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.
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!! )