Monday, 2 March 2009

ILaiyaraaja-Musician Extraordinaire!

Tamizh language is extraordinary.

Yes.. It is more than 3000 years old and it is a language still in use unlike other classical languages.
But it is extraordinary not just because of this fact.

The literature of Tamizh is very rich and incomparable with any of the major languages.
Starting from the Sangam literature-that itself has 18 works- it has the five major epics, five minor epics, ThirukkuraL, Pazhamozhi,Aaththichoodi, Kamba RamayaNam..just to name a few.

Apart from these, there is an endless list of works in Bhakti literature that include Thevaaram, Thiru Arutpa, Naalaayira Divya Prabandham,Thiruppugazh etc.,.And of course, one of the greatest poets in the world Subramaniya Bharati’s works..

What amazes one is not just the list but also the range of subjects and emotions covered by the literature.

There is valour, love, preaching, devotion, affection, life style, nature..
All these told with a unique sense of aesthetics!

Look at the following verse from KuRunthogai, that is part of the Sangam literature composed more than 2500 years back.

The Heroine waits and waits months together for her beloved to arrive.
Finally, he arrives.

Her friend addresses the Hero:

“Melt all the butter from all the cows of all the cowherds in the woods of Nalli who has strong Chariots,
Mix it with the steaming rice from the dense white paddy of Tonti fields.
Heap them in seven bowls and offer it all to that crow that cawed those good omens
Bringing guests and an end to the grief that has been wasting the girl’s arms
Even so, the offering would still be too little.”

திண்தேர் நள்ளி கானத்து அண்டர்
பல்லா பயந்த நெய்யில் தொண்டி
முழுதுடன் விளைந்த வெண்ணெல் வெஞ்சோறு
எழு கலத்து ஏந்தினும் சிறிதென் தோழி
பெருந்தோள் நெகிழ்த்த செல்லற்கு
விருந்துவரக் கரைந்த காக்கையது பலியே.

The cawing of the crow is believed to announce/indicate the arrival of a guest or somebody very close to us.

The friend says that even if the Heroine offers many bowels of rice to the crow that cawed the previous day, it may not be equal to the happiness she has now or the suffering she underwent waiting for you.

In the process, the poet also describes the beauty of the land of their leader ‘NaLLi’ who ruled the ‘ThoNdi’forest.

This verse was composed by a lady ‘Nachchellair’ who earned the sobriquet of ‘Kakkai Paadiniyaar’ meaning the one who sang about the crow.

Poetic imagination and beauty at their best!

Like Tamizh literature, the composer so revered and loved by many is also extraordinary.

Not just because he has composed music for more than 875 albums.
But because of the range of subjects and emotions his music encompasses.
And because of the felicitous use of the best things in International music and the way these have been applied to suit the situations in the movies.
And because of the aesthetic quality of the compositions..

As we have been seeing in this thread, he has used (and been using) Indian classical ragas in the process bringing out the beauty and the essence of the ragas, a task not that easy in the environment he is living in.

He has an uncanny understanding of poise of the Ragas and his conscious assimilation of different forms of Music makes him and his compositions unique!

Today, we are going to see his usage of two allied ragas in one composition.

The two ragas are Arabhi and Saamaa.

The Arohana of the two Ragas are the same as that of Sudhha Saveri.While the Avarohana of Aarabhi is complete with all the seven Swaras, Saamaa drops ‘Ni’ in the Avarohana and has only six Swaras.

Arabhi’s structure is sa ri2 ma1 pa dha2 Sa/Sa ni3 dha2 pa ma1 ga3 ri2 sa while Saama’s structure is sa ri2 ma1 pa dha2 Sa/Sa dha2 pa ma1 ga3 ri2 sa.

But the major difference lies in the way the two Ragas are rendered.

The Phrases-‘pa pa ma ga ri’ and ‘sa dha’ ‘ri sa’ ‘ma ga ri sa.’- give us Arabhi while ‘sa ri sa ri ma ga ri ‘ ‘sa dha pa ma ma pa ma ga sa ri’ ‘dha ri ri sa’, dha sa ri ma ga ri ga ri sa ri ‘ give us Saama.

The speciality of Saamaa is the very soft rendering of ‘Ma’. This Raga gives us mental peace.It is not without reason that Saint Thaygaraja sang ‘Saanthamu Lekha Sowkhyamu Ledhu’(there is no happiness without Mental Peace) in Saama.

Sadaasiva Brahmendra sang ‘Manasa Sancharare Brahmani Maanasa Sancharare’in Saama-meaning ‘Oh..mind!Undertake your pilgrimage in the Brahmam!’

A Raga for tranquility and peace!

Let us see the composition of the Maestro.
It is ‘Mannavane Mannavane’ from ‘Thanthu Vitten Ennai’(1992).

We get to see the Aesthetic Simplicity with Flashes of Brilliance as the composition starts with the percussion.

The opening is very different with the percussion sounding ‘ta ki ta ta ki ta ta ka’followed by the strings, violins and the Flute in lower Octave.

The rhythmic pattern not only makes us sway but also takes us to the Palace of the King.

A Musical Palace!

The Pallavi gives Arabhi in a burnished form in the voice of SPB and Janaki.
The line ‘Kannithamizh thene’ pours like Honey into our ears.

In the interlude, he is able to produce amazing sounds not just because of his Music Knowledge but also because of his predilection to do things differently and beautifully!

The violins cruise over a gradual incline as the electronic instruments follow suit. The Guitar plays with a flamed intensity. The violins take over again with sprightly elegance. Towards the end, we see the resplendent flashes of the bass.

But what is gripping and to a great extent the cornerstone of the composition is the Charanam. We hear phrases of Saama brilliantly juxtaposed giving a Poignant Feeling.

The lines ‘Eduththu naan padiththa ettu kaNakku’ and ‘Indru vanthu sernthathamma’are in Aarabhi entwined with subtle shades of Saamaa. The following two lines are in Aarabhi.

Saamaa is in full flow as the line ‘Nallathoru paadam solla kaadhal vaguppu..’

Scintillating stuff!!

In the second interlude, Janaki hums with elegant fluency to the joyful accompaniment of the strings, the violins and the flute.The richness, the verve and the vibrancy are astonishing.

In the gorgeous multi dimensional musical canvas, we get to see the niceties and the nuances.

It transcends the grammar and bridges the gap between the traditional and modern.

It gives us perpetual joy and eternal bliss.

இந்த மன்னவனின் இசை கன்னித் தமிழைப் போல் என்றுமே தேன் தான்!

The music of this King is as sweet as the language of Tamizh!

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