The finer qualities of classicism in the art of mrdangam playing reached their height in the hands of my Guru Palani Pillai. He brought glory to the Pudhukkottai bani (school) by imbibing the qualities of his predecessors, the great Dakshinamoorthy Pillai and his illustrious guru Sri Manmoondiah Pillai.
As mentioned elsewhere, Manmoondiah Pillai established the Pudhukkottai school, under which both Palani's father Muthiah Pillai and Dakshinamoorthy Pillai had their training. Manmoondiah Pillai has been accredited with elevating the status of Kanjira from its folk roots to a classical concert instrument. He was also acknowledged by many leading mrdangam players of his time as an adept in laya, and was instrumental in introducing intricate korvais, and also appending korvai at the end of the tani avartanam following the long mora.
As the naturally talented son of the tavil maestro Muthiah Pillai, and later following the footsteps of the great kanjira and mrdangam vidwan Dakshinamoorthy Pillai, Palani Subramania Pillai soon established himself as the true descendent of the Pudhukkottai bani. At the same time, he was creative, and he specialized in gumukhi playing and the art of accompaniment which later came to be known as Palani style.
Tradition has much to offer, yet it was individual artistry and creativity that brought these artists to the limelight and secured them an exalted position in their respective fields.