Saturday, 12 July 2014

Laya Raaja - 2

‘The vaaLai fish jump and the ladies bathe. This is the great ‘Thirkkolakka’ where the Lord whose matted hair is adorned by the crescent moon, and the ashes- smeared body is covered by the loin cloth resides. Oh! What a form!!’

This verse was composed by the child prodigy Thirugnasambhandar at the age of 3.

 It is said that even as he was singing this verse, he kept the taaLam with his tender hands and his father who like all affectionate fathers, worried about the soft hands getting hurt and immediately gave him the cymbals.

It is a very interesting verse in terms of the beats.

Each line follows the 1 2 3 4 pattern and therefore one can call it as a verse following Chatushra ekam.

But let is try keeping 3 beats for each phrase.

Madaiyil- 1 2 3

vaaLai- 1 2 3

Paaya- 1 2 3

Maadaraar-1 2 3

Similarly for the other three lines too.

See how the entire complexion changes when you recite it this way. Which one do you feel conveys the meaning better and gives the essence?

Do this exercise and you will know the subtle and huge differences between the different patterns (in this case Chatushram and Tisram).

In my previous post which was the first one in this ‘Laya’ series, we saw a brief introduction to the taaLa system,  about the jaatis, the no .of syllables for each jaati, difference between aksharaas and maatraas, three different kaalams and what is an aavartanam.

Today, let us see yet another concept- Eduppu.

In simple terms, Eduppu means the start.

Generally, a song starts along with the taaLa cycle. This is called as starting in Samam. However, a song can also start before the taaLa cycle or after the taaLa cycle. In a Carnatic concert, this generally happens during the ‘Ragam Taanam Pallavi’ segment where a Pallavi starts either before or after the cycle. If the song starts before the TaaLa cycle, it is called as the ‘ateeta eduppu’ and if it starts after the beginning of the cycle, it is called as the ‘anaagata eduppu’.

In my previous post, we also saw how the same song followed two different patterns simultaneously. Today, let us see a composition where the song alternates between two patterns. One gets to see this kind of alternating patterns mainly in a Carnatic Music Concert where a percussionist changes the ‘nadai’. But this hardly happens in a film song of course with the exception of one composer’s compositions.

Vanak kuile’ from Priyanka starts in the Chatushram pattern with the last two syllables ‘dhi mi’ being sounded by rhythm guitar. There are 15 Chatushrams in the prelude and the Pallavi starts just as the 15th one ends (in the fourth beat of the 15th one to be precise). Ateeta eduppu with the samam on ‘ku’of kuyil.

The percussive support is yet again by the rhythm guitar along with a subtle cymbal.

The chatushram pattern is beautifully divided as  4, 3, 5, 4  with the first 4 being left blank ( - - - - ta ki ta ta ka ta ki ta ta ka dhi mi ) in the first interlude with the percussion giving a tribal feel. There is no percussion in the last flute bit though the Chatushram pattern is maintained.

We notice the change as the CharaNam starts. The vocals now follow the 3-beat pattern Tisram with the rhythm guitar sounding one tisram, leaving blank for the next tisram and playing the next two tisrams ( ta ki ta - - -  ta ki  ta ki ta  )       while the cymbal  sounds for each 1 ½ beats of Tisram. After 16 Tisrams, the vocals revert to Chatushrams. There are 12 chatushrams in this second half.

16x3= 48

12x4= 48.

Note that in this second half, the ‘ta ka dhi mi’ s are played by the tribal percussion.

The second interlude is free flowing without any percussion. However, it follows Chatushram and has 22 Chatushrams before the Tisram starts in the next CharaNam.

The composition is based on Lalita, a raga derived from Mayamalavagowla. It is a 6 swara raga without the swara ‘pa’.

The Maestro has taken liberty to use ga2- a non-existent note in this raga-in the CharaNams. The raga also deviates, albeit beautifully in the free flowing second interlude.

The composition starts with the the evergreen flute which plays with vitality, zeal and with a distinctive grace. The neat and nuanced but subtle bass guitar backs it in its unique way.

This backing continues in the Pallavi as well.The voice of SPB is sweet as ever and the nimble keys (in the phrase ‘malarilum’) give an outline of the raga wonderfully.

The beginning of the second interlude sees the sprightly scalar sketch of Lalita. The chorus carries us to a tribal region. The flute in a playful mood plays with comely elegance showing us the greenery while the robust strings nod their heads.

The second interlude is an experience by itself.

We first hear the female voice which gives a poignant feel. The Brass flute then plays with solicitude. The voice continues to haunt us even as the mid octave strings join. The strings then play in higher octave. The keys paint a vivid picture and the flute shines with beauty.

It is dexterous, politely pleasing and haunting.

Who wouldn’t want to get lost in such a forest?

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