Tuesday, 15 November 2011

ILaiyaraaja-The Immaculate Musician..

The Lady quarrels with her beloved. He leaves the town after trying in vain to make peace with her. Only when he is away does she realise how much she loves him and most importantly how much he loves her. She decides to go to him but her ego comes in her way. Stealthily, she sends her parrot. No..she does not use it as an ambassador.Nor does she want the parrot to convey anything to him.

Then why does she send it?

This is where one sees the beauty of that great poet called Kamban.

Before that, let me tell you that this poem appears towards the end of Bala Kaandam in Kamba RamayaNam just before the Sita-Rama wedding. A lot of people travel from Ayodhya to Mythila to be part of the grand function.It is here that one sees Kamban, the Romantic. His poetic imagination runs riot as he creates a lot of fictitious characters and narrates their ‘stories’.One gets to see the various dimension of Love in these poems.

Let us now go back to the ‘story’ quoted in the beginning.
The Heroine sends her parrot so that she can see him and still pretend that she went there only to search for her parrot and not for him!

Human psychology at its best!!

யாழொக்கும் சொற்பொன்னனையாள் ஓர் இகல்மன்னன்
தாழத் தாழாள்;தாழ்ந்த மனத்தாள் தளர்கின்றாள்;
ஆழத் துள்ளும் கள்ளம் நினைப்பாள்;அவன் நின்ற‌
சூழற்கே தன் கிள்ளையை ஏவித் தொடர்வாளும்.

..I had already discussed about Kamban-The Psychologist in one of my earlier posts(ILaiyaraaja-The Distinct Musician).But what makes reading the work of this psychologist interesting is the use of his words and his narrative skills.

It seems her words are as musical as the ‘Yaazh’(an ancient instrument somewhat similar to the VeeNa). She refuses to budge when her ‘Strong Hero’ pleads with her.Here, note the contrasts- ‘Strong’ and ‘Bending’.And the same word with a slight variation-‘Thaazha’- being used to depict her mood when he is away. The third line is a stunner. ’Aazha thullum kallam’- Her cleverness/slyness(scheming to send her parrot and making it a ruse to see him- dances deep inside her heart. What a description!

This is what makes a poem and the poet immaculate.

Let us now look at the immaculate music and the musician.

The song of the day is another marvel from the Master.
Here too, the Lady love tries to woo her beloved using music and dance as tools.

The song is ‘Manmada RaagangaLe’ from Bala Naagamma (1981).
It is a Ragamaalika but what makes the composition immaculate is the choice of the ragas. The Pallavi, the first interlude and the first CharaNam are in PantuvaraLi.

PantuvaraLi (called as Kamavardhini in the melakarta system) is the 51st melakarta and is the pratimadhyama counterpart of Mayamalavagowla. But the two ragas sound different from each other because of the way they are sung and the gamakas.

Its structure is sa ri1 ga3 ma2 pa dha1 ni3 Sa/Sa ni3 dha1 pa ma2 ga3 ri1 sa.

PantuvaraLi is a very classical raga and generally gives a Bhakti feel.

But the Maestro has used it in different situations(pathos- Vazhimel Vizhiyai, romance-Rojavai thaalattum, bhakti- Om Shiva Om) bringing out the unknown dimensions of the raga.

‘Manmada RaagangaLe’ brings out yet another dimension.

Let us have a look at the composition.

It starts with the tampoora that creates a beautiful ambience. The sympathetic chords of a string instrument draw a sleek silhouette of the raga. The pakhawaj zestfully plays the Tisram beats.The sympathetic chords join the pakhawaj.The Jalatarangam plays with relish.

We then see the varied texture of the raga as the percussion, VeeNa and the violins join.The mellow flute plays the avarohanam swaras in sets of 3.The Veena starts with the ArohaNam and then playfully plays the other swaras with impeccable precision.The Bass string of the VeeNa gives an esoteric touch saying ‘Om’ as the marvelously supple voice of VaNi Jayaram sings the akaara.

A piquant Prelude!

The Pallavi is lucid. If the first part is elegant, the second part moves with verve and vigour.

The first interlude delves into the facets of the Raga with the sizzling Flute, the meticulously gliding VeeNa and the enlivening Jalatarangam giving a chiseled musical motif.

Aesthetic patterns are woven in the first CharaNam. The first two lines give a vibrant hue while the following lines lit up a quiet niche.

The second interlude is inundated with rich, imaginative, innovative ideas.

It starts with a ‘flutter’ (symbolizing the Heart!) followed by the Flute and the stringed instrument. The harmony between the instruments assumes a mantle of mirth as they sway in resonance.The Raga now changes to Mohanam with the vivacious Violins and the enchanting Flute taking swirls and flights.

What happens now is what makes him the Emperor of Film Music.

A musical piece in Violin moves with unfettered imagination. The piece has sa ri2 ga2 pa dha2 ni2 –Shivaranjani plus ‘ni’- and as per the ‘Sangeeta Raga Kadal’, this raga is called as ‘Madhima VaraLi’, a raga derived from Karaharapriya and a raga not used by any musician so far!

The group of violins and the VeeNa accompanied by the ghatam move languorously lending both majesty and poise.

More surprise awaits us as the raga changes again, this time to Vasanta with the Flute providing soulful touches.

We see an organic progression in the second CharaNam that continues in Vasanta.

The first two melody-steeped lines are followed by lines that have classical fervour and flavour.

The lines ‘Mazhai mugil..’and ‘Nilavenum..’ have spectacular passages with the energetic percussion jumping with joy.

The following line ‘Paruvameni..’ has 4 Tisram counts in vocal followed by 4 counts by the percussion and the violins.

The ‘nadai’(gait) changes in the next line- ‘Sevvari..’with the percussion playing ‘ta ki ta’in ‘Keezh kaalam’(slow) while in the following line the percussion plays in the ‘Mel Kaalam’(fast). Very subtle variation but shows the mastery of the composer aesthetically!

The last line meanders meaningfully with the creative flourishes structured around wonderful permutations.

It is a musical conversation between the rhythm and the melody..

All his tunes are ‘Manmada Raagas’ that make us fall in love(with his music)..

அவர் இசைக்கும் ராகங்கள் எல்லாமே நம்மைக் காதல்வயப்படுத்தும் மன்மத ராகங்கள்.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

ILaiyaraaja- The Redoubtable Musician..

The Sangam period in Tamizh literature is very interesting. Historians place the period between 100 BC and AD 250.

2381 poems were composed by 473 poets (out of which nearly 100 remain anonymous). The poems are mature and classical poetry that go deep into the human psyche. They are marked by simple and detailed descriptions with the human emotions running as the undercurrent.

Look at this poem from ‘KuRunthogai’where the girl laments about her lover.
Her man is travelling (why and where are left to our imagination. Maybe on a business trip).

She visualizes the dangers on the way.

‘He has to cross the small springs that are of the size of ant hills.
He has to cross the huge hot rocks from where the tribesmen sharpen their arrows and aim those on passers by.
(the people of) this town do not care for all this.’

எறும்பி அளையின் குறும்பல் சுனைய‌
உலைக்கல் அன்ன பாறை ஏறிக்
கொடுவில் எயினர் பகழி மாய்க்கும்
கவலைத் தென்ப அவர்தேர் சென்றவாறே
அது மற்றவலம் கொள்ளாது
நொதுமற் கழறும் இவ்வழுங்கல் ஊரே.

Like all the classical poems, this poem- written by a poet called ‘Odalaanthaiyaar’- too can be interpreted in different ways.

She is worried that he might fall into the springs. She is worried that the arrows might hit him.

But a deeper look throws up a lot of meanings. Her main concern is his being away from her. The normal tendency of a human being when he/she is disturbed is to hide behind negative feelings and emotions. Here, she is missing him. Unable to bear the separation, she thinks, imagines and perceives the dangers that are strewn around the path. By saying ‘no one here seems to care for him’, she emphasizes that it is always her and only her who cares for him. A matter of pride no doubt but don’t we also see the possessiveness of the lover?

Look at the description. Springs compared with small ant hills. ‘குறும்பல் சுனை‌’ can be taken as ‘springs without water’ (dry). Rocks compared with the anvil of the blacksmith to show the sharpness of her love.

On the whole, it can also be construed as the dangers to her love with the springs, and the tribesmen being symbolic of the town (and maybe her parents) –the obstacles in her path of love.

Most importantly, it falls under a grammar structure called ‘IyarraLai Velladi’(இயற்றளை வெள்ளடி) in ‘Aasiriya Pa (ஆசிரியப்பா).Let me not get into the intricacies of tamizh grammar since it is beyond the scope of this discussion. Suffice to say that, in just 6 lines, one sees all aspects of a beautiful, mature classical poetry that also follows the grammar.

Such poems that have withstood the vagaries of time are worthy of respect, arouse awe and are formidable. In other words, they are redoubtable.

Likewise, ILaiyaraaja’s music too is simple, yet deep and sketches the beautiful landscape of life. Human emotions form the edifice of his music and most importantly, the compositions follow the grammar.

The song of the day ‘Oru Naa Oru Pozhuthu’ from ‘Eetti’(1985) is yet another classic example of his brilliance.

The composition is based on Sindhu Bhairavi, one of the most beautiful ragas.

We have already seen this raga in ‘Konji Karaiyalle’(ILaiyaraaja’s Music-Subtle and Graceful..) and in ‘En Nenjam Unnodu’(ILaiyaraaja-The Ethereal Musician).

Sindhu Bhairavi is derived from the 10th melakarta Natakapriya and its structure is:

ma1 pa dha2 ni2 dha2 sa ri1 ga2 ma1/ ga2 ri1 Sa ni2 dha2 pa ma1 ga2 ma1.

As indicated by the very different structure, this raga is also very unique. It uses almost all the swaras-except the ma2- and the more alien notes are mixed(at the right time), the more beautiful the raga is.

The raga’s essence can be given even in a very small phrase ‘ma pa dha’ by a trained musician.

Sindhu Bhairavi must be ILaiyaraaja’s most favourite(or at least one his most favourites) and he has composed hundreds of songs in this raga.The reason could also be because he too is as unique as the raga.

