Wednesday, 30 May 2012

ILaiyaraaja- The Preternatural Musician..

Tirumoolar, one of the 18 Siddhars was a great ascetic.

He is believed to have lived for nearly 3000 years with his mystical and yogic powers. Some may believe this and many may not. But what one cannot deny is the wealth of information in his work called ‘Tirumandiram’. The 3000 verses contain the essence of Indian philosophy that includes Yoga and Tantra. Most importantly, it shows him as a rationalist and a rebel who shunned rituals, Idol worship and all kinds of hypocrisies.

Each of his verse is said to be esoteric and can be interpreted in many ways.At the same time, his work can be enjoyed by agnostics/atheists for the sheer beauty of the language.

Look at this verse:

மண்ணகத்தான் ஒக்கும் வானகத்தான் ஒக்கும்
விண்ணகத்தான் ஒக்கும் வேதகத்தான் ஒக்கும்
பண்ணகத்து இன்னிசை பாடலுற்றானுக்கே
கண்ணகத்தே நின்று காதலித்தேனே.

Mannagaththaan okkum, vaanagaththaan okkum
Vinnagaththaan okkum, vedaththaan okkum
Pannagaththu innisai paadaluRaanukke
Kannagaththe ninRu kaathaliththene.

A very simple meaning is that the Divine force is the same for people living on the Earth, for the Celestials, for the Space, for people who look for salvation. He himself is Music.I love him.

Look at the logical build-up. Starting with the Earth, it goes to the Sky, then Space, Vedas and Music.
The Earth and the Sky can be seen with our naked eyes while Space, Vedas and Music can only be felt.

Music is the last to affirm the fact that it is best way to salvation and also that it is the Ultimate.

The word ‘Kannagaththe’ (literal translation-from inside the eyes) can be interpreted as from ‘my’ eyes or from ‘His’ eyes. I would go with the latter meaning since it also means the ‘inner eye’ (agakkaN) and we feel the Divine within us if only we shed all our ignorance. And loving Him from the inside of His eyes sounds not only esoteric but also very poetic!

No doubt Tirumoolar is considered to be preternatural.

I consider ILaiyaraaja as preternatural since his music is extraordinary transcending the natural order. It is simple as well as esoteric. Most importantly, it makes us all feel the Divine force.

The song of the day is yet another extraordinary composition of his.

‘Mouna ragam mana veeNai meettuginRa maalaiyil’ from the Tamizh film ‘KolangaL’ (1995) follows a unique pattern and the grammatical structure of the raga is this:

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

The Hindustani system has a raag that follows this scale and it is called as ‘Gunkali’. Derived from the ‘Bhairav’ thaat (carnatic equivalent of the Mayamalavagowla melam), this pentatonic raag is essentially a morning raag. The notes ‘ri’ and ‘dha’ are very prominent. The ‘chalan’ (normal movement) is somewhat devious towards the end since it slides from ‘ma’ to ‘sa’ and only then does it touch the ‘ri’ (sa dha pa ma sa ri sa).

Surprisingly enough, this scale is present in the Japanese traditional music.

Certain interesting facts emerge if one looks at this scale in Carnatic system.

The arohanam is the same as that of ‘Malahari’ and ‘Saaveri’, two popular ragas.

While Malahari (raga of the popular geetam ‘Lambodhara’) has ‘ga’ in the avarohaNam (descending), Saaveri has both ‘ga’ and ‘ni’-and therefore all the seven notes- in the avarohaNam.

Now, this pentatonic scale finds mention under two different melas in two different names:

1.Kanakangi- the 1st melakarta as ‘Latantapriya’ (as per ‘Sangeeta swaraprastaara saagaram)
2.Mayamalavagowla- the 15th melakarta as ‘Hamsa’ (as per ‘Paalaiyaazhi).

Please recall that ‘Lavangi’, a raga invented by Dr.Balamuralikrtishna and used by ILaiyaraaja in ‘KaNkaLukkuL unnai ezhudhu’ ( see my post on this in ‘ILaiyaraaja-The Mystic’) is derived from Kanakangi as per Dr.BMK. So, logically should this scale also be derived from the same melam and therefore the name of the raga should be ‘Latantapriya’?

I don’t agree with this logic because the composition has the contours of Mayamalavagowla and not Kanakangi.

