Shyama Shastry – the taala expert

Shyama Shastri, one of the re-knowned musical trinity, is known to have been an expert innovator in compositions and Taalas. He is known to have contested against many music experts and defeated them.

Couple of such incidents are retold here..

Once Shyama Shastri contested against Appukutti Nattuvanar in Nagapattinam. Now in those days, musicians were so confident that the challenges involves serious bets such as foregoing one’s life long accomplishments. Appukutti Nattuvanar was defeated by Shyama Shastri and gave up his Tanpura and Taala forever.

In another similar incident, Kesava Iyer a great musician, came to Tanjore and challenged the Tanjore musicians. The contest involved displaying expertise in complex Taalas. Legend says that Shyama shastri prepared himself for this challenge by praying to the Goddess. The great devotee that he was of the Goddess, he prayed to her with his famous composition “Devi brova samaya mide”, which means “Goddess, this the time for you to protect me”. He created the complex “Taala” Sharabha Nandini of 19 ¾ “Kriyas” and defeated Kesava Iyer.