Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Laya Raja

Human life is very beautiful.

Though there are things that make us sad or angry, there are enough things in life to keep us happy and cheerful.

Why ‘ enough things’? I can even say ‘there are two things in our life that keep us happy and cheerful.’…Yes.. I am talking about Music and Poetry.

In fact, life, music and poetry are inextricably linked.

Sometime back, I wrote as to how musical our life is. And the Bharathiyar’s poem quoted yesterday talks about the music in nature.

Examples galore and one can go on and on…

But one simple example is the heartbeats. How rhythmic it sounds..And how it changes the pattern depending on our mood.
One pattern when we are angry;
a different pattern when we are tensed;
some other pattern when we are happy;
a very different pattern when we meditate.

There is rhythm in life, poetry in rhythm, life in poetry, rhythm in poetry, , poetry in life, life in rhythm.

Thirumazhisai Aazhwaar ,one of the 12 major Vaishnavite saints who lived in the 7th century composed some wonderful verses called ‘Thiruchanda Viruthham’. Chandam means metre , that is an arrangement of strong and weak stresses in lines of poetry that produces rhythm.

I am quoting one of the verses:

‘You are
The Five Elements, The Four Vedas,
The Three Worlds, The Two Feet,
The Stars and the Moon(combining together to become one),
The Sun and The Moon(giving different characteristics),
Are we even capable enough to think about you?’

பூ நிலாய ஐந்துமாய்ப் புனற்கண் நின்ற நான்குமாய்
தீ நிலாய மூன்றுமாய் சிறந்த கால் இரண்டுமாய்
மீ நிலாயது ஒன்றுமாகி வேறு வேறு தன்மையாய்
தீ நிலாய வண்ணம் நின்னை யார் நினைக்க வல்லரே?

It does talk about the Almighty. But people who are atheists or agnostics can consider this as a poem on nature.

This poem has lot of philosophical connotations and let us not focus on that.But what we must focus on are the metre and the way he has used numbers in the poem.

ILaiyaraaja who invented a new paradigm for cine music has done wonders with the Ragas and Talas. He has given us compositions that are classic in quality and refined in taste.

What we hear as his compositions is nothing but the harmonization of the soul’s inwardness with music.

His phenomenal knowledge and grasp of the finer elements in music make him an extraordinary composer.

We have been seeing his use of ragas(rare and popular), application of concepts like Shruti Bedam and his innovative rhythmic patterns in this thread.

Today , we are going to see a composition that can be called a real wonder.

A wonder not because of the raga but because of the Tala structure.

The composition is ‘Endrendrum Aanandame’ from ‘Kadal MeengaL’.

I am going to take up the rhythmic pattern first and try and explain each pattern phrase by phrase. I am also going to number these patterns and while discussing about the melodic aspect and the orchestration, I shall be mentioning these numbers again for an easy understanding.

I am also not going to say anything about the raga now.

The song is composed in Tisram-that is three beats also called as waltz in Western Music. But the beats follow the chathushram(four beats) pattern in most part of the song.

He has used simple arithmetic and has used aksharas that are multiples of both 3 and 4-that is 12, 24, 36, 48 etc.,

Yes, simple arithmetic indeed!

Easily said than done.
The patterns are mind -boggling.

Another beauty is that the patterns (most of them) are played by the Bass guitar , an instrument supposed to add melody to a song.

Let us now look at the pattern.

1.The song starts with the percussion playing

‘Ta ka Ta ka Ta ka Ta ka Ta ka Ta ka Ta ka Ta ka Ta ka Ta’
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19
and this is where the bass guitar starts and plays ‘Ta ka Ta ki Ta’(1 2 3 4 5) completing the 24 beat pattern.

2.The Bass Guitar now follows this pattern:

‘Ta - Ta- Ta- Ta - - Ta Taa - - - - Ta Taa - - - - Ta Taa -‘(24 again but the dashes are places that are left blank and these are called as ‘kaarvais’).
This pattern is played 6 times.

