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..