Saturday, 27 December 2008

ILaiyaraaja-The Sculptor-Part IV

In Mathematics, there is something called Duality. It is nothing but translating one concept into other concept by means of an involution operation.

It is a very interesting concept and I feel it has lot of relevance to the Human life and Nature.

Most of the things we see in this world come in pairs.Let us take the organs in the human body.. Eyes, ears, hands, legs, nostrils.. In fact, the nostrils play a very major role in keeping us mentally and therefore physically fit.

These pairs perform coordinated actions.
We also have pairs that are contrasting by nature.
Black/White, Potential Energy/Kinetic Energy, Head/Tail, Positive/Negative.

In Chinese philosophy, there is something called the Yin/Yang theory-two opposing and at the same time complementary aspects of one phenomenon.

In Quantum Mechanics, we have the wave-particle duality according to which matter and energy exhibit both wave like and particle like properties.

In a similar vein, I feel Dance and Music always complement each other. There are people who say ‘Dance cannot exist without music;but Music can exist without Dance’.
On the face of it, it may appear to be true.

But in reality music is as much dependent on dance as dance is on music. Is dance just body movements? Is it just facial expressions? Is it just jumping around or moving around?

No..It is much beyond all these.

It is a form of expression.

Let us look at Music.Is Music just singing (or playing an instrument)?Is it just Raga/Tala or scales? Is it just juggling of notes?

Music is also a form of expression. The artiste expresses himself/herself rhythmically. Can this not be called as dance? Don’t we say the Swaras danced when that artiste sang?

I am reminded of a Lecture/Demonstration at the Music Academy more than 20 years back when a very famous classical dancer said this:

‘I see Music. I hear Dance’.

Might sound too far fetched and exaggerated.But it is true.

The dancer is a great scholar who has done lot research on dance and folk music and I am sure this statement came straight from her heart.

Music and Dance complement each other.

And that is the reason ILango AdigaL paid importance to music as well while talking about dance.

In the previous posts, we saw how Silappathikaaram covered the various aspects of dance and how ILango AdigaL defined not only the structure of classical dance but also the qualities of musicians and the stage dimensions.

Today, let us see what he has spoken about Music.
In just one verse, he gives the names of the seven swaras as per Tamizh PaN.

குரலே, துத்தம், கைக்கிளை, உழையே
இளியே, விளரி, தாரம் என்றிவை
எழுவகை இசைக்கும் எய்தும் பெயரே
சவ்வும் ரிவ்வும் கவ்வும் மவ்வும்
பவ்வும் தவ்வும் நிவ்வும் என்றிவை
ஏழும் அவற்றின் எழுத்தே ஆகும்

Sa-Kural; Ri-Thuththam;Ga-KaikkiLai;Ma-Uzhai;Pa-ILi;Dha-ViLari;Ni-Tharam.

In another verse, he says PaNs(Ragams) are obtained by arranging the 12 Kovais(swaras) in a specified structure in the ascending and descending scale.

But more than all these, what leaves one wonder struck is his definition of Gruha Bedam-tonic shift. He calls this as 'Kural Thiribu'.

He says 'if the Thuththam(ri) of Mohanam is the base, it would give Madhyamavathi, if the KaikkiLai(ga)is the base it would give Hindolam, the ILi(pa) would give Sudhha Saveri and the ViLari(dha) Sudhha Dhanyasi'.

Is it not amazing that somebody in the Tamizh land defined all these as early as the 5th century?

And 16 centuries later, somebody again from the same land has been giving us some masterpieces. He too like ILango AdigaL is a perfectionist and at the same time innovative.


Let us see the next composition from ULiyin Osai today.

It is ‘Kallai Irunthen Silaiyaai En Vadiththai..’

The composition is based on Sudhdha Dhanyasi.

A very interesting Ragam derived from Karaharapriya and its structure is
Sa ga2 ma1 pa ni2 Sa/Sa ni2 pa ma1 ga2 sa.

The composition starts in a very subtle way. We feel the mellowness and the force as we hear the humming. The long flute undulates while the string is infused with melody.

The Pallavi is zestful and tranquil.

As usual, the Laya pattern is interesting.The 8 beat cycle is divided into 2 parts of 4 beats each:Ta – Dhi Mi Ta Ka Dhi Mi with stress on the first ‘Mi’ giving a very special wavy effect.

It is verve and vitality personified.

The first interlude has a simple and ornate structure. It is just the Flute and the Veena mainly but has a quintessential flavour. The Flute has innate grace flamboyance while the Veena is gentle, and powerful. The percussion instrument‘s reply to the Veena is dexterous.

The Charanam is rich and serene. It is pregnant with weighty phrases and is very flexible. It is rock steady and traverses up and down. The Flute piece that is interspersed between the two lines glides smoothly and is tenacious.

The second interlude shows us a gorgeous landscape.

As we hear the Veena and the percussion, followed by the violins and the piano, we see the wide green valleys and the deep ravines.

We see the sun play hide and seek between the hills and the Rain from the Sky.

We see the gushing torrents and the steady slow stream.

It is warm and cold.
It is uncanny and easily comprehensible.
It is Sun and the Moon.

Stone and a sculpture.

And is this not duality?

அவரது இசை கல்லை சிலை ஆக்கும்;சிலையை மனிதனாக்கும்;மனிதனை தெய்வீக நிலைக்கு அழைத்துச் செல்லும்.

His music turns a stone into a sculpture; turns a sculpture into a human; makes the human reach divine state..

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Thursday, 25 December 2008

ILaiyaraaja-The Sculptor-Part III

This world is beautiful.

If we take time off from our busy schedule and start looking at things around us, we discover many new things (and old things). Some of these are amazing.

The stars, the moon, the clouds, the sky, the rain, the flowers..

Each and every time we look at these, we feel different; our experience is different; our thinking is different.

Finally it depends on how one perceives things/incidents.

The beauty of life is such that even little things play very big roles.

Take apple for example. What is there in apple? It is just a fruit, a very healthy and tasty fruit at that.

But when this apple fell from a tree, one gentleman thought differently. He started wondering as to why that apple had to fall..

He thought and thought and finally this led to something that formed the basis of Classical Mechanics and modern engineering.

Needless to say that the gentleman being referred to is Issac Newton and that he discovered the Universal Gravitational and the three Laws of Motion.

All of us know the story of the King of Scotland -who while sitting in a hut after being battered, bruised and driven out by King Edward I of England -saw a very tiny creature successfully spin a web after failing seven times. Inspired by this, he gathered his men and despite being badly outnumbered was able to drive out the enemies because of sheer determination.

Robert Bruce and Spider-are the names not synonymous?

Examples galore.

But what these incidents tell us is that life shows us lot of things and it is up to us to observe and learn.

Apple and Spider.. two small things. Look how they have influenced science and history.

That is the beauty of life.

We find that in literature too, small things have played major roles.

A small gemstone influenced an entire epic.

‘Silappathikaaaram’(Story of the jeweled anklets) is considered to be one of the greatest epics in the world of Literature.In the words of the Czech Professor Dr.Kamil Zvelebil,

‘‘The epical poem of Silapathikaaram which by its baroque splendour and by the charm and magic of its lyrical parts belongs to the epic masterpieces of the world and should be admired and beloved by all in the same was as Poems of Homer, the Dramas of Shakespeare, the Pictures of Rembrandt, the Cathedrals of France and Sculptures of Greece’’.

What is this Silappathikaaram all about?

Kovalan and Kannagi lead a happy married life until Kovalan falls for a great dancer Madhavi and begins to live with her.Unable to bear the adoration and appreciation Madhavi was getting from others, he becomes jealous and deserts her.

He is penniless now and returns to Kannagi who offers to sell her anklet- filled with rubies-to get some money. They go to Madurai where Kovalan while trying to sell one of the anklets is caught by the guards of the Pandya King.The Queen’s anklets-which were filled with pearls- had just then been stolen and assuming that Kovalan was the culprit, the King orders his guards to kill Kovalan.

Kannagi throngs the King’s court and proves that her anklets were filled with rubies and not pearls. Realising his folly, the King dies instantaneously. Kannagai goes on to burn the city of Madurai.

Though there lot of great things about the way Ilango AdigaL has presented this simple but complex story, what attracts a connoisseur is the way he has structured the grammar of Music and Dance.

In the previous two posts, we saw the history of classical dance in Tamizh society.

Continuing with this, let us see how ‘Silappathikaaram ‘ has dealt with classical dance.

Ilango adigaL must have been a perfectionist.

He deals with each and every aspect of dance starting from the vocalist, the lyricist, the percussionist, the instrumentalists.

What amazes one is the way he has defined the structure of the stage. Not only has he given the dimensions of a stage but also that he has mentioned about the lighting, and the way the stage has to be decorated.

If the verse

எழுகோல் அகலத்து எண்கோல் நீளத்து
ஒருகோல் உயரத்து உறுப்பினது ஆகி
உத்தரப் பலகையொடு அரங்கின் பலகை
வைத்த இடை நிலம் நாற்கோல் ஆக
ஏற்ற வாயில் இரண்டும் பொலியத்
தோற்றிய அரங்கினில் தொழுதனர்
gives the desired dimensions of a stage,

தூண் நிழல் புறப்பட மாண் விளக்கு எடுத்து ஆங்கு
ஒருமுக எழினியும் பொருமுக எழினியும்
கரந்து வரல் எழினியும் புரிந்துடன் வகுத்து

talks about the lighting.