Let us now look at the song of the day.

We see the beautiful voice of Janaki draw the sketch the raga in ‘akaaram’.

This ‘akaaram’ in three parts makes us visualize the raga.
The first part is hauntingly charming while the second part has a smooth rippling flow. The third part enfold us with poignancy. In between, we have the strings that play with subtlety. The powerful string instrument and the incisive flute lead us to the Pallavi.

The Pallavi is suave and gentle showing us the delicate contours of the raga. We see the tinge of a sweet melancholic melody as the stringed instrument is juxtaposed with the vocals.

In the beginning of the first interlude, the Flute gives a feather touch to the Violins which then move with serpentine grace. The Flute now allures the Shehnai and disappears. The Viraha Stuck Shehnai starts searching for the Flute and plays with intense virtuosity. The dynamic Guitar consoles the Shehnai and shows how pain can be poetic and musical.

The CharaNams are laced with delicate and heavy phrases.

The first four lines have smooth flowing melodic lyricism and are splendidly majestic.
The extended sojourns with crystal clear sangatis in the lines that follow make the CharaNams immaculate while the crisp ending is like the jewel in the crown.

The virile strings heighten the experience in the second interlude.The zestful flute romances with the guitar and what unfolds is the exceptional magnetism of the raga.It is a perfect blend of pace and permutation. The lustrous Flute goes around with captivating charm giving lightning repartees to the translucent Guitar until sound dissolves into silence..

ஒரு நா ஒரு பொழுது உன் இசையை பிரிஞ்சதில்லை.. உயிரில் உயிரை வைச்ச உறவை மறந்ததில்லை..

Even for a single moment have I not been away from your music..

Monday, 29 August 2011

ILaiyaraaja-The Multi-Hued Musician..

Of all the beautiful and interesting things in this world, colours are very special. Colours give us energy, enthusiasm, peace and tranquility.

Who is not fascinated by colours?

Enthralled by the beauty of the colourful sky, Mahakavi jumps with joy:

Oh..How beautiful the colours are!
How many shapes!How many mixtures!
Lotions of Fire..Streams of molten gold..
Golden Pools!Golden Islands!
Pools of Blue..Oh..How many varieties of Blue..
White and Black..
Golden Boats float on Blue Pools..
Golden light on the black peaks.
Golden whales float all around..
It is a repository of colours!

என்ன இந்த வண்ணத்தியல்புகள்!
எத்தனை வடிவம்!எத்தனை கலவை!
தீயின் குழம்புகள்!செம்பொன் காய்ச்சிவிட்ட ஓடைகள்!
வெம்மை தோன்றாமே எரிந்திடும் தங்கத் தீவுகள்!
நீலப் பொய்கைகள்!அடடா நீல வண்ணமொன்றில் எத்தனை வகை!
எத்தனை செம்மை! பசுமையும் கருமையும் எத்தனை!
நீலப் பொய்கையின் மிதந்திடும் தங்கத்தோணிகள்
சுடரொளிப் பொற்கரையிட்ட கருஞ்சிகரங்கள்
ஆங்கு தங்கத்திமிங்கிலம் தான் பல மிதக்கும்.
எங்கு நோக்கிடினும் ஒளித் திரள் ஒளித் திரள்

He sees the colours as divine.
Another poet sees the Divine with the colours.

The great Vaishnavite saint and poet Thirumangaiyaazhwar says, ‘Ridding the colours of falsities, I saw Him here in Thiruvarangam in colours of radiant black hue, the dark cloud and Emerald and realized His true colours’.

பொய்வண்ணம் மனத்தகற்றிப் புலனைந்தும் செலவைத்து,
மெய்வண்ணம் நினைந்தவர்க்கு மெய்ந்நின்ற வித்தகனை,
மைவண்ணம் கருமுகில்போல் திகழ்வண்ண மரதகத்தின்,
அவ்வண்ண வண்ணனையான் கண்டதுதென் னரங்கத்தே

Here, the poet very intelligently talks about different shades of black and also the shade of Green. As we all know, black is the colour of darkness and green the colour of fertility. ‘Dispel all negative thoughts. Your mind becomes fertile and you see the Divine.’

Here, colours are used symbolically to depict many things.

Coming to think of it, there are a lot of similarities between colours and music.

The basic swaras are 7 while the basic colours are also 7.

There are different variations in each swara. There are different shades in each colour. The different combinations of swaras take the shape of ragas while the different shades of colours become a beautiful painting in the hands of a great artist.

Just like the hidden gems, there are also some hidden colours and ragas and only great artistes/musicians bring these out.

In a period spanning three decades, ILaiyaraaja has used a lot of colours as swaras and ragas in his palette resulting in a painting as beautiful and marvelous as the evening sky. With his music, he has made us shed the falsities and the negativities and move towards the Ultimate Truth and has made us feel the divine.

Not only has he used very familiar colours but has also shown us some very new colours hitherto not shown by many.

We have seen his use of very rare ragas like Hema Bhushani, Makaranda Priya, Doorjati Priya, Mrigakshi, VarNa RoopiNi etc.,

On this special day, we are going to see yet another rare raga in a beautiful composition.

This raga like the other aforementioned ragas were not used by any other musician (classical or cinema) before him.

The raga is Mallika Vasantam and the composition is ‘Saavira JanumagaLu’ from the Kannada film ‘Nyaya Gedditu’.

Mallika Vasantam is derived from Mayamalavagowla and follows a audava sampoorNa structure-that is 5 notes in the ascending and 7 in the descending:

sa ga3 ma1 pa ni3 Sa/Sa ni3 dha1 pa ma1 ga3 ri1 sa.

Though the structure sounds rather simple, the raga sounds unique while rendered.

Please note that the swaras in the arohaNam are common to another grand raga ShankarabharaNam which for all practical purposes sounds very different from Mayamalavagowla because of the other ‘ri’ and the other ‘dha’.
This arohaNam pattern is almost similar to Kedaram(a raga derived from ShankarabharaNam).Of course Kedaram’s arohanam is ‘sa ma ga ma pa ni sa’ while the swaras go straight as ‘ sa ga ma pa ni Sa’ in Mallika Vasantam.

However, this raga sounds so unique and different that one can be misled to think that it is a mix of Kedaram and MayamaLavagowla.

Let us now look at the composition.

It starts with the aalaap in the caressing and felicitous voice of SPB. The akaaram has winsome variations touching the higher octave towards the end of the prelude. The haunting charm is further accentuated by the musical elegance of the strings and the subtly integrated laya pattern.

The composition follows the Chatushra Eka talam that follows the 4-beat cycle. The 4 is further subdivided into 8 small beats in pairs of ‘ta ka’ and ‘dhi mi’. The last ‘dhi ‘mi’-that is the 7th and the 8th beats- are made to sound sharper giving a very special colourful effect.

The Pallavi unfolds with great zeal. It has grace as well as sensitivity with the dulcet tone of Janaki giving a soothing touch.

The first Interlude has spectacular passages.

First, the Synth Violin glides in rather quietly without any percussion. The stringed instrument lights up in short colour glints. And the percussion joins.. Unmatched in spirit, the Violin continues its journey with its other friends following it closely.

Mesmerised by this, the Flute plays with unfettered imagination melting our hearts. The Guitar now welcomes its musical friends with a unique rapier cut and thrust. The playful Violins follow it in a zig zag pattern. The mellow flute channelises the energy, shows us the unique melody of the raga and lead us to the CharaNam.

The CharaNam moves with coherency and fluidity.

The first part spreads gentle fragrance.

The second part is a dazzling delineation touching the higher octave with the Flute showing alluring depths of the raga.

The last part sways gently.

The second interlude is dotted with rhythmic patterns of skill with abundant melodic phrases.

The ‘ta ka dhi mi’ in mel kaalam(faster pace) responds to the melody in a friendly banter.
The Veena shows the hidden ecstasy. We see the aura as the Flute plays intensely and powerfully. The pulsating Santoor and the rich Violins coalesce with the Flute.

The glow of the raga seeps into our consciousness.

Colours come alive as Swaras. Swaras-in the form of his music- come alive in multi hues, bond together and bond us all together.

A musical bond that will continue for 1000 janmas.

Saavira JanumagaLu, ee bandha beledirali…

ps:This post and the previous post in Tamizh were read out to an invited audience in Chennai on the 28th of August 2001 as part of an Event totally dedicated to ILaiyaraaja.

இளையராஜா-பல வண்ணங்கள் காட்டும் இசைக்கலைஞன்..


இவ்வுலகிலுள்ள அழகான பல விஷயங்களில் குறிப்பிடத்தக்க சிறப்பு வாய்ந்தவை வண்ணங்கள்.

வண்ணங்கள் நமக்கு சக்தி தரும்.எழுச்சி தரும்.ஊக்கம் தரும்.உற்சாகம் தரும்.அமைதி தரும்.சாந்தம் தரும்.

வண்ணங்களால் கவரப் படாதவர்கள் யார் இருக்க முடியும்?
வானின் வர்ணஜாலங்களில் தன்னை மறந்த மஹாகவி இவ்வாறு பாடுகிறான்:

என்ன இந்த வண்ணத்தியல்புகள்!
எத்தனை வடிவம்!எத்தனை கலவை!
தீயின் குழம்புகள்!செம்பொன் காய்ச்சிவிட்ட ஓடைகள்!
வெம்மை தோன்றாமே எரிந்திடும் தங்கத் தீவுகள்!
நீலப் பொய்கைகள்!அடடா நீல வண்ணமொன்றில் எத்தனை வகை!
எத்தனை செம்மை! பசுமையும் கருமையும் எத்தனை!
நீலப் பொய்கையின் மிதந்திடும் தங்கத்தோணிகள்
சுடரொளிப் பொற்கரையிட்ட கருஞ்சிகரங்கள்
ஆங்கு தங்கத்திமிங்கிலம் தான் பல மிதக்கும்.
எங்கு நோக்கிடினும் ஒளித் திரள் ஒளித் திரள்

காக்கைச் சிறகினிலும், பார்க்கும் மரங்களிலும் தெய்வத்தின் நிறம் பார்த்த மஹாகவி இந்தப் பாடலில் நிறங்களில் தெய்வீகத்தின் அழகைக் காண்கிறான்.
இன்னொரு கவிஞராகிய திருமங்கை ஆழ்வாரோ தெய்வத்தின் நிறங்களைப் பார்த்து வேறு விதமாக சிந்தித்து ஒப்பிடுகிறார்:

பொய்வண்ணம் மனத்தகற்றிப் புலனைந்தும் செலவைத்து,
மெய்வண்ணம் நினைந்தவர்க்கு மெய்ந்நின்ற வித்தகனை,
மைவண்ணம் கருமுகில்போல் திகழ்வண்ண மரதகத்தின்,
அவ்வண்ண வண்ணனையான் கண்டதுதென் னரங்கத்தே

கருமை என்பது எதிர்மறையின் குறியீடு.பச்சை என்பது செழுமையின் குறியீடு.