Moreover, ‘Hamsa’ seems an apt name for this raga that a evokes meditative feel.

For simplicity, we can even call this raga as ‘Gunkali’. Beyond a point does nomenclature really matter? I can take refuge in the Bard of Avon and his immortal classic ‘Romeo and Juliet’!

Let us look at the composition.

The drone of the tanpoora fills the air spreading divinity.

The brief alaapana in the crystal clear voice of Janaki provides the melodic precursor.

The first two movements go on the ascent while the last movement goes on the ascent and climbs down finally touching the lower ‘sa’.

The Pallavi is a copious expanse melody and classicism.

First, the percussion( mrudangam) starts half way through the first avartanam(taLa cycle) that is exactly after 4 beats in the 8-beat aadi tala. Apart from being beautiful, this also symbolises ‘mounam’ (silence).

Secondly, the repetition of ‘maalaiyil andhi maalaiyil’ with a sangati gives it a touch of finesse.

Thirdly, the sojourn at ‘di’ in ‘ketkumadi’ for one full avartanam in the following line is like a meditative abstraction.

The last line with the subtle sangati at ‘sivan kovilil’ and the short akaara towards the end give the varied shades of the raga.

The first interlude is profusely fascinating with the sitar providing the emotional depth.The Veena joins the Sitar and these two sets of strings glow aesthetically showing the lurking beauty of the raga.

The first CharaNam has beautiful classical ingredients.

The sangati in ‘thendral’, the higher octave notes in ‘Veda Shatthiramum’ show the Raaja of Raga while the beautiful landing with ‘ta ka dhi mi’ twice in ‘keezh kaalam’(slow tempo) followed by ‘ta ka dhi mi’ four times in the ‘mel kaalam’(fast tempo) show the Raaja of Laya.

The repartee between the stringed instrument and the sitar apposite to the colour of the raga sounds absolutely like a Veda ghosham with the flute at the end giving a melting portrayal harping on ‘dha’ ‘sa’ ‘ri’ Sa’.

The structure of the second CharaNam is different from that of the first, another unique feature of this composition.

‘Aalaya poojaiyum..’ and ‘aadavan minnudum..’ are sedate with the ‘asaivu’(oscillation) at ‘saayankaalam’ and ‘paadum’ showing the colours of the sky at dusk.

‘AruL tharum sangeetam..’ is a steady stream while ‘neeRu poosuginRa..’ is steeped in classical canons.

The atmosphere is tranquil as the akaaram at the end of the Pallavi enters our ears,mind and the soul.

இசை நீறு பூசுகின்ற ஞானதேசிகனின் மனவீணை மீட்டுகின்ற அருள் தரும் சங்கீதம் அனைத்திலும் தெய்வீகம்..

Smeared with the ‘vibhuti’ of melody, the music from this Gnanadesikan’s mind is always pure and Divine.

Friday, 25 May 2012

ILaiyaraaja-The Musical Ecologist!

The place I live is surrounded by trees.

No.. I don’t live in a forest nor do I live in a village. I am a resident of Chennai, a Metropolitan City.

Then, isn’t it surprising that trees do exist in residential colonies in a metro city?

I must indeed thank my stars for this because somehow the building where I live, has managed to escape the onslaught of some of the insensitive residents who care more for their cars and parking space and little for the environment.

Thanks to these trees, there is often music all around.

Early morning, we are greeted by the birds whose songs in the Major scale drive away the laziness.

Come dusk and we hear the chatter of the birds, that include the crows. But even the chatter is musical.

During the night, the call of the birds is somewhat intermittent. It becomes musically eerie around midnight. Just three hours after this, is the beginning of the Brahmma Muhurtam and the little birds sing the Vedas.

I hardly get to see these birds. In fact, I am not Salim Ali and have never succeeded in identifying the birds-except a few. But the fact remains that their music inspires me so much everyday.

I am not a poet nor am I a musician. But I have often wondered at the sheer brilliance of some of the poets and musicians who with their enchanting compositions make us ‘feel’ the nature. We get transported to that world experiencing the beauty ourselves.

And how great that experience would be, if only we read the poems/listen to the music in the kind of environs similar to the one described by me?

I am sure such poets/musicians were (are) great lovers of nature. That is why, they are able to make us feel, enjoy and appreciate the beauty. They also have an uncanny knack of using Nature as an allegory of human emotions.

