Thursday, 30 July 2009

ILaiyaraaja-Musician with a Magnetic Charm!

Have we ever thought as to why birds make trees their abode?

Is it a sense of security?
Is it affinity?
Is it natural attraction?

By the way, why should the birds be attracted to trees?

We all know how musical birds are.
But have we noticed that trees are musical as well?

The sound of the tree rustling in the breeze..
The green leaves..
The smiling flowers..
The shining fruits..

We hear the Shruti..Swaras..Ragas..Talas..

Birds and the Trees!

Attached to each other like a magnet.

Said Saint Thyagaraja,’Oh.Rama!I am like a bird going around the tree again and again..’(Chutti Chutti Pakshulella Settu Veduku Reethi Bhuvini Puttagana Nee Padamula Pattu Konna Nannu Brova)

As a divine person, he was attracted to Rama like how a bird is attracted to a tree.

He went on to sing ‘You are the Treasure of Virtues, and the Abode of Mercy’(SuguNa Jaala KaruNaavaala).’

'I have come seeking shelter at your feet surrendering my Body and possessions as they belong to You’(CharaNu Jocchi Tanuvu Dhanamu Needeyandi Thyagaraja Vinuta Rama).

‘Oh Sitarama!Why this undue delay to protect me?’(KaalaharaNamelaraa Hare Sitarama?).

This beautiful Keertanam is in Sudhdha Saveri Ragam.

Talking of attraction, I am also reminded of the divine attraction between Rama and Sita.

As per Tamizh poet Kamban, the love between the two was spontaneous.

Though there are a lot of verses that beautifully describe their relationship (some have already been quoted in this thread!), I would like to take up one very interesting verse.

It is the night before the wedding.

Looking at the moon, the Love Struck Rama sees Sita’s face in it. For a moment he feels the moon is Sita.
And says, ‘You are the seed of my love;not just the seed but also the manure for the tree called Love.’

Then he realizes that it is the moon and not his beloved Sita.

He now says’ You have the face of Sita. Probably you are related to her. By reminding me of her face, you are troubling me so much.Why don’t you become my relative as well?’

திருவே அனையாள் முகமே! உயிரின்
கருவே!கனியே!விளைகாம விதைக்கு
எருவே!மதியே!இதுஎன் செய்தவா?
ஒருவேனொடு நீ உறவாகலையோ?

What Kamban means here is that unable to bear the torment Rama pleads with the moon not to trouble him!

Poetic Beauty..

Magnetic attraction..

I find this kind of a magnetic charm in ILaiyaraaja’s music.

Many times when I listen to his musical pieces, I ask him (of course to myself!),

‘Why do you trouble me by producing such great music?’

Trouble that is a pleasure.

Today, we are going to see yet another great composition.

It is ‘Raamudu Kalaganaledhu’ from the Telugu film ‘Rajkumar’.

The composition is based on Sudhdha Saveri.

Sudhdha Saveri is a oudava raga(raga with 5 swaras in the Aarohana and Avarohana) and is derived from the 29th melakartha DheeraShankarabharanam.

Its Structure is:
sa ri2 ma1 pa dha2 Sa/Sa dha2 pa ma1 ri2 sa.

Replace the ‘ma’ with ‘ga’ and we get Mohanam.
Replace the dha’ with ‘ni’ and we get Madhyamavati.

Sing this raga in Madhyama Sruti and we get Pahaadi.

However, Sudhdha Saveri is unique and different.

As the name suggests, it is indeed a very pure raga.

Maestro has scored some amazing songs in this ragam.

Let us now look at today’s composition.

It starts with the very auspicious Nagaswaram and Tavil.

The Veena plays with finesse.Then a surprise awaits us.It is not the violin or flute that gives a reply to the Veena.

It is the Baas Guitar that gives the repartee.
Though Maestro is very well known for his bass work (in fact he was the one who pioneered this in films), the resplendent flashes of Bass Guitar in this composition is unique and great!

The Flute now appears with beauty and grace. The violins and electronic instruments follow suit.

The Pallavi is exquisite and gives distinctive shades of Sudhdha Saveri meticulously.
Suseela and SPB give soft radiance to the already beautiful Ragam.

The last line in the Pallavi ‘Aa Ramayanam’ gives a spell of fascination!

The aesthetic flute now sings like a cuckoo while the guitar fluently expresses itself.

It is the turn of the violins to decorate the raga.
The Bass Guitar surrounds us melting us in the process!