'எதிர்மறையான எண்ணங்களை விட்டு ஒழித்தால், மனம் செழுமையாகி, தெய்வீகத்தை நாடிச் செம்மையாகும் என்பது இந்தப் பாடலின் பல பொருள்களுள் ஒன்று.

இங்கு வண்ணங்கள் குறியீடாகப் பயன்படுத்தப்பட்டிருக்கின்றன.

யோசித்துப் பார்த்தால்,வண்ணங்களுக்கும், இசைக்கும் நிறைய தொடர்பு இருக்கிறது.

ஆதார ஸ்வரங்கள் 7.வானவில்லில் நாம் காணும் ஆதார வண்ணங்களும் 7.

ஒவ்வொரு ஸ்வரத்திற்கும் சில மாறுபாடுகள் உண்டு.ஒவ்வொரு வண்ணத்துக்கும் பலவித நிழற்கூறுகள் உண்டு.

கை தேர்ந்த இசைக்கலைஞன் ஸ்வரங்களை சரியான முறையில் ஒன்று சேர்ந்தால் நமக்குக் கிடைப்பவை இன்னிசை ராகங்கள்.ஒரு கை தேர்ந்த ஓவியன் வண்ணங்களை சரியான கலவையில் ஒன்று சேர்த்து அளித்தால் நமக்குக் கிடைப்பவை அழகிய ஓவியங்கள்.

புதைந்து கிடக்கும் ரத்தினங்களை வெளிக் கொணருவது போல,மிகச் சிறந்த ஓவியக் கலைஞன், நமக்குப் பரிச்சயமான வண்ணங்களோடு, புதுப் புது வண்ணங்களையும் காட்டுகிறான்.ஒரு மிகச் சிறந்த இசைக் கலைஞனும்,நமக்குத் தெரிந்த ராகங்களை அழகாகக் காட்டுவதோடு மட்டுமன்றி,தெரியாத பல இனிமையான ராகங்களையும் நமக்கு அறிமுகம் செய்கிறான்.

கடந்த முப்பத்தைந்து ஆண்டுகளாக,இளையராஜா என்னும் மாபெரும் இசைக் கலைஞர்,அவரது ஹார்மோனிய‌ம் என்னும் வண்ணத்தட்டிலிருந்து பல வண்ணஙளை ஸ்வரங்களாகவும், ராகங்களாகவும் அந்த வானத்தைப் போல மிக அழகாகவும், அதிசயமாகவும் அளித்துக் கொண்டு வருகிறார்.

அவரது இசை மூலமாக நமது பொய் வண்ணத்தை அகற்றி, மெய் வண்ணத்தைக் காண வைத்து தெய்வீகத்தை உணர வைக்கிறார்.

நமக்குத் தெரிந்த வண்ணங்களை மட்டுமன்றி, தெரியாத வண்ணங்களையும், இதுவரை யாரும் அறியாத வண்ணங்களையும், நாம் எல்லோரும் அறியும் வண்ணம், நமக்குக் காண்பித்துக் கொண்டிருக்கிறார்.
ஹேம பூஷணி, மகரந்த ப்ரியா,தூர்ஜடிப்ரியா,மிருகாக்ஷி,வர்ண ரூபிணி போன்ற மிக அரிதான ராகங்களை அவர் உபயோகப்படுத்தியதை நாம் பார்த்திருக்கிறோம்.

இன்றைய தினம்,இன்னொரு மிக அரிதான ராகத்தைனையும், அதில் அமைந்த மிக இனிமையான பாடலையும் நாம் காண இருக்கின்றோம்.மேலே குறிப்பிட்டுள்ள ராகங்களைப் போல, இந்த ராகத்தையும் இதற்கு முன்பு யாரும் பயன்படுத்தியதாகத் தெரியவில்லை.

இந்த ராகத்தின் பெயர் மல்லிகா வசந்தம்.'நியாயா கெட்டிது' என்னும் கன்னடப் படத்தில் வரும் 'ஸாவிர ஜனுமஹளு' என்ற பாடல் இந்த ராகத்தின் அடிப்படையில் அமைந்திருக்கிறது.

'மல்லிகா வஸந்தம்' 15ஆவது மேளகர்த்தாவாகிய மாயாமாளவகெளளையிலிரிந்து உருவான ராகம்.இதன் ஆரோஹணத்தில் 5 ஸ்வரங்கள், அவரோஹணத்தில் 7 ஸ்வரங்கள்.

ஸ‌ க3 ம1 ப நி3 ஸா/ஸா நி3 த1 ப ம1 க3 ரி1 ஸ‌
என்பதே இதன் அமைப்பு.

அந்தர காந்தாரம்,சுத்த மத்தியமம்,பஞ்சமம்,காகலி நிஷாதம் முதலியனவும் அவரோஹணத்தில் காகலி நிஷாதம், சுத்த தைவதம்,பஞ்சமம்,சுத்த மத்தியமம்,அந்தர காந்தாரம்,சுத்த ரிஷபம் முதலிய ஸ்வரங்களும் இடம் பெற்றிருக்கின்றன.

இந்த ஔடவ சம்பூர்ண அமைப்பு மிகவும் எளிதாக இருக்கும்படி தோன்றினாலும்,இந்த ராகத்தைக் கேட்கும்பொழுது, இதன் தனித்தன்மை தெளிவாகத் தெரியும். இத‌ன்
ஆரோஹணத்தில் இருக்கும் 5 ஸ்வரங்களும் இன்னொரு மிக மேன்மையான ராகமாகிய சங்கரபரணத்திலும் காணப்படுபடுகின்றன‌.

எனினும் சங்கராபரணம், மாயாமாளவகெளளையின்றும் மிக வித்தியாசமாக ஒலிப்பதன் காரணம் அதிலுள்ள 'ரி' மற்றும் 'த' வின் மாறுபாடுகள்(முன்னதில் இருப்பவை சதுஷ்ருதி ரிஷபம் மற்றும் சதுஷ்ருதி தைவதம்).பின்னதில் இருப்பவை சுத்த ரிஷபம் மற்றும் சுத்த தைவதம்.

சங்கராபரணத்தினின்றும் பிறந்த கேதாரம் என்னும் இனிமையான ராகத்தை இந்த ஆரோஹணம் வெகுவாக ஞாபகப்படுத்துகிறது.’ஸ ம க ம ப நி ஸா’ என்பது கேதாரத்தின் அழகு.’ஸ க ம ப நி ஸா’ என்பது மல்லிகா வசந்தத்தின் வாசம்.

இப்பொழுது பாடலைப் பற்றிப் பார்ப்போம்.

மனதை வருடிச் செல்லும் இசைவு நயத்துடன் எஸ்.பி.பி.அவர்களின் குரலில் ஒலிக்கிறது ஆலாபனை. தன்வயப்படுத்துகின்ற மாறுபாடுகளுடன் அமைந்த அகாரம், மேல் ஸ்தாயியினை முந்தரவு இசைச் சேர்ப்பின் இறுதிக்கு சற்று முன்பாகத் தொடுவது தனிச் சிறப்பு.

நிலைகொள்ளாமல் நம்மை அழகாகத் தவிக்கவிடும் உணர்வினை இன்னும் அதிகமாக்குகின்றன நேர்த்தியான நரம்பிசைக் கருவிகளும், நுண்ணியமாக ஒருங்கிணைக்கப்பட்ட லய அமைப்பும்.

இந்தப் பாடல், ஒரு சுழற்சியில் நான்கு அக்ஷரங்களைக் கொண்ட சதுஷ்ர ஏக தாளத்தில் அமைந்துள்ளது. இந்த ‘4’, ‘ 8’ மாத்திரைகளாகக் கூறு செய்யப்பட்டு, 'த க' ஒரு ஜோடியாகவும், 'தி மி' ஒரு ஜோடியாகவும் ஒலிக்கின்றன.இறுதியாக ஒலிக்கும் 'தி மி',அதாவது 7ஆவது மற்றும் 8ஆவது மாத்திரைகள் மிகக் கூர்மையுடன் மிருதங்கத்தில் ஒலித்து நமக்கு பல வண்ணங்களைக் காட்டுகிறது.

பல்லவி பற்றார்வக் கிளர்ச்சியுடன் அவிழ்கிறது.இனிய பண்போடு கூறுணர்வும் நிறைந்த இதில், ஜானகியின் இனிமையான குரல் மெல்லமைதிப் படுத்துகிறது.

பாட்டிடை முதல் இசைக்கருவிகளின் சேர்ப்பில், காதைக் கவந்து இழுக்கக்கூடிய பல அதிசயங்கள் இருக்கின்றன‌.

முதலில் , மின் அணு வயலினின் இழைவியக்கம் தாள இசைக்கருவி இல்லாமலே தடையின்றிச் செல்கிறது.வண்ணங்களின் சிறிய பாயொளியினை நரம்பிசைக் கருவி காட்ட, தாள வாத்தியம் இப்பொழுது அதனுடன் சேர்கிறது.ஒப்பற்ற ஊக்கத்துடன் தனது பயணத்தைத் தொடரும் வயலினுடன் அதன் நண்பர்களும் சேர்ந்து கொள்கின்றன.இதைக் கண்டு மனம் மயங்கிய புல்லாங்குழல்,அளப்பறியா கற்பனா சக்தியுடன் வாசித்து நம் மனங்களை உருக்குகிறது.வாளின் கூர்மையுடன் உள்ளே நுழையும் கிடார், தனது இசைத் தோழர்களை வரவேற்கிறது.வயலின்கள்,விளையாட்டுடன் குறுக்கு நெறுக்காக கிடாரைப் பின் தொடர்கிறது.

