Sunday, 27 September 2009

ILaiyaraaja-Musician nonpareil

Says the mother of the love-struck girl to the Lord,

‘’If she says anything at all she says nothing but your Name.
Remembering your sacred body she melts.
Her Love is great and she can do nothing.
With eyes long and shaped like fish, she has forgotten sleep.
My fool, my little fool, she is so young, yet she knows you.
In the presence of scandalmongers what do you mean to do
O Lord of Itavitanthai,
With my Girl, her waist thin as a creeper..’’

ஓதிலும் உன் பேர் அன்றி,மற்று ஓதாள்;
உருகும்,நின் திரு உரு நினைந்து;
காதன்மை பெரிது,கையறவு உடையள்;
கயல் நெடுங்கண் துயில் மறந்தாள்
பேதையேன் பேதை பிள்ளைமை பெரிது;
தெள்ளியல்;வள்ளி நுண் மருங்குல்,
ஏதலர் முன்னா என் நினைந்திருந்தாய்?
இடவெந்தை எந்தை பிரானே!

This is the verse written by Thirumangai Azhwar and is part of the Treatise ‘Naalaayira Divya Prabhandam’.

Thirumangai Azhwar , who lived in the 8th century wrote 1253 verses-out of the 4000 written by the 12 Azhwars.

His verses are packed with emotions and have a very unique flavour.

The aforementioned verse sounds like a love poem but it is the divine love for the Lord.

Devotion at its best!

At the same time, atheists and agnostics can also enjoy this poem for its sheer beauty and the mastery of language..

I am reminded of ILaiyaraaja whenever I read such beautiful poems.

His compositions are beautiful and one can see his mastery of the idioms of Music.

Like a dedicated priest, he adorns his compositions with garments, jewellery, and flowers.

His decorations look so fresh that every time we look at them, a new feature strikes us. There are so many intricate patterns that at times one spends hours together looking at the beauty and still do not get tired..

He is a Musician nonpareil!

Today, let us see two of his wonderful compositions.

One is ‘Yem Debba Teesavura’ from the Telugu Film Aswamedam and the other is ‘Isayil Thodanguthamma’ from Hey Ram.

‘Yem Debba’ is based on the 59th Melakartha Dharmavathy.
The Raga itself is packed with several emotions making us go again and again to it..

Though it is very close to some popular Ragas like Simhendra Madhyamam and Gowrimanohari, it has its unique identity.

Surprisingly enough, it is just the variant of the swara ‘ga’ that separates this Raga from Kalyani but look how different they sound!

That is the beauty of Music.

‘Isaiyil Thodanguthamma’ is based on Hamsanadam.But it has flavours of Saranga Tharangini, Shudh Sarang and to a certain extent Yaman Kalyan as well.

Hamsanadam is again a very interesting Raga and as per the older Raga texts this Raga is derived from the 60th Melakartha Neethimathi having six Swaras in the ascent and descent.But over a period of time it became a pentatonic Raga with just 5 Swaras..

‘Isaiyil Thodanguthamma’ is yet another proof of Raja’s iguana like grip on Laya(rhythm).

It is set to the 7 beat Mishram.

In the prelude and the interludes, the pattern is played in a fast pace(called as ‘Mel Kaalam’) and here the Master divides the 14(7x2) as ThaKaDhiMi ThaKa ThaKaDhiMi ThaKaDhiMi that is 4 2 4 4..

In the vocal part, it is played as 3 4- ThaKiTa ThaKaDhiMi.

Various combinations of percussion instruments are also used.

The prelude has only the percussions- playing the same pattern 12 times- followed by the chorus.

This special resonance itself creates a curiosity.

We now hear the wonderful voice of Ajoy Chakraborthy.A word or two about this Musician. He is a very well known Hindustani Vocalist belonging to what is called as the Patiala Gharana. He has also learnt Carnatic Music from Dr.Balamuralikrishna.

The Pallavi is vibrant with his mellifluous and powerful voice and has an unmatched quality.

If the harmony of chorus voices followed by the languorous charm of the Shehnai is delectable, the humming of Ajoy is tender and gripping. It just shows how the Maestro can create magic by just using the voices appropriately.

The Charanam is another beauty. It has strands of empathy and the humming is perky.

The second interlude has the percussion following a curvilinear pattern.The Dilruba scythes us with a piercing intensity. One feels the traces of Raag Shudh Sarang here.

The second Charanam has the lissome touches and when the Swaras are rendered in a kind of Hindustani style, it transports us to a totally different world.

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The second composition ‘Yem Debba’ is yet another marvel.

It has an inherent beauty and charm but what makes it unique is the technique used by the magician in the Charanam.We shall go to that in a moment but before that let us take a look at the prelude, Pallavi and the interlude.

The Synthesiser and the Rhythm move in a canter like a horse.

The Pallavi is lush and has shades of Madhuvanti, a Hindustani Raga derived from Dharmavathi.

The interlude irradiates wisps of soothing light with the haunting Flute and the Violins juxtaposed with electronic instruments.

The first two lines in the Charanam move smoothly with precision when the marvel strikes.

The next lines ‘Elaiyaa intha thondara’..are sung in the next Shruthi.

The technique of Gruha bedam is used so effectively and the Raga now becomes Chakravagam,the 16th Melakartha..

The Swara ‘ri ‘ of Dharmavathi becomes the base Swara ‘sa’ here giving us another Raga.

What can one say about this genius?

No doubt it is a clear grasp of techniques of music but what sets him apart is the way he executes these..

It gets back to Dharmavathi in the interlude.

The second interlude is garnished with the sounds of traditional and electronic instruments. It is like a riot of mild colours blending into one another giving us a whole spectrum of emotions.

It encapsulates the tremendous verve of the beautiful Raga.

The two compositions stand testimony to the fact that the Musical Expression of the Maestro transcends the formal framework at the same time laying emphasis on the innate artistic process.

It is the convergence of his intellectual and artistic senses that makes him unique.

Our Life begins with his Music!

அவரது இசையில் தொடங்குவது நமது வாழ்வு!


SS said...

Fantastic song...there just isnt any other like this.
The way the tune is free flowing without the usual boundaries and continues unpredictably adds to its freshness. Tunes in misram are usually very simple and follow a predictable formula. This one just breaks all that.
And the singer definitely adds flavor to the tune.
Thanks for bringing up this song here.

Raj said...

Hi..Thanks..I am sure you are referring to 'Isiayil Thodangudhamma..'.

Pl. listen to 'Yem Debba' as well..

SS said...

Yes! I am referring to Isayil thodanguthamma.

"yem dabba" I am yet to listen I confess :-)

Raj said...

The song is available in the community in Orkut..

Praveen said...

two fantastic compositions and one great post!

A little snippet from the recording session of Isayil for people who have not seen this before.

reynolds said...

Raj try listening to the hindi version of isayil thodanguthamma.
Rendered once again by Ajoy Chakraborty.It has many variations from the tamil version. Such a beauty. Hats off to raja sir!!!

Song Name:Har Koi Samjhe

And good work man!!! Blogs like yours keep good music alive!

Raj said...

Do you have the Hindi version with you?

reynolds said...

yes i do... just give me ur email id so that i can send d song.

Raj said...

My id is