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?


Suresh S said...

Thanks for choosing this lovely song. Luckily I have the original CD of this movie so I have heard this quite a few times. It is vintage Raja. The superb tune, lovely orchestration and the voices of singers at their peak make this a veritable treat to our ears. This song must be heard by more people.

Raj said...

Thanks Suresh!