The great Sanskrit Poet Bharavi -while talking about the greatest things in the Universe said,
Among Flowers, it is Jasmine
Among Men, it is Vishnu (Purusha has deep meanings and we are not getting into that now)
Among Women it is Rambha
Among Cities, it is Kanchipuram.
If Bharavi was alive today , he would have said ‘Among Cine Musicians it is ILaiyaraaja’.
The completeness of a Man is determined by many factors.
Music being Universal, a complete Musician should be well versed with all kinds of Music. ILaiyaraaja has immense knowledge in Carnatic Music, Hindustani Music, Western Classical, Jazz, Folk .
Though he considers Carnatic Music as the best in the World for various reasons, he has lot of respect for other forms of Music.
Having knowledge and respect in one thing. Applying these in Life and profession is quite another.
In a span of 32 years and 850 Films, he has used his knowledge to give us some mind boggling compositions.
He has given us pure Carnatic Ragas.In fact, no cine musician has used as many Ragas as Raja has used.
He has given us pure Western Classical.
He has given us Jazz.
He has given us Folk.
But what sets him apart from others is his ability to blend all forms of Music to give us unforgettable everlasting compositions.
One can take up many of his compositions to show that his music is Universal.
‘Edalolaya’ from Anveshana(Paadum Paravaigal-Tamizh) is one such composition.
Here he has used the natural sounds of birds and shows that birds do sing with Swaras.
Birds may not know Pa , Ga, Sa, Ni, Ma, Ri…But they sing these Swaras to exhibit their moods.
Only a Master Artiste/Musician can interpret Nature.
At times when we look at the clouds , we tend to discover the different shapes , figures and formations !
In a similar vein he listens to the birds and interprets the Swaras.This requires tremendous skill and to use it in a commercial set up like Cinema needs a lot of guts.
The raga usage and the change of scales in this composition are amazing.
The song starts with traces of Nata Bhairavi, touches GowriManohari from the lines ‘Kokila Geetham’ and goes to Keeravani in the third Charanam.All the three Ragas are very close to each other –Nata Bhairavi being the 20th Melakartha, Keeravani , the 21st and GowriManohari, the 23rd.
But he has changed them so effortlessly that it is difficult to even believe that the ragas change.
Please recall my yesterday's post on these scales and ragas!
Coming to think of it, the Birds do change Ragas as well.But do we notice this ever?
The interludes –especially the 2nd and the 3rd-are fast paced and the orchestration with the Violins, String instruments, the Flute and most important, the Sound of the Birds is out of the world.
The gradual ending of the song is another beauty.
I feel the whole composition teaches us the Philosophy of Life!
Another composition where we see the change of Scales is ‘Paniyil Nanaiyum Malargal’ from Priya Oh Priya(Pallavi AnuPallavi-Kannada).
The Pallavi starts with Keeravani.But in the interlude, the scale is changed and the Swaras of Mohanam are used.
The Charanam also has Mohanam with a sparing use of Ni and Ma-alien Swaras.
Generally, when the tune undergoes a change, it does sound jarring.But this does not happen whenever the Master does it.This is debatable and -some may say- is very subjective.
It does require an objective listening and analysis !
The sound of Bass in the composition, the Strings, Flute and Violins in the second interlude and the Pallavi itself-that has a string of three Swaras – make this a beautiful Garland!
We have seen Keeravani in different moods in the two compositions.
Let us now turn our attention to a composition where this raga is used in a pure form.
‘Keeravani’ from Anveshana(Paadum Paravaigall) is a romantic duet where the contours of the raga are shown wonderfully.
The song itself starts with the rendering of Swaras and the Counterpoints.
If the Pallavi sees the stringing of same Swaras –RiRiRi, GaGaGa-,the Charanam sees a stringing of four Swaras-three same Swaras with an additional Swara like SaSaSaRi, NiNiNiSa, DhaDhaDhaNi, MaMaMaDha.
It is like the lovely Drizzle swaying here and there with the Breeze.
The interludes have Western Style Orchestration to prove the point yet again that his Music is Universal.The Piano , Guitar and the Flute do give us a feeling of Meloncholy.
We see the same Keeravani turn out to be sober yet melodious in ‘Kodiyile’.
Here he chooses a combination of 5 Swaras in the first two lines(until ‘Thavikkiren’).Like an Artist -painting a picture- mixing different colours to suit the mood , he mixes alien Swaras –the other Ma and the other Ni- in ‘Nenjukkulle Koochcham’.
In the Charanam, the ending words are dragged with what is called as Sangathis in Carnatic Music.There is also a wonderful mix of alien Swaras –especially in the last two lines which almost sound like another Raga Karaharapriya-but as I mentioned earlier, this is does not sound jarring .
It sounds very beautiful.
The pauses between the lines follow a wonderful pattern.
The second interlude is full of melancholy, the Flute Piece in particular.
Avarathu Isaiye Paadum ParavaigaL pola thane!
His Music itself sounds like the song of the Birds..Does it not?