கனிந்த குழல், சக்தியினை ஒருமுகப்படுத்தி, ராகத்தின் தனிதன்மையினை நமக்குக் காட்டி, சரணத்திற்கு நம்மை அழைத்துச் செல்கிறது.

சரணம் ஒத்திசைவுடன் அழகாகப் பாய்கிறது.

முதல் பகுதி,மென்மையான நறுமணத்தைப் பரப்புகிறது.

இரண்டாவது பகுதி,ஒரு பளபளப்பான சித்திரம்.மேல் ஸ்தாயியை அனாயாசமாகத் தொட்டு உச்சத்தைக் காண்பிக்கும் குரல்.அதன் இடையே ராகத்தின் ஆழத்தைக் காண்பித்து வசீகரிக்கும் புல்லாங்குழல்.

சரணத்தின் இறுதிப் பகுதி மென்மையாக தென்றல் போல் அசைகிறது.

இரண்டாவது இடை இசைச் சேர்ப்பு லய படிமங்களையும், பண்ணிசையினையும் ஒன்று சேர்ந்து அணிகலனாக்கி வரைந்த ஒரு நுண்நய ஓவியம்.

மேல் காலத்தில் ஒலிக்கும் 'த க தி மி' நட்புடன் நரம்புக்கருவியின் இன்னிசைக்குப் பதில் கூறுகிறது.உள்ளே அமிழ்ந்து கிடக்கும் பரவசத்தை வீணை வெளிக்கொணர்ந்து வருகிறது.

ஒளிக்கற்றைகள் ஒன்றாகக் கூடுவதை முனைப்பான குழலோசையில் காண்கிறோம்.துடிப்பான சந்தூரும்,செழுமையான வயலின்களும் ஒளியை ஒன்றிணைக்கின்றன.

ராகத்தின் அழகொளி நமது ஆழ்மனத்தினுள் கசிந்து செல்கிறது.

வண்ணங்கள் ஸ்வரங்களாக வருகின்றன.ஸ்வரங்கள் வர்ணச்சாயல்களுடன் வந்து நம்மையெல்லாம் ஒன்று சேர்க்கின்றன.

பந்தத்துள் சிறைப்படுத்துகின்றன.

ஆயிரம் ஜன்மங்கள் தொடரும் இந்த பந்தம்.நமக்கும் அவர் இசைக்கும் உள்ள ராக பந்தம்...

Monday, 22 August 2011

ILaiyaraaja-The Dexterous Musician..

How do poets and artists visualize things?

This is a question that is rather difficult to answer.

Some people in this world have an uncanny ability to not only think differently but also express differently and beautifully. They are imaginative, intelligent and of course innovative.

One night, the great poet Thirugnasambandar sees a pearl on the banks of the Cauvery river and starts wondering as to how a pearl could be found by the side of the river.His imagination –coupled with his devotion- runs riot.

He sings,

‘Wearing the poisonous snake as his belt and riding on the aggressive Bull, here comes He comes asking for alms accompanied by the daughter of the Mountains. His abode is Thiruvaiyaaru where the white conch swept by the waves and tides of the sea rests overnight on the dais made of sand and gives birth to the rich pearl.’

விடலேறு படநாகம் அரைக்கசைத்து
வெற்பரையன் பாவையோடும்
அடலேறு ஒன்றது ஏறி அஞ்சொலீர்
பலி என்னும் அடிகள் கோயில்
கடலேறித் திரைமோதிக் காவிரியின்
உடன்வந்து கங்குல் வைகித்
திடலேறிச் சுரிசங்கஞ் செழுமுத்து அங்கு
ஈன்றலைக்குந் திருவையாறே.

As usual, the poem carries very deep meanings and one can interpret it in many ways..We are born in this World but not realizing the purpose, while away our time with poisonous aggressive elements. If only we start realizing ‘who we are’, we can reach our destination and attain salvation. In simple words, it talks about the cycle of birth and death and says the Lord is the saviour who can put an end to the cycle.

Look at the comparisons: Snake, Bull, and the Tides (aggression)
And the contrasts: Dark Night, White Conch (and pearl).

But most importantly, look at the rhyming words and the imagination of the poet.

Even a very small object or an incident will become beautiful in the hands of such dexterous people.

We have been seeing, experiencing, enjoying and appreciating such beautiful pearls in the form of music. These pearls that are called as ragas shine as magnificent jewellery made by the hands of the dexterous artiste.

The composition we are going to see is yet another necklace of pearls and diamonds.
It is ‘Kaalam Maaralam..’ from ‘Vaazhkai’(1984).

It is based on ‘Hamsadhwani’ but the magician adds a swara in between to make it a totally different sounding raga.We shall see that later.

Hamsadhwani is a pentatonic raga whose structure is sa ri2 ga3 pa ni3 Sa/Sa ni3 pa ga3 ri2 sa. This classical raga is known to give a feeling of piety and is considered to be a very auspicious raga too.. That is why, one hears a lot of this raga during the beginning of any carnatic concert.

Let us look at the composition.

It is a clear stream of melodic sound as SPB and VaNi Jayaram render the aalaap-each singing different sets of notes- in a soft thrilling timbre. The graceful VeeNa follows them humbly while the lucid Electric guitar smiles bewitchingly.

The Pallavi has a pearly sheen with the raga sparkling like a diamond.

The stream of violins flow in the beginning of the first interlude. Some of them reach the high tide with a single stringed instrument rippling with joy.The keyboard travels through glides and curves with the VeeNa guiding it. Unmatched in spirit, the electric guitar undulates. The Violins now touch take a new path meeting the different waves on the way. The enchanting flute grabs the opportunity and we see the multifarious hues in a matter of seconds.

Meanwhile, the magician adds a swara- dha1- to make it a totally different raga.This raga, as per the raga text is called as ‘ThaaraLam’.The last part of the first interlude and the first four lines of the CharaNams follow this raga. It goes back beautifully to Hamsadhwani from the fifth line with a brilliant phrase ‘pa ni sa ga3 ri2’.

The chiseled phrases are a perfect blend of imagination and innovation.The gait also undergoes a change with a subtle change in the chatushra pattern.

The second interlude is built step by step. The electric guitar moves with punch and vigour.The melodically beautiful flute takes an expedition on full sail with the electric guitar travelling with it romantically. Enriched in musical content, the Violins take over in ‘TharaLam’.

It is plaintive. It is stirring. It is nostalgic making us relish every moment.

Times may change.. but will the beauty in his music ever change? Will our love and devotion for his music ever change?

காலம் மாறலாம்..அவர் இன்னிசை மாறுமா?
காலம் மாறலாம்..அவர் இசை மீது நமதன்பும் பக்தியும் மாறுமா?

Friday, 22 July 2011

ILaiyaraaja-The Enlightened Musician..

‘He, who has swallowed all the Seven Worlds, lies on a tiny banyan leaf; Bedecked with garlands of gems and pearls, He lies on the Serpant. Oh..His Dark blue complexion and His infinite Beauty has filled my heart to the brim!!”

ஆலமாமரத்தின் இலை மேல் ஒரு பாலகனாய்

ஞாலம் ஏழும் உண்டான் அரங்கத்து அரவின் அணையான்

கோலமாமணி ஆரமும் முத்துத் தாமமும் முடிவில்லதோர் எழில்

நீலமேனி ஐயோ! நிறை கொண்டது என் நெஞ்சினையே..

Sang ThiruppaaN Azhwar.

The story of ThiruppaN Azhwar, one of the 12 great Vaishnavite saints is very interesting. He was born as in a ‘low caste’ family somewhere around the 9th Century. Caste system, the bane of the Indian society was very strictly followed those days and people born in certain castes were not even allowed to go near the temple.

Being born in a family of musicians (PaaNars were traditionally VeeNa players) , he was adept in music and would play the VeeNa everyday closing his eyes on the banks of the Cauvery river in Sri Rangam. One day, a Saint-obviously an ‘upper caste’- who came to draw sacred water for the Lord, saw him close to the river and asked him to clear the place. Engrossed in his own music, PaaNar failed to hear that. The ‘Saint’ threw a stone to chase him away.

PaaNar started bleeding profusely.

It is said that blood started oozing out from Ranganathar(the presiding deity at Sri Rangam). The ‘Saint’ was ordered by the Divine to carry PaaNar on his shoulders and bring him to his Sanctum Sanctorum. PaaNar was stuck by the beauty of the Lord and started singing verses describing His beauty from Toe to Head. In his 10th verse, he said ‘My eyes cannot see anything/anybody else after this’ and attained salvation.

Though none of us can confirm now if this story was true or not, all of us can read and appreciate the beauty in his 10 verses. Among the 12 Azhwars, ThiruppaNaazwar composed the least number of verses(while Nammazhawar composed 1296!).But each verse is a gem.

The verse quoted above is the 9th verse. Look at the brilliant composition.
It starts with the description of the little Krishna on the tiny green leaf. Then he goes on to describe the Huge Ranganatha (another form of Lord Vishnu) as the one who is decorated with priceless jewellry .

Look at the contrasts:

Little figure, Huge figure.

Tiny leaf, Big serpent.

Simple, Decorated with Jewellery.

Big tree(Maa maram), Infant.

Infant, Seven Worlds.

Is it not brilliant?

His story also throws up a lot of sociological issues. A ‘high caste’ carrying a ‘low caste’ on his shoulders. A ‘low caste’ uneducated singing and composing brilliant poems in chaste Tamizh.

Such stories and poems enlighten us and show us the right path.

ILaiyaraaja’s music also gives us this enlightenment because it takes us all to a completely different plane giving us a spiritual experience.

The song we are going to see today gives us that experience like many of his compositions.

It is based on Pahaadi raag.

Pahaadi is a Hindustani raag and as the name suggests, it originated from the mountains.Because of this reason, this raag cannot be defined by a rigid structure and one ‘feels’ it rather than define it straining their grey cells.

