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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govz said...

Thank you for your heart felt dissection. Truly, he da man!

Raj said...

Thanks govz.

பாலா அறம்வளர்த்தான் said...

Is 'Vasalile Poosanipoo' by SPB/Janaki in the film Shenbagame shenbagame follows the simialr pattern Kamalamanohari scale OR Mayamalava Gowla?

Raj said...

'Vaasalile..' is in Mayamalavagowla only.Thanks for visiting my blog!

Manju said...

A friend recommended this post when we were discussing this song and I am simply overwhelmed by your detailed analysis of this song and each and every aspect of it including the unique tala pattern IR has chosen within the Adi tala. I am so happy to see that there are so many like you who enjoy Raja sir's songs in such detail, ruminate, and also share your thoughts about it with the rest of us. Thanks much for your thoughts and efforts.
Wishing you Best!

Raj said...

Thank you Manju!

I wrote this post more than 3 years ago. After this, I listened to the song many times and I found a unique structure -sa ga3 ma1 pa dha1 Sa/Sa ni3 dha1 pa ma1 ga3 ri1 sa- being followed in the composition. I referred to the raga text and found that the raga which follows this structure is called as 'Sesha Prabhatha'. I shall soon update this info in my post.

Please try and read the other posts too in my blog!


Manju said...

Oh that's interesting to know.
Yes, I will go through your other posts. Truly a treasure. Thanks much!

Raj said...

Thank you!

By the way, if you are in facebook, you could join the Group- 'ILaiyaraaja- The Master' run by me. I discuss a lot about his music and compositions under various threads almost everyday.


Manju said...

Sure. I will. Thank you!

Nirupama said...


Raj said...

Sure.. Leave your e mail id here.
Thanks for the comment!

hariharan kumar said...

Raj, Poongathave thaal thiral is Paras raaga, yes Paras and Kamala manohari are closest siblings. Here you go for one of my favourite Sri Sukra by Madurai Mani

Raj said...

Hariharan - I am aware of Paras(also called as Pharaju). There is a jaawali-Chali nenetlu- the tune of which was used in MaRavene en naaLilume(Meera). There is beautiful thillana too composed by Poochi Srinivasa Iyengar.

However, I feel 'Poongathave Thaazh ThiRavai' is not in Paras because there is no nishadam anywhere in the arohanam. Paras has a prominent nishadam.

In fact, as I have mentioned in one of the comments here, I wrote this post long back. About 4 years ago, I bumped upon a ragam called Sesha Prabhatha and Poongathave follows this scale.

Thanks for the comment!

Srividya Ravi said...

Brother, an excellent an informative blog! Thank you so much! Could you please let know the Swaras for the humming in Poongathave song. Thank you so much!

Raj said...

Thank you Srividya!

By 'humming', do you mean the one which comes at the end of the pallavi as superimposed voices?

It is 'mapamaga saaa' and 'ma mapamaga saaa'.

Thanks for the comment!

Srividya Ravi said...

So sorry for my delayed reply. Had missed the notification of your reply. So sorry.
Thank you so much for the Swaras. Yes, brother. For the humming that comes after the Pallavi towards the end of the song.

Thank you so much. Bows _()__()_