The CharaNam is sobriety personified.

The first two lines are pithy and poignant.
The next two lines slither through wonderfully.
The last two lines stir us melodiously.

The Sangati at the end of the CharaNam shows us the finer nuances of the raga.

In the second interlude, the violins move daintily.
The alluring Shehnai is courted by the Flute.

We suddenly see a shift here as we hear the subtly shaded alien swaras. This infuses delicacy.

The modern instruments are deftly interwoven exemplifying refinement.

The composition breathes graciousness.

It is delicately eloquent.

It is piercing.

It is enticing.

It is magnetic..

Rama and Sita..
The Bird and the Tree!

Raaja’s music and us…

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Monday, 20 July 2009

ILaiyaraaja-The Delightful Musician!

Lotus is a very beautiful flower. It is also a very interesting flower.

It is a friend of the Sun but enemy of the moon.

Lotus petals are considered to be very soft.

The shape of the flower is also very unique.

The Bahá'í Temple in Delhi is in the shape of a Lotus.I have meditated there and it is not possible to descibe the vibrations and the blissful experience I had there.

It is also said that the Sahasra Chakra on our Head - as per the seven chakra theory-is shaped like a Lotus.

Poets have also been intrigued by the Lotus Flower. Quite often we see the beautiful eyes being compared with Lotus.

One of the 12 Aazhwaars, Pei Azhwaar(பேய் ஆழ்வார்) goes a step further and says Lord Krishna’s hands, feet and eyes are nothing but Lotus Flowers:

கண்ணும் கமலம்;கமலமே கைத்தலமும்;
மண் அளந்த பாதமும் மற்று அவையே....

Shri.Muthuswami Dikshitar-one of the greatest Caranatic Music Composers- sang what is called as Nava Avarana Krithis on Devi and all these Krithis start with ‘Kamalamba..’(Kamalam –lotus).

There is also a beautiful Raga called Kamala Manohari and Dikshitar composed ‘Kanchadalaya thakshi Kamakshi ‘ in this Raga.

Lotus is a delightful heavenly flower.

Similarly, ILaiyaraaja’s music is delightful and heavenly.
It is as soft and beautiful as a Lotus.

It is as interesting as a Lotus.

It is as complex as a Lotus.

In the composition we are going to see today, he has given the sketch and colourful shades of Kamala Manohari-the ‘Lotus’ Raga.

It is ‘Poonkathave Thaazh Thiravai’ from NizhalgaL(1980).

Many people consider this as Mayamalawagowla Raga.
Yes, the swaras used are from Mayamalawagowla only.

But when observed closely, one can understand that the composition is unique.

At the same time, one cannot strictly say that this is Kamalamanohari since there is a very sparing use of ‘Ri’, a swara that is non-existing in Kamalamanohari.

Some people also say it is based on Jaganmohini, another Raga with ‘ri’ in the avarohanam.

But repeated listening to the entire composition makes me feel strongly that except for the sparing use of ‘ri’(in the higher octave) and ‘dha’ in the arohanam once, it more or less follows the pattern of Kamala Manohari.

Let us look first at the structure of Kamala Manohari and then the composition:

Sa ga3 ma1 pa ni3 Sa/Sa ni3 dha1 pa ma1 ga3 sa.

The composition starts with the breeze blowing gently across as if to open the beautiful petals of the lotus.

We see a slender silhouette that becomes a chiaroscuro. We see the flowers in harmony as the violins play counterpoints.

The Violins reach a sweeping crescendo, the Veena imparts vim and vigour and the flowers nod their heads smiling at us as the Flute plays.

The Pallavi is a clear stream of exposition with the fresh voices of Deepan Chakravarthy and Uma Ramanan.

The Laya pattern-the speciality of the Maestro-is as interesting as ever.

The composition is set to the 8 beat Adi Talam.

He has divided the cycle into two mini cycles and within each mini cycle there are 16 micro beats.

It is:Ta – Ta Ta Ta – Ta Ta Ta – Ta Ta Ta – Ta –.

As already explained in some of my previous posts, ‘– ‘ is a blank space left alone while playing.

The last 4 beats ‘Ta– Ta –‘ is played more robustly to give a special effect.

Each beat is a lotus petal and I feel the pattern is an effort to unravel the mystery of Lotus Flower..

Not just Lotus Flower but also of Human Life..

After all, don’t we know that Life itself is a Palimpsest?

The first interlude is a real beauty.

As the strings make overtures the first time, the violin sallies forth.