He then goes on to describe the ‘Pancha Sandhi’ Kavuththuvum-an item that is performed in the beginning to ward off evil forces-and then the 11 different dances called as ‘Pathinoru aadal’..

We shall look at the other descriptions about dance and Music in Silappathikaaram and in other Tamizh texts in the forthcoming posts.

Let us now look at today’s composition from ULiyin Osai.

It is ‘Kallil Uyir Kaattidalaam’.

As usual, there are lot of special things about this composition and we shall see them as we go along..

The sun paints the sky red. Flowers smile. Leaves nod their heads. Waves from the sea welcome us. It is a new day.. It is a new beginning..

The song flowers with a flourish..

The first few lines rendered without percussion(called as ‘viruththam’)is based on the Ragam Bowli.

This Ragam is generally sung in the mornings and is believed to bring freshness.

As the lines ‘Kallil Uyir Kaattidalaam’ start, we see the beautiful Kalyani in the heartfelt rendition by Sriram Parthasarathy.In fact, one sees shades of his Guru’s Guru(Shri.Seshagopalan) in his style of rendering this song.

The line ‘Vadikkindra SilaigaLil’ is wonderfully structured to give a very different effect.
The way the percussion is played just towards the end accentuates the effect.

The violins then breeze in with the Flute shining resplendently. The Veena and Flute combine and this invokes a unique ambience.

In the first Charanam, the Flags of the three major Tamizh Kings-Chozha, Chera and the Pandiya-kings are described. Tiger is Flag of Chozha and the sangathis flow to depict the tiger with the flutes playing welcome notes without any fear.

The Bow now bows in appreciation as the Raga beautifully changes to Dharmavathy. Appreciation here is not just for the Raga change but also for the thoughtfulness.

Let me explain.

Kalyani is the 65th Melakartha and Dharmavathy, the 59th.Every sixth Raga in the Melakratha scale have the same variants of ‘dha’ and ‘ ni ‘and therefore the ‘pa dha ni Sa’ segment(called as Uttaraanga) remains the same.The difference is only in the ‘ri’ ‘ga’ part. Now if the variant of ‘ga’ in Kalyani is changed(from ‘ga3’ to ‘ga2’), it becomes Dharmavathy.. And this is what the master has done.

After the Chera’s Bow, it is the Pandiya’s Fish.

After the Eyebrows, it is the Eyes.

Flute and the Veena act as the eyes and the eyebrows and establish an emotional connection.

The Pallavi again in Kalyani.

The Veena now eddies around Kalyani with the ghatam giving glistening strands of laya.

The meshing of Raga and Laya is gripping and gives us an esoteric feeling.

The intricate setting continues in the next Charanam with a kind of a teaser.

The Raga now changes to Hamsanandi and again there is a pattern.The Variant of ‘ri’in Kalyani is changed and logically it should be Gamanashrama-the 53rd Melakartha(59-6 or 65-12).But the magician now makes the ‘pa’ disappear and it becomes Hamsanandi, another beautiful Raga with the following structure

sa ri1 ga3 ma2 dha2 ni3 Sa/Sa ni3 dha2 ma2 ga3 ri1 sa.

The Raga moves very expressively until it meets a beautiful woman called Vasantha.

Yes, the Genius at work again.

In the line ‘Aananda Soundaryam..’ he changes the ‘ma’ and drops ‘ri’ in the ascent.
Sa ma1 ga3 ma1 dha2 ni3 Sa/Sa ni3 dha2 ma1 ga3 ri1 sa.

This Ragam is Vasantha.

The composition is multifarious with varied motifs. At the same time, there is a pattern and purpose.

It is an exhilarating experience.

It etches tranquility.

It is the language of subtlety.

Yes, juggling of notes is very subtle. The difference between one ‘ga’ and the other ‘ga’ is minute.. as minute as the difference between one ‘ri’ and the other ‘ri’.

Little things.. But don’t they play a big role?

And doesn’t he give life even to a stone with his music?

கல்லிற்கும் உயிர் கொடுப்பதல்லவா அவரது இசை?

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Sunday, 21 December 2008

ILaiyaraaja-The Sculptor-Part II

‘‘Put Mind over Matter.’’

This is what the Self-Improvement Gurus tell us.

What guides our lives-the Mind or the Intellect?
Are we all led by our emotions or are we moulded by our thinking?

Well, it is a very vast and deep subject and my intention is not to get into this and find answers.

Let me confine my discussion to fine arts.

Take any art form.

The Artiste feels.
The Artiste emotes.
The Artiste thinks.
The Artiste expresses.

Feelings, Emotions, Thoughts, Expressions.
There is an inextricable link between all these.

And this is what an art form is all about.
Of course, finally the quality depends on how capable, and spontaneous the artiste is..

In my previous post, I had discussed about how fine arts was an intrinsic part of ancient Tamizh culture.

Saaththanaar, author of ‘Kooththa Nool’-which is the first authentic book on classical dance in Tamizh-says

‘Tastes emerge from the feelings within and these are expressed as dance.Feeling is the soul, Taste is the Mind, and expression is the body’.

அகம்உயிர் ஆகச் சுவைஉளம் ஆக
இழைஉடல் ஆக இயல்வது கூத்து.

It is a cryptic verse with very deep meanings but what was written nearly 2500 years ago holds good even now.

And this is applicable to any art form.

‘Kooththa Nool’ has two sections, 'Suvai' and 'Thogai' with 153 and 162 verses respectively and says that the sound, the letters and the music emanated from the Dance of the Lord.

It also says that ‘Om’ is the beginning and the end for everything.

The author seems like a good psychiatrist, philosopher and most importantly an intellectual.

The link between human life and the Nava Rasaas have been described in detail by the author.

The 108 Karanaas and the 12 essential Karanaas, and the synergy between ‘Tandavaa’ and ‘Laasya’ have also been elaborated by the author.

Therefore as mentioned in my previous post, ‘Tolkaappiyam’, the text on Tamizh grammar talks about the classical dance, ‘Pancha Marabu’and ‘Kooththa Nool’ are texts on the Grammar of Classical Dance.

There is also another text called ‘Bharatha Senapathiyam’.

Apart from these texts that are exclusive books on Grammar, classical dance finds a mention in Sangam Literature, works that preach Wisdom and Values like ThirukkuraL, Naaladiyaar etc.,

However, it is the description about Classical Dance in ‘Silappadhigaaram’ that calls for special mention and appreciation.

In fact, the ankle-bell(silambu) plays a major role in the story –though it happens towards the end.

Ilango AdigaL, the author elaborates on the qualifications of a Dance Teacher, Percussionists,Vocalist,Flautist, and the person(s) playing the ancient instrument ‘Yaazh’.

In my previous post, I had given a sample verse on the qualities of a dancer.
More about what ‘Silappadigaaram’ talks about Classical Dance in my next post.

Let us now focus our attention on the Sculptor who has been ardently and tirelessly sculpting mesmerizing music for the last three decades.

Time now to look at the second composition from ‘ULiyin Osai’.

It is ‘Abhinayam Kaatugindra AaraNge..’

The song rendered by the classical musicians Sudha Raghunathan and Bombay Jayashree is another beautiful sculpture.

ILaiyaraaja the Magician, pulls another rabbit from his hat..

Why do I call this magic?

Let me explain about the composition and then we will know.

The composition starts in Ragavardhini, the 32nd Melakartha.

It is a Vivadi Ragam whose structure is

sa ri3 ga3 ma1 pa dha1 ni2 Sa/Sa ni2 dha1 pa ma1 ga3 ri3 sa.

The ‘ri’ is the vivadi note in this raga.

This Raga sounds a lot like Charukesi, the 26th melakartha since six notes are the same except the ‘ri’.

The composition has other ragas as well and I shall touch upon the ragas and their structures as I go along.

The mini ensemble of the percussion instruments in the prelude gives an energetic beginning.

The Pallavi is stupendous with the use of vivadi note right at the beginning sets the tone.

After a mini ensemble yet again, the anupallavi glides smoothly.

The first interlude is stupendous.
It has brilliance as well as beauty.

The violins play only the swaras of Charukesi first. The percussion gives a repartee.
Now, the violins play with the prominent vivadi note giving the shade of Ragavardhini.

After the reply from the percussion, the two pieces are played again now one after the other. The Veena accompanied by a very subtle Flute then plays Charukesi with the violins replying in Ragavardhini. This pattern-but with different notes-is repeated once again.

The Flute then manages to escape from the clutches of Veena and plays a dominant Ragavardhini and then the violins also have the final word and play Ragavardhini with disdain.

Now do you understand why I said it is Brilliant and Beautiful?

The Contrast and the distinction shown by the Master since it is a competition between two dancers..

The first Charanam has pithy passages.

It moves, undulates, swirls, whorls, sways, and takes a curve.
Geometric Motifs!

Just towards the end, there is a short swara singing passage and as we look forward to the next interlude, there is felicitous turn of the passage.

The rhythmic pattern changes to the 5 beat ‘khanda nadai’ and we hear the ‘Ta ka ta ki ta’ with the dominant manjira (cymbals).