Almost all Sangam Tamizh poets had this ability.

See this poem from ‘AinkuRu nooRu’, a collection of 500 poems written by 5 different poets-100 by each poet. This one was written by ‘Peyanaar’ and it is about a warrior who thinks of his home (and obviously about his beloved) as the war gets over:

He sings in his mind,

‘Time to return home
This is winter and the red jasmine buds that look like the kingfisher bird
Are opened by the honey-bees that have fluttering wings
I shall see my poetic beauty whose forehead is as sharp as the sword’.

பிணிவீடு பெறுக மன்னவன் தொழிலே
பனிவளர் தளவின் சிரல்வாய்ச் செம்முகை
யாடு சிறைவண்டு அவிழ்ப்பப்
பாடல் சான்ற காண்கம்வாள் நுதலே.

Look how the poet has used similes to depict the emotions.

Fluttering honey-bee- Restlessness of the warrior
Red jasmine buds- His lover’s forehead
Kingfisher- Warrior
Winter- His somber mind (due to separation)
Honey-bees opening the buds-Union

Poetic ecology!

Now, let us turn our attention on the Musical ecologist, who with his sheer love for Nature, has been giving us some immortal compositions that make us appreciate Nature’s beauty more.

The song of the day is one such composition.

‘Manjum KuLirum’ from the Malayalam movie ‘Sandhyakku Virinja Poovu’ (1983) is based on Suddha Saveri, a pentatonic raga with classical overtones.

The structure of the raga is: sa ri2 ma1 pa dha2 Sa/Sa dha2 pa ma1 ri2 sa.

On paper, the raga is very similar to Mohanam and Madhyamavati. Substituting ‘ga’ for ‘ma’, we get the former while the latter is obtained by substituting ‘dha’ by ni2.

However, Suddha Saveri has a unique flavour and has a classical beauty of its own.

‘Manjum kuLirum..’ starts with the musical depiction of the blossoming buds. With a striking clarity of intonation, Janaki hums in the higher octave. We hear the cuckoo’s call as the flute responds to the aalaap. The akaaram continues with an intrinsic charm and ends with the makaaram .The raga is sketched in a matter of seconds. The santoor smiles in appreciation while the flute takes a trip with felicitous fluidity. The guitar repeats the ‘makaara’ swaras and the strings lead us to the Pallavi.

The Pallavi in the voice of Krishnachandran and Janaki has nuggets of grace embedded in it with the Flute following the first two lines. The pause for 4 Tisram cycles-embellished by the melodic instrument that plays only the second syllable ‘ki’ in ‘ta ki ta’is exquisitely tender.

The first interlude is etched with melody.

The strings scoot in western classical style and the single synth violin responds in style. Unobtrusively, this enticing pattern is repeated four times.

The string of the violin is now plucked with the fingers-without bowing- exactly at ‘Ta’ in ‘Ta ki ta’. After 4 cycles, all the three syllables-ta ki ta- are played. Even as this colourful sequence is on, the flute takes a spirited gait giving the burnished form of the raga. The piece is musically nuanced and rhythmically engaging.

The short and sweet strings at the end of the interlude blow like a gentle breeze.

The first line of the CharaNam gives the essence of the raga.

The following lines show the contrast, beautifully mixing the alien swaras with the flute echoing with passion. It also gives a ‘Pahaadi touch’ to Suddha Saveri.

The last line is placid with both the voices joining together towards the end.

The second interlude sees a profusion of very interesting patterns.

There is counterpoint with two sets of strings- one dazzling and the other musingly melodic-playing different sets of notes.

Suddenly, we see vignettes of a coastal Kerala village. It is a spell of elegant melodic passages as the voice echoes.

The profusely fascinating flute glows aesthetically.

Natural beauty at its best!

His music is as charming and cool as the early morning mist..

Sunday, 20 May 2012

ILaiyaraaja-The Aesthetically Flamboyant Musician..

All are geniuses flamboyant?

In fact, some are geniuses solely because of their flamboyance and since my objective is not to get into this and stir up a Hornet’s nest, let me focus on some other geniuses who generally have a subdued flamboyance. But what happens when this flamboyance raises its hood (with or without their being aware) at times?

