Wednesday, 9 September 2009

ILaiyaraaja-The Vibrant Musician!

Our life is full of vibrations.

These vibrations are very subtle and most of the times, they are sensed only by the subconscious mind.

But sometimes the vibrations are so powerful that we sail to a new world-a world that is blissful, a world that is peaceful, a world that is tranquil.

It is a different feeling altogether.

We feel a sudden burst of energy entering us, ripping through us, and permeating each and every cell in the body.

This could happen to us while seeing some people.. while reading a book.. while meditating.. while listening to music..

What is it that that gives us such powerful vibrations?
The Subject? Or our reaction?

Now, take this Thyagaraja Krithi. ‘Sujana Jeevana Rama Suguna Bhushana.‘ Bhujaga Bhushanarchita ‘

Don’t we feel the vibrancy of each word even if one does not understand the meaning?

Let us look at the meaning.

Addressing Rama, Thyagaraja says,

‘’O Immaculate Lord! You are the indispensable support of men (“budhajana”) who walk the path of righteousness (“sujana jeevana”)’’

“All virtues adorn you (“arcchita”) like priceless ornaments (“ bhujaga bhushanaa”)”.

We feel the vibrations when the words are properly uttered and rendered well.

It is because of the way the entire song has been conceived and composed.

Now let us look at this verse:

வெள்ளைநுண் மணற்கொண்டு தெருவணிந்து
வெள்வரைப்பதன் முன்னம்துறை படிந்து
முள்லுமில்லாச் சுள்ளி யெரிமடுத்து
முயன்று உன்னை நோற்கின்றேன் காமதேவா!
கள்ளவிழ் பூங்கணை தொடுத்துக் கொண்டு
கடல் வண்ணனென்பதோர் பேரெழுதி
புள்ளினை வாய் பிளந்தான் என்பது
ஓர் இலக்கினில் புக என்னை எய்கிற்றியே.

It means,

“Oh!Kamadeva!ardently do I penance,and beseech you,
Bathing in water courses, in early dawn,
Decorate beautifully, the streets with fine sand-white,
And also offer twigs, sans thorns, in the kindling fire,
Oh!Cupid! Throw me unto Him,
By your flowery arrows with odorous pollen
And nectarine driblets, inscribing Lord’s name
Who in hue like bluish sea
Tore asunder the beak of ‘Baka’ the demon!”.

Thus sang AndaL in her Naachiyaar Thiromozhi.

Consisting of 143 verses, Naachiyaar Thirumozhi -which can also be translated in English as ‘the beautiful sacred utterances of the Lady’ reveals Bridal mysticism in exquisite lyrics.

In the aforementioned verse,, she prays to Manmadha, the God of Love to make Krishna her husband.

Though the entire verse sounds beautiful and vibrant, just look at the two phrases:
Kallavizh poongaNai thoduththu and Pullinai vaai piLanthaan .

Rhyming words Kallavizh and Pullinai sound musical but there is more to it than meets the eye (or is it ears?).

Though Krishna is known by hundreds of names, ANdaaL refers Krishna as the one who killed the Demon who was in the form of a bird.

We all know that the weapon of Manmadha is the flowery arrow. Arrow symbolizes aggression and it is bedecked with flowers that symbolize tenderness.

In a similar vein, Crane is a soft creature but the demon took the form of this bird only to be killed by Krishna.

AandaaL conveys that we mortals have both the qualities in us –good and bad-and once we surrender ourselves to the Lord, we retain only the good.

Thaygarajar and AandaL..

Their works are powerful and give us vibrations because each and every word they use are thought-provoking, meaningful and special..

As a matter of fact, these are people with extra ordinary talent and such things happen to them spontaneously and naturally.

It is not that one has to go back centuries to find such powerful and vibrant works.

One of the greatest film music composers born in Tamizh Nadu is also capable of such magic.

He gave a new identity to Film music in general and Tamizh film music in particular. His music resonates because of the ragas he chooses and the tune he composes. It reverberates because of the talas and the rhythmic patterns he sets. It vibrates because of the way the orchestration is conceived and executed.

On this special day we are going to see a beautiful composition of his.

The song is ‘Maargazhi Maadam mun Pani VeLaiyile’ from the film Panchami.
It is based on Khamas.

Khamas is derived from the 28th Melakarta Harikamboji and its structure is
Sa ma1 ga3 ma1 pa dha2 ni2 Sa/Sa ni2 dha2 pa ma1 ga3 ri2 sa.
There is also a school that uses the bhashanga swara Ni3-the Kaakali nishadam.

Though on paper, Khamas is very close to its parent raga(it misses only the ‘ri’ in the arohanam), the ragam has it unique flavour and beauty.It gives peace and tranquility and at the same time gives energy to be more active.
Khamas has a deceptive simplicity.It sounds so simple but yet it has a lot of intricacies.

There are a lot special prayogas in this raga,'Ganidhanipadhani' 'sagamapadhani', 'dhapamagari' being some of them.
The raga is also widely used in Tamizhisai and is called as Panchchamaram PaN.

Let us now look at the composition.

It starts with a meticulously uplifting musical rhythm. We feel the vibrations. It is intensely vigorous but at the same time stirs our finer instincts. We breathe khamas even before a single swara is played or sung.

There is a pleasant surprise here as the Sitar plays. Sitar is generally considered to be a Hindustani instrument.But here it plays in Carnatic style reflecting the quintessence of the raga.

The violin now enters gracefully with all the ingredients of classicism. The euphonious Jalatarangam moves very subtly with the violin.The Sitar now welcomes the violin and the violin reciprocates.

..And the western instrument wallows in sagaciously.

It is dawn and the month is margazhi.We feel the salubrious and serene atmosphere as the sweet voice of Janaki renders the pallavi. Khamas poetically adorns the charming face of Margazhi.

In the first interlude, the Sitar gives gentle flowery strokes with the vivifying Mridangam responding energetically. The Sitar now continues its regal mien.

The filigree-rich phrases of Jalataranagam and the flute are very interesting with the former spreading enchantment and the latter bringing out the intrinsic beauty. The violin saunters and breathes life showing us the shimmering hues.

At the end of the first interlude, we see a sudden flash of resplendent light.

The CharaNam is well-chiseled.

The first line ‘Malaiyin mugattil oliththa..’ followed by the sangati is couched in a language of virtuosity. We also notice the subtle change in the nadai-that is the gait- in the mridangam here. Fecund imagination!

The second line ‘Malarnatha Thaamarai’ is rich in aesthetic passion.

The voice of T.V.Goplakrishnan joins now taking us to the crux of the raga.

The lines that follow are finely braided with glistening strands.

The raga’s exalted quality comes to the fore in the swara-singing session in the second interlude. The deftly woven swaras show the variegated facets of the raga. It is an enriching musical experience as the fine and delicate cadences are rendered with uncanny precision.

The Raga and the Tala merge into one another subtly leaving us enraptured.

The exotic flute then captures arresting images.

The composition is a glowing edifice..

We see and feel the spontaneity of musical sentiments..

It is still, is rich with musical content and runs deep..

It is a well spring of tranquility..

It is vibrant..

As fresh as the ozone-rich early dawn of Margazhi..

ps:ILaiyaraaja-The Vibrant Musician and the Tamizh version below were written and read exclusively for an invited audience on the 30th of Aug 2009 in Chennai.

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