of the most authentic versions, serve as a valuable guide to other musicians.
In the unique timbre of her voice and unmistakably clear diction, compositions of Subramanya Bharati and Papanasam Sivan reached the masses. She had the honour of performing at the foundation-laying ceremony of the Bharati Memorial at Ettayapuram.
I wrote, long ago, a tribute to the Mahanubhavyai.
Once long ago, when asked how she had evolved an original style of her own, DKP replied, “What is bani [style], Amma? Nothing but the constant attempt to overcome flaws. Then, suddenly, you find the string is in tune. You hear it resounding, rich and true. In music, and in life.”