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!


Suresh S said...

Personally I should confess that I always get confused between Mayamalavagowla and Vakulabaranam. I guess a song is in Vakulabaranam if it sounds like MMG but doesn't completely sound like MMG :) Confusing yes, but that's how I end up deducing VB. Nandini is new to me.

Raja uses this scale quite a bit I think, with people probably thinking it is MMG. I can offhand remember 3 Malayalam songs in which I had confusion about MMG/VB and discussed it with another person in a different forum. The songs which seem to have the VB flavour include, 'kadapuathoru' (SMS), 'varavelkumo' (pacha kudhira) and 'ammayenna vaakku'(ponmudi puzhayorathu'). All three Malayalam films. And all three lovely songs.

BTW, this song is also an example of how Raja can give a 'mass' song and yet pack it with so much musicality. Generally when MDs try to give these 'mass songs', they generally end up bereft of musical ideas. Not in case of Raja, where some of his 'mass' songs for Rajni and Chiranjeevi have some terrific musical ideas.

Raj said...

As you know, Mayamalavagowla and VakulabharaNam are very close in terms of the mela numbers but each one gives a totally different feel.I remember mentioning this fact while commenting on one of your posts in your blog.

Tyagaraja's 'Ee Ramuni..' sounds very different from 'TuLasidala'.However, in film music, this distinction cannot shown that easily.

Still, I feel Raaja has given us some unique VBs like 'PalliyaRaikkuL'(Bala Nagamma),'Aarum atdhu aazham illai'(Mudhal Vasantam), 'Pichai Paaththiram'(Naan KadavuL) just to name a few.

At the same time, he has a tendency to mix 'ni2'in some of his MMG compositions-some examples being 'Antapuraththil oru maharaNi'(Deepam), 'Andhi varum neram'(Munthanai mudichu).But this is perfectly acceptable in Film music and I don't have any complaints as long as the melody is retained.

I am not too familiar with the songs you have mentioned.Shall listen again and let you know.

Regarding 'Aasai nooRu vagai', though it sounds like VB,it is not, since it completely omits the 'ga'.As mentioned in my post, this raga Naandini was used only by him.

Thanks Suresh!