The second time, it is effusive.

The third time, it comes out with a flourish.

The fourth time, it pulses with energy.

And the fifth time, it lets out a romantic cry and joins its lover…

We see the beauteous facets of Love, Music and the Life as the violins play.

The Flute does an interpretative dip and we hear the soul stirring phrases of Nagaswaram.

As the Tavil indicates a new beginning and realization, the Charanam starts.

The phrases in the Charanams are constructed with stirring emotional intensity and we see the colourful sequence.

The first two lines are passages of exceptional beauty while the other lines are packed with brilliance.

The second interlude is festooned with beautiful flowers.

We move gently with the flowers accompanied by the dazzling strings and the vibrant Flute.

Suddenly we come across curves and twists.

It is like a convoluted loop as the Violins play and we reach a nook.

We ruminate.

We explore intriguing territory..

We reach the depth and we feel the inner tranquility..

We bask in complete and absolute serenity..

We realise the meaning of life and the Lotus within us blooms..

பூங்கதவு தாழ் திறந்தது..
சுவர்க்கத்தை நமக்கு காட்டியது..
(Ponngathavu Thaazh Thiranthathu..Swargaththai Namakku Kaatiyathu!)

The Flower Decked doors open and it is Heaven!

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Thursday, 16 July 2009

ILaiyaraaja-Musician without Boundaries..

Plus a change, plus c’est la meme chose’.

This is a French term and it means ‘The more things change, the more they remain the same’.

Sounds paradoxical..

But if we delve into this we find that it does make sense.

Let us take Music.

New discoveries and inventions have taken place in the last so many years. But has there been an instance of a new Note or Swara being discovered or invented?

What is amazing is that these seven notes are universal and are present in all forms of Music though they are called by different names.

More than anything else, what this means is that Music cannot be bound by anything.

It has no boundaries.

And more importantly, Music cannot be the preserve of some people or a section of people.

Can the air present in the atmosphere be the sole property of just a few people?

Depending on its character, air takes various forms like the wind, breeze, storm etc.,
Can we say that one form is a copy of the other?

It is very unfortunate to note that certain Musical forms tend to get identified with certain communities/class.

Going back to where I started, lot of innovations and improvisations have taken place in Music but still Music is Music. It has not changed.

We are very fortunate to have one composer who is literally a living legend and who has done many innovations without in anyway spoiling the flavour of Music.

The kind of innovations he has done is not simple-though some people think it is too simple-and needs years and years of research.

One such innovation was ‘Paadariyen Padippariyen’ from Sindhu Bhairavi. I call this an innovation not without any reason.

Let us now look at the sequence in the movie.

A very popular classical musician is performing on stage.A section of the audience is not attentive and this is spotted by a lady in the audience .

She gets up and requests the musician to sing songs in familiar language to hold audience interest .The great Musician ridicules this and goes to the extent of denigrating Folk Music.

He also challenges her to sing a folk song .

The lady responds and sings ...

What should also be of particular interest is the ‘Kirtana’ rendered by the Musician just before this altercation takes place.

The Kirtana is ‘Mari Mari Ninne’ which was originally set to Kambhoji Ragam by Saint Thyagaraja.

This Kirtana and the song that follows have been set in ‘Saramati’ ragam by the Maestro.

A section of the media did not want to waste this opportunity and tried its best to provoke classical musicians saying 'Raja has insulted Thyagaraja and has brought disrepute to Carnatic Music'.

Ironically enough , another section of the people who say they want a casteless society but still cling on to the caste factor whenever it favours them hailed Raja as theone who conquered the bastions of upper caste by 'tampering' with the classical structure.

Both the sides missed a point.

'Classical Music is not the preserve of one community or religion'.

Let us first see if it was in deed a crime or a sin to change the Raga of a song from that of the original?

Annamacharaya-who lived at least two centuries before Saint Thyagaraja-composed thousands of songs in various Ragas. The Great Legend of Carnatic Music, Smt.M.S.Subhulakshmi has rendered many of these songs in completely different ragas.

So can one say that Smt.MSS insulted Annamacharya?

Songs penned by Gopalakrishna Bharathi from the ‘Nandanar Charithram’ are sung in different ragas totally at variance with the Ragas mentioned by the composer. In fact, I have heard one particular song ‘Vazhi Maraithirukkuthu’ being sung in three different Ragas.

So is it possible to conclude that the Carnatic Musicians do not respect the Musical skills of such a great composer like Gopalakrishna Bharathi?

