Wednesday, 10 June 2009

ILaiyaraaja-The Unpretentious Musician!

‘’I go down to their level and then try to take them along with me to a higher level. It sounds easy but is difficult in practice.’’

‘’The setting does not matter. It is the intent that matters’’.

These are the words of Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, one of the popular Sufi musicians.

Rahat and his uncle, the great legend Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan were accused by the ‘purists’ of taking the Qawwali and Sufi Music to Marriage Halls and films.

This throws up lot of questions.

Should Classical arts be confined to the closed walls?

If yes, why?

If no, then should the form change?

Should it be too simplified?

In the name of ‘simplification’, should the artiste stoop to ‘conquer’?

Where does one draw a line?

Let us look at the questions one by one.

Classical Arts can never be the preserve of certain class of people. No single community can claim to be the owner of any Art Form.In fact, I discussed this at length in my post on ‘Paadariyen..’ sometime back.

All forms must reach the masses and only then can they grow.

But the danger is that in the name of ‘simplification’, some artistes –musicians and dancers- make it too simple that the classical essence itself is lost.

Instead of raising the bar, these artistes lower it finally ending up with gimmickry.
What starts off as ‘taking to the masses’ and ‘playing to the gallery’ takes the shape of (at times taking no shape!) a ‘Mass Product’.

What is shown and demonstrated then is the ‘capability’ of the artiste to perform gymnastics in fine arts.

It is here that the words of Rahat -‘It is the intent that matters’- assume significance.

If the intent is good, the mission will be successful.

Therefore, whether it is Music in Films or Music in a typical Classical Platform, what matters is the objective of the artiste, the way he/she is able to execute and most importantly the ability of the artiste to take the audience/listeners to a higher plane.

Though purists frown as soon as a mention is made of ‘Film Music’, it is an accepted fact that Films have played a very big role in propagating classical arts.

And the man hailing from a very small village called Pannaippuram in Madurai district has strived hard to popularize Classical music.And he did this without any pretentions.

He has simplified the form without in anyway tampering with the aesthetic values.

He has used very popular Ragas giving us the essence.

He has used very rare Ragas(some of the ragas were not known or used by the classical musicians until he brought them out-examples being Sallapam, Rasika Ranjani, Samudra Priya etc.,)

He composed using only the ascending notes- a new and novel concept- but not at the cost of classicism.

He composed using just three notes.

He applied the concept of Sruti Bedam .

He used very intricate Tala(rhythmic) patterns.

The point here is that the layman would not have understood many of these concepts.
But they enjoyed (and continue to enjoy) for the sheer happiness and pleasure the music gave (gives).

But I also know many people who got interested in classical music after listening to his compositions( a classic example is ‘yours sincerely’!).

Today, we are going to see an interesting composition of his.

Contrary to what is believed (of course by people who have not listened to many of his compositions), he has composed lot of songs in Hindustani Ragas.

Today’s Composition is also based on a Hindustani Raga.

The Raga is ‘Shudhh Saarang’ and the composition is ‘Oru Devathai’ from the Film ‘Naan Sonnathe Sattam’.

‘Shuddh Saarang’ is a very melodious Raga and it uses both the variations of ‘ma’ like many Hindustani ragas.

The Structure is:

sa ma1 ri2 ma2 pa ni3 Sa/Sa ni3 dha2 pa ma2 pa dha2 pa ma1 ri2 sa.

Now, let us look at the composition.

The Chorus voice spreads, swarms and warps. Suddenly, the violins loom into view.
The Flute and Strings stir to life and we get to see the Angel..

The intricately carved Pallavi sounds stunning with the voices of SPB and Asha Bhonsle. The line ‘En Manathil Puthiya RagangaL’ is exotic.

The Flute then plays with lucidity while the Guitar undulates gently with a satiny texture. In fact, one gets a taste of Hamsanadam- a Ragam very close to Shudhh Saarang.
The Violins give some unique touches mesmerizing us.

The Charanam can be divided into three parts.

The first one ‘Kaattinil Poo Vaasam’ and ‘Kadalinil Mazhai’ is scintillating with the sweet voices of Asha and SPB.

The second one ‘Anbenum..’ is tender.

The third one ‘Naan seitha..’oozes with zest.

The second interlude is caparisoned with beautiful orchestration.

The vivifying Flute is followed by the chorus voices singing with insouciant grace.

It is then the encompassing sweep of the violins as the Guitar plays with stylized musical fervour.

The composition is a continual rain of honey.

It is built on the edifice of beauty.

It gives us an exquisite image of the Raga.

It is a delightful treat.

It is the song of the angel….It opens our Hearts and pierces inside..

தேவதை வந்தது.மனச்சிறைக் கூண்டைத் துளைத்துச் சென்றது.

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