This surprise twist takes a further intricate turn as the raga changes to Karaharapriya, the 22nd Melakartha whose structure is

sa ri2 ga2 ma1 pa dha2 ni2 Sa/Sa ni2 dha2 pa ma1 ga1 ri2 sa.

A majestic and a serene raga, the beauty of the raga is shown in just a few willowy sancharaas.

As the line ‘Piththam Thalaikkeri’ ends, we are in for another pleasant surprise.

Using just five swaras-'sa ri ga pa ni'-of Karaharapriya, we get to hear Rathipathipriya, another beautiful Raga.

Now, Abheri-another Raga derived from Karaharapriya omitting ‘ri’ and ‘dha’ in the arohana-darts in as ‘Udanpirappu..’ is rendered.

The sangathis following this are wonderful.

As we lose ourselves in the lovely nooks, the Raga changes again.

Now it is Pantuvarali, the 51st Melakartha whose structure is

sa ri1 ga3 ma2 pa dha1 ni3 Sa/Sa ni3 dha1 pa ma2 ga3 ri1 sa.

So far, we saw Raga Raaja.Time to have a look at Laya Raaja.Though there are lot of intricate patterns throughout, let us look at the pattern that I consider as most beautiful.

The pattern following the line ‘Thadi Edukka thavarum Indri..’is

‘Dhin – Ta – Ka ‘ 3 times and then ‘Ta Ka Dhin – – ‘

And the one following ‘Nilam Nokki..’is

‘– – Ta – Ka Ta – Dhin– – ‘ twice.

The sweeping crescendos reach an acme.

With authentic interpretation of Ragas, the composition appeals to us emotionally.
We feel the vibrations, think and express our appreciation.
The spontaneity of the composer is obvious.

Is this not a genuine artiste’s work all about?

அபிநயம் காட்டுவது பரதத்தில் மட்டுமல்ல.அவரது இசையும்தான்..

Abhinaya is not just in Classical Dance…It is in his Music as well..

Thursday, 11 December 2008

ILaiyaraaja-The Sculptor-Part I

It is a well - known fact that Tamizh language is one of the oldest languages in the world.

Not only is it old but also it is very rich in literature.

But what makes Tamizh unique and special is that it has survived the ravages of time and is still spoken by millions of people across the globe. Sometime back I had written about the translation of a 2500 year old ‘Kurunthogai’ poem appearing in London Tube Rail(in my post on ‘Daagam Edukkara’).

Dance and music (or for that matter any form of fine arts) has always been part of Tamizh culture.

‘Tholkaappiyam’, the authentic work on Tamizh Grammar that was written in 500BC by Tholkaapiyar-considered to be a student of the great sage ‘Agaththiyar’ mentions a lot about classical dance.

‘Pancha Marabu’by Arivanaar-which was also written almost the same time as Tholkaapiyam - describes in detail about music and dance. It talks about various hand gestures,abhinaya,kooththu,,naatyam.It also describes the letters to be used for jathis-tha,thi,tho,ki,k.

Then there is ‘Kooththa nool’ authored by Saaththanaar.
This is the oldest available text on the grammar of classical dance.

However, ‘Silappathigaaram’-one of the five major epics in Tamizh-is considered to be a complete book on classical dance.

Though there are lot verses, I am giving below one sample verse that speaks volumes about the quality of the work.

It says ‘One must start learning classical dance at the age of five without any compromise on Musical, Dance and Aesthetic Elements, practise rigorously for seven years and perform at the age of twelve.’

ஆடலும் பாடலும் அழகும் என்று இக்
கூறிய மூன்றில் ஒன்று குறைவு படாமல்
ஏழு ஆண்டு இயற்றி ஓர் ஈர் ஆண்டில்
சூழ் கழல் மன்னற்குக் காட்டல் வேண்டி.

As mentioned earlier, Dance, Music, Sculpting, Painting were part of Tamizh Culture and these flourished under the Pallavaas and then the Chozhaas..In fact, one can even include Temple architecture because even now one can find the dance poses in many ancient temple Gopurams.

The Thanjavur Big temple depicts 81 Karnaas(loosely translated as poses but they are not just poses) out of the 108 karnaas. Nobody has a clue as to why the balance of 27 is not depicted.

You must all be wondering as to what relevance these have in this community.

Time to clarify.

Starting today, I shall be writing on the music of ‘Uliyin Osai’. The story revolves around a sculptor and a classical dancer and a fictional account of the ‘facts’ behind the missing 27 karanaas during the construction of the Big Temple.

I shall be discussing the ragas and the techniques used by the ‘great sculptor’ whose other name is ILaiyaraaja.

A brief account of the evolution of classical dance will also be given everyday.

The first composition is ‘Agandhaiyil Aaduvatha Aadal Kalai’.

Before I take up the composition, I must mention that Shriram Parthasarathy, a disciple of the great Carnatic Singer Neyveli Santhanagopalan-who in turn is a disciple of the legendary singer T N Seshagopalan- has done full justice to the song.

Now for the techniques used by the sculptor.

The composition is based on Rasikapriya, a very special Ragam.

Very special because it is the last (72nd) Melakartha.

Very special because it uses two vivadi notes(‘ri’ and ‘dha’).

Very special because no film music composer has used this raga.

Very Very special because Raaja sir has used it in films after a gap of 27 years.The last time he used it was for the song ‘Sangeethame’in Kovil Pura(1981).

The structure of Rasikapriya is:
Sa ri3 ga3 ma2 pa dha3 ni3 Sa/Sa ni3 dha3 pa ma2 ga3 ri3 sa.

The second technique applied is the Tamizh verse rendered with panache with amazing breath control by the master himself.

The third technique is the Gruha Bedam(or Shruti Bedam).

Let us look at the composition now.

We get to see the perceptible musical impulses as the pallavi unfolds.It is like a breath of freshness.The percussion that follows the first line is tuned to play the raga itself and it climbs up and down like a cute baby.

The Tamizh verse rendering begins as soon as the pallavi is over.The Master renders it with passion, intensity, crystal clear enunciation and pronunciation.
People can not only learn music from him. They can learn the language of tamizh as well.

In today’s world where murdering a language is considered to be an achievement-especially by people in Cinema and the Television- Raaja sir shows the beauty of the language.

In the process, he also mentions about the ancient books on music and dance, the various musical instruments, the seven notes as per Tamizh Music.

We are grooved to our seats mesmerized by the voice, the language, the diction, the expression, and the meanings.

The Master also wonderfully uses Udukkai, Mridangam,Flute, Nagaswaram and Veena when these are mentioned as part of the verse!

The line ‘Eththanai Bhavam Undu Bharatathile’(how many expressions do we have in Bharatam..) is rendered with grace and grandeur, the final sangathi in the end in particular.

The effusive Chitra Veena shimmies as we see the different hues of Rasikapriya.

The crisp and succinct Charanam talks about ‘Silappadikaaram’ and the various dances. As we listen to it with rapt attention and revere, we are in for a very pleasant surprise.

There is a beautiful twist and turn.

The line ‘KaigaLil Oru Bhavam’ starts taking the ‘ni’ of Rasikapriya as ‘sa’ and it becomes Mayamalawagowla, the 15th Melakartha.

This technique called as Gruha Bedam or Shruti Bedam has been used time and again by Raaja sir and I have discussed this technique in detail in this thread in my earlier posts.

Engaged in a dialogue of intricate patterns, the song now goes on to discuss about the various expressions in dance.

Towards the end, it is Shruthi Bedam again as the song goes back to Rasikapriya.

The next Charanam is another beauty.Using the some of the swaras of Mayamalawagowla, it gives shades of Saveri and Lalitha(more of the latter).

It is so delicately crafted that we are engulfed and enveloped by the beauty of the Music.

The entire composition is replete with complexities.

It gives us the intuitively comprehensible image of the classical dance.

It has immeasurable power and weight.

It is composed with instinct and intensity.

Most importantly, it appeals to all of us..

How many expression exist in Music..
And is he not the one who gives all these expressions..

எத்தனை பாவம் உண்டு இசையினிலே
அது அத்தனையும் கொடுப்பவர் இவர்தானே..

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Friday, 28 November 2008

ILaiyaraaja-Nation's Pride!

‘Our True Nationality is mankind’ said H.G.Wells.

‘Patriotism is when love of your own people comes first; nationalism, when hate for people other than your own comes first’ said Charles de Gaulle.

What is this ‘nationalism’ and ‘patriotism’ all about?

In this modern fast paced world, do we really care for the nation?Do we really care for the mankind?Do we care for anything at all??

Let us first see what the Nation means to most of us.Though we have a tendency to criticize and at times even abuse our nation, we all stand united whenever there is a crisis..and whenever there is Cricket match!

Sounds strange?

Yes..But most of the facts are strange..

Is it not a fact that most of us have prayed-and continue to pray- (even if we are non-believers) whenever there is an interesting match involving India?

And when the Team wins, don’t we celebrate it in a big way?
We hardly look at the caste or religion of these national heroes.What matters is they are Indians and that they play for our country!

They are the pride of our Nation!

In a similar vein, whenever there is a national calamity, our hearts bleed. We are concerned about our people-our own people, our own brothers and sisters!

The last 48 hours have been traumatic for all of us and we wish that the ordeal comes to an end very soon.

