Sunday, 31 August 2008

ILaiyaraaja's Music-Magnificent and Gentle!

Mountains and the breeze have a very special relationship.The higher we go on a Mountain, the cooler it becomes. It is also said that our Life force called as Prana flows better in higher planes.

I attribute this to the relationship between the Mountain and the Breeze.

In a way, one is the opposite of the other.
We can see a mountain. But can we see the breeze?

The Mountain stays in a place and therefore is called as Achalam in Sanskrit. But does the breeze stay in one place?

Mountain is very heavy. Breeze is light.

But there is one thing that is common to both.
We human beings pollute the Mountain and pollute the air without being partial.

There is one more common factor.

Poets have been enamoured of the beauty of the Mountains and the gentleness of the Breeze.

One of the most imaginary and beautiful descriptions of the Mountain is found in Kamba Ramayanam.

Kamban imagines the Mountain as the father, river as the daughter and the Sea as the son- in- law.

Is it not a fact that the river originates from the Mountain and finally mingles with the Sea?

He says ‘The Mountain is not able to bear the heat from the Sun. Looking at this, his son in law -that is the Sea covers the Mountain with clouds cooling him in the process.This grand spectacle looked as if the Mountain was entirely covered by the sea itself..’

பம்பி மேகம் பரந்தது:'பானுவால்
நம்பன் மாதுலன் வெம்மையை நண்ணினான்
அம்பின் ஆட்டுதும் 'என்று அகல் குன்றின் மேல்
இம்பர் வாரி எழுந்தது போன்றதே

Poetic Beauty!

Another great poet describes the breeze.

He welcomes the Breeze and says ‘Come to us and fill us with the fragrance. Touch the waves and leaves and give us our life force’.

காற்றே வா.
மகரந்தத் தூளைச் சுமந்துகொண்டு மனத்தை
மயலுறுத்துகின்ற இனிய வாசனையுடன் வா
இலைகளின் மீதும் நீர் அலைகளின் மீதும்
உராய்ந்து, மிகுந்த ப்ராணரஸத்தை எங்களுக்குக் கொண்டு கொடு.

This is a Vachana Kavidai written by Bharati.

In just a few words, he talks about a clean environment.

Poetic Intelligence!

Beauty and intelligence are not the sole preserve of poets alone.

One of the greatest Music composers has also been giving us compositions that are beautiful, intelligent and innovative.

With his knowledge and inspiration, he illuminates the loftiness of Music.

With his Brilliance and Sharpness, he pierces our hearts and touches the soul.

But with his devotion and piety, he is humble.

He has used many Ragas in his compositions but what is striking is not just the way he has used them but where he has used them.

Generally Ragas in pure forms are used by Film Music composers in sequences that call for their usage. To be more precise, if the story is based on a musician or a dancer.
But Raaja sir has time and again used Ragas in their pristine form in family dramas;in formula movies; in humorous situations; in romantic duets.

Today, we are going to see a very special composition of his that is based on a raga that literally means ‘Breeze from the Mountain’.

The Raga is Malayamarutham.

Malayamarutham is a Shaadava Raga- that is a Raga with six notes.

It is derived from the 16th Melakartha Chakravagam and its structure is

sa ri1 ga3 pa dha2 ni2 Sa/Sa ni2 dha2 pa ga3 ri1 sa.

It is a very beautiful Ragam and as far as I know no other film composer had used it before him.

The composition is ‘Kodi Inbam Meni Engum Paainthathammammaa’from ‘Nenjil Aadum Poo Ondru’(1980).

The opening of the song itself is very interesting. It sounds like the magudi.

Magudi as many of you know is played to attract the snake and is in Punnagavarali Ragam.But here, Malayamaarutham sounds like Magudi.

The humming of Janaki is enticing and the languid grace of the Santoor is comforting.

The Pallavi starts with the mellifluous voices of Janaki and SPB.One gets to hear the Raga’s mellow cadences within the first two lines.

It is also full of magical surprises.


It is because of the Tala structure and the pattern.

The composition follows the Chatusra Eka Talam that has 4 beats.
These four beats are further divided into two parts-each with 8 beats in the faster mode.

The pattern is Ta Ki Ta Ta Ki Ta Ta Ka / Ta Ki Ta Ta Ki Ta Ta Ka.

The magic lies in the way it is played.

It is played as Ta - - Ta Ki Ta Ta Ka/ Ta - - Ta Ki Ta Ta Ka with stress on the last syllable ‘Ta Ka’ where ‘Ka’ is made to sound very sharp. And what a difference does it make to the entire composition!

The Violin starts with flourish and buoyancy in the first interlude. It is a very smooth glide and we are transported to a picturesque terrain wending our way through with the breeze welcoming us.

The Charanam oozes with nectarine phrases. Quivering droplets keep falling on us gently.

It is a drizzle.

Drizzle of beautiful Swaras.

The Second Interlude starts with sublime tenderness. We see the glistening strands of creepers musically swaying as the Sitar plays. We feel the breeze giggling as we continue our journey on the Mountain.

In the Third Interlude, we see the spectacular plateau. We hear the twitter of birds. We hear the coy whisper. We feel the air of happiness and joy. We feel the chill wind blowing across.

We are in communion with nature.

Tranquility envelops us.

It is the breeze from the Mountain.

If Mountain is the Mother, Breeze is the Father.

Mountain is the Shruti and Breeze the Tala.

Shruthi Matha Layaf Pitha.(In Carnatic Music, Shruti is considered to be the Mother and Tala the father).

And this is the relation between the Mountain and the Breeze.

His Music shows and takes us to the beautiful Mountain and makes us feel the joy of Breeze.

Eternally Blissful..

ps:This post was read out in English and Tamizh to an invited gathering of like minded people on the 29th of Aug 2008..

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