Among other things, it shows yet another dimension of the Genius. But most importantly, ‘aesthetics’ -that runs as an undercurrent in the works of the geniuses - combines with Flamboyance resulting in a veritable fare.

Take the great AruNagirinathar whose works include the Tiruppugazh, Kandar Alankaaram, Kandar Anubhooti,Kandar Andathi.. and many more. Some of his verses have been quoted in my earlier posts ‘ILaiyaraaja-The Beautiful Musician’, ‘ILaiyaraaja-The Spontaneous Musician’, ‘Natana Raaja-Part 1’, ‘ILaiyaraaja-The Effervescent Musician’.

Now, let us look at this verse (people who cannot follow Tamizh, pl. note that the first two words in each line are the same.:

‘சித்தத் தரங்கத்தர் சித்தியெய் தத்திரி கின்றதென்னர்ச்
சித்தத் தரங்கத்தர் சந்ததி யேசெந்தி லாய்சலரா
சித்தத் தரங்கத்தர் ரக்கரைச் செற்றகந் தாதிங்களிஞ்
சித்தத் தரங்கத்தர் சேயா ரணத்தந் திகிரியையே’

‘Sidhdha tarangaththar sidhdhiyey thaththiri ginRathennar
Sidhdha tarangaththar santathi yesenthi laaysalaraa
Sidhdha tarangaththar rakkarai seRRakan thaathingaLinj
Sidhdha tarangaththar seyaa raNaththan thigiriyaiye’

Now, let me split the words to convey the proper meanings:

சித்த தரங்கத்தர் சித்தி எய்த திரிகின்றது ஏன்(அர்ச்ச)
சித்து, அத்தர், அங்கத்தர் சந்ததியே செந்திலாய்(சலரா)
சி தத்தரம் கத்து அரக்கரைச் செற்ற கந்தா திங்கள்,(இஞ்)
சி தத்து அரங்கத்தர் சேய் ஆரண தந்தி கிரி ஐ ஏ.
I can give the word by word meaning for people who are interested. For now, let me give the gist:

‘Oh Lord who is the son of Parameswara ; the One who destroyed the Asuras; the One who is worshipped by the Vedas; the one whose abode is the ‘Sengottu Hill’- Tell me this: Why do people who cannot control their wavering minds, perform pooja and pray to you just to while away their time?’

Though this is just the summary, there are a lot of beautiful things about this poem.

First and foremost is the way the (same) two words are used in all the four lines, conveying different meanings in each line.

Second is the way Lord Muruga is described.

He is called as the one whose father wears the garland of bones and is worshipped by one and all (second line).

Then to describe His virtue of destructing the evil forces, AuNagiri says, ‘You killed the Asuras who with their bloated egos came running and shouting from the seas’ (third line).

We see the poetic beauty in the next line as he describes the tower of Sri Rangam. The poet says ‘The Moon crawls on the wall of the temple(to show how tall it is..).’

Now, where did the Lord of Sri Rangam come into picture here?

He brilliantly gives a link here. ’The Vedas recited by Brahma, who is the son of the Lord of Sri Rangam, worship You!’

The first line is a marvel.

‘Why do people whose minds are as wavering as the waves of the sea look for salvation just by doing Pooja without realizing the value and roam around?’

In fact, he conveys what he wants to convey in the first line itself-unlike most of the poems where the last line is a clincher. The other three lines are just ornate.

But look how beautifully the words dance in those lines.

Most importantly, he conceals the words and leaves it for us to split and understand the real meaning.There is a deep philosophy in this itself, but I leave it to you to decipher..

What is of utmost interest to even non-tamizhs is the way the entire poem has been constructed.

Is this not what we call as ‘aesthetically flamboyant’?

The Emperor of Film Music is flamboyant at times. But just like the great AruNagirinaathar, his flamboyance too is aesthetic.
The song of the day is a popular composition, ‘Aasai nooRu vagai’ from the 1983 film ‘Aduththa Vaarisu’.

If one says it is based on VakulabharaNam,-the 14th melakarta- he/she is not way off the mark. However, a very close look suggests that the composition avoids/skips the swara ‘ga’ completely.
The Raga text ‘Sangeeta Swaraprastara Saagaram’ of Naadamuni PaNditar calls this raga-that is VakulabharaNam sans ‘ga’ as ‘Nandini’.As far as I know, nobody else has used this raga so far.