Subramaniya Bharathiyar had great knowledge in Music and he tuned all his songs. The song ‘Chinnanchirukiliye’ was tuned by him in Bhairavi ragam.The great film Music Composer Shri.C.R.Subburaman changed it into a Ragamalika and people identify ‘Chinnanchirukiliye’ only by this tune now.

Did CRS mean any offense to Bharathi?

The Thyagaraja Kirtana ‘Manasuloni Marmamulu Telusuko’is sung in Hindolam by some people and in Varam by some others.

Does anybody know as to which one is the correct version?And are these people insulting the Saint?

The answer to all these questions is a big NO.

In a similar vein, ILaiyaraaja whose respect for Saint Thyagaraja knows no bounds will be the last person to insult the Saint.

The problem is that Music is being wrongly identified and considered as a social issue and because of this the Classical Form is being associated with a particular Religion/Community.

The Bravado of such people is ludicrous. These self styled torch- bearers of society have their own agenda and most of their arguments are nebulous.

If they feel that Raja sir has hurt the sentiments of music lovers and in the process a particular community, they are thoroughly mistaken.

And if they continue to identify any form of Music with any community, it is them-and not Raja sir- who insult Music.

Let them understand that the Music of the movie was widely appreciated by many
well-known musicians including the great legend Maharajapuram Santhanam!

And let these people also understand that Music cannot and should not been seen with a coloured glass and that it is a sacrilege to give communal and caste colour to Music.

I am writing all these because though it is easy to ignore comments made with mala fide intentions, it also becomes necessary to tell the truth so that people are not misguided unnecessarily.

Let us also get some facts right.

The tune of the song ‘Paadariyen Padippariyen’ was not lifted from any folk song.

Only the lyrics –and that too the first two lines- have been used. The original tune has traces of Karaharapriya ragam.

Raja was looking at a Kirtanam with a start (eduppu) after one and half beats and he found ‘Mari Mari’ fitting the bill.

The original raga of ‘Mari Mari Ninne’ was changed because Raja felt that Saramati would suit the sequence.

He is a Musician without any boundaries and that is why his Music is being appreciated all over the world.

Now let us look at the composition-Paadariyen Padippariyen.

As mentioned earlier, it is based on Saramati(and not Charumathi as some people choose to call it!).

Saramati is derived from the 20th Melakartha Natabhiravi and its structure is sa ri2 ga2 ma1 pa dha1 ni2 Sa/sa ni2 dha1 ma1 ga2 Sa.

The arohana is the same as that of Nata Bhairavi and the avarohana is that of Hindolam’s.

This Raga is relatively new and does not find a mention in many of the older texts. Among the Trinity, only Saint Thyagaraja has used it in ‘Mokshamu Galadaa’

‘Paadariyen..’ begins rather imperceptibly.

As the Mridangam starts in folk style, we get hooked on to it. The Pallavi itself gives a wonderful sketch of the Raga.

The Violin interlude plays the Arohana and Avarohana pattern of the Raga just to indicate the simplicity!

Words without expressions and Swaras without meaning will lead one nowhere and this is what is conveyed in the first charanam.It also says that ‘Music is from the sound of Nature’.

The sangathi following the line ‘Ellame Sangeetham thaan’ is without any frills and at the same time is gripping.

The Second Charanam pleads the Musician to also think of layman and asks him if there is anything wrong with this.

The flavour of Todi Ragam after the line ‘Sonnathu Thappa Thappa’ is Brilliant.This simple usage has layers and layers of meanings!

The Kalpana Swaras are part of a classical Music Concert and shows the creativity of the Musician and his knowledge of Talas.

Here the Folk style song has the Kalpana Swaras neatly hemmed.

It reflects the expertise and the sensitivity of ILaiyaraaja.

Swaras are corralled and are sung with gusto.

It slowly gathers momentum and it is a slew of Swaras rendered in a very fast pace indicating chockablock of emotions.

‘Mari Mari Ninne’ is rendered in pure Classical Style in the end proving the fact that Music is in deed universal and is omnipresent in a mottled form.

Yes, Music is an experience that transcends formal parameters. It has no boundaries or any divisions.

I am an illiterate..I do not know any grammar..All I know is to appreciate music in its full form..

பாடறியேன் படிப்பறியேன் பள்ளிக்கூடம் தானறியேன்
இசையை இசையாக ரசிப்பதை மட்டும் அறிவேன்!

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