As Subramaniya Bharati said,

‘There are many castes and divisions here.Though we fight among ourselves, are we not brothers born to the same Mother ?’

ஆயிரம் உண்டிங்கு ஜாதி எனில்
அன்னியர் வந்திங்கு புகல் என்ன நீதி?ஓர்
தாயின் வயிற்றில் பிறந்தோர் நம்முள்
சண்டை செய்தாலும் சகோதரர் அன்றோ!

He also sang,

‘We all belong to the same creed. We are all part of the same clan…We are all citizens of India!’

எல்லோரும் ஓர் குலம்; எல்லோரும் ஓர் இனம்.
எல்லோரும் இந்திய மக்கள்!

At a time when the entire nation is looking at Mumbai and praying for the welfare of all the people in the city, it is also imperative that we do not let our emotions take control of heads.

Be a patriot but not a ‘nationalist’.

Condemn terrorism and not a particular religion just because the terrorists owe allegiance to that religion.

Vow not to fall a pray to the machinations of our great political leaders and ‘cultural nationalists’ who enjoy giving colour to everything (because their eyes are already jaundiced).

Let us spread Love and not hatred.

Let us realise that terrorism and terrorist sleep within us and it just takes a moment of madness for these to wake up, assume gigantic proportions and become a Monster.

That brings me to the subject that is very close to everybody’s hearts.


It is the unifying force..It is the omnipotent force..

It calms our nerves..It makes us think positive..

It makes us mellow..It makes us love others..

Many musicians have made our country proud.

The Gentleman from a remotest village in Tamizh Nadu has been giving music that mellows us; that melts us ; that makes forget ourselves ; that makes us love others.

Musicians across the globe have poured encomiums on him. People in the world have saluted him. He was the first Asian to compose a symphony for the Royal Philharmonic. The world famous Budapest Orchestra played for him.

Paul Mauriot, a very famous composer from France remarked ‘This is something different and wonderful’ after listening to ‘How to Name it’.

Alexander, another famous conductor of a Symphony Orchestra was enthralled when he listened to ‘Etho Mogam’(Kozhi Koovuthu) and said ‘This is not Indian Music.This is International Music’.

Is he not our national pride?

The song for today is also based on a Raga that literally means the Nation.
It is Raag Desh.

It is a Hindustani raga and is capable of melting anybody(including the terrorists).

Interestingly, Bankim Chand Chatterjee’s Vande Maataram is also set in Raag Desh!

Desh’s structure is
Sa ri2 ma1 pa ni3 Sa/Sa ni2 dha2 pa ma1 ga3 ri2 ga3 ni3 sa.

Like most of the Hindustani Raags, it uses alien swara(ni3) in this case.In Carnatic music parlance, such ragas are called as Bhashanga Ragas.

The main prayogas(called as ‘pakad’) in the Raga are ‘ri ma pa’ ‘ni dha pa’ ‘ma ga ri’ ‘ga sa’.

In the Hindustani system, we also have Vaadi and Samvaadi swaras-the sonant-consonant pair of notes.While the Vaadi swar is the most important note, the Samvaadi is the second most important and significant note.

In Desh, the Vaadi swar is ‘ri’ and the Samvaadi, ‘pa’.

Let us have a look at the composition.

It is ‘Vizhiyil Pudu Kavithai Padiththen’ from ‘Theerthakaraiyinile’(1987).

The Satin like softness of the Desh is personified by the Shehnai and we close our eyes involuntarily.The gentle breeze kisses us as we listen to the strings, and violins.

The very short piece in the flute says it all!

Again a word or two about Laya Raja.

I have been talking about his sense of Tala(rhythm) time and again in this Blog.What makes his compositions unique and great is this.It follows a structure even when there is no percussion instrument.

This prelude is no exception!

The five-beat khanta pattern adds to the beauty of the composition.

The Pallavi has a sense of freshness-typical of the Raag- and at the same time is very vibrant.

The tenderness continues in the first interlude as the chorus sings.The Flute plays with precision while the string emerges subtly but powerfully.

The CharaNam shows us the endearing features of the raga as the sangatis flow.The structure is also interesting as it becomes a kind of question and answer session between the male and the female voices(Samvaadi and Vaadi?).

The chorus embellishes the CharaNam.

The second interlude also follows an excellent pattern.

The Chitra Veena plays the same swaras as the one rendered by the chorus in the first interlude. The Tabla replies exquisitely.The Flute dazzles ,the bass guitar smiles and the strings sparkle.

It is intensively detailed and effectively punctuated with the beautiful swaras.

We see a clear natural stream.

We see the iridescent hues of the Raga.

Musically Musical!

Niches of quietude!!

Desh- a beautiful serene raga..our Nation.
ILaiyaraaja-the brilliant refined musician.. our pride!

விரலில் புது கீதம் படைப்பார்.
செவியிரண்டில் அமுதம் இசைப்பார்.

He gives us new music that flows like nectar.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

ILaiyaraaja-Musician par Excellence!

‘Love my enemy Oh!
‘Love my enemy.’

Sounds odd?

These are the words of the great Subramania Bharati.

Addressing this to his mind, he goes on to say ‘Don’t we see the shining flame amidst the darkening flame? The Lord lives in all the souls.. yes in my enemy’s soul as well..?’

பகைவனுக்கருள்வாய் நன்னெஞ்சே!

புகை நடுவினில் தீயிருப்பதை பூமியிற் கண்டோமே
நன்னெஞ்சே பூமியிற் கண்டோமே!
பகை நடுவினில் அன்புருவான நம் பரமன் வாழ்கின்றான் நன்னெஞ்சே
பரமன் வாழ்கின்றான்!

Now, how many of us can even think on such lines leave alone write a poem?

There are lots of philosophical overtones in the poem but the simple thing that strikes me is the nature of the mind.

After all, there is only one mind. And we get positive and negative thoughts from the same mind.


Are we the mind? Or is mind different from us?

Anyway, without getting too philosophical, let us all accept the fact that there is positive in negative and negative in positive!

Going back to the ‘enemy factor’, it will surprise some of you if I say that in Carnatic Music too there is something called ‘enemy’.

No.. I am not talking about people who smirk and frown on just hearing the word classical/carnatic Music.

I am talking about what are called as the Vivadi Swaras.

There are 12 swaras in all-two variants of ri,ga ma,dha,ni with sa and pa having no variants.

These 12 swaras or notes are part of any Music.

Each swara has its own position-called as swarasthana-and has its own shruti value.

Though the Mela system of ragas was first invented in 1550 by Raamamaatya,it was Venkatamakhi who revolutionized the system by introducing a new concept in the 17th century.

He introduced a third variant of ‘ri’,’ga,’dha’‘ni’.

This third variant is called the vivadi swara.
Vivadi means dissonance-as opposed to Vadi/Samvadi.

Why is it dissonant and why was it introduced?

It is dissonant because it is very close to the other swara in terms of the Shruti value thereby producing a rather different sound.

Now using all these three variants, Venkatamakhi propounded the 72 Raga Melakartha system.

Vivadi was introduced to make the already beautiful Music more beautiful and more systematic.

‘Make the enemy your friend by loving him..’

Bharthiyar and Venkatamakhi-Can we miss the similarity?

I cannot think of any other form of music that is as systematized as Carnatic Music.

Though in the Hindustani system, it is common to use the two variants of a particular swara in some(many) ragas, the Shruthi value does not change and therefore they are not vivadi swaras.

The 72 Ragas are divided into 12 groups-called as Chakras-each group consisting of 6 ragas.

Out of these, 40 are Vivadi Ragas(majority in the assembly!)

Let us also understand that the third variant of the 4 swaras is not new. It is already existing in some other name but with a reduced Shruti value.

Just to quote an example, in the first Melakartha, Kanakangi(Raga of ‘Mogam Ennum’..) the first ‘ri’ is followed by the second ‘ri’.The second ‘ri’ is sung as ‘ga’(ga1).Similarly, the first ‘dha’(d1)is followed by the second ‘dha’, but is sung as ni(ni1).


The Shruthi values are different and therefore the swaras sound different.

‘Make the enemy your friend by loving him..
There is fire behind the smoke’

Bharati and Venkatamakhi-Can we miss the similarity?

Well, why am I discussing these things?

Three reasons.

One-As fans of the Maestro, I thought it is essential for all of us to understand some basic concepts in music.

Two-Raaja sir is the only film music composer to have used many vivadi ragas.

Three-Today’s composition is based on a beautiful Vivadi Raga.

I also see lot of similarities between Venkatamakhi, Bharati and ILaiyaraaja.

Multi dimensional, Revolutionising an existing system, Innovative approach, Intelligence..

Mathematics, Poetry, Music.

Three different personalities, three different eras ..

That is the beauty of life!

I was mentioning that today’s composition is based on a Vivadi Raga.The composition is ‘Sangeetham en Degamandro..’ from Bala Nagamma(1981).

It is based on Chitrambari-the 66th Melakartha.

It is next to Kalyani in the Melakartha system and only the Vivadi swara-Shatshruti Dha-separates the two.

The structure is

sa ri2 ga3 ma2 pa dha3 ni3 Sa
Sa ni3 dha3 pa ma2 ga3 ri2 sa.

ILaiyaraaja is the only film music composer to have used this Raga.