As some of you know, VakulabharaNam has a lot of Arabic flavour. What is to be noted is that Nandini too retains that flavour and is in fact slightly more zestful than the parent raga.

This is the structure of Nandini:
Sa ri1 ma1 pa dha1 ni2 Sa/Sa ni2 dha1 pa ma1 ri1 sa.

‘Aasai nooRu vagai’ has some more hidden beauties and let us look at those.

The Trumpets blow in the higher octave. The Bass bursts into melody. The Trumpets and the Guitars now dance with flamboyantly and gracefully. It is an enthralling dance with vibrant intensity.

Spontaneous elegance!

The percussion plays ‘ta ka dhi mi ta ka’ twice and takes us to the Pallavi.

The first two lines of the Pallavi is conceived brilliantly. I am saying this essentially for three reasons. Let us see the first and the second one now and the third one a little later.

The swaras are ‘sa ni2 sa ni2 sa ri1/ sa ni2 sa ni2 sa ri1/sa . . . . .’

1.Note that these are lower octave notes while the prelude is dominated by the higher octave notes.

2.These swaras and the pattern sound like ‘Saama veda’.

The following line is full of vibratos rendered with zeal by Malaysia Vasudevan.

The higher octave notes ‘Ri1 and Sa’ sandwiched between the lower octave ‘pa dha1 ’ and ‘ni2 dha1 pa dha1’ make the last line a pleasant rendezvous.

The incandescent brass flute in the first interlude brings in romance.As the subtle bass guitar and the Bells mingle with the flute, we are in for another surprise. Shehnoy, considered (by film music directors) to be an instrument for pathos, jumps with joy vivifying the atmosphere.
The trumpet now moderates the proceedings, at the same time goading the Bass Guitar which moves with gusto.

The first two lines of the CharaNam is dominated by the ‘panchamam’(pa) which pairs with the ‘sa’, ‘ma’ and ‘dha’. Makes us wonder yet again at the intuitive conception of the composer.

Before I go to the third line, it is now time to explain ‘Reason no.3’.
I had mentioned that the first two lines of the Pallavi follow ‘sa ni2 sa ni2 sa ri1..’.

The third line of the CharaNam-‘Ingu sorgam mannil varum sontam mannil varum..’
follows ‘ pa dha1/ Sa ni2 Sa ni2 Sa Ri1/ Sa ni2 Sa ni2 Sa Ri1 Sa’- that is the lower ‘sa’ and the lower ‘ri1’ are substituted by the upper octave notes.

To understand what this means, sing the Pallavi(2 lines) and then sing ‘Sorgam mannil varum..’.Do you find the similarity and the difference?

Similarity is in the notes and difference is in the octave!

One more beauty is that the Pallavi and the CharaNams that start in the lower ‘sa’ end with the upper ‘Sa’.

In the second interlude, the Bass Guitar pulls our heart strings. We see a confetti of beautiful fireworks as the flute sizzles. The chorus gives out an ecstatic cry and the brass flute takes over bringing a sense of plenitude. The brass section continues with the torrential pour from the trumpets, trampoline and other wind instruments.The mandolin at the end bows in Arabian style!

A multitude of desires.. But our desire is to listen to his music forever.

ஆசை நூறு வகைகள் இருந்தாலும், நமது ஒரே ஆசை அவரது இசையை எப்பொழுதும் கேட்டுக்கொண்டே இருப்பது!

Monday, 14 May 2012

ILaiyaraaja-The Vivacious Musician..

AndaL was a great boon to Tamizh language.

The mastery of the little girl, who was just around 10-12 years when she composed 143 verses- which is now called as ‘Naachiyaar Tirumozhi’- and 30 verses of ‘Tiruppaavai’ ruled the language of Tamizh.

What makes her poems great are her choice of words, her creativity, innovation and most importantly her vivaciousness. Though these were composed around the 8th Century, the poems can be easily interpreted, understood, appreciated and enjoyed. At the same time, the poems have esoteric value too.

Look at this verse taken from her ‘Naachiyaar Tirumozhi’ (5th verse in the 9th Tirumozhi) where she describes the Lord of Tirumal-irum-solai (a place near Madurai):

‘Oh..Bees that hang in each bloom of fragrant flowers
At the Floral park that surrounds Tirumaal-irum-solai,
The springs, and the Red lotuses that toss their heads from the springs,
You remind me of Lord’s cerulean hue and his beautifully shaped eyes,
Please lead me to Him..’

