Saturday, 23 May 2009

ILaiyaraaja-The Magician!

''Language is the Music of Nature'' said William Wordsworth.

I would like to modify this and say ''Music is The Language of Nature''.

There is Music in Nature.

Natural elements like Rivers, Mountains and the Sea not only produce Music but also have produced great Musicians.

Take River for example.The Great composer in Carnatic Music, Saint Thyagaraja grew up in Thiruvaiyaru(confluence of five rivers).

Bhadrachala Ramadasa lived by the side of the River Godavari.

The great Shehnai Maestro Bismillah Khan ‘s heart was Benaras , a city that is surrounded by the River Ganga.

Beethoven and Mozart lived in Austria where the River Danube flows.

Mountains too have produced great Music.

One of the greatest composers of modern era was born and brought up in an obscure village surrounded by Western Ghats.A quiet River also flows near the village.People who have been to Pannaipuram know how serene and divine the place is.The picturesque scene has to be seen to be enjoyed.

Having grown up in such an atmosphere and environment , is it any surprise that he is able to give enchanting Music to us?

His Music takes us from the Ephemeral to the Ethereal.

He has used popular Ragas, and rare Ragas;

He has used simple rhythmic patterns, and unusual /complex rhythmic Patterns;

He has used simple techniques, and complex Techniques.

Today let us look at yet another composition of his..

The Kannada film ‘Nee Nanna Gellalare’ is replete with some excellent compositions.

‘Anuraga Enaithu’ is one such composition.It is based on Dharmavathy-the 59th Melakartha.

Dharmavathy a magnetic aura.

The Raga evokes a feeling of nostalgia .

Though it is very close to some very popular Ragas like Simhendra madhyamam,Gowrimanohari, and Kalyani , the Raga is unique..

The structure is sa ri2 ga2 ma2 pa dha2 ni3 Sa/Sa ni3 dha2 pa ma2 ga2 ri2 sa.

Anuraga’ starts with the sweet sound of the Guitar.When Dr.RajKumar sings ‘I Love You’, the orchestra repeats it .

It is not just the Orchestra that repeats this. Quietly surrounded by the Grandeur of the composition, we also sing

‘I Love You’.

The Sweet Guitar appears again in the first interlude followed by the brilliant flute .

After this it is sheer Magic.
The Dilruba suddenly starts playing Chakravagam-the 16th Melakartha.

It is Gruha Bedam (or Sruti bedam) with the shift taking place from 'ri'.

The seamless transition is Mind Boggling!

The Charanam continues in Chakravagam until the last line where it catches up with Dharmavathy.

The second Interlude is another beauty.

The chorus sings in Dharmavathy and we quiver.

The Violin Orchestra takes over and we Sway..

And as we Sway, the shift takes place again.

The Flute plays Chakravagam!

If only we had the powers to see Raja’s Music in Visual Form, we would see Natural Beauty at its best.

We would see the Snow-Capped Mountains.
We would see the Azure Blue Sea.
We would see the Marble like River.
We would see the Trees in Verdant Green.
We would be in Nature’s Womb.
We would be Stranded in Paradise!

What an exhilarating experience!

Dhramavathy rains while the Chakravagam peeps out like the sun light!

We see the Rainbow.The seven colours seem like the Seven Swaras.

And that is the real Anuraga...

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Thursday, 21 May 2009

ILaiyaraaja-The Poetic Musician!

Sita and Rama see each other and it is ‘Love at First Sight’.Rama leaves the place and Sita is tormented by his thoughts.

Tamizh Poet Kamban describes this wonderfully:
Sita says,

‘His Dark Hair, His Moonlike Face,
Long Hands, Mountain like Shoulders,
Even Before seeing these, I lost myself to His Captivating Smile !’

இந்திர நீலம் ஒத்து இருண்ட குஞ்சியும்
சந்திர வதனமும் தாழ்ந்த கைகளும்
சுந்தர மணிவரைத் தோளுமே அல
முந்தி என் உயிரை அம்முறுவல் உண்டதே

In my post on Gambheera Nattai, I had mentioned about the phrase ‘Ittathu Kettanar Eduththathu KaNdar’.

Kamban the magician, wields his magic wand and it is beauty all around. In a single stroke, he paints the picture of Rama and the longing and pain of Sita.

ILaiyaraaja’s Music is also similar to Kamban’s poetry.