However, as per theory, this is what its structure is:

Pa Dha2 Sa Ri2 Ga3 Pa Dha2 Sa/Sa Ni3 Dha2 Pa ma1 Ga3 ri2 sa ni3 dha2 pa dha2 Sa.

Please note that the notes with the capital letters are the higher octave notes (called ‘Mel Sthaayi’) and the ones with the small letters are the lower octave notes(called ‘Keezh Sthaayi’).

Doesn’t it look like a mountainous terrain? It is of course as beautiful as a mountain.

Let us now look at the song of the day- ‘Ennaththil Edho Chillendrathu’ from the film ‘KallukkuL Eeram’(1980).

As usual, the song has an unusual start.
The Ghatam plays the Tisram pattern in fast tempo (mel kaalam) and this itself acts as the shruti. The subtle ankle bells joins in Tisram. The humming of Janaki and the flute that follows her after each phrase exude an aromatic fragrance. The dynamic bass guitar, the lilting flute and the vivacious Janaki combine with a spirit of joi de verve. The luminous guitar and the resplendent flute dovetail sensitively and lead us to the Pallavi.

The Pallavi glows with incandescent musical light.
The short first line is followed by the Guitar and the flute with ghatam dynamics adding buoyancy. The alien swara ‘ga2’ in the next line makes it look more beautiful.

The first interlude shows the inherent glory of the raag.

The flute traipses up and down reminding us of a mountain. The violins in the absence of percussion instrument now indulge in sensitive inflections with the accordion echoing the same notes. The violins now make liquid glides with the lilting flute giving alluring phrases as repartees.

The sound of the breeze towards the end is fertilely imaginative. Please note that the CharaNam starts with the word ‘Thendral’(breeze).

The CharaNam is laced with delicate phrases.

The first part is a smooth flowing melody.The first two lines are repeated. The second time one hears the skillfully woven musical pieces responding to the vocals.

The middle part of the CharaNam is a delicacy of expression.

The final part showcases all the colours of the Raag with the swerving flute heightening the melodic equation of delineation.

The second interlude is musically exhaustive and shows us varying sheaves of melody.
It starts with the violins and the double bass giving an exquisite exposition. Peppered with phrases of authority are the twin flute gallivants up and down with glee. The pulsating string instrument -joined by the ghatam- dances with ecstasy. The exhilarating bass flute oscillates with elegance leaving us asking for more.It is like a dancing musical fountain.

Unruffled by all this, the violins lead us to the second CharaNam in a serene demeanor.

And we utter ‘Oh..This infinite beauty has filled my heart to the brim!”( ஐயோ! நிறை கொண்டது என் நெஞ்சினையே).

His music gives us a Cool mind and cool thoughts- அவரது இசையினால் நமது மனமும், எண்ணங்களும் என்றுமே சில்லென்றுதானே இருக்கும்!

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

ILaiyaraaja-The Effervescent Musician..

AruNagirinaathar, about whom I had written in my earlier posts-‘ILaiyaraaja-The Beautiful Musician’ and ‘Natana Raaja- Part I’- is a very special poet.

Special, not just because of his transformation from a vagabond to a great bhakti poet or because of the enormity of his works (close to 16,000 songs and a host of ‘Viruththams’).Nor is it just because of the command of the language in his songs or because of the fact that he travelled by foot to hundreds of places.

Yes, surely the aforementioned factors make us all say he is great but what makes him unique and special is his knowledge on Laya(rhythm) and his propensity to compose in almost all known TaaLas.

The difference between him and other poets is that while all great poets composed in metre- that had rhyming words- in specific paN(raga) and specific taLas, Arunagirinaathar was the only poet to compose songs(that invariably had 8 stanzas) keeping only the TaaLa aspect in mind. Such was his command over the Laya.

Now, look at this song:

nachcharavam endru nachcharavam endru
nachchumizh kaLanga ...... madhiyAlum

naththodu muzhanga naththodu muzhangu
naththirai vazhangu ...... kadalAlum

ichchaiyuNar vindri ichchaiyena vandha
ichchiRumi nondhu ...... meliyAdhE

eththanaiyi nenjil eththanamu yangi
iththanaiyil anjal ...... enavENum

pachchaimayil koNdu pachchaimaRa mangai
pachchaimalai yengum ...... uRaivonE

bakthiyuda nindru bakthiseyum anbar
paththiram aNindha ...... kazhalOnE

kachchivar kurumbai kachchavar virumbu
kachchiyil amarndha ...... kadhirvElA

kaRpaga vanangkoL kaRpaga visumbar
kaiththaLai kaLaindha ...... perumALE.

நச்சரவ மென்று நச்சரவ மென்று
நச்சுமிழ்க ளங்க ...... மதியாலும்

நத்தொடுமு ழங்க னத்தொடுமு ழங்கு
நத்திரைவ ழங்கு ...... கடலாலும்

இச்சையுணர் வின்றி யிச்சையென வந்த
இச்சிறுமி நொந்து ...... மெலியாதே

எத்தனையி நெஞ்சில் எத்தனமு யங்கி
இத்தனையி லஞ்ச ...... லெனவேணும்

பச்சைமயில் கொண்டு பச்சைமற மங்கை
பச்சைமலை யெங்கு ...... முறைவோனே

பத்தியுட னின்று பத்திசெயு மன்பர்
பத்திரம ணிந்த ...... கழலோனே

கச்சிவர் குரும்பை கச்சவர்வி ரும்பு
கச்சியில மர்ந்த ...... கதிர்வேலா

கற்பக வனங்கொள் கற்பகவி சும்பர்
கைத்தளைக ளைந்த ...... பெருமாளே.

This song follows ‘ta ki ta ta ka/ ta ki ta ta ka/ta ki ta ta ka/ta ka dhi mi’ pattern-that is a tala with 19 aksharaas.

Even people who cannot follow Tamizh or who do not have knowledge in music can appreciate the rhyming rhythmic words.

This is also one of the few songs of ArNagirinaathar with the Naayaki bhava with the poet assuming himself to be a girl in love with the Lord who is the Naayaka.

In this song the girl says ‘The Moon spews venom on me like the poisonous snake(ketu) that consumes it (during the eclipse),

Accompanied by the sound from the conches and sea shells and the boisterous thunder, the special waves from the sea tease me,

I do not have any clarity of thought, nor do I have any devotion; all I have is the desire to be one with You,

You-the one who is on the green hued peacock, the one who is married to the green hued Valli,

You- the one who lives on green verdant mountains, the one who is worshipped by people who are soaked in devotion,

You-the one who is in ‘Kanchi’

You- who broke the clutches of the Devas,

Please grant me refuge and bless me now!’.

Note how he has played with the word ‘Pachchai’(green) and the other rhyming words. But most importantly, look at the rhythm of the song.

This is what makes AruNagirinaathar and his compositions most special!

Like AruNagirinaathar, ILaiyaraaja is also an emperor of Laya and I have highlighted and discussed this aspect in many of my posts in this blog.

Some of his laya patterns(including the cross-rhythms) are mind boggling and make one wonder as to how a human brain could conceive of such intricate patterns so spontaneously.

Let us take up yet another composition of his where the percussion and the rhythm play a major role.

It is ‘Adi Naagu’ from ‘Karumbu Vil’(1979).

The song is based on Raag Jog, a beautiful Hindustani Raag.

Its structure is: sa ga3 ma1 pa ni2 Sa/Sa ni2 pa ma1 ga3 ma1 ga2 sa.

Some ‘gharanas’(simply put ‘style’) include the ni3 as well but a more traditional view of Jog suggests the absence of ‘ni3’. The speciality of this Raag however is the use of both the ‘ga’ s in the avroh and the glide from ‘ga’ to ‘sa’. ‘ga ma pa ni pa ni Sa’ is another special prayoga or phrase in this Raag.

Let us now look at the song of the day.

The song has a rather unusual beginning with a kind of announcement for a swayamvara. What follows is a rhythmic treat. The percussion in the tribal beats is fused with energy. The tribal instrument, that sounds somewhat like Jalatarangam adds fillip while the Shehnai that plays short notes is tantalizingly beautiful.

The Pallavi in the voice of Jayachandran is a delectable harmony of expression. The vibrant swirls with the percussion underpinnings are stunning.

The first interlude has some very interesting combinations. First, we have the tribal instrument that shows the magical glimmer. The synthesiser then plays with pin point precision. As the two play with each other musically, the long bass flute shows the hidden hues and shades of the Raag with the percussion playing with a different pattern.

We see the tranquil luminescence.

The stringed instrument that appears in the end moves with sensitivity.

Another speciality of this composition is that each CharNam is rendered by three different male singers-with the first one by Krishnamoorthy, the second one by T.L.Maharajan and the third one by Jayachandran.The rhythmic patterns and the percussion instruments also change subtly in each of the CharaNams.

The first four lines have fluid phrases and the lines that follow are crisp. The second and third charaNam also have beautiful sangatis as aalap wedged between the first part and the second part. The aalap done with an astute perception of the raag is musically delightful.

The second interlude is imaginatively conceived. The group of Shehnais plays silken smooth glides with an amazing richness of patterns. It is also woven with pertinent rhythmic designs.

The third interlude is a short apotheosis of rhythm.

We see the shifting rhythms with aesthetically fulfilling variations.

We see the plume of jatis that race into twists and coils.

We see a mini ‘Tani Avartanam’as the melody glides over rhythm grids with the rhythm in turn dancing with glee.

Effervescent music!!

We become the ants drawn towards the jagerry ..

நாம் கட்டெறும்பு..கட்டி வெல்லம் அவர் இசை!

(This post and the song are dedicated to all music lovers and followers/fans/fanatics of the greatest living film music composer who makes us all realise how beautiful music is...

Happy World Music Day!! )

Thursday, 2 June 2011

ILaiyaraaja-The Simple and Esoteric Musician..

‘Their Eyes full of tears, Mind Brimming with happiness, Body Ecstatic, Tongue searching for words, Brain numbed.. They look mad, mad.. For they are in love with you Goddess Abhirami, only Your path is good and blissful!’

