Monday, 26 October 2009

ILaiyaraaja-The Inimitable Musician

9994 is the Post Box No. of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in all the major cities in Australia.

Can someone guess the significance of the number 9994?

If one adds a decimal point after 99, it could make the guessing game somewhat easier..


Does it have something to do with averages?

Maybe a batting average…

But can someone have a career batting average of 99.94?

I am sure Cricket aficionados would have got the answer by now.

Yes, it is the career batting average of Sir Donald George Bradman , the best ever batsman cricketing world has ever produced.

He played 52 tests scoring 29 hundreds..

Out of these, 6 centuries were scored in just single sessions.
He also scored a triple century on a single day in a Test match.

Some of his records have been broken but it will be an insult to the great Don himself if his greatness is measured just by the Records and Statistics.What is of more significance is his batting style, his ability to torment any bowling, his precise footwork, his balance and his timing.

In essence, Bradman is the epitome of Batting and Cricket itself.

Though many batsmen have come and have even succeeded in breaking some of his records, no batsman can even come closer to the Don stands tall among all of them and it is a fact that his name will exist as long as the game of cricket exists!

He is inimitable!

Australian Broadcasting Corporation has honoured itself by keeping his 'Average Figure' as its Address.

In a similar vein I feel that the Sangeet Natak Academy in India or any other Organisation of Music in India must keep its post box no. as 261943 or at least 1976.

I am sure all die-heard fans know the significance of these numbers in this community.The first number is the date of birth of one of the greatest geniuses the music world has seen and the second one is the year he entered the world of Film Music.

I find a lot of similarities between ILaiyaraaja and Bradman.

The records set by him-in terms of time taken to compose and many ‘firsts’-are known to all of us and need no elaboration.These records can never be broken by anybody else.

But again, it will be an insult if he is known just by the records.

His style of composing, his approach, his sense of timing(called as ‘kaalapramaNaa’ in Carnatic Music),his unique blending of many forms of Music make him a composer who cannot be compared with anybody.

During his days, Bradman was criticized by some ‘self-acclaimed denizens’of cricket whose only job was to find fault but the Don stayed clear of all these.

Similarly, Maestro is also being criticized by people who do not even know what Music is.

But little do they know that the Maestro is unassailable and that nothing will affect him.

I am reminded of a ThirukkuraL:

அகழ்வாரைத் தாங்கும் நிலம்போலத் தம்மை
இகழ்வார்ப் பொறுத்தல் தலை.

He is like the Mother Earth who bears with people who dig it.

He is also inimitable because he is a class apart!

Today, we are going to see a composition of his where he has woven his magic.

It is ‘Kattikkidalam’ from Poovarasan.

Though the composition is based on Sindhu Bhiravi, it has traces of Karaharapriya and Nata Bhairavi as well..

But more than the Raga, what is of particular interest is the Rhythmic Pattern..

As I have always been saying, he is not just Raga Raja but ‘Laya Raja’ as well.

The first thing that strikes us in ‘Kattikkidalam’ is the percussion underpinnings.
It is set to the 8 beat Adi talam.

The 8 beat is multiplied by 2 and this is divided as 3 2 3 and 3 2 3-Ta Ki Ta Ta Ka Ta Ki Ta in the first half and Ta Ki Ta Ta - Ta - -.

A Film Song with the pattern of - 3 2 3 -is not unusual.

But in the first half, the Tabla is played with the ‘Gumki’ sound giving a very different feel to the entire song.

And the beauty in the second half is the second ‘Ta a’ and the third-‘Ta a a’-where the ‘a’ s are left blank.

Silence means many things.

For him, even silence is Music!

This pattern is palyed twice for one cycle of Adi Tala.

It is a romantic song and who else can bring sensuality in just one cycle of Tala?

The composition opens with a very peculiar background of a synthesizer sounding just the ‘sa’.

The Violin orchestra appears slowly but with panache. Then it is that wonderful Tabla beats.

The Pallavi thrums with life with the voices of Chitra and SPB with the long flute adding to the romantic mood.

The interlude has the electronic instruments and the traditional instruments playing with flourish and dash creating the right ambience.

The Charanam is sensuous and has an insidious magic. The vocals wallow with glee and zest. One does get to hear the alien Swaras here and there but they are used very subtly.

The second interlude is sequined with gems and jewellery celebrating Love and Romance.

Any composer would have easily got carried away by the situation and would have given a blitzkrieg of sorts but here this composer whose Music is dignity personified gives a very soft effect with the strings and the violins and reels us in.

As mentioned earlier, the sheer beats of the Tabla give the requisite effect.

Delicate, Graceful and with Poise!

அவர் பூவரசந்தானே..இசை என்னும் பூவிற்கு அரசன்தானே!

Is he not the King of that Flower called as Music!