Wednesday, 10 September 2008

ILaiyaraaja-The Marvel!

Certain things in this world have an eternal charm.

A child’s smile or a giggle, the birds, whisper of the breeze, sound of the waves, the drizzle, sunrise, sunset, rainbow..

Isn’t this amazing?

Some people and their works too have that eternal beauty.
For example let us take Saint Thyagaraja ..

The lyrical and musical values in his compositions are amazing. His use of heavy ragas, popular ragas, rakthi ragas and rare ragas are extraordinary.

Though there are thousands of his compositions, one composition of his is very interesting and intriguing.

In this composition, he says, ‘I have unabashedly committed many sins. I praised others to covet wealth and earned my livelihood. I did not shun evil thoughts. Who ever will rescue me?’

He goes on and on about the ‘sins’..

The composition is ‘Duduku gala..’

Thyagaraja lived like an ascetic. He was not materialistic. He did not care for money. Once when he was offered huge money for singing in praise of the king he refused to sing. That was when he composed the popular ‘Nidhi Chaala sukhama..’(‘Is money more important than God?’)

This being the case, why did he call himself a sinner in ‘Duduku gala?’

It is because he was speaking on our behalf. The ‘I’ in the Keerthana is not Thyagaraja but ordinary mortals like us.

This composition is part of the Ghana Raga Pancharatna that is rendered by musicians every year at Thiruvaiyaru , the town where Thyagaraja lived.

‘Duduku gala’ is in Gowlai ragam and that makes it more special.

I shall come to this aspect soon.

Like Thyagaraja and his compositions, ILaiyaraja and his compositions have an eternal beauty.

Emotions play a major role in his compositions as well and the musical value in each of his compositions is amazing. He is also very versatile and has composed in different kinds of Ragas.

Let us now turn our attention to one of his special compositions .

It is ‘Vedam nee’from ‘Kovil Pura’. This is based on Gowlai.

While talking about ‘Dudukugala’, I said Gowlai Ragam makes it more special.

Gowlai is derived from the 15th Melakartha Mayamalavagowlai and its structure is:

sa ri1 ma1 pa ni3 Sa/Sa ni3 pa ma1 ri1 ga3 ma1 ri1 sa.

The avarohana is devious and the ‘ri ga ma ri sa’ prayoga is one of the specialities.

But what makes it more special is the ‘ri’. This ‘ri’ is Ekashruti and is unique to Gowlai.

That is why this Ragam is very special.

Let us now look at the composition.

The song is set in Tisra Gati Adi tala and therefore it fits into Roopaka tala as well.

The foundation of an elaborate musical edifice is laid in the prelude itself. The sonorous Veena and the Jalatharangam are powerfully energetic while the Flute brings out the emotional radiance of the raga.

The flashes of brilliance at the end of the prelude are enticing.

The pallavi that starts in the rich deep and melodious tone of Yesudoss exudes a unique magnetism. It is pure and weighty and one sees the beautiful shades of the raga.

The first interlude is dynamic with swirls. The combination of the puissant Veena and the soft Jalatharangam followed by the graceful Flute is amazing. The lilting sound just towards the end is another beauty.

The first Charanam is subtle and expressive. The plenitude of sangathis is an aural treat.

The second interlude is a real marvel.The pristine pure Gowlai glides, jumps and ambles across. The reverberations of repetitive notes ensuing from the bass string of Veena render a mystic quality.

Fertile imagination!

The second Charanam revolves around the succinct determinants of the Raga.

One sees the flights of creativity.

One sees the Raga’s intrinsic identity.

One sees the Regal aura.

The composition is a clear stream of musical values.

Artistry of high order..

‘You are the divine sound. You are the resonance..’

வேதம் நீ இனிய நாதம் நீ..

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