3.The Bass Guitar stops and now the synthesizer plays the 24 beats.

4.The pallavi starts and the bass guitar accompanies the vocals in the following pattern:

‘1 – 3 – 5 – 7 8 9 10 11 –‘.

As mentioned earlier, the ‘- ‘ are the karvais.

5.The first interlude starts with three beats ‘Ta ki ta’ in slower tempo(called as keezhkalam).The beauty is that there is neither percussion nor bass guitar here.
The first Ta ki ta is followed by the mild sound of the drums which plays ‘1 – 3 4 – 6 7 – 9’ in a faster tempo that equals the ‘Ta ki ta ‘.

The second ‘Ta ki ta’ is followed by ‘1- 3 4 5 6 7 - -‘ in drums.

Therefore the total count now is 12 (3 + 3 + 3 + 3).

Let me again tell you that though each of the drum pattern plays 9 beats in the faster mode(mel kaalam), it is taken as 3 counts only in the slower mode (keezhkaalam).

6.The Bass Guitar now plays ‘- - 3 4 5 6’.Then the flute plays without the accompaniment of any percussion or Bass Guitar. This is repeated thrice and then the bass guitar plays the pattern again.

7.Then comes a very unique long bass guitar pattern ‘- - 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18’.

8.It is then ‘1 2 3 4’ nine times with more stress on 1 and 2.

The pattern in Charanam is ‘Ta ka Ta ka Ta ka Ta ka Ta ka Dhi mi’(12 beats).

10.Towards the end , it slows down and it is ‘Ta ki Ta’ 4 times(12 beats).

11.The second interlude starts with the bass guitar pattern ‘Ta ka dhi mi’( 1 2 3 4) with stress on ‘Ta ka’ and this is played 12 times.

12.Now the bass guitar plays ‘Ta - -‘ 4 times.

13.It is ‘Ta ki ta’ 10 times by the bass guitar.

14.Finally it is ‘Ta ka dhi mi ta ka’ ( 1 2 3 4 5 6) 8 times..

Let us now look at the raga .

This is based on Sarasangi-the 27th Melakartha.
The structure is – sa ri2 ga3 ma1 pa dha1 ni3 Sa/Sa ni3 dha1 pa ma1 ga3 ri2 sa.
It is very close to Charukesi and only the variant of ‘ni’ separates the two.

Let us look at the composition in full now. As mentioned earlier, I am giving the s.nos. of the various patterns.

The percussion in the beginning seems like pellets of rain. It is (1) now.The Bass guitar starts playing the notes of Sarasangi with zest(2).

The violin now sounds like the breeze. We then see the droplets of rain furrowing down as the synthesizer plays(3).

The voice of Malaysia Vasudevan creates a mellow ambience and the pallavi moves with melodic grace (4).

The first interlude starts in a quiet and meditative way and even the drums sound so subtle.The violin lends an extra special slant to the experience(5).

The flute is agog with excitement and the bass guitar responds with glee(6).

The Bass Guitar now pummels(7).

The Violin and the bass guitar race and it is like the sun rays on the mist!(8).

The Charanam is delectably designed. The violin piece that appears at the end of each phrase adds punch(9).

After the ‘Isaimazhai pozhinthathu kuyile’phrase, it beautifully slows down and the subtlety of the pattern is amazing!(10).

The second interlude is like a quest and discovery.The Bass Guitar and the Violin play with immaculate sensitivity(11).

It is pause and articulation as the violin picks up momentum while the bass guitar watches it(12).

It is then the harmony of the mind, body and the soul(13).

The flute and the bass guitar meet and it is the coalescing of melody and rhythm(14).

And this is the most defining moment..

Beyond the externalized exposition lies the aesthetics of music.

We get to see the finer facets of this music from a Genius

who is like a veritable ocean..

who upsets stereotypes and controverts assumptions..

who gives us compositions that make us think..

Most importantly he gives us eternal bliss!

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