Monday, 17 August 2009

ILaiyaraaja-The Eloquent Musician!

We human beings are guided by our emotions.

But have we ever sat back and thought as to how we express our emotions? How do we convey what we intend to convey? What kind of language do we use?Is it appropriate and at the same time striking?

The fact of the matter is our personality to a great extent is determined by the way we communicate.When we communicate anything, the other person's mind silently observes us and the quality of his/her response depends on how we communicate rather than what we communicate.

That is why eloquent people have the ability to influence us more. One of the most striking examples is a politician.

Eloquence is a positive word. So why make it negative by associating it with a politician?

Let us look at how the great Tamizh poet Kamban-considered to be one of the most eloquent poets in Tamizh- narrates a situation in Ramayana.This situation itself is a turning point in Ramayana.

On the eve of Rama's coronation, Kaikeyi asks two boons from Dasarata.
1.Her son Bharata to rule the Kingdom.
2.Rama to be sent to forest for 14 years.

Dasarata was too attached to Rama.Kaikeyi brilliantly starts by saying,' First boon- My son to rule the kingdom'.

What follows is a masterstroke.

She knew the very mention of 'Rama' would make Dasarata sit up and react which would ultimately spoil her flow.She feared that if she was interrupted, she might end up not asking what she was 'asked to'.The fact is she was also too attached to Rama but her mind was poisoned by Mantara (kooni).

Therefore, she says 'Seeta's husband to rule the forest'!!

Look at her eloquence...

''ஏய வரங்கள் இரண்டின், ஒன்றினால், என்
சேய் அரசு ஆள்வது; சீதை கேள்வன் ஒன்றால்
போய் வனம் ஆள்வது' எனப் புகன்று, நின்றாள் -
தீயவை யாவையினும் சிறந்த தீயாள்''.

Let us now skip Dasarata's reaction and see what(rather how) Kaikeyi conveys this message to Rama.

'Bharata will rule the world and you will do penance and pray in the forest for 14 years'...and says ' the King(your father) said this'.

"ஆழி சூழ் உலகம் எல்லாம் பரதனே ஆள, நீ போய்த்
தாழ் இருஞ் சடைகள் தாங்கி, தாங்க அருந் தவம் மேற்கொண்டு,
பூழி வெங் கானம் நண்ணி, புண்ணியத் துறைகள் ஆடி,
ஏழ்-இரண்டு ஆண்டின் வா" என்று, இயம்பினன் அரசன்' என்றாள்''.

What do we call this?'Sugar coated poison?
Reminds us of our politicians?

By making Kaikeyi communicate so effectively, Kamban gets the desired result.The readers begin to hate her more..

It is not that only poets/writers/speakers are eloquent.

Musicians are eloquent too.

ILaiyaraaja-one of the greatest cine-musicians has been weaving magic with his music because of his eloquence.

With his appropriate choice of ragas/swaras and the delineation, he is able to bring out subtle emotions so naturally and effectively.

When we listen to the compositions, we laugh; we cry; we roar; we dance; we sing;

In short, we empathise with the characters.
And this is where the greatness of a musician lies.

Today's composition is one such composition.

It is 'Oru Kaatril' from 'Naan KadavuL'(2009).

The composition is based on Rasikapriya.
Rasikapriya is the 72nd(last) melakarata and we have already seen this raga in the post on 'Aganthaiyil aaduvada'(ILaiyaraaja-The Sculptor-Part I dated 11.12.2008).

A vivadi raga-with two vivadi notes 'ri' and 'dha'- Rasikapriya gives a very scary feeling.

Surprisingly enough, Chalanaattai(no.36) , the Sudhdha Madhayama counterpart of Rasikapriya gives a kind of 'mangala' feeling.It is the 'ma' that does the trick here.

The structure of Rasikapriya is:
sa ri3 ga3 ma2 pa dha3 ni3 Sa/Sa ni3 dha3 pa ma2 ga3 ri3 sa.

Now, did I say the song is based on Rasikapriya?

It is..but only some parts.. In the Charanam, the Maestro applies a technique he is very conversant with and it becomes a different raga altogether.

Before I take this up, let me narrate an interesting story.
The first time I listened to this, it sounded Rasikapriya but as I listened to the interludes and the charaNams, I was confused and deciphered the ragam as Kosalam, the 71st Melakarata.

But my musical friend, Tamizharasan made me listen to the CharaNams more closely and it was only then that I discovered the hidden treasure.

I shall explain when I go to the CharaNam part.

Let us start with the prelude.

The opening Dilruba- followed by the brief synthesiser that gives the outline of the tala cycle- is riveting and gives us a tantalising glimpse of Rasikapriya. The percussion along with the synth and the guitar pulsates with buoyancy.

The Pallavi is captivating with the spry fresh voice of the master itself. The first two lines are soft while the third line is effulgent and activates our lachrymal glands.

The first interlude has a swirl of patterns.The Dilruba is interspersed with swift flashes of modern instruments and of course the Bass Guitar.

The Dilruba drills, takes us to the patterned depth of the raga and then takes a flight.A flight that is gradual but with a turn that is sensitive and sudden. It is a beguiling flight indeed.

It touches the 'ni' and taking this note as the 'aadhara'(base) 'sa' it gives a surprise twist. Applying the concept of 'Gruha Bedam', if the 'ni' is taken as the base, the raga becomes Mayamalawagowla.But the genius avoids the note 'pa' totally and makes it sound like Lalita, a raga derived from Mayamalawagowla.The violins and the synthesisers now play Lalita.

Before I take up the CharaNam and the next interlude, let me try and give my interpretation.

The story of 'Naan KadavuL' is based on the Agoris and the physically challenged beggars.

Rasikapriya, a scary raga for Agoris.
Gruha Bedam- for beggars.
Chopping off one note-for the physically challenged.

This is what is eloquence all about!

Let us now go back to the song from where we left.

As mentioned, it now continues in Lalita.

The Charanam has an exemplary structure.The first two lines are silk-edged.The third line shines with emotive content.The last line has fecund articulation.

The second interlude emerges with aesthetic flows.The Raga is now back to Rasikapriya and what is striking here is the use of double bass and the violins in the low pitch to kindle the softer emotions.

The strings then move on intricately drawn passages exquisitely.

We see the curve and the linear.
Towards the end, the Gruha Bedam takes place and it is Lalita again.

We see the beauteous niches of music built on the edifice of depth.

We are permeated by the musical fervour and are inexorably tied.

Sparks of ingenuity!

The Maestro with his musical eloquence adorns the music with a diadem.

இசைக்காற்றில் அலையும் சிறகு நம்மைத் தேடி நம்மிடம் சேரும்..

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