Thursday, 1 January 2009

ILaiyaraaja-The Sculptor-Part V

Each Moment is a Surprise,
Each Moment A Dream,
Each Moment is A Pleasure,
Is It Possible To Express?’

‘KaNamthorum ViyappugaL Puthiya Thondrum,
KaNamthorum Vevveru KanvugaL Thondrum,
KaNamthorum Navanavamai KaLippugal Thondrum,
Karudhidavum Sollidavum Ellitho?’

கணந்தோறும் வியப்புகள் புதிய தோன்றும்;
கணந்தோறும் வெவ்வேறு கனவுகள் தோன்றும்;
கணந்தோறும் நவநவமாய் களிப்புகள் தோன்றும்;
கருதிடவும் சொல்லிடவும் எளிதோ?

This is the description of the evening sky by Subramania Bharati in ‘Paanchaali Sabatham’.

A close look at this song suggests many things.
The passing of time.. the uncertainty of life.. the beauty of life.. the beauty of a moment.

Let us take ‘moment’.It is amazing to know how different things happen in a moment..and how it changes the entire perspective.

Very recently, we saw in the Olympics how a split second could make a huge difference.In the final analysis, it is the fraction of a second that separated the winners and the vanquished.

In Cricket, the duration of a shot is hardly a second but the way it is executed can change the course of a match itself.

In Music and Dance, timing is as important as oxygen is to all living things.

Carnatic music lays lot of emphasis on the tala and Kaalapramaanam.
Similarly, in Classical Dance, a small slip in Tala is enough to disturb the entire composition.

If we take life itself, a very small event that happens in a moment is enough to change everything.

Life, Games,Music and Dance cannot be separated and there is a clear link between these.

In the previous four posts, we saw the history of Dance and Music in Tamizh society and Literature.

Starting from Tolkappiyam, many texts like Pancha Marabu, Kooththa Nool, Bharata Senapathiyam have defined the grammar of classical dance.

‘Silappathikaaram’ gives a perfect description about Classical Dance and Music.

‘MaNimekalai’- considered to be an offshoot of ‘Silappathikaaram’ since MaNimekalai was the the daughter of Madhavi and Kovalan- also talks a lot about the dance.

Written by ‘Seeththalai Saaththanaar’, the text mentions about Tala Aruthi,the eleven different forms of dance-as already mentioned in detail in ‘Silappathikaaram’-the two forms of ‘Kooththu’ and the existence of a grammar book on ‘Bharatam’.

In another major text, ‘Seevaka ChintamaNi’, the chief protagonist, Seevakan himself is a dancer.

In Bhakti Literature,texts like Thevaram and Tirumanthiram talk a lot about the dance of Siva.

Some verses in the ‘Naalayira Divya Prabhandam’ describe the dance of Krishna.

‘Thiruppugazh’ written by AruNaGirinathar has lot of verses that use the dance syllables.In one of the verses, ‘Athala Sethanaar aada’, he makes all the gods in the heaven dance.

These are some of the glimpses from literature.

If we look at the different periods, during the sangam period, all art forms were their best.

After this, there was a lull as the Tamizh land was ruled by strangers called ‘KaLappiRars’.In fact, this period is supposed to be a dark period in the history.

The Pallavas took over and this period was the Golden Period.All major art forms flourished.The dance sculptures at Maamallapuram still exist and tell us the aesthetic sense of the Pallavas.

After this was the Chozha period and the Bruhadeeswara temple at Thanjavore depicts 81 karanaas out of the 108 Karanaas.The Nataraja temple at Chidambaram and the Saarangapaani temple at KumbakoNam have all the 108 karanaas depicted.

This shows the passion and the dedication of our ancestors and how deeply they were involved in fine arts.It also shows that fine arts was an intrinsic part of their lives.

Folk dance forms like Karagaattam, Oyilaattam, Mayilaattam also flourished. Unlike what some of the purists think, these forms are not appendages of Classical forms and have their own beauty.

Let us now see the composition from ‘ULiyin Osai’ where the folk forms have been described.

It is ‘Alai Ellam’.

The composition has a folk flavour and is a mélange of different ragas and changing rhythmic patterns..

As the master himself renders ‘Alai ellam’ with evocative grandeur, we see the beautiful sea and the fertile land. We see the waves in ‘KaadugaLil..’ and as we hear ‘Pattuk Kodi’, we are plunged into the sea of music.
The different facets of Tisram decorate the sea.

Until now,it is Sudhha Saveri whose structure is sa ri2 ma1 pa dha2 Sa/Sa dha pa ma1 ri2 sa.

The Raga now changes to Pahaadi as the prelude starts beautifully.

Pahaadi’s structure is sa Ri2 Ga3 Pa Dha2 Pa Dha2 Sa in the Arohanam and Sa Ni3 Dha2 Pa Ga3 Ma1 Ga2 Ri2 Sa Ni3 sa. Other alien swaras peep in now and then and that adds to the beauty of the Raga.At times, because of its structure, it can easily be mistaken as Mohanam with alien Swaras or even Shankarabharanam.

The Pallavi now starts vibrantly.

The rhythmic pattern in Tisram is again a treat.

In the first interlude, the Flute plays with tenderness infusing joy.

It is a view of the sea and land at the same time from a mountain as the Charanam gives shades of Shankarabharanam, Maand and Pahaadi.

It gives a serene feeling!

The second interlude and the Charanam weave beautiful patterns as we hear the Kummi.It is the intermingling of depth and appeal.

It is a sudden ebullient swirl as we hear the percussion in the music that follows.The rhythm changes.The raga changes to Karaharapriya and Natabhairavi and is sprinkled with Manji, another raga that has contours of folk.

It is rendered with gusto.

It is a cascading profusion sung and played with electrifying vim and vigour.

The Rhythmic pattern changes.

The Ragas change.

But each and every moment is a surprise;each and every moment a dream;each and every moment a pleasure.

And this is what is his music all about!

It makes even the waves dance!!

அவரது இசையில் அலையெல்லாம் நடனமாடும்!

With this, the series on the history of Classical dance and music in Tamizh literature and soceity comes to an end.

Though I had read lot of things before, I must acknowledge the information provided by Prof.Raghuraman in the book titled 'Tamizhar Natana Varalaaru' !

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Kavitha Ramu said...

kudos! you are well read and make an interesting writer!

Raj said...

Thank you very much!!