Tuesday, 15 April 2014

ILaiyaraaja's Music and Emotions-V-Viraha

‘How did the lightning turn into a beautiful girl?’, wondered Rama.

‘But can a lightning have a face? Or can a lightning last more than a fraction of a second? And can it have such a glow and beauty? Impossible!’ He continues.

 ’ I keep seeing that image with my eyes as well as in my mind.. ‘ said Rama to himself as he was lost in the thoughts of the girl he saw that evening.

விண்ணின் நீங்கிய மின்னுரு, இம்முறை
பெண்ணின் நன்னலம் பெற்றதுண்டேகொலாம்?
எண்ணின் ஈது, அலது, என்றறியேன், இரு
கண்ணினுள்ளும் கருத்துள்ளும் காண்பனால்.

Kamban- the Master of poetic descriptions, the Master of Psychology, and the Master of Love- succinctly describes  what would be running in a man’s mind after having seen his Lady love(remember this is divine love at first sight). But what sets apart this poet is his ability to bring out the emotions in a subtle way. The viraha element that runs as an undercurrent cannot be missed if one looks at the poem very carefully.  The last line ‘I am seeing her through my eyes and through my mind’s eye’ says it all..

Viraha is an intrinsic part of love and great poets like Kamban have brought this out so beautifully. But the greatness of this verse is that it does not show the ‘pains of separation’. Rather, it seems like a celebration of viraha.

Viraha sounds beautiful in one of the compositions of ILaiyaraaja’s too.. ‘ILanjolai pooththadho’ from Unakkaaga VaazhgiRen (1986),  viraha runs as an undercurrent and this makes it a composition par excellence.

The composer’s natural ability to set the apt raga to suit a particular situation is well known. Madhuvanti is a raga which evokes nostalgia, love, happiness, melancholy and of course Viraha. ILaiyaraaja  uses this raag in ‘ILanjolai..’ making it sound emotional and at the same time leaving us serene .

The composition starts with the ‘akaaram’ in the imperial voice of SPB. The quaint flute follows. The akaaram gathers momentum now and flows like a cascade and this time, it is the turn of the resonant sitar to echo the akaaram. With artistic finesse, the ankle bells join and the Flute and the Sitar alternate finally coalescing together. Exhilarating prelude hinting us as to what is in store.

ILanjolai’ starts with a reposeful spontaneity. It is in ‘ateeta eduppu’ with the taLa cycle starting from ‘jo’. The ‘mapa mapa’ ‘gama pama’ and the ‘sagasa’ phrases give a clear sketch of the raag. The variation in percussion and in the chatushram pattern when the first line is repeated in the end, adds a new shade to the Pallavi.

With consummate dazzle, the violins dance without the backing of the percussion in the beginning of the first interlude. The next set of violins takes over with verve and elegance even as the Tabla and the ankle bells join. The euphonic flute now plays with expressional smoothness with the mridangam that plays just the ‘ta’ and ‘dhi’ leaving ‘ka’ ‘mi’ blank. The resonant melodic stringed instrument responds with vigour. The sitar finally leads us to the CharaNam.

The lines in the CharaNams are intricately patterned.

If the first two lines have the ‘niSaSa’ and ‘niSanipa’ phrases, the following two lines have the podi sangatis-after ‘sugandham’ and mayangum- with the swaras first going on a descent(Sanidhapa) and then with stress on the ‘ma’. The lines that follow have the higher octave notes.

The subtle change in the gait after the second line, the ‘Taam taam tarikita thaam’ in mridangam between the 3rd and the fourth line and the mridangam for almost half avartanam at the end, show the TaaLa Raaja in full flow.

The musical instruments in the second interlude seem to revel in the sharp beauty of each swara and each rhythmic syllable. To start with, we have the virtuous violins and the mridangam.  The myriad combination of notes and the repartee from the mridangam sends us to raptures. The Sitar and the Flute then define the warps and woofs of the raga vividly painting the beauty of love. The Flute goes on its own raveling a whole coil of swaras with the violins and bass instruments interjecting.

 It is tranquil and titillating..

Love and Viraha- How beautiful!!

Check this out on Chirbit