July 25, 2016

S Balachander: Carnatic Veena [HMV HTC 8176] recorded in 1970 and released on cassette in India in 1991

Sundaram Balachander was born January 18, 1927 in Mylapore and died on April 13, 1990.

He was both a prolific recording artist as well as having a career as a film actor.

The internet is not exactly rife with a lot of details of his musical career, given what a popular performer he was. It appears that he was self-taught on the veena and could also play sitar and tabla well enough to perform on All India Radio. I can't think of any other major Indian musician who was completely self taught and did not come out of a guru-shishya tradition.

This recording was made in 1970 and eventually released on cassette in 1991. It features compositions by Thyagaraja.

For a recording from 1970 originating from India, this has a remarkably smooth and warm tone. There is an occasional saying among hard-core audiophiles that no audiophile recording has ever been made in India. That's bit harsh, but it reveals a difference of opinion as to what good sound is, between so-called Western "audiophiles" and the musicians, engineers and listening public in India. One thing I have noticed is that Carnatic recordings are often appreciably of lower sound quality when compared to Hindustani albums. That might have something to do with where in the country the better recording studios have historically been located. Either way, this was recorded with care -- 45 years later, we are still enjoying the efforts of these musicians and engineers!

Side A:
Bantu Reethi (Raga Hamsanadham in Adi Taal)
Nannu Vidachi (Raga Reetigowla in Chapu Taal)
Melukovayya (Raga Bowli in Jampai Taal)

Side B:
Ninnuvina Sukhamu (Raga Thodi in Rupak Taal)

Mridangam: Palghat Raghu
Kanjeera: C.K. Shyamsunder
Tambura: R Krishnan

Here is a video of S Balachander performing (unknown date)

(high resolution file for computer and certain playback devices)

(standard "Redbook CD" standard file suitable for burning a CDR)

(highest possible quality compressed file for playing in portable players)


  1. Thank You Again, Richard (for transferring fine LPs for us to enjoy--and in this case, a cassette)- for 1970 tape this has good stereo sound!

    (Being a percussionist, I found this part to be most enjoyable during the last five minutes of Side B as it features a wonderful percussion duet (between the mridangam and kanjeera)! --dandor

  2. A brief note to my readers: I am slowly going back and moving expired Zippyshare links to adrive (where they will not expire).

    I will eventually get around to migrating all of them, and making small adjustments (such as combining FLAC files into one folder which had to be spilt up in the past because of Zippyshare's limit of 200MB file size limitation).

    If there is something you absolutely cannot live without and need it right away, then please let me know. I will try my best to do it soon but cannot make any guarantees.

  3. Thanks a lot for Balachander. He's my favourite vina player.

  4. This is stunning. Thank you for sharing it.

  5. truly wonderful music, thanks Richard!!