இரண்டு என, மூன்று என, நான்கு என, ஐந்து என
ஆறு என, ஏழு என, எட்டு என, தொண்டு என
நால்வகை ஊழி எண் நவிற்றும் சிறப்பினை
‘Zero, quarter, half, one,
Two, three, four, five,
Six, Seven, Eight, Nine,
Thus the four eons speak about the numbers’.
Does this sound like a Kindergarten class?
Well.. almost! But is it not a fact that what we read (or for that matter experience) during our childhood stays with us forever?
Foundation.. If this is strong, the building is strong. Otherwise, it collapses.
Going back to the poem quoted- it is from a work called ‘Paripaadal’. Paripaadal was composed by different poets during the 1st Century AD and is part of eight anthologies called as ‘Ettuththogai’. These eight along with the 10 long poems- called as ‘Paththuppaattu’- form the core of Tamizh Sangam Literature.
Sangam means an Academy or Fraternity. It is said that there were 3 Sangams – the first one lasting 4,440 years, the second one lasting 3,700 years and the third one lasting 1,850 years. It is also said that a Great Flood destroyed many kingdoms and a large body of literature.
All the works of the First Sangam have been lost forever. The grammar work ‘Tolkappiyam’(I had quoted from this work in my posts on the music of ‘ULiyin Osai’ where I explained as to how classical dance and music were part of the Tamizh culture) belongs to the Second Sangam while the ‘Eight Anthologies’ and the ‘Ten Long Poems’ are part of the Third Sangam period.
The length of the Sangam poems varies between 3 lines and 800 lines. There are 2381 Sangam poems of course not taking the first and the second Sangams into account.
'Paripaadal’ is the one of the oldest texts that has notes on music. In Tamizh music, a Raga is called as ‘PaN’. Under each group of poems in ‘Paripaadal’, there is a mention about the ‘PaN’ on which it is based on. Similar to our Films, the songs(poems) would be written by one person and would be set to music by another person.
The poem quoted in the beginning was written by ‘Kaduvan iLaveyinanaar’ and was set to music by ‘Pettanaaganaar’. It is sung eulogizing Lord Vishnu and is set to ‘Paalaiyaazh’ which is the equivalent of Shankarabharanam.
This also shows that God has always been part of tamizh culture despite the claim made by the so-called rationalists in Tamizh Nadu.
In a way, ‘Paripaadal’ was a precursor to ‘Naalayira Divya Prabandham’,the sacred book of Srivaishnavas.I find a lot of parallels between the works of ‘Kaduvan iLaveyinaar’ and Aazhwars-Thirumazhisai azhwar in particular.I have quoted some verses of ‘Thirumazhisai Aazhwar’in this thread.Please refer the post ‘Laya Raja’ and ‘ILaiyaraaja’s music is unique’ where I quoted from his ‘Thiruchchandaviruththam’ that talks about the numbers.
Talking about numbers, let us remember that numbers revolve around us always whether we like it or not.
Take the poem quoted for example. It sounds so simple but yet throws up a lot of philosophical pointers. I am not getting too deep into it since it is beyond the scope of this thread. It is enough if I say that the Universe revolves around numbers.Have a look at the paragraphs that follow the poems in my post.
‘1st Century, ‘8 anthologies’, ’10 Long Poems’, ‘3 Sangams’, ‘4440, 3700,1850 years’, 3 and 800 lines’, ‘2381 poems’… well can there be a world without numbers? Can there be a Life without numbers?
Eons, Years, Months, Weeks, Days, Hours, Minutes, Seconds..
We find the numbers in music as well. Though all forms of music have rhythm(and therefore numbers), Carnatic Music gives a lot of importance to numbers.In the Raga system, it is the 72 melakartas and the different permutations and combinations of swaras while in the Tala system, it is the beats/cycle.
There are 108 Talas in Carnatic music.Let us now look at the major Five-patterns(called as Pancha Nadai).
The 3-beat cycle is called as Tisram, the 4-beat is Chatusram, the 5-beat is Khandam, the 7-beat-Misram and the 9-beat-Sankeernam.It is indeed a very vast subject and let us understand these basics as of now (Foundation!).
In a carnatic music concert, during the percussion ensemble-called as Tani avarthanam- the percussion artistes generally play in different nadais.
Almost all film songs follow the 8-beat cycle called as Adi Talam.There are also songs that follow the Tisra gati in this cycle. We will come to that a little later.
However, not many composers have composed songs in Misram and Khandam.
The Maestro is an exception.
In this Blog, we have been seeing his usage of not just the ragas but also the talas.
He has also used cross-rhythms (two patterns running simultaneously-example ‘Endrendrum Aanandame’ and change in gatis-example ‘Innum Ennai Enna Siyya PogiRai’
There have also been a lot of intricate mathematical patterns involved in his compositions.