As a matter of fact, except for a composition by Koteeswara Iyer-who has composed in all the 72 melakartha ragas-there is no other known composition in this Raga.

‘Sangeetham..’ starts with the melodious Veena.The sedate atmosphere continues as the music from the violins blossom like a flower...

Suddenly, Chitrambari is borne forward by the fascinating Flute.
As the prelude reaches its climax, we see the beauty of the raga that is adorned by pretty robe and ornaments..

We now hear the honey soaked voice of Vani Jeyaram.

The pallavi flows with lucidity showing us the grandeur of the Raga.
‘Aalilai meloru noolidai megalai..’and ‘Isai Ezhaga..’ use only the normal swaras giving us a Kalyani flavour.

In the first interlude, the Veena is serene and sparkling and the violins bend gracefully. The flute spins a web around us. The Veena now plays the Vivadi swara in combination with other swaras and we spin with it.

The Charanam gives us the subtle shades and the nuances of the Raga.
It moves like a breeze gently caressing us.

Is our thirst quenched with the sangathis?

No..we want more of the Raga..

And we get this in the second interlude.

It is suffused with the colours of the Swaras.

It is a cascade..

It capers about with ecstasy..

It runs around..

It dances..

It prances..

The clarity, grasp, emphasis and laya control is amazing..

This is what is called Tempestuous Virtuosity!

The composition is filled with linear motif.

It decants the essence of the beautiful Vivadi Raga.

It is dazzling and vibrant..

It transports us to a spiritually elevated level..

Raaja’s body is Music, his heart his music, his Mind is Music, his breath is music his soul is music..

சங்கீதம் அவர் தேகம் அன்றோ.. அவர் இதயம் அன்றோ..அவர் மனம் அன்றோ..அவர் மூச்சு அன்றோ..அவர் உயிர் அன்றோ..
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Sunday, 23 November 2008

ILaiyaraaja-The Divine Musician!

Saint Thyagaraja says to Rama,

‘You are my light; you are the beautiful smell.
You are the crux of my Life’.

‘Naa Jeevadhara Naa Nomu palama,
Naa Joopu Prakasamu, Naa Nasika Parimalama..’

In another Krithi, he says,

‘Can anything be more blissful than being with you?
Dancing and singing about you is more than enough for me’

‘Inthakanna Aanandamemi O Rama Rama!
Aaduchu Naadamuna Paaduchu Ethutara Veduchu Manasuna Koodiyundutta Chaalu’.

Thyagaraja saw the Almighty everywhere.

To him, Music and Rama was everything and he strongly believed that Music is the vehicle to attain Divinity.

I am reminded of Subramania Bharathi who sang ‘I see you in the feathers of the Crow.I see you in the Greenery.’He even went on to sing that when he touched the fire, he felt the pleasure of touching the God.

Only people who are divine are able to produce such divine words and works.

That is why, Thyagaraja’s compositions are still alive after more than 150 years.
Bharathi ‘s works are relevant after nearly 100 years.

In a similar vein, ILaiyaraaja, who sees Music, feels Music, breathes Music, and gives Music is a Divine personality. Like Thyagaraja, he believes in Naadopaasana.

Not many people know that during Dasserah(Navarathri), he invites great Carnatic Musicians to perform in his house.

All the Musicians enjoy their concerts there because of the Divine Experience they get.

Today, we are going to see another divine composition of his that is based on a beautiful and a Majestic Ragam.

The Ragam is Bilahari.

The two Thyagaraja Krithis quoted in the beginning are also in Bilahari.

Bilahari has 5 Swaras in the Aarohanam and all the 7 in the Avarohanam.

This kind of a structure is called as ‘Oudava Sampoornam’-‘oudava’ meaning 5 and ‘sampoornam’ meaning complete.

The structure of Bilahari is

Arohanam: sa ri2 ga3 pa dha2 Sa
Avarohanam:Sa ni3 dha2 pa ma1 ga3 ri2 sa.

The Arohanam is the same as that of Mohanam.

Bilahari is also the Sudhha Madhyama counterpart of ‘Mohana Kalyani’ another beautiful Ragam.

As per some texts, there is a sparing use of the other ‘ni’(kaisiki) in Bilahari.

Singing or listening to this Ragam makes one very fresh. It wakes us up from the slumber making us shed our laziness.

No doubt, Bilahari is also considered to be a Morning ragam

There is a very interesting story behind the composition we are going to discuss today.

Raja sir and his Guru TVG sir were in Kollur in Karnataka, the place where Mookambika temple is located. They were in a cottage when suddenly they heard the chime of the temple bell. It sounded like the ‘ri’ to TVG sir while it sounded like the ‘ga’ to Raja sir.

Sa ri ga ..

And this was enough to trigger a conversation between the two Maestros. The topic was on Bilahari ragam and they went on and on discussing the beauty of this Ragam.

Within a week of returning to Madras, TVG sir received a call from his disciple requesting him to visit the Recording Studio.

The Disciple played this song and the Guru was spellbound.

With tears rolling down the cheeks, the Guru told the Sishya that he had never listened to anything better than this in Film Music..

In Indian Classical Arts, Guru occupies a very special place and it is said that whatever be the talents, one cannot shine unless one has the blessings of the Guru.

Raja sir has the blessings of all his Gurus.
That is why his Music sounds so divine despite being in a commercial set up like Films.

Let us now turn our attention on the composition that rendered his Guru speechless.

It is ‘Koonthalile..’ from ‘Bala Nagamma’(1982).

The opening itself is beautiful.

As one hears the ascending notes, the Lady voice (Sasirekha) hums and Violin plays with lilting grace.

The Pallavi starts with the silky smooth voice of Yesudass.

There is a unique delicacy in the structure.The first line moves in the normal pace while the second line has short pauses in between making it look majestic.

It is Rounded Mellowness as Yesudass sings the ‘Koonthalile..’ again adding some sangathis.

The Interlude has Galloping phrases, Humming, Impassioned Veena, Flute and Percussion all giving the niceties of the Raga Swaroopa.

The first Charanam is ornately structured.

It looks like a Pillar-strong at the same time very smooth.

Bilhari takes a meandering stroll with Veena and the percussion.
The stroll is depicted with the change in the gait of the line ‘Nadanthaal..’


We reach the higher plane and are lost there as we hear ‘Mel paathi thanai Paarkka..’

In the second Interlude, Bilahari swirls, twirls, and prances.

The delectable long spree of Thaanam gives us a wonderful Rhythmic Sway!

The second charanam has deft phrasings with multiple matrices of beautiful sangathis.

We see the Sculptures of Krishnapuram and Maamallapuram.

We see the paintings of Ajanta/Ellora.

We see the precious Gems.

We see the Lotus in the Moonlight.

We hear the euphonic Veena.

We drink the Nectar.

It is Divine Music...

தெய்வீக ராகம்!தெவிட்டாத பாடல்!!

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Thursday, 13 November 2008

ILaiyaraaja-The Lovable Musician!

'Bigger Than The Earth, Certainly,
Higher Than The Sky,
More Unfathomable Than The Waters
Is This Love For This Man
Of the mountain slopes where
Bees make rich honey from the flowers of the Kurinchi
That has such black stalks'.

நிலத்தினும் பெரிதே வானினும் உயர்ந்தன்று
நீரினும் ஆரள வின்றே சாரல்
கருங்கோற் குறிஞ்சிப் பூக்கொண்டு
பெருந்தேன் இழைக்கு நாடனொடு நட்பே.

The Sangam Tamizh Poetry from the early classical era (100BC-AD250) is among the finest India has ever produced. Not to know them is not to know a unique and major poetic achievement of Indian Civilisation..

The aforementioned verse is from Kuruntokai-which is part of Sangam Literature.This poem is about lovers’ union but the union is not talked about nor is it described. It is enacted by the inset scene of the bees making honey from the flowers of Kurinchi.

This technique of using the scene to describe is called as ‘ullurai uvamam’ in Tamizh meaning ‘hidden or implicit metaphor’.

Furthermore, the poem opens with large abstractions like the Earth, and the sky, but it moves towards the concreteness of the black stalked Kurinchi flowers. This progression moving from the first elements to native elements to human feelings forms the intellectual framework of the poetry.

I was reminded of this verse when I was listening to.. Raja’s music…

Our love for him and his music is unfathomable. His music pierces the Heart and touches the Soul.

His era, like the Sangam era is among the finest Indian Film World has ever produced. Not to know him or his music is not to know a unique and major achievement in the Music World.

His music also moves subtly from abstract to concrete to human feelings.

It is a well- known fact that he is an erudite person with profound knowledge in Music. But what stands out is the way he conceives and composes Music intuitively.

Today, let us take up another beautiful composition of his..

It is ‘Radha Radha’ from ‘Meendum Kokila’.

The composition is based on Suddha Saveri, a pentatonic Raga.The structure of the Raga is:

sa ri2 ma1 pa dha2 Sa/Sa dha2 pa ma1 ri2 sa.

The Hindustani equivalent(with a slight variation in avarohana) is Durga.

Sometime back, we saw the Raga Mohanam. If the ‘ga’ in Mohanam is replaced by ‘ma’, it is Suddha Saveri.

However, Suddha Saveri has a beauty of its own.