‘virumbith thozhum adiyaar vizhinNeer malki, mei puLakam
arumbith thathumbiya aanantham aaki, aRivu izhanthu
karumbin kaLiththu, mozhi thadumaaRi, mun sonna ellaam
tharum piththar aavar enRaal abhiraami samayam nanRe.’

விரும்பித் தொழும் அடியார் விழி நீர் மல்கி மெய் புளகம்
அரும்பித் ததும்பிய ஆனந்தம் ஆகி அறிவு இழந்து
கரும்பின் களித்து மொழி தடுமாறி முன் சொன்ன எல்லாம்
தரும்பித்தர் ஆவர் என்றால் அபிராமி சமயம் நன்றே.

Thus sang Abhirami Bhattar, the 18th Century poet.

The story of Abhirami Bhattar is very interesting. It is said that he would be in a trance for hours and days together. One day, the King of Thanjavore, Saraboji Maharaja visited the Temple at Thirukkadavoor-where Bhattar was the priest- and annoyed that he did not bother to even acknowledge his presence, asked him what day it was-New Moon or Full Moon. Bhattar-who was in a state of trance- replied it was Full Moon (while it was New Moon).

The King ordered that Bhattar be burnt alive in case the Moon does not appear full that night. Tied to the rope on both the sides with fire rage below him, Bhattar composed 100 verses in simple but beautiful Tamizh extolling Abhirami. The verses full of esoteric meanings followed the ‘Anthadi format’-that is the last word of each verse became the first word of the following verse. It is said that the Goddess appeared at the end of the 79th verse and threw one of her ear rings to the sky and the ring appeared as the Moon on a New Moon night!

For some, this may sound irrational, unscientific and illogical. But even these rationalists can appreciate the beautiful verses in chaste tamizh.

I somehow find a lot of parallels between the story of Abhirami Bhattar and the music of ILaiyaraaja. While people who are initiated into music appreciate the nuances and techniques in his music, the common man just enjoys his music without any frills for its sheer beauty.

ILaiyaraaja is eccentric too in the sense that he is totally devoted to music just like how Abhirami Bhattar was immersed in Abhirami.

He has his own individuality and he is very firm in what he believes in.

Like Bhattar, he is capable of making Moon appear on a New Moon night-with music being the Moon and senseless movies being the dark New Moon night.

In short, he is simple as well as esoteric.

On this special day, it is my privilege to write on a composition which is very special.

‘Chinna ThaayavaL..’ from ThaLapathi(1991) is the composition of the day.
It is based on Charukesi, the 26th melakarta whose structure is sa ri2 ga3 ma1 pa dha1 ni2 Sa/Sa ni2 dha1 pa ma1 ga3 ri2 sa.

However, the usage of ‘ga2’ very close to ‘ga3’ in some phrases gives the feel of Ragavardhini, a vivadi mela (32nd ).Please refer my earlier post ‘ILaiyaraaja-The Sculptor-Part II’ in this Blog to understand the relationship between Charukesi and Ragavardhini.

In fact, one can even argue that the clear presence of ‘ri2’ rules out Ragavardhini and at the most one can say that it is a mix of Nata Bhairavi and Charukesi. However, a closer analysis suggests that the ‘ga3 ma1 ga2’ phrase in the Pallavi does give the feel of Vivadi raga and therefore the shades of Ragavardhini.

But one can either choose to use the intellect or simply enjoy shutting off the brain and let the heart feel the beauty.

Let us now look at the composition.

The opening flute piece itself speaks volumes about the greatness of the composition. Initially it gives an eerie feeling (because of the vivadi swaras). But as one listens more, it instills a sense of serenity. Emotions come out gleaming as the Saarangi sings with acute sensitivity. It is a spontaneous output of melody-perceptive and wholesome.

The Pallavi in the voice of Janaki moves with willowy grace. The first part-humming to the second line- is rendered with dignity and weight while the middle part moves with persuasive refinement. The last line that gives a caressing touch says it all.

The Tabla that plays the Tisram beats is meditative.

Imbued with lilting phrases, the violin makes stenciled movements. The folksy instrument juxtaposed with the violin heightens the emotions. We feel the ineffable splendour of music as the tonally rich Saarangi takes over. It is entrenched with crystal clear enunciation and is replete with classic phrases.

The CharaNam is an exquisite exposition.

The first two lines are punctuated with malleable phrases.

Coffers of melody overflow in the following lines.

The last line that sparkles with fervour, passion, affection and most importantly exudes and aromatic fragrance coveys a lot musically and emotionally.


Eyes full of tears, Mind Brimming with happiness, Body Ecstatic, Tongue searching for words, Brain numbed.. we look mad, mad.. For we are in love with you the Emperor of Music.. Your Music is great and blissful!

சின்னத்தாயவள் தந்த ராசாவே..நீவிர் வாழிய பல்லாண்டு!உமது இசை வாழிய ஆயிரமாண்டு!!

Hail thee- The one born to Chinnaththaayee!
Your music will live for thousand years!!

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

ILaiyaraaja-The Natural Musician..

Long back, I had written that there is poetry in everything.

Now, look at this scenario.

The lover is away from his beloved. Unable to bear the pangs of separation, he decides to see her and begins his long journey. His mind travels faster than the light but can his chariot match that speed? On the way, he sees the splendour of nature.The gentle bamboo reminds him of her arms. He thinks of her serene eyes when he listens to the silence of nature..

He looks at the fresh land ready to be ploughed and sings,

‘Her arms have the beauty of a gently moving bamboo.
Her large eyes are full of peace.
She is faraway, her place not easy to reach.
My heart is frantic with haste, a ploughman with a single plough
On land all wet and ready to seed.’

(Translation courtesy:A.K.Ramanujan)

ஆடமை புரையும் வனப்பிற் பணைத்தோள்
பேரமர்க் கண்ணி யிருந்த ஊரே
நெடுஞ்சேண் ஆரிடை யதுவே நெஞ்சே
ஈரம் பட்ட செவ்விப் பைம்புனத்து
ஓரேர் உழவன் போலப்
பெருவிதுப் புற்றன்றால் நோகோ யானே.

Poetically wild!

This wonderful poem is part of KuRunthogai(a compilation of 100 poems written by different authors and is more than 2500 years old!).The poet himself acquired the name ‘Oreruzhavanaar’(meaning ploughman with a single plough).

The beauty of this poem is that it is composed without any pretensions and clearly gives us a sketch of the mind of the desperate lover. It is spontaneous and therefore natural.

ILaiyaraaja’s compositions too are spontaneous, unpretentious and natural.
The composition of the day is another special and rare composition of his.
It is ‘Idhu KanavugaL..’ from ‘Nizhal Thedum NenjangaL’(1982).This is based on a beautiful classical raga called Malahari.

Carnatic music is very structured and the learning is a step-by-step process.The learners start with the Sarali varisai’, ‘Janta varisai’, ‘Alankaram’, ‘Geetam’, ‘VarNam’ and ‘Keertanam’.Traditionally, the first three are learnt in Mayamalavagowla(shall explain the reason soon in one of my posts when I discuss a song in this ragam).

Though there are more than 20 geetams, the most popular ones are ‘Lambodara’, ‘Keraya neeranu’, ‘Kundagowra’, ‘Padumanabha’ –all based on Malahari- and unless the beginners practise these geetams vigorously and convince their gurus about their preparedness to learn music, the Gurus will not take them to the next level.

It is because of the beauty of the raga and also its simple structure that reveals a lot about the complexities of classical music.

Malahari's arohanam/avarohanam pattern is: sa ri1 ma1 pa dha1 Sa/Sa dha1 pa ma1 ga3 ri1 sa.

Now, it does take a lot of guts to compose a film song in this raga because of the classicism associated with it.But ILaiyaraaja being the natural musician, has composed and tuned a romantic song in this raga without sounding classical and at the same time retaining the classical beauty.

What is this ‘KanavugaL..’ in Malahari all about?

The synthesisers in the prelude sketch a trim silhouette. The repose laden melody indicates what is in store for us.The vibrant flute enters with musical intensity and the euphonic guitar with the synthesiser smiles at us rather quizzically.

The crystal clear voice of Deepan Chakravarthy renders the Pallavi which is impregnated with colourful melodic phrases.The first two lines are simple and beautiful. The following lines take energetic flights showing us the attractive facets of the raga.

The last line is luscious.

The zestful first interlude paints a vivid picture.

We see the orderly progression of the strings as the cello and the viola play fluid phrases with lightning repartees from the higher octave violins. The violins gear to deliver punch and then march ahead with vigour and vibrancy.The flute weaves a skein with a winsome spinning of swara combinations with the guitar providing the sheen.

The CharaNams have sculpted phrases with the honey soaked voice of Janaki taking us to a magical world.The beginning has some short wavy pattern unrolling variations and intricacies.The use of alien notes(ga2 and ni2) add to the beauty.The middle portion is full of sobriety while the following portion show us the eloquent vignettes of the raga.

The repeat of the Pallavi pattern in the end is the crowning glory.

The alternation of pace in passages and varying interpretations provide the contrast in the second interlude.It starts with the delightful synthesis of the violins.There is a sudden speedy swirl giving festoon like patterns.The guitar and synthesiser bring in a kind of yuletide spirit with the flute giving tranquillity and peace.

Naturally beautiful!

இது கனவுகள் விளைந்திடும் காலம்..நம் பாதையில் இசைத் தேவதை வந்து நிரந்தர வரம் தரும் நேரம்..

Musical angel gives us a permanent boon..This is dream time..

Saturday, 16 April 2011

ILaiyaraaja-Aesthetically intelligent Musician..

We have heard this many times: ‘A thing of beauty is a joy forever’.

But is it possible to define ‘beauty’?
Don’t we also know that ‘it lies in the eyes of the beholder’?

While this may be true, it is beautiful to see some people see beauty in things that are considered otherwise. They also see and enjoy the contrasts in nature and life. These people not only think differently but also express themselves beautifully.
Pei aazhwar, one of the 12 vaishnavite saints looks at Narayana in the supine posture and this is enough for him to go on a beauty trip.