He weaves his composition so beautifully and like Sita who lost herself in the captivating smile of Rama, we too lose ourselves while listening to his music.

Not only does he tune his compositions tastefully but also embellishes them with meaningful Orchestration.

In his Palette, we see new colours.

In his Smorgasbord of Music, we find vareity..

Today, we are going to see a very interesting Raga used extensively by Raja.

It is the Raga Jog.

Jog is a very exquisite Raga and it depicts longing and pain.

It has a Pentatonic Structure and is identifiable by its characteristic use of both the variants of ‘Ga’(ga2 and ga3) .

The Arohana has a simple pentatonic structure -sa ga3 ma1 pa ni3 Sa- while the avarohana has a devious(vakra) form and uses both the variants of ‘ga’.

Jog is a Hindustani Raga. Though there is no carnatic equivalent, Nattai and Gambheera Nattai are somewhat closer to this Raga.

Let us now see how the Maestro has used this Raga.

The Swaras of Jog are literally spread in a gradual way with extensive improvisation in ‘Metti Oli Kaatrodu En Nenjai Thaalaatta’ from ‘Metti’.

It starts with the entrancing Aalap of Janaki and as one begins to drown in the nectar, Raja’s Aalap appears and it is Harmony with wonderful counterpoints.

The strings follow and they pull the string of our Hearts. The short and sweet Flute piece is like a scimitar piercing our hearts.

The Tabla throbs with the Bass Guitar and it is mesmerizing indeed!

We are swallowed by the sheer Intensity and Vibrancy of the single violin that plays in Indian Classical style seamlessly moving to the Western Style.The Flute and the Strings march in now and it is a Cathartic Experience.

The Second Interlude is a sheer joy as Janaki traverses different Sthayis(octaves) going from the ‘Thara Sthayi’(higher octave) to the ‘Mandra Sthayi(lower octave) with consummate ease.

And as she sings ’ Thuruthoo Thuththoo..’in a sinuous pattern , the Swaras come together and it looks as if Time itself has frozen...

We feel the Time and Space have no meanings when we listen to ‘Oru Pattampoochi..’ from ‘Kaadhalukku Mariyathai’.

As Yesudoss hums Jog, we see the beautiful Butterfly..

It flaps its wings gracefully to the beats of the Synthesiser …

Lo and behold..

The Butterfly takes its flight and what a lovely flight it is. It crosses swathes of land and groups of colourful flowers as the Dilruba plays followed by the small and long flutes.

As Yesudoss sings ‘Poovana Ilanenju..’ in the second interlude in a Qawali style, the butterfly lands on a Flower to the accompaniment of Dilruba .It then rains Honey as Jog is sprayed all over.

The Chatusram beats that keep changing intelligently and the special sound effect of ‘Knock Knock’ when the word ‘Thattugindrathe.. ‘ are all the indelible and inimitable mark of the Master!

The Raga moves like a Round Ball in ‘Vatta Pandu Thottu ViLaiyada’ from the Film ‘Chinna Vadhyar’.

The pattern of the beats and the instruments make us feel the ‘Moving Ball’.

The gleaming ball moves traversing the craggy surface.

We see the off break, the leg break and the googly in the first interlude.

It becomes a slower delivery in the Second Interlude and one feels the ‘Reverse Swing’ as the Strings play!

New Vistas of Jog are seen in ‘Vanjikkodi..’from ‘Kanna Unai Thedugiren’.

The Trumpet-with the support of Bass Guitar- spouts and splashes the notes giving a ‘Jazzy’ feeling.The Flute lets out a plaintive cry.

In the Second Interlude, the Raga shines luminously even as the inexorable Flute carries us to a Divine World!

‘Be Fearless!’ says the responsible father to his children.

In ‘Peygalai Nambathe’ from ‘Mahanadhi’ , one is stumped by the vivacity of the composer and the composition.

The sound produced by a ‘contraption’ is very amazing in deed!

The vibrant sound of Ghatam adds to the beauty while the very different voice of the ‘Grandma’ is exuberant.

All the percussion instruments are in perfect synchrony in their ensemble.

One need not fear….

When Raja’s Music fills the air and sings a Lullaby, do we need to fear at all?

மெட்டி ஒலி போல் காற்றோடு அவர் இசை நம்மத் தாலாட்டும்பொழுது பயம் எதற்கு?