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..

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