One of the most popular krithis of Thyagaraja, ‘Dhari ni Telusu Konti’ is in Sudhha Saveri. Thyagaraja, the Genius composed this on Tripurasundari ,the goddess at Tiruvotriyur. The first line itself gives the avarohana of the raga-Sa dha pa ma ri ….In the next line , he wonderfully adds the phrase ‘Tripura Sun..dari nee’. Sundari means one who is beautiful.

That is Thyagaraja.

ILaiyaraaja has also done some wonders with this classical raga. He has composed many songs in this raga and my personal favourite is the evergreen ‘Kovil Mani Osai’ from ‘Kizhakke Pogum Rail’. In fact he even composed a duet in this raga in a typical Rajini Masala movie (‘Sugam Sugame’ in ‘Naan potta Savaal’).

That is ILaiyaraaja.

Radha Radha’ starts with the wonderful aalap. Sometime back, I had mentioned as to how his aalaps too follow tala beats(without any percussion).

The ‘ aa.. aa.. aa..’ of Janaki and SPB follow the 3 beat Tisram.
He has beautifully used counterpoints and the harmony is smooth and sublime.

We see two horizons at the same time!

The love struck violins appear now and the Flute celebrates Love singing like a Honey Bird!

The Tabla watches the lovers and starts playing only after the first ‘Radha Radha’.
The Tisram beats follow a wonderful pattern
‘Ta ta-‘.
The stress is on the first Ta and the third is left alone…

In the first interlude, the Violins play with eloquence. The solo violin plays with grace to the ‘Ta - - Ta ka dhi mi Ta - - ta ki ta’ pattern with the flute enjoying the spectacle. The Guitar comes marching in to join the party playing Ta Ka Dhi Mi Ta Ka with stress on the first ‘Ta’,’dhi’ and the last ‘ka’.

The Charnam is like the Shimmering Silver Waves glistening with the beauty of Suddha Saveri. And we travel with the waves that follow ‘Ta – Ta ka dhi mi Ta ki Ta’ and then ‘Ta ki ta Ta ki ta Ta ki ta’ with the third ‘Ta ki ta’ equaling the first two ‘Ta ki ta’.

It is Romance personified as Janaki renders ‘Kanna Kanna’..

The Guitar piece in the second Interlude is clothed in phrasings that abound with Melodic Tints!It is Laya Raja again as it plays ‘Ta ka dhi mi ta ka’ 4 times followed by ‘Ta - Ta Ta Ta - Ta Ki Ta’

The brief excursions of the Raga are shown in the Question –Answer Session that follows this.

The composition is an eloquent delineation of the structural beauty of Suddha Saveri..

It is vibrant.

It is resonant.

It is Lovable.

It is Adorable.

In his Music, even the subtle sound of the feet is melodious..

அவரது இசையில் காலடி ஓசையிலும் யாழிசை கேட்கும்..

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

ILaiyaraaja-The Complete Musician!

The great Sanskrit Poet Bharavi -while talking about the greatest things in the Universe said,

‘Pushpeshu Jaathi
Purusheshu Vishnu
Nareeshu Rambha
Nagareshu Kanchi’

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?

Monday, 3 November 2008

ILaiyaraaja's Music is Rich!

Wealth’ and ‘Richness’ are very interesting words.
Generally we associate these words with money.

Materialistic outlook!
Good or bad?

Without getting into this debate shall we look at these words and see if they show us(or give us) what money cannot buy.

We say he/she brings in a wealth of information.
We say ‘wealth of knowledge’
We say ‘wealth of experience’
We say ‘wealth of knowledge’.

We say ‘rich texture’.
We say ‘rich colours’
We say ‘rich design’.

What exactly is wealth? What exactly is richness?

I would say anything/anyone radiating positive energy is wealthy and rich.

Incidentally, the Goddess of wealth in the Hindu tradition is Lakshmi.
We again make the mistake of misinterpreting the qualities of Lakshmi. People with money are considered to be having ‘Lakshmi Kadaaksham’.

But Lakshmi is beyond all these.

Poet Bharati is said to have lived in penury.

While singing about Goddess Lakshmi, he says

‘You are in the Yagnyaas,Fame,Intelligence,Novelty,Great Music, Dance,and Paintings(all art forms).’

‘Punniya VeLviyilum uyar Pugazhilum
Mathiyilum, Puthumaiyilum, pannu naarpaavaiyilum
Nalla paattilum Kooththilum padaththinilum,
Nanniya Devi’

See how rich his poetry is.. Is this the voice of a gentleman who lived in poverty?
He was in deed endowed with Lakshmi Kataaksham.
His poems live even after hundred years.

This is real wealth!

Muththuswami Dikshithar’s compositions have great musical value, rich structure and magical power.With this power, he could have even made the entire world his slave.
But he never hankered for money or any material things.

It is said that once his wife-knowing the mystical quality of her husband’s music-requested him to get all kinds of jewellery .He sang’Hiranmayeem Lakshmim’ in Lalitha ragam.

That night Goddess Lakshmi appeared in his wife’s dream fully adorned with rich jewellery and asked her if that was enough or she wanted more.

His wife realized her folly.She understood that her husband’s music was capable of even bringing the goddess in her dreams. And that she without realizing the real value went after materialistic pleasures.

Was Dikshithar rich?

Of course he was.. He gave us very rich compositions that can transport us to an esoteric world.

Though he composed some great Krithis on Lakshmi, one of his Krithis is special.

It is

‘Sri Varalakshmi Vasupradhe
Sri Saarasapathe Rasa Pathe Sa Pathe Pathe Pathe..’

One of the specialities is the Ragam itself.It is in Sri Ragam.

The second speciality is the pattern in the second line. Look how he has played with ‘Saarasapathe..’.(this pattern is one of the ‘Yatis’).

Going back to the Ragam, ‘Sri’ in Sanskrit denotes Goddess Lakshmi.

That is why we Indians prefix any name with ‘Sri’ or ‘Srimathi’(so that all of us get ‘Lakshmi Kataaksham’.

The Raga Sri is therefore very rich.

Considered to be one of the oldest ragas, this Raga-as the name suggests- is very auspicious and is considered to bring lot of good things.

It is derived from Karaharapriya and its structure is
Sa ri2 ma1 pa ni2 Sa/Sa ni2 pa dha2 ni2 pa ma1 ri2 ga2 ri2 Sa.
Some say the‘pa dha ni pa ma’ usage is a later addition.

However, it is a fact that this prayoga and the ‘ri ga ga ri sa’ prayoga give a very special feeling.

Saint Thaygaraja beautifully shows us the contours of Saama Veda in Sri in the very first line-Saama Gaana Lola-in his inimitable Pancharatna Kriti, ‘Endaro Mahanubhavulu’.

The beauty here is that the structure of this charanam follows the Saama veda pattern.

Rich Composer! Rich Music!!

One of the modern day composers who is also very rich in terms of knowledge, and in terms of Music has done wonders with this Raga..

The song is ‘Devi Durga Devi’ from the Telugu Film ‘Sankeerthana’.

It has a very special prelude with the dance jathis creating an ambience of classicism.The silent phrases in between and the sound of the bell give a divine feeling.

A Dancer’s entire body is the vehicle of expression and this is ‘Aangika abhinaya’.’Vaachika Abhinaya’ is the expression through song, music and poetry.
We see both these abhinayas in full swing.

The Pallavi is effulgent with rich lyrics, bright voices of SPB and Vani Jeyaram and the pulsating Mridangam.

In the first prelude, he weaves a silken thread of Sri as the violins and flutes dance with the Mridangam giving a repartee.The ‘ri ga ri sa’ phrase towards the end of the first part of the prelude is enchanting.

If we observe closely, even the Mridangam sounds like Sri Ragam.

The first Charanam is delightful.

If the line ‘Kaala Bhayakara..’ is vibrant, the following line is resonant and the last line is tender.

It gives soulful touches.

The Mridangam reverberates and then begins a swirl of Swaras.

It glides.

It gives us verbal images.

It is appealing.

It is revealing.

It captures the special fragrance of the Raga.

It encapsulates the essence of the Raga.

It shows us the glory of the Raga and music.

It shines like a glittering sapphire.

And this is what is richness!

Raaja..Sangeetha Raaja Aangikam Vaachikam Anni Meere..

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Wednesday, 15 October 2008

ILaiyaraaja's Music is Unique!

Our Life revolves around numbers.

It is in deed impossible to think of any human activity without numbers.Our age, the time, the grocery, the Bus Route, the Car Registration, the TV Channel..well the list is endless..

And yes..Music and numbers..

It is an inextricable link.

Each number is unique and has its own beauty.

Thirumazhisai Aaazhwar-one of whose paasurams I had already quoted in my post on ‘Endrendrum Aanandame’(Laya Raja) in this thread-who lived in the 7th Century wrote 216 verses out of which 96 are classified are ‘Naanmugan Thiru Anthaathi’ and 120 are classified under ‘Thiruchchanda Viruththam’.

‘Thiruchchanda Viruththam’ is very musical. The verses have very deep philosophical connotations as well.

One of the verses is

‘AaRum AaRum AaRumaay Or Ainthum Ainthum Ainthumaay,
ERuseer iraNdum moonRum Ezhum AaRum ettumaay,
VERu VERu Gnaam Aagi meyyinodu poyyumaay,
OoRodu Osaiyaaya ainthum aaya aaya maayanE!