He says, ‘He lies on the salty sea black in colour, with Lakshmi whose lips are as red as the Ruby , and with the colourful garlands adorning his chest. He is the same inside and outside.I worship him endlessly’

அவர்க்கு அடிமைப்பட்டேன்;அகத்தான், புறத்தான்,
உவர்க்கும் கருங்கடல் நீர் உள்ளான்-துவர்க்கும்
பவள வாய்ப் பூ மகளும்,பல்மணிப் பூண் ஆரம்
திகழும் திருமார்வன் தான்.

The dark colour of the sea and the complexion of the Lord match while the red colour and the white garlands contrast this. There is salt and there is sweetness. The poet with the sense of beauty appreciates this spectacle. But he does not stop there .He says though this is a contrast-and in a way contradictory- the Lord remains the same both inside and outside.

Most importantly, he describes the Lord as the one lying on the salty black sea.Things that are perceived to be negative appeal to his senses and he uses them intelligently.

Aesthetically intelligent.

Let us turn our attention to the song of the day where our Maestro has intelligently used a raga considered to be the Mother of pathos in a romantic duet.
The raga is Subhapantuvarali and the song ‘Porapattu’ from the Telugu film ‘Ladies’ Tailor’(1985).

Subhapantuvarali is the 45th melakarta and evokes a very unique melancholic feeling.But just like Peyaazhwaar, who saw beauty in Black and Salt, ILaiyaraaja sees romance in Subhapantuvarali. As far as I know, no musician has ever made this ragam sound happy and romantic.

Let me remind you that he has also done the reverse-that of making a happy raga like Mohanam sound sad’(Oru KaNam Oru Yugamaga-Nadodi Thendral and ‘Oru Ragam Paadalodu’-Ananda Ragam)..

The structure of Subhapantuvarali is- sa ri1 ga2 ma2 pa dha1 ni3 Sa/Sa ni3 dha1 pa ma2 ga2 ri1 sa.

What is striking about the song-apart from the raga usage- is the absence of a prelude.

The Pallavi has a meditative tenor and one sees the soft contours of the raga.A catholic exposition in the mellifluent voices of SPB and Janaki.

It is then a spontaneous rhythmic flourish as we hear the syllable ‘Ta’ repeated 8 times-completing one Adi tala cycle.It is a wholesome rhythmic landscape with the pulsating percussion followed by the funny humorous and yet enjoyable syllables.

Not a single melodic instrument used in the interlude.

The visualisation and the actualisation of the composer are stunning indeed!

The meditative phrasing continues in the CharaNam.It is interwoven with imaginative twists too with syllables like ‘Ta ki ta jam’ and ‘Ta ri ki ta jam’ and of course the funny syllables that jump with joy.

The first two lines move with élan while the next two lines are congruous complement in response.The last line is suffused with passion.

The entire Pallavi is then rendered lucidly.

The second interlude intensely elegant.The electric guitar is virulent while the long flute spins fine and delicate sangatis.The guitars and the other strings gallop and the long flute gives short wavy phrases.

We then see the golden hue of the raga as the short flute sings melodically.The violin plays in pure western style showing us the quiet magical glimmer.
The second charanam is as joyful as ever. The Raga glides, swirls,and spirals.

It is a torrential downpour!
Aesthetics at its best!!

Porapatu leni Sangeetam..(Music without any mistake..).

Sunday, 27 March 2011

ILaiyaraaja-The Ethereal Musician..

It is a well known fact that Kamban was a poet par excellence and that each verse of his is not only beautiful but also very deep and meaningful.

Look at this situation and see how he handles it poetically.Mind you..this is just a sample from thousands of his immortal verses.

Rama breaks the unbreakable.
But Sita-who saw Rama for the first time just the previous evening and fell in love instantly- totally unaware of the happenings at the ‘Rajya Sabha’ keeps wondering as to what would happen there and keeps talking to herself.

Her thoughts revolve around the previous evening.

‘He is in my thoughts; yet I am unable to recognize him.
He is inside my eyes; yet I am unable to see him.
He came like a cloud on the sky and disappeared inside the earth.
Where is he? Where is he?’

'விண்ணுளே எழுந்த மேகம் மார்பின் நூலின் மின்னொடு, இம்
மண்ணுளே இழிந்தது என்ன, வந்து போன மைந்தனார்,
எண்ணுளே இருந்த போதும், யாவரென்று தேர்கிலென்;
கண்ணுளே இருந்த போதும், என்கொல் காண்கிலாதவே

Our eyes have the ability to see objects that are very far while our thoughts can perceive things that are even beyond time.
But despite this, she is neither able to see him nor is she able to perceive who he really is!
And look at the contrasts: The Sky and the Earth. Eyes (that see physical things) and Thoughts (intangible).

Rama is compared with the cloud because of his colour but the masterstroke is comparing the lightning with the sacred thread (which is around his shoulders).
Cloud with the lightning!

What a comparison..

This is what distinguishes a Master from the ordinary.
And these are the people who create a Ethereal world with their fertile imagination..

As we all know, ILaiyaraaja with his heavenly music has created an ethereal world, a place which is blissful and tranquil.

Today, I am taking up yet another wonderful composition of his.

It is ‘En Nenjam Unnodu..’ from ‘Rusi KaNda Poonai’(1980).

The composition is based on Sindhu Bhairavi, one of the most beautiful ragas.

Our classical music is so versatile that we find different categories of beauties.

There are ragas that purely go by the structure or the scale.

There are ragas that are identified by certain unique prayogas/phrases.

There are ragas that become more beautiful when other notes are mixed (at times subtly and at times prominently).

There are ragas that do not follow any particular structure (despite having a defined arohanam/avarohanam) .

The immortal raga called as ‘Sindhu Bhairavi’ has all the aforementioned features- except the first one.

One can call it as the Queen of all ragas.

Though some people say it originated from the Hindustani music-where it is known by the name ‘Bhairavi’, I have a strong feeling (and not without any reason) that this must be one of the oldest ragas, as old as the Indus Valley Civilisation. Moreover, one finds strong contours of this raga in our folk tradition which is equally old.

As per theory, it is derived from the 10th Melakarta Natakapriya and the Arohanam/Avarohanam structure is

Sa ri2 ga2 ma1 ga2 pa dha1 ni2 Sa/ ni2 dha1 pa ma1 ga2 ri1 Sa ni2 sa.

However, the raga uses almost all the swaras-except the prati madhyama.

No doubt ILaiyaraaja, the most versatile cine musician is enamoured of this raga and has composed hundreds of songs in this raga.

Let us now take up ‘En Nenjam Unnodu..’

The song starts with the humming of Janaki which is dripped with the honeyed essence of the raga. The rendering in two octaves with the guitar and the piano sweetly blending with the voice, shows us an enchanting bowl of nectar.

The string instrument that sounds like ‘electric veena’(?) plays with grip and fervour to a pulsating rhythmic pattern in Tisram.

The Pallavi starts with the same imaginative rhythmic virtuosity.
The Tisram(3-beat) is played in two variations:
ta ki ta Ta ki ta. That is there is more stress on the first syllable in the second variation while the first part is plain.

Moreover, after the first line is rendered the first time, there is a pause- where we hear only the Tabla- and this lasts for 5 cycles(15 beats) and therefore the second sharp pattern in played as the Pallavi starts again.

Intelligent and beautiful!

The second line shines with pearly lustre while the last two lines have the flowery frills.

The first interlude has apposite orchestration.

The string instrument plays with context-sensitive intonation. The synthesiser takes over splicing melodic cogs with musical intensity. What follows is a ravishing exhilaration as the flute and the synthesiser take us on a nectarine trip. The mellifluent strains of the strings relax us further.

The CharaNams are invested with aesthetics.
The passages are vivacious and perspicuous and convey the distinct ethos of the raga with clarity .The higher octave in the last line says it all.

The second interlude has the melody/rhythm as its coefficient.

It starts nonchalantly. The ‘Electric Veena’ moves with languorous elegance and suddenly there is a beguiling glide in the background. As the melodic resonance continues, we see an inflection. A very different humming appears seamlessly.

It is pastoral beauty.
It is meditative and transcends time and space.
It is an ethereal world.

என் நெஞ்சம் உன் இசையோடு..

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

ILaiyaraaja-The Versatile Musician

The versatility of geniuses is indeed amazing.

Though we mortals tend to generalize and categorise people based on the little half baked knowledge we have, the great geniuses are beyond any classification or categorization.

Though I can give many examples, let me just give one now.

Most of you are familiar with Thiruvalluvar and his great work ThirukkuRaL. His ThirukkuRaL is one of the most revered works on morals, ethics and values. Thiruvalluvar is also said to have led a life of an ascetic though he was married.

Now, read the following:

1.‘Dear pupil of my eye! You please move and make way for my Lady Love.’

2.‘I sense the joy of touch, sight, sound, smell and taste in the beauty of my girl the one who wears beautiful bangles.’

3.‘She looks down when I see her. But when I do not look at her, she looks at me and smiles gently.’

4.‘Pearly smile, Bamboo shoulders, Hair full of fragrance, Lancing eyes,..She is beauty personified..’

1.கருமணியிற் பாவாய் நீ போதாய்யாம் வீழும்
திருநுதற்கு இல்லை இடம்..

2.கண்டு கேட்டு உண்டுயிர்த்து உற்றறியும் ஐம்புலனும்
ஒண்டோடி கண்ணே உள.

3.யான் நோக்கும் காலை நிலன்நோக்கும் நோக்காக்கால்
தான்நோக்கி மெல்ல நகும்.

4.முறிமேனி முத்தம் முறுவல் வெறிநாற்றம்
வேலுண்கண் வேய்த்தோள் அவட்கு.

Is it easy to believe that these were written by the same person who wrote,

‘Chase away all unwanted desires and lust’ , ‘Purify the mind from lust and other unwanted desires’ and many such couplets?

So, were his life and therefore his works full of contradictions?

Far from it..

‘ThirukkuRaL’ tells us the art of living.

‘Living’ encompasses everything under the Sun.

But one obvious question is ‘how is it that a man who is supposed to have led an led an ascetic life wrote couplets so sensuous and full of eroticism?’

This is where versatility comes into picture.

