Sunday, 4 May 2014

ILaiyaraaja's Music and Emotions-VI-Humour-I

Humour is by far the most significant activity of the human brain’ said Edward de Bono, the father of Lateral Thinking.  

One does not need to be an expert to vouch for this. One does not need to know the functioning of brain. One does not even need to know about the lower frontal lobes (part of the brain considered to be the location of sense of humour). All it needs is that ‘sense’.  

Humour changes the way one looks at life. It brings joy, happiness, calmness and most importantly relaxes all parts of the body. Personally speaking, it is the sense of humour that has kept me-and keeping me- going even at times of worst crises. 

That brings me to one interesting poem by a spontaneous poet. Kavi KaaLamegam not only looked at things in life with humour but also composed poems laced with humour- bordering on sarcasm.  

Once unable to bear the heat (this is of course universal and perennial right?), he bought a glass of butter milk from a lady. Similar to the tea served at homes where we are unwanted guests, it had more of ‘two parts of hydrogen and one part of oxygen’. The poet looked at the lady and sang: 

''கார்' என்று பேர் படைத்தாய் ககனத்து உறும்போது
'நீர்' என்று பேர் படைத்தாய் கொடுந்தரையில் வந்ததற்பின்
வார் ஒன்று மென்முலையார் ஆய்ச்சியர்கை வந்ததற்பின்
மோர்' என்று பேர் படைத்தாய் முப்பேறும் பெற்றாயே'

Oh Butter milk! You were called as the cloud when you were on the sky. You were called as water after you reached the earth. You are now called as Buttermilk after these beautiful ladies ‘handled’ you. Wonderful! You have attained ‘moksha’. 

The innocent lady would not have understood anything and probably would have even imagined that the great poet considered her concoction to be the elixir and therefore was singing a paean and showering encomiums on her! 

Humour-a great way to ease the pressure and the best way to fight anger! 

As we all know, music too has the same power. What happens when the two combine? 

Listen to this song from the Telugu film ‘Indrudu Chandrudu’(1990) and you will know. 

Contrary to the popular perception, ILaiyaraaja has a great sense of humour. I heard a director once say as to how he would laugh like a child while watching comedy sequences in movies while writing notes (background score)  for the same. His score for comedy sequences speaks volumes about his sense of humour. Apart from this, he also scored for songs that evoke laughter. The composition under discussion is one. Brilliantly tuned in Pahaadi, one of his most favourite ragas and a raga which can hardly be confined to a structure, the composition has dominant shades and contours of S.E.Asian music. 

While saying this, one must also appreciate the way S.P.B. perceives the sequence, assimilates it and delivers it with aplomb.  

Nachchina foodu’ opens with a bang. The percussion sounds and echoes. Exactly at the third beat, another percussion instrument sounds ‘ta ri ki ta’ 4 times and this is repeated at the 7th beat. After one avartanam of adi taaLam, the pulsating beats start and go as ‘ta ki ta/ta ki ta/ta ka’. The stress on the 1st,4th and the 7th almost throughout the song mak es it more exciting and mouth watering!  

It is breezy and bouncing too as the keys play the notes of the first line of the Pallavi and with flute drawing the Pahaadi sketch with poise.   

The Pallavi in the ‘twin’ voices of SPB is amazing to say the least. How he managed the tonal modulation is a billion dollar question. One sees creditable depths of the voice, the raga and of course the humour. 

Replete with delightful melodious notes, the first interlude is a veritable treat of noodles and sauce with the guitar and the South East Asian instrument moving with delight. The Flute adds to the pleasantness. An enjoyable delicacy! 

Expressiveness is at its best with repartees from the ‘other’ voice of SPB. The subtle strands of phrasings and caressing flute make the experience livelier. 

The second interlude throbs with melodic and rhythmic vibrations. One set of sharp percussion sounds ta ka dhi mi while the other set sounds it rather subtly. After one avartanam, the crafty keys continue the S.E.Asian treat while the mandolin dishes out a Hyderabadi Briyani. 

It touches the acme of musical joy towards the end of the second charaNam with the raga’s melodic colours oozing with humour and laughter.
A delicious and sumptuous meal!!

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