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..