ஆறும் ஆறும் ஆறுமாய் ஓர் ஐந்தும் ஐந்தும் ஐந்துமாய்,
ஏறு சீர் இரண்டும் மூன்றும்,ஏழும், ஆறும், எட்டுமாய்,
வேறு வேறு ஞானம் ஆகி,மெய்யினோடு பொய்யுமாய்,
ஊறொடு ஓசையாய ஐந்தும் ஆய ஆய மாயனே!

The great Vaishnavite scholar Shri.K C Varadachary has translated this verse wonderfully:

Being the six, the six and the six being (worshipped) by the five, the five and the five
He who is the excellent two, the three, the seven, the six and the eight
Having made distinct the knowledge, being the True and the Untrue
The Self of the five (senses) He is the Lord, the magician!

As mentioned earlier, the verse has inner meanings and is beyond the scope of this discussion.

However, one can enjoy this verse just by reading without even scratching the head about the meanings.

Does it not sound so musical?

Now each number is unique and has a beauty of its own.

Let us take the number five.

There are five elements.

There are five senses.

There are five fingers in each hand.

The Tamizh Land was divided into Five different ThiNais in the Sangam period.

In Hindu Religion, Siva is known by the panchaakshara mantran(na ma shi va ya).
Lord Ganesha is described as the one with five hands(Ainkaran).

The number Five is very musical too.

While setting the Shruthi, the range is calculated from the base ‘sa’to ‘pa’which is the fifth note.

One of the greatest composers of all times, Saint Thyagaraja spent his life in Thiruvaiyaaru-the place where 5 rivers flow.

In Kerala, during all major functions, five percussion instruments-called as Pancha Vaadhyam- is played in unison.

In Carnatic Music, pentatonic Ragas-Ragas that have five notes are very popular.

Our Maestro invented a raga called ‘Panchamukhi’-meaning five faces.

His symphony score for the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra has five movements.

Today, we are going to see a composition that is based on a pentatonic raga.

The Raga is Abhogi.

This Raga is special for two reasons.

Before we get on with the composition, let us see why this Raga is special.

The Carnatic Music Trinity-Shyama Sastry, Thyagaraja,and Muththuswami Dikshitar-were contemporaries and have given us gems.
Yet another great composer, Gopalakrishna Bharatiyar-who composed many songs in Tamizh including the ‘Nandanar Charitram’ also lived during the same period in Mayilaaduthurai.

One day, he decided to visit Saint Thyagaraja.

As he entered the house, he saw and heard Thyagaraja’s disciples singing a Keerthana in Abhogi. Thyagaraja asked Bharati if he had composed any song in that raga. There was no answer.

The next day, Bharati went to the Saint’s house again and sang a Krithi in Abhogi.The Saint asked him as to why he did not sing that the previous day and Goplakrishna Bharatiyar replied that he composed it only the previous night.

The great Saint blessed him.

The song was the popular ‘Sabapathikku Veru Deivam Samaanamaaguma’.

This episode was described by the great Tamizh writer U.V.Swaminatha Iyer and has been reproduced by ILaiyaraaja in his book ‘Sangeeta KanavugaL’ while mentioning about a photograph he saw of the Western Music composer Strauss with another great composer Brahms in Vienna.

Abhogi is special for yet another reason.

A Krithi in this Raga was sung by ILaiyaraaja in pure Carnatic style in the presence of one of the greatest legends of Carnatic music, Shri.Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer-whose Birth Centenary is being celebrated across the country now.

After the rendering, Shri.Semmangudi placed his hands on Raaja sir’s head and called him a ‘Maha Vidwan’.

Let us now look at today’s composition that is based on this very special Raga.

Before that, let us see the structure of Abhogi.

It is derived from the 22nd Melakartha Karaharapriya and its Arohana/Avarohana pattern is:

Sa ri2 ga2 ma1 dha1 Sa/Sa dha2 ma1 ga2 ri2 sa.

And now for the composition.

The single string provides the adhaara shruti.We see the quintessential beauty of Abhogi as Jayachandran sings a sweet aalaap with subtle flute welcoming him.The Veena now plays with verve.

We are awestruck by the structure of the Pallavi.

The first two lines flow smoothly.

In the next line ‘KanavugaLin..’ is followed by a beautiful sangati that first stays in a couple of notes and then comes down following the avarohana pattern.
We see the same pattern in the next line.

The sweet voice of Vani Jayaram joins just towards the end of the pallavi.
The Flute now captivates us as it calls joyously. Its call is replied by the Veena.

The Dilruba now coalesces with the Veena giving us a very intense feeling. The Veena is so happy that it begins to sing rapturously with the Mridangam nodding its head happily.

The joy continues in the densely structured Charanam.
The way the Raga is delineated is amazing.

‘Poongiyil Sonnathu Kaadalin Mandiram’and ‘Poovinai Thooviya..’give the raga in a burnished form while ‘Naayagan Kai Thodavum’ show us the vibrant hues of Abhogi.

In ’Manjaththile..’Abhogi fondles us.

The tantalizing trajectory of the Swaras shows us the intrinsic beauty of the Raga.

To start with, it is reposeful.
It then becomes powerful.
It is then free flowing and pulsating.

A class act!

A pageantry of sorts!

Joie de vivre!

Unique experience.

As unique as the number five.

His Music-Joyful not just today, but forever!

அவரது இசை இருந்தால் இன்றைக்கு மட்டுமல்ல, என்றைக்குமே ஆனந்தம்தான்!

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Sunday, 12 October 2008

ILaiyaraaja-Musician Beyond Compare!

தோள் கண்டார் தோளே கண்டார்;தொடுகழற்கமலம் என
தாள் கண்டார் தாளே கண்டார்;தடக்கை கண்டாரும் அஃதே
வாள்கொன்ட கண்ணார் யாரே வடிவினை முடியக் கண்டார்?
ஊழ்கொண்ட சமயத்து அன்னான் உருவு கண்டாரை ஒத்தார்.

When Rama goes back to Mythila for his betrothal with Sita, the women of Mythila swarm him and vie with one another to have a glimpse of his beauty.

Poet Kamban says women who looked at his shoulders kept looking at it ...
People who looked at his hands could not go beyond that...
And those who looked at his feet could not take their eyes off...

But nobody saw his beauty in its entirety.

The clincher is the last line where Kamban says ‘It is like thinking that we know everything about the Almighty just by scrupulously practising our religion.’

Rama’s beauty was thus unfathomable..

In a similar vein I feel ILaiyaraaja’s Music is unfathomable. When we listen to a particular song of his, we get attracted to the tune and do not get out of that;

or we tend to get allured to the orchestration and sink in that;

or we tend to get hypnotized by the way it has been composed and immerse ourselves in that.

The more we think we know him and his music the more enigmatic it is.

That is why I consider him as- A Musician Beyond Compare!

Today we are going to see two of his works that were composed exclusively for the Italy Show.

The first one is the Composition with Three Notes and the second one is ‘Mood Kapi’.

Let us first take up ‘Three In One’.

But before that let me briefly explain about the concept of three notes. In some of my previous posts, I had explained about the concept of Raga.

A Raga is a unique combination of notes ascending and descending. As per the grammar of Indian Music, any Raga must have at least five notes.

There have been exceptions to this rule and relatively new Ragas like 'Navarasa Kannada' and 'Kathanakuthookalam' have only four Swaras in Arohana(ascending).Dr.Balamuralikrishna invented a Raga called Mahati with just four notes both in Arohana and Avarohana and MSV sir used it in Athisaya Ragam in the Film Apoporva Ragangall.

We have also discussed about Lavangi(KangaLukkuL unnai ezhuthu..)

One of the oldest Vedas, Sama Veda (also considered to be a Musical Veda) uses Sa Ri Ga extensively and Illaiyaraja used only these Swaras in the first two lines of ‘Poovaar Senni Mannan’(Thiruvaachakam).

However, the ‘Three In One’ is unique because it is a Musical Composition running to three and half minutes and nobody has ever even made an attempt to venture into this kind of a composition.

Going back to the grammar of Carnatic Music, the minimum requirement of five Swaras is just to ensure that the there is more scope for delineation of a particular raga so that there are no repetitive phrases.

But here is the case of a composition that breaks grammar without in any way compromising on the Musical Quality. Most importantly there is never a dull moment. This is because of the way the Swaras have been used and because of the way the orchestration has been done.

There have been comments-some sardonic and some acerbic- saying it is some kind of a cheating since there is a change in the octave.But the fact of the matter is that it is well within the rules of Music. I do not want to dwell on this further.

Let us look at the composition.The Swaras used -as per Carnatic Music Parlance-are Shadjamam, Chatushruthi Rishabham, Antara Gandharam.

In fact, this is the first half(called as poorvaangam) of two very popular Ragas-Mohanam and Hamsadhwani-and the composition has shades of the former.

When the notes were given to the orchestra, none of them discovered that only three notes have been used..And if it was not publicly announced as ‘Three In One’, I am not sure how many listeners would have discovered it.

The composition starts with the Flute playing with gay abandon and we feel we are at the Foothill ready to climb the Stubbly Mountain.