A poet, or an artiste or for that matter anybody involved in creative work cannot shut off their eyes or the mind and be selective in what they do. Not only should they know the realities of life but they should also know to express these. And for this to happen, they should be well-versed with all aspects of life and the art form they represent.

Geniuses have one more quality.

They are attached and at the same time detached.

Detached attachment. Is this not what Gita says?

That is why, we are able to see such great beautiful erotic verses from Thiruvalluvar.

That is why, we are able to listen to sensuous, erotic music full of love from ILaiyaraaja.

Some questions have been raised and many eyebrows have gone up regarding some of the songs of ILaiyaraaja. I have seen, heard and read people questioning the ‘love and lust’ factor in some of his songs.

What I have written so far in this post is the answer to their questions..

Today, we are going to see another wonderful erotic composition of his which again falls in the Very Very Special category which I mentioned in my previous post on ‘Yaava Shilpi’.

The composition is ‘Thathom thalangu thathom..’ from Vetri Vizha(1989).

This song uses just 5 swaras-sa ri1 ga2 ma1 ni2.

A cursory look at the swaras suggests that these are the swaras present in that great raga called Todi.

A deeper analysis suggests as per the ‘Sangeeta Swaraprastara Sagaram, there is indeed a raga with a structure of

sa ri1 ga2 ma1 ni2 Sa/Sa ni2 ma1 ga2 ri1 sa

and this is derived from Hanumath Todi.

This pentatonic raga is called as Mrigakshi-which literally means ‘Doe eyed’.

As usual, ILaiyaraaja is the only music composer to have used this raga.
The beauty is that though it is a fast paced song full of modern orchestration, nowhere does any alien note crop up.

Another beauty is the use of the higher octave swaras almost throughout the song.

Let us now look at this gem.

The prelude is spanking fresh.

The Bass guitar and the synthesiser make sharp excursions as the notes dance twinkle toed. The razor sharp instruments pierce our hearts.

The Pallavi in the voices of SPB and Janaki, shines beautifully with streaks of charming profundity, and pulsating phrases.

At the same time, it is woven with a silken web.

The intermeshing of human voices and the electronic synthesiser in the first interlude is radiant and benign. It is a gracious exposition punctuated by rich melodic contours. We see the variegated colours of quick silver when the Bass Guitar joins with the synthesiser in the second part.

The Charanams are pregnant with melody.

The first two lines impart charm while the next two lines have exciting curves and bends.
The lines that follow are bewitching and haunting.

The Pallavi which is rendered again at the end of the first CharaNam has a plethora of mellifluent innovative and improvised phrases.

The second interlude is laced with free flowing phrases.
We see the burst of energy. At the same time we also see gentleness in the pervasive patterns..

The Repetitive phrases that follow are stupendous.
It is rounded off with melody-steeped notes and we see the opulent colours of music.
பரவட்டும் பரவட்டும் இசை வெள்ள‌ம் பரவட்டும்..

Let this beautiful music spread all over..

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

ILaiyaraaja-The Charmer

What is it that which attracts us to great poetry?

Choice of words? Description? Narration? Or the subject itself?

I am sure it is a combination of all these. But most importantly, it should appeal to us spontaneously, cast a spell on us and at the same time make us look for inner meanings and more and more meanings..

Look at this poem:

“It is a misty morning.. The Buffalo hears the cry of its calf and Milk flows unabated from its udders making the floor wet and slushy. And you, the sister of the rich cowherd, is sleeping still, unmindful and totally oblivious to the happenings while the entire village seems to know this. Wake up at least now! Let us all go, sing and celebrate the deeds of the One who vanquished the King of Lanka!’’

கனைத்திளம் கற்றெருமை கன்றுக்கிரங்கி
நினைத்து முலைவழியே நின்றுபால் சோர
நனைத்தில்லம் சேறாக்கும் நற்செல்வன் தங்காய்!
பனித்தலைவீழ நின் வாசல் கடைபற்றி
சினத்தினால் தென்னிலங்கைக் கோமானைச்செற்ற
மனத்துக்கினியானைப் பாடவும் நீ வாய்திறவாய்!
இனித் தான் எழுந்திராய் ஈதென்ன பேருறக்கம்
அனைத்தில்லத்தாரும் அறிந்தேலோர் எம்பாவாய்.

These are the lines from the 13th Thiruppavai of AandaL.

Though it does make one look for deeper and inner meanings, let us ignore that for the time being and just look at the poem purely from an aesthetic perspective.

A simple beautiful story unfolds before us visually in a matter of seconds.

The wealth and richness of the house.. The laziness of the brother-who fails to do his duty of milking the cow-, and the sister who is in her own world...The Dew outside.. The group of girls all set to go to the temple..

This is the narration..

Now, look at the description..

The unusual scene of Milk flowing all over is described first. When we begin to wonder why and where, we get the answer almost immediately. We then get to know that the chief protagonist is standing outside the house with the dew falling on her head and the reason for her being there.

And look at the choice of the rhyming words..

‘Kanaiththu’, ‘Ninaiththu’..(to denote that the voice of the calf even from a distance makes the mother think of feeding it)

‘Nanaiththu’ ‘Paniththalai’..(both ‘wet’)

‘Sinaththinaal’ Manaththukkiniyanai’ ( contrast!)

‘Iniththan’ ‘Anaiththu’ (everybody now knows you.. at least now realise what you are doing)

Though it is not my intention to get into the hidden meanings (there are lots), let me just interpret one to make the appreciation of the poem complete.

Rama is described first as ‘the one who conquered Ravana out of anger’. The very next line calls him as ‘the lovable one’. Why this contradiction?

Rama is considered to be an epitome of calmness.But when he was made to lose his cool, it was doomsday for the evil minded man. Here, Rama is the symbol of Good and Ravana, the Evil.

Please don’t miss that these lines are preceded by the one describing the dew fall.
‘Dew’ is cool. ‘Anger’ is hot. ‘Loveable’ is cool.

Moreover, Dew, and Milk are white in colour and therefore symbolise peace and calmness while Buffalo, Sleep, Anger symbolise evil.

This is what makes ANdaaL a great poet and her poems are remembered and sung on all the days in the month of Margazhi even after 1200 years.

As I had already mentioned in one of my earlier posts, it just takes a few seconds for geniuses to compose great works since their brains are wired differently and there is an imperceptible link between their brain and the heart.

ILaiyaraaja takes very little time to compose music but what we get as a song/composition is wonderfully melodious and is packed with details which would take years to understand and analyse and mysteries which would take eons to unravel.

At the same time, irrespective of whether one knows/understands/analyses the details, his music steals our hearts.

Though all his compositions have something special ingrained in them, some compositions are very special in terms of the raga usage and many other technical aspects.

But the composition of the day I feel should be placed under a very special category-‘Very Very Special’.

‘Karaiyatha Manamum’, the composition we saw last time would automatically qualify for this category since it is based on a raga which is not in vogue used for the first time by him.

Today’s composition is also based on such a raga. But the subtle difference between the two is that while in the former one saw the gruha bedam technique (with the raga changing to yet another rare raga ), in the latter one sees the free flowing use of swaras of a Raga which is again not in vogue.

‘Yaava Shilpi Kanda Kanasu Neenu..’ from the Kannada movie Janma Janmada Anubandha’(1980) is the composition.

Going by the tune, it is rather easy to conclude that it is either based in Madhyamavati or Brindavana Saranga. However, there is more to it than meets the eye (ear).

First of all, let me explain as to why it sounds like these ragas.

There is a prominent use of Shadjamam (sa), Chushruti Rishabham(ri2), Shuddha Madhyamam(ma1), Panchamam(pa), Kakali Nishadam(ni3).In addition to this one feels one hears the other ‘ni’, the Kaisiki Nishadam. However, a very close listening suggests that it is actually the vivadi swaram ‘Shadshruti dhaivatam’(dha3).

Now, what could this Raga be?

Going by the swaras used, it should be a derivative (janya ) of either the 24th Melakarta ‘Megaranjani’ or the 30th Melakarta ‘Naga Nandini’.

On checking the ‘Raga Pravagam’ book, I saw no raga with this structure listed under the 24th. But thankfully, a raga called ‘Doorjatipriya’ listed under ‘Naga Nandini’ with this structure:

Sa ri2 ma1 pa dha3 ni3 Sa/Sa ni3 dha3 pa ma1 ri2 sa.

‘Yaava Shilpi’ uses these swaras though at times some swaras are skipped (for example, Sa ni pa ma and ri ma pa dha Sa).

But in the absence of any written rule (Raga Lakshana) for this particular raga, let us assume that it is ‘Doorjatipriya’ only.

Let us now look at the composition in this unique raga that sounds like Madhyamavati and Brindavana Saranaga but still has a beauty of its own.

The strings of the guitar strum very gently.. The Flute breathes charm. Suddenly it is robust all around with the percussion moving at a spanking pace. The joyously effervescent Saxophone is joined by the zestful violins.

The vocals begin with the a unique ‘papapapapa..’

We feel the verve and spirit in the voices of SPB and Janaki with the pristine flute sketching subtle hues.

The Pallavi is fluent, sweet and suave. It is adorned by the splendorous synthesisers.

The first interlude is magical.

The Saxophone is couched in winsome language. As it begins to melt our hearts, the twin-violins enter with a musical smile.

What follows is a short melodic document.

The violins traipse across the octaves giving stunning replies to the questions posed by the Sax.

It is delicate.
It is strong.
It is artistic.
It is gracious.

The violins then move with piercing intensity followed by the flute that shines radiantly with the vivadi notes.

The CharaNams are wonderful with the coil-into-coil phrases.

The first two lines have an aura of freshness. The line that follows has an intricate loveliness while the third line is a lustrous elaboration.

We have more surprise in store as the CharaNam continues with a very short aalap followed by the lines that have the same notes as that of the Pallavi.

The second interlude has intricately twined passages. It first brims with exuberance with the chatusram beats on the percussion. Enveloped in subtle overtones, the violins evoke melodic essence. It is an amalgam of the West and the East.

The radiant flute now moves with blazing intensity and the rapturous violins whirr.

A stunning display!

It is the music of hundred poets..