துங்க மலர் பொழில் சூழ் திருமாலிருஞ்சோலை நின்ற
செங்கண் கட்டுமுகிலின் திருவுருப்போல் மலர்மேல்
தொங்கிய வண்டினங்காள்!தொகு பூஞ்சுனைகாள்!சுனையில்
தங்குசெந்தாமரைகாள்!எனக்கு ஒரு சரண் சாற்றுமினே!

Enamoured with the beauty of the place, the little girl jumps.Each and every creature in that place reminds her of the Lord. She addresses the creatures (bees,lotuses and other flowers, springs ) requesting those to show her the way to see the Lord.

True..the poem shows her unflinching and unimpeachable devotion to the Lord. But what it also does is that it transports us to that very place making us feel lively, joyful and vivacious..

After all, the vivaciousness of the geniuses is contagious…Right?

That is why, we all enjoy the music of this gentleman whose vivaciousness and energy levels are incredibly true.

On this special day when we all celebrate 36 years of his entry into film music, let us look at a composition of his which is as charming and lively as AandaL’s poems.

It is based on one of his favourite ragas (I am saying ‘favourite’ because he has composed hundreds of songs in this raga alone!).

This raag Pahaadi has already been discussed in my posts on ‘Mounamana Neram’(ILaiyaraaja- The Spontaneous Musician )and on ‘Ennaththil Edho’ (ILaiyaraaja-The Enlightened Musician).

This Hindustani raag is believed to have originated from the Tribes and it will be not be fair (I would say even a sacrilege) to mention a aroh/avaroh structure since it is not bound by any formal structure and is identified more by the feel than anything else.

However, this is one of the structures:

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

The raag shines beautifully when alien notes are added to it.

The song of the day is ‘Pudhu VannangaL pongidum solai’ from the 1981 film ‘MurattukkaaLai’.

The composition starts without a prelude with the first two lines in the honey-soaked voice of Janaki moving with fluidity.
The alien notes are added precisely in the 3rd and the 4th line making it poetically beautiful.

The last line jumps with joy.

This composition in the Tisra pattern(3-beat cycle) also has the ‘ateeta eduppu’-that is the songs starts before the Tala cycle. The ‘samam’(beginning of the Tala cycle) is in ‘VannangaL’.

The first interlude is full of verve.

The Flute sings like a cuckoo daintily without any percussion.
The piped instruments join the flute now with the percussion nodding its head in Tisram. The strings follow suit.

The sprightly flute sings again. Mesmerised by this the birds start singing.
The strings dance and the Santoor swaggers gleefully.

The keys resonate with the strings playing single notes in the background.

As if this is not enough, the strings play in higher octave with the santoor swaying wondrously.

The CharaNam is beautifully structured and gives a rich imagery of Pahaadi.

Interspersed with the santoor, the first two lines saunter.

If the santoor for exactly 4 Tisrams at the end of the simple and beautiful 3rd line is stately, the next line that has elongated phrases is benign while the last line with the alien notes gives ineffable joy!

The anomalous second interlude is an aural treat.

It starts with the vocals-Janaki and chorus- singing joyously in folk style.

Though it is free flowing without any percussion, it follows the Tisram pattern. Exactly after 36 Tisrams, smiling santoor plays for 4 Tisrams giving way to the luscious flute that sails musically. We are transported to a village and we see the green fields, flowing water and a spotless sky.

A vicarious experience!

The colourfully plumaged strings now eddy against the guitar playfully and finally playing the same notes as the guitar.

Is this not what we call as vivacious?

புது வண்ணங்கள் பொங்கிடும் இசைச்சோலை!

Saturday, 5 May 2012

ILaiyaraaja-Musician with a Radiance..

Awestruck by the radiance of the Lord, Nammazhvar bombards him with questions.

He asks,

‘Is the radiance of Your Face because of the radiance of Your Crown (head) ?
Has the Lotus under You blossomed out of the radiance of Your Feet?
Has the radiance from your waist blended with the radiance of Your ornaments?
Oh Lord Please tell me!’

