Thanjavur Narayanaswami Appa

Thanjavur Narayanaswami Appa

He belonged to the family of Appas, one of the ancient Maratha Kshatriya families to settle in Tanjore ,He ,The App family held high and responsible positions during the Maratha rule of Tanjore Narayanaswami Appa was born in Tanjore he was a very great mridangam player who learned from a great performer called Vidwan Sivaswami Appa.

He soon learned that he had a special aptitude for the mridangam and the started working very hard at perfecting and mastering the instrument, he soon gained mastery in the instrument and rose to fame as a professional mridangam player. He lived at the Maruthi Swami Mutt in Mannargudi where he continued his practices. , It was said that Maruthi Swami appeared in his dreams and asked him to conducts Bhajanas, he carried out this divine request faithfully , it was said performance were scholarly and though provoking, he was a very good singer and was known to have played mridangam for his own singing in kalekshapams. He was a great Devotee of Lord Rama, Narayanaswami App used two tambura’s for his singing, one tambura tuned to Three shad jams and a panchamam and the other a smaller tambura was tuned to three panchamas and a shadjam, At the Bhajanas everyone felt elevated buy the “suswara gana” of Narayanaswami Appa, the spiritual rapture that the listeners felt was a rare experience.

He was the ashtana Vidwan of the Sethubhava Swami Mutt; he accompanied the great kirthanachariar from Gwalior Morgaumkar Ramachander Bava and his son Vishnu Bava Narayanaswami Appa’s accompaniment further considerably developed his art. He had such a great sense of shruti gnanam that when he tuned his mridangam it was said that the Tambura and Violin used to tune to his mridangam. He had various mridangams tuned to the different pitches and ready at all times. It was known that he never tuned a mridangam on stage with the stick and stone (Kalli Pulli) When he ordered mridangams he would first play on it for some time and only if satisfied he would buy it if not he would send it back to the maker for repair or recondition.

He played on the mridangam superbly and with delicate touch, he was careful about his fingers and avoided touching hard materials. When he played fast patterns, they were always very clear. He was loyal as an accompanist and would support the main artiste by enriching his music, his playing would make audiences hear the greatness of the main artiste. He was free from unnecessary mannerisms on stage and no body and head gestures were noticeable when he played, and only the movement of his fingers were seen. He sitting posture and playing was graceful, He was able to accompany in three kalas with great accuracy and ease and even during pharans his notes were clear. He accompanied amongst many greats of his times; Maha Vaidyanatha Ayyar, Patnam Subramaniam Ayyar, SarabaSatrigal, Veen Sechanna, Todi Sundara Roa, Jalataranagm Venkoba Roa, Saranda Naicker, Tanjore Krishna Bagawathar. He had a great personality and was respected by all, He had good habits and led a pure life .He drank water from the Sivagangai thirtham in Tanjore.

His older contemporary was Sri Dholak Nanu Mia.

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