Friday, 14 February 2014

ILaiyaraaja's Music and Emotions-IV- Love

The white jasmine buds which are as bright as the moonlight eagerly wait and yearn for the rains even as they gently embrace the green tendrils of the red jasmine. The Lady Love looks at this sight and says ‘Like these jasmine buds which will blossom as the rain drops kiss them, my ‘black beauty’ too will blossom as soon as the sound of the chariot of my Man is heard’.

தளவின் பைங்கொடி தழீஇப் பையென
நிலவின் அன்ன நேர் அரும்பு பேணிக்
கார் நயந்து எய்தும் முல்லை அவர்
தேர் நயந்து உறையும் என் மாமைக் கவினே

This love-drenched  poem  from ‘AinkuRunooRu’ which is part of the 2500 year old Sangam literature is beautiful in terms of the similes used - Jasmine buds and the moon light-,  comparison- Jasmine Buds and the Lady, Rain and her Man,and the contrast- Moonlight and Black beauty. But what I like the most about this poem  written by Peyanaar is the fact that rather than artificially glorifying fair skin, it honestly talks about the natural dark complexion of the Lady thus breaking the myth surrounding the colour of the skin.

Generally tamizh poets love to depict the Heroine as being ‘fair and lovely’. The Hero can be dark complexioned and this does not really matter because a Man is expected to show valour while the woman should invariably be beautiful and beauty here means the complexion. In fact, this traditional typecasting continues in the 21st Century too, the ads and movies being some classic examples.
The bold Heroine in this poem takes pride in her complexion and calls herself as ‘Maamai kavin’.

The poem also tells us a true Love Story in a matter of 4 lines. He is away and has been away for quite a while. Steadfast in her love, and exuding positivity, she waits for his return. Separation, Expectation, Trust and Belief- are these not the ingredients of Love?

I find Love (literally and figuratively) at its best in many compositions of ILaiyaraaja.

Kaadal kavitaigaL padiththidum neram from Gopura Vaasalile(1991) is one such compositions  and according to me is one of the best Love songs in Indian Film Music. What set the song apart are the ragam, the way it is used, the orchestration, arrangement and the voices of SPB and Chitra.

Based on Mayamalavagowla, a very classical raga known for Bhakti and poingnancy, the song make us float in mid air and most importantly make us fall in love. Though Raaja sir has used this raga ubiquitously and with ease, ‘Kaadal kavithaigaL’ is a classic.

With melody and aesthetics permeating the atmosphere, the composition starts with two sets of strings playing two different sets of notes zestfully and with zeal.If only we do a small exercise of focusing one set and shutting off the other one and then do the same process but this time concentrating on the other one alone, an aural treat is surely guaranteed.

Silk braced with steel. That is what I should say as the Recorder, a wind instrument that sounds like a shrill flute takes over and plays the notes of Mayamalavagowla deftly. The melodically comely flute follows and here too there is a second subtle flute playing a different set of notes simultaneously. The musical equation is amazing indeed! Finally, the euphonic bells smile and give the signal of love leading us to the Pallavi.

The Pallavi starts with the upper ‘Sa’ which itself is rather unusual. The brilliant repetition of ‘dha pa’ in the third and the fourth line(idayam, iLamai, amudam,azhagil) is nectarine and straightaway steals our hearts. The last line speaks volumes of the brilliance of the composer. In Carnatic Music, during the ‘kalpana swara’segment, a trained musician weaves a beautiful pattern whereby the ending swara matches with the first swara in the korvai. This is called as ‘poruththam’. The Carnatic Musician in ILaiyaraaja comes to the fore here as the swaras of the last line are ‘ma pa dha ni’ continuing with ‘Sa ni’the swaras of the first phrase (kaadal).

Isn’t musician a painter too? ILaiyaraaja, the artist sketches the interludes with an unbelievable and yet impeccable dexterity. The outline is drawn first with the keys in the beginning of the first interlude. The lustrous flute follows to the backing of the subtle flute which plays the staccato notes. The guitar responds to the romantic call of the Flute. Moving with a striking melodic force and following a wavy pattern, the strings show the quietistic ripeness of love.The Flute that interjects in the end cries in ecstasy.

The CharaNams are musically very sound with the lines composed with a firmness of purpose. The phrases in the second and the third lines are structured in such a way that the swara in the middle of each phrase starting from the second phrase becomes the beginning swara in the following phrase. It goes like ‘ga ma pa/ma pa dha/pa dha ni/dha ni Sa Ri Sa’.

A close observation suggests that the same set of swaras appear in the end too(the penultimate line has the first three sets only) but it does not sound redundant. The last phrase in the last line ‘dha ni Sa Ri Sa’ matches again with the first phrase of the Pallavi-‘Sa ni’.

The CharaNams are festooned with the alternating strings and flute that complete the taaLa cycle after the second and the fourth lines.

The second interlude glows beautifully like love. It starts with a rhythmically rousing sequence with the percussion sounding ‘taangu taangu tataangu taangu taangu’ which is ta ki ta/ta ki ta/ta ka dhi mi/ta ki ta/ ta ki ta- 3/3/4/3/3, a total of 16 maatraas. Only the first syllable in the tisram(group of three) and the first two syllables in chatushram(group of four) are sounded enhancing the beauty. Even as this goes on for a taaLa cycle of 5 and half, the recorder shines with resplendence giving some mesmeric touches. The half cycle is then completed with the melodic guitar.

The Strings that follow show the lively and leisurely facets of the raga with emotional grandeur. In a way, this by itself typifies the entire composition.

Dimensions of Music..Dimensions of Love..

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