As the percussion in the Chatushram beat joins, we begin to climb wending our way, go down again only to climb a little further.

As the Flute continues to play, the strings and the Bass join with a kind of unique insouciance, and we see the grassy rolling hills.

The breeze kisses us gently as the Violin plays in pure Western Classical style.

We hear the rustle of crisp spiky leaves and are surrounded by the fragrance of the flowers.We see the wild grooves of bamboo thistles and bramble as the viola traipses octaves. We see the gurgling river with a sparkling stream as the humming we hear the humming.

The Violins play with yearning tenderness and we are on nature’s lap with the Music caressing us.

Captivating beauty and splendour of Nature and Music at its best!

It is the Summit and the Acme. ..

Let us now turn our attention to the other piece-Mood Kaapi.

This tune has appeared as a song with lyrics in Films. However, this piece is very special considering the fact that in the Italy show it was played as a eight minute piece without any lyrics!

The Raga is originally from Hindustani Music though the Kaapi sung in Carnatic style is somewhat different from the Hindustani Kapi.In fact, Raag Kaapi in Hindustani Music is a ‘Thaat’(equivalent of Melakartha in Carnatic) and it is nothing but the Karaharapriya Ragam in Carnatic.

Kaapi in Carnatic style has five notes in Arohana-sa ri2 ma1 pa ni3 Sa-and all the seven notes in the Avarohana albeit in a devious form(called as vakra prayoga)-Sa ni2 dha2 ni2 pa ma1 ga2 ri2 sa.It uses both variants of the ‘ni’-the Kakali Nishadam in Arohanam and the Kaisiki Nishadam in the Avarohanam.

There are of course various versions of the Aro/Avaro.

The phrase 'ga ma ni pa ga' clearly gives the essence of the Ragam.

The first thing that strikes one in ‘Mood Kapi is the rhythmic pattern. It is set to the 8 beat Adi Tala and the two Avarthanas(2x8) are beautifully divided as ‘Ta Ka Dhi Mi Ta Ki Ta Ta Ka Ta Ki Ta Ta - - -' .

That is instead of 8 +8, it is 7+9.

Not a computer generated pattern but purely from the mind of the creative genius!

‘Mood Kaapi’ begins with the wistful Dilruba playing an incandescent Aalap.A single stroke of brush makes us visualize the whole portrait.

The Violin orchestra now plays with immaculate beauty showing us the regality of Kapi.

The feisty Tabla sparkles in the entire piece.

The Flute gives soft touches followed by the violin orchestra playing without any frills.The Dilruba appears again and shows the unfettered imagination of the composer.

It is then a Metronomic Progression.

The contours of the Raga are presented crisply by the solo violin.It is a clearly defined musical motif as the chorus renders ‘Tham Tham..’.

It delves into new depths as there is a conversation between the Dilruba and the Tabla and finally the Tabla plays the ‘Dha Thai Dhi Tha’ beats ubiquitous in a Kathak dance.

The Swara singing passages give a sensitive portrayal of the raga with a beautiful mathematical calculation -typical of Carnatic Music- and are rendered jauntily.

In the end the sounds dissolve into silence and we are in a trance.

The Composition is an excellent match between the musical vision and the delivery.

It is couched in winsome language.

It is mesmerism in the form of Music.

No poetry can match the beauty of this Music!

இந்த இசை சங்கத்தில் காணாத கவிதை!

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Wednesday, 1 October 2008

ILaiyaraaja-The Brilliant Classical Musician!

Ancient Literature has dealt with various aspects and dimensions of Life.The beauty of Literature lies not just in the Subjects/Topics but in the way these have been presented aesthetically.

The Sangam Literature in Tamizh has poems of Love and War –the former called as ‘Agam’ and the latter ‘Puram’.

The Sweep , the immediacy and minute observation of Human Behaviour make these poems one of the finest ever.

Kurunthogai , which is part of the Tamizh Sangam Literature describes in detail about Love.

Reminiscing about the time spent with his lover and unable to bear the pangs of separation a man says,

‘As a little white snake with lovely stripes on its young body
Troubles the jungle elephant
This slip of a girl
Her teeth like sprouts of new rice
Her wrists stacked with bangles troubles me.’

சிறு வெள்ளரவின் அவ்வரிக் குருளை
கான யானை அணங்கி யா அங்கு
இளையள் முளைவாள் எயிற்றள்
வளையுடைக் கையள் எம் அணங்கியோளே.

Such a beautiful expression reminds me of ILaiyaraja’s Music.

With his Razor Sharp Brain , and profound knowledge, he has given and has been giving us compositions that are not just melodious but also very poetic.

His search for excellence and his never ending thirst for innovation are something Extraordinary.

His Music is a Gift to all genuine Music Lovers of the past and present and the future Generations.

What sets him apart from others is his ability to bring out the essence and beauty of each Raga.

He is the only Film Music Composer to have used many Melakartha Ragas –Vivadi Ragas in particular.

All Vivadhi Ragas are unwieldy and even some of the Carnatic Musicians stay away from these Ragas.

ILaiyaraja who is a Master Musician has used Vivadhi Ragas time and again to suit the mood of the sequence in Films.

The Film Sindhu Bhairavi-being the story of a Classical Musician- is replete with Classical Music.There is a situation in the movie where the Hero is obsessed by the thoughts of the ‘other woman’.

Unable to bear the torments, he does the only thing he knows- which is singing!

This is where the Composer’s brilliance and thoughtfulness come into play.

ILaiyaraaja uses Kanakangi, the first Melakartha Raga in which all the Swaras are too close to each other giving an eerie feeling.

Only Geniuses-who are born in this world once in a while- can come up with such ideas and execute them to perfection.

The Raga typifies the mental state of the Hero.He wants to be very close with the woman but at the same time he knows it is immoral!

Again….it is not just the Raga that makes the difference..the structure, the Tala and above all the use of Taanam-which is an integral part of Carnatic Music-all these prove yet again as to why Raja is a boon to the Music World.

In major Carnatic Music Concerts, Ragam-Taanam-Pallavi-is a section where a Raga is taken for exposition and is delineated by the Musician.A typical RTP takes at least 45 minutes.

ILaiyaraaja has touched all the dimensions of Kanakangi in less than two and half minutes.He is like the legendary Tamizh Poet Thiruvalluvar who was able to give the essence of a topic in less than two lines.

The Composition starts with ‘Thom Thom Thom Tha Nam Tha Thom Thom Thom Tha Nam Tha Nam Thom’-a total of 24 Aksharaas.

In Carnatic Music and for that matter in Film Music, the 8 beat cycle called as Adi Tala is the most popular one and the Rhythmic patterns revolve around the multiples of 8 in this Tala.

He prepares us for a feast by opening with 24 Aksharaas.

This is followed by a silent phase- depicting the mood of the character- and one entire cycle of Adi Tala is quiet .The only sound we hear is the drone of the Tanpura.

We now feel the melting of the Hero’s Heart in the Fire that is Lust.Only three Swaras-sa, ri and ni- are used.

The Musician Hero sees the woman as a Strobe light and he wants to kill the illusion that is Lust.

As he throbs, the Mridangam makes an appearance stealthily, first producing the sound of a slap(on his face!) as the word ‘Mogam’(meaning lust) is sung and then reverberates when he sings ‘Kondru Poda Vendum’(I must Kill).

His angst now becomes increasingly intolerable as he says ‘My entire body is filled with lust. Please pour water to douse this fire.’ The Swara Structure is brilliant –it is ga ga ga followed by ri ri ri and sa just to show his isolation.

Now the Hero reveals how dominant the thoughts of the Lady are as he sings ‘Manathil Unathu Aathikkam..’.

The Mridangam is strident now and the interval between each Mridangam beats is reduced.The Swaras which were isolated join as they take the ascent- sariga , rigama, gamapa.

He continues to reveal that the Storm of Lust is about to uproot him and he pleads to save him.

Raja the Master uses only the lower octave Swaras until now.As the plea to save the Hero from Lust is made, it jumps to the upper Sa and Ri…

Now comes the Taanam and the vignettes of Kanakangi are in view as the Swaras conflagrate.

The brilliance of Raja comes into fore again as the phrases ‘Thaa Nam Tha Thana Tham Tham Tham become ‘Aanandam’-meaning happiness.Just to show that the Viraha or the pangs of separation is enjoyable though it is negative!

Then there is a free wheeling sanchara with a 50 Akshara.

Now it is a Rollicking experience as the Thom becomes Dhom-to indicate the intensity.

The Graphic Phrasings continue in the higher octave Swaras.

The climax is reached as Dhom Dhom Dhom Dhom Dhom Dhom Dhom Thana is rendered very forcefully and vehemently.

The progression from one Sthayi to another is amazing. The first Dhom… is rendered with the higher Ga Ma , the second one with the higher Sa Ri while the last one with the lower ga ma.

The composition is amazing because of the cohesive design capturing the special fragrance of Kanakangi-a Vivadhi Raga.

The Composition is wonderful because of the Felicitous Voice of Yesudass.

The Composition is beautiful because of the Taanam augmented by suitable Swaras .

The Composition is Brilliant because of the Tala pattern.

An uncanny experience!!

It is Tha Nam Tha Tha Na Tham Tham Tham
Tha Nam Tha Tha Na Tham Tham Tham


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