He often talks about the ‘KaalapramaaNam’ in music.People who have seen him work vouch for his perfect sense of timing especially during the background scores. He would watch a scene, take a piece of paper, write the notes, give it to the various artistes and start recording. The piece of music would exactly fit the scene in terms of the duration.
This is because ‘Kaalapramanam’ is inherent in him.
That is why he is ‘Laya Raja’.
Today, we are going to see a composition of his that reveals his penchant for Laya.
The song is ‘ILamanadinil’ from the film ‘ManjaL Nila’(1982).
The song is based on Mayamalavagowla, the 15th Melakarta.
All basic (foundation) classes in carnatic music are taught in this raga because of its symmetric structure.
Its structure is: sa ri1 ga3 ma1 pa dha1 ni3 Sa/Sa ni3 dha1 pa ma1 ga3 ri1 sa.
The swara ‘ri1’ is very close to ‘sa’, with the ‘ga’ ‘ma’ and ‘pa’ ‘dha’ being next to each other.The last swara ‘ni’ is very close to the upper ‘Sa’. Such a structure is very easy to understand for beginners.
I mentioned about the Adi-Tala and Tisra nadai.
This composition follows this pattern. But something does happen in the CharaNams and let us see that soon.
I was talking about 8(adi tala cycle) and 3(tisram).The LCM of this is 24.Now, 24 is a multiple of 2, 4, and 6 as well. Using this theory of mathematics, the maestro has divided two lines in the charanams as 2, 4, 4, 4, 4, 6.So Tisram sounds Chatusram in 4 phrases.But the magician does not stop here. He has made the percussion play in ‘Usi’.
Let us understand the concept of Talas a little more.
The place where the Tala begins is called as ‘Eduppu’. A composition follows any of the following three different patterns of Eduppu .
1.Samam-when the tala begins along with the song.
2.Atheeta Eduppu-If the song begins first and Tala cycle starts after this,it is Atheetham.
3.Anaagata Eduppu-If the Tala beats start before the song begins, it is Anaagatam.
Apart from these is the concept of ‘Usi’-that is the stress on the even syllables/beats.
ILaiyaraaja has used all these four concepts rather prolifically.
‘ILamandinil’ starts in samam.However, In CharaNams when he divides the beats, he has applied ‘Usi’ to make it sound more beautiful.
We shall see this again as we go along.
The composition starts with the strings playing ‘ sa pa Sa’ and the chorus following suit. No percussion but still Tisram is clearly perceptible.
The notes are now strung together like a beautiful garland by the flute.We see the gentle curves of the Raga as the violins, viola and the cello peregrinate.
The percussion starts now and it follows
‘Ta ka ta ka dhi mi’ with the stress on the first ‘Ta’ and the second one (ka) not played. It weaves a splendid veil making us more curious.
The Pallavi starts now with the refined articulation and the melodic expression of Yesudass.
The first interlude slowly unveils the beauty.The chorus say syllables-‘ta ri ki ta thaam’ ‘ta ri ki ta dheem’ ‘ta ri ki ta jam’ ‘ta ri ki ta nam’-6 each.
The female voice of Sasirekha hums the raga and the chorus continues in Tisram-‘ta ki ta ta ka dhi mi ta ka’-with ‘ta ki ta’ in slow speed and ‘ta ka dhi mi ta ka’ in fast speed that is the speed matching the first ‘ta ki ta’.
The flute now voyages through the rhythmic patterns while the violins move with a sense of relish.
The chorus sings 6(3x2) 8 times completing one cycle(called as one avarthanam) of adi talam.The male voice sings the words in the same pattern followed by the female voice.
Suddenly there is a change of pattern.
It is now split as ta ka/ ta ka dhi mi/ ta ka dhi mi/ ta ka dhi mi /ta ka dhi mi/ta ka ta ka dhi mi twice making it 24x2.Most importantly the percussion is played in Usi with the stress on the second syllable ‘ka’.
It is like a starburst with thundershowers!
In the second interlude the dainty guitar is sated with delicate swirls with the violins making wide and spectacular sweeps. The languid grace juxtaposed with remarkable arithmetic accuracy is exhilarating.
The pattern of the first charaNam continues in the second and the third charaNams as well.
The Third interlude has the skilful embellishments with the veena , santoor and the bass guitar taking us to the deeper levels of the raga’s beauty. The aesthetically affable chorus adds punch.
The composition is a balance between subtlety and exuberance.
An ingenious work.
An exquisite ornament made of raga and tala.
அவர் மனதினில் எழும் இசையினில் விழி மலர்கிறதே..