முடிச்சோதியாய் உனது முகச்சோதி மலந்ததுவோ?

அடிச்சோதி நீ நின்ற தாமரையாய் அலர்ந்ததுவோ?

படிச்சோதி ஆடையொடும் பல்கலனாய், நின் பைம்பொன்

கடிச்சோதி கலந்ததுவோ? திருமாலே! கட்டுரையே.

Though he raises these questions the great Nammazhvar knew the answer.
Put in very simple words, the Lord himself is radiance personified. But he saw different dimensions to the Divine Radiance and the poet in him wouldn’t stop.

Don’t we all feel the radiance in each and every word?

In a similar way, we see and feel the radiance in the compositions of the Master.

We start asking, ‘Is the radiance of your music because of the tune?
Is the radiance of the songs because of the orchestration?
Is the radiance of your compositions because of the usage of ragas and
other classical techniques?’

We know the answer and we don’t know the answer.

Let us look at the composition of the day-‘Maharaajanodu RaNi Vandu Serum..’ from the film ‘Sati Lilavati’(1995).

It is based on Sarasangi, the 27th melakarata.

Its structure is: sa ri2 ga3 ma1 pa dha1 ni3 Sa/Sa ni3 dha1 pa ma1 ga3 ri2 sa.

It is the Shuddha madhyama counterpart of Latangi-that is if we substitute ‘ma1’ with ‘ma2’, we get Latangi.

It is also very closely related to some of the most popular ragas.

Change the ‘ri2’ to ‘ri1’ and we get Mayamalavagowla.

Change the ‘ga3’ to ‘ga2’ and we get KiravaNi.

Apart from this, it is also in the graham bedam group of Dharmavati and Chakravagam.
More about this soon..

ILaiyaraaja has used this raga in some of the greatest compositions-one of these being ‘Endrendrum Aanandame’. Please read my post ‘Laya Raaja’ to know more.

‘Maharaajanodu..’ has a very soft beginning. The Keys and the Bells announce the arrival of the spring season (and of course the romance). The guitar wafts fragrance and the second guitar that enjoys it. The finely textured Sax enters with the passionate percussion playing the ‘ta ka dhi mi’ in its own style.

It is a rhapsody of sorts.

The Pallavi in the voices of Unnikrishnan and Chitra is lively with the resonant Bass guitar and the sweet electric guitar following them very closely. Even as the third and the fourth lines are rendered, the strings skate on thick ice.

Icing on the cake!

The Raga flows gently in the first interlude.

The synth violins move with poise with the Sax holding their hands, warming the cockles of our hearts. The Bass Guitar starts singing as if it is in a trance. The eloquent flute sketches the raga in style in its own inimitable way.

The CharaNams are very aesthetically structured.

The first two lines are followed by the exquisite flute taking short freewheeling flights.

The next line is feisty with a gap for the guitar for a whole avartanam(cycle).

The following two lines exude the beauty of the Raga while the last line has some leisurely oscillations.

The second interlude has innovative, inspirational and intelligent splashes.

Let us now go back to what I said about the Graha Bedam group earlier in the post.

I have already discussed about the technique of Graha Bedam in some of my posts here.

If any swara-apart from the ‘sa’- is kept as the base, it yields different ragas, some valid and some not valid.

As per the theory, if the ‘pa’ of Sarasangi is made as the ‘sa’, it becomes Chakravagam.

The Master does this first.

Now, please read this carefully.

The structure of Chakravagam is sa ri1 ga3 ma1 pa dha2 ni2 Sa/Sa ni2 dha2 pa ma1 ga3 ri1 sa.

Therefore the Raga should logically be Chakravagam..But the Master Innovator goes one step further.

He uses the same six swaras- sa ri1 ma1 pa dha2 ni2- but instead of ‘ga3’, he uses the vivadi swara ‘ga1’ and the raga we get to hear is Vanaspati, the 4th melakarta.

Doing the unthinkable- Is it not the Hallmark of a Genius.

The Keys and the guitar move with finesse in Vanaspati with the Sax providing the melodic charm in Sarasangi.

It is the romance between the Emperor and The Queen(Music). Raaja yoga for us in yugas to follow..

மஹாராஜனோடு இசை ராணி கை கோர்த்தால்,பலப்பல யுகங்களிலும் ராஜ யோகம்தான்!