Monday, 21 January 2008

ILaiyaraaja-The Romantic Musician!

The poetic beauty of Kamba Ramayanam is very well known.

Kamban was a Poet par excellence .His choice of words and his beautiful, and meaningful descriptions convey many intricate things!

Here is a scene from his ‘Bala Gandam’.A Battery of People from Ayodhya throng Mythila for Rama-Sita’s Wedding. Romance is in the air and Kamban wonderfully describes Love.Not the Love of Rama –Sita , but the Love of the Battery of people.A man from the Army travels along with his Lady Love.

Those days Spear and Tridents were the major weapons - apart from the Bow and the Arrow.Looking at his Lover’s eyes, he wonders if his spear is sharper than her eyes.His weapon can only go and destroy the enemies.But her ‘Weapon’ can look at him with compassion and love.Yes, it pierces his heart and his soul.He then concludes that her eyes are definitely sharper than his Spear!

சுழியும் குஞ்சி மிசைச்சுரும்பு ஆர்த்திடப்

பொழியும் மாமத யானையிற் போகின்றான்,

க‌ழிய கூரிய என்றொரு காரிகை

விழியை நோக்கித்தன் வேலையும் நோக்கினான்.

That is the beauty of Kamban.

Like Kamban and his poetry, Illaiyaraaja’s Music also pierces our hearts and we wonder if anything else can be sharper than this.

We are now going to see one of his amazing compositions.

A composition that is Romance Personified.

A Composition that would make all Young Lovers dance.

A Composition that would make all Old Lovers sway.

A Composition that would make People fall in Love.

It is ‘Pani Vizhum Malarvanam’ from ‘Ninaivellam Nithya’.

Chala Naattai-the Raga of Pani Vizhum- is the 36th Melakartha.There are 72 Melakartha (mother ) Ragas.These 72 are divided into 12 groups –of 6 Ragas each.The first 36 use one variant of ‘Ma’which is called as Sudhha Madhyama while the next 36 use the other variant of ‘Ma’ which is Prathi Madhayama.Kanakangi –the Raga of Mogam Ennum- is the first Melakartha while Chala Naattai is the 36th Melakartha- the last Raga using Sudhha Madhyama in the system.

Though Chala Naattai is not as eerie as Kanakangi, it does give a Haunting feel. Only the Maestro can think of using this Vivadhi Raga for a very romantic song!

This wonderful composition starts with a rather unusual prelude.The Guitar hums very quietly as the soft voice of SPB sings ‘Pani Vizhum Malarvanam..’.The Violins welcome the Romantic Lover , the Guitar picks up momentum and the drums dance happily.

A Breathtaking Build up!

In the first interlude, we see the Foliage in the garden of Love as the Flute sings like Birds with joyous profusion, the Veena replying with elegant fluency, the Synthesiser emerging eloquently , the violins waddling and the Tabla joining the fray.It is a Musical Loop now as the violins play the same pattern-sa ga ma pa-indicating how the Love travels in concentric circles.

The first stanza continues with Vigour and Vitality as the Flute and the Veena alternate between the lines showing us the shimmer of twenty moons.The line ‘Kaigall Idaithanil Neligaiyil’ follows a splendid chain of Swaras-pa da pa ma repeated five times- while ‘Eriyum Vilakku Sirithu Kangall Moodum’ is electrifying.

The second interlude is a Dazzling Canopy with a Cornucopia of Flowers.The immaculate Guitar is the Rose, the melodious Flute being the Lily, the ecstatic Violin being the Jasmine, the Elegant Veena being the Sun Flower.

The imaginative juxtaposition of the Notes is of course the speciality of the Maestro.

The Fluid Curves of the Guitar, the Resplendent Flashes and Sparkle of the Violin(s), the gracefulness and the tranquility of the Flute make it a montage of sorts mesmerizing us.

The Composition is tenderly textured with a stamp of Classical Purity.

Pani Vizhum Malarvanam Unathu Isai Oru Varam….

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Querida said...

Wonderful First Post! Hope many more people come to realize the why of how the Maestro's music so moves us. :)

Sowmya said...


alexander said...

thats amzing rajandra sir .... valthzukal ....

CSR said...

Congrats Rajendran for deciding to consolidate your IR thoughts in this blog!

It will be matter of time before these wonderful analysis are indexed and converted into songwise database for the benefits of posterity!



Vaidy said...

Your choice of words to describe Raja sir's music is lovely.........

Anand said...

No words to explain these beautiful words from heart. You have brought the beauty out right from its womb....Fantafabalous

Chandra Sekar said...

"Only the Maestro can think of using this Vivadhi Raga for a very romantic song"

I sometimes wonder how on earth he does this time and again..Does he decide on a raaga and think of fitting it to a situation or just composes a tune that falls into a specific Raaga by itself...with the Gnanam he has on Carnatic Music. Is it the reason that we see so many arguments as to which raaga a specific song is in? Either way its mind boggling ain't it??

Raj said...

It is very difficult to say how he conceives a tune and how the raga is chosen.Often he says that he just composes and it fits into a raga.He also says he is only a tool and is transmitting what comes to him from Him.
But a deeper analysis of his songs suggests that he knows the intricacies of the ragas and it does not happen 'just like that'.
Vivadi is a unique concept in Carnatic music and it requires a lot of knowledge to compose songs in these ragas.

Same is the case with Gruha Bedam, a very complex technique used with consummate ease by the Maestro.

It is not without any reason that the legendary vocalist Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, -considered to be the Pitamaga of Contemporary Carnatic music- called him a Maha Vidwan!

Vijay said...

Pardon my (very) late entry. Thoroughly enjoyed your description of the composition. Especially the Kamba Ramayanam analogy followed by some excellent narration into the song. Does Aavanithumbi (Snehaveedu) also falls in same raaga (atleast the start)?

Raj said...

Thanks Vijay.
'Avani thumbi' gives that illusion because of some common notes.But it is not in 'Chala Naatai'.To a great extent, it follows the 'Saavithri' scale.

Vijay said...

Thanks Raj for the raagam information.