Sunday, 17 August 2014

Laya Raaja - 6

தொட்டனைத்தூறும் மலர்க்கேணி மாந்தர்க்கு
கற்றனைத்தூறும் அறிவு.

Dig the sandy soils deep and you reach the springs. Delve into a subject deeply and you reach the springs of wisdom and knowledge.
Of late, I have been thinking a lot about this ThirukkuRaL and not without any reason. There are in fact two perspectives to this:
1. As you all know, I have been trying to study the laya patterns of ILaiyaraaja in some of the unique compositions and this exercise has thrown more light on many hidden aspects in his compositions and thus broadened my understanding and my horizon.
2. He went deep into many intricate aspects of music hitherto not attempted in the history of Film Music and this must have widened his horizon too as a musician resulting in more and more extraordinary compositions.
Let me take up 2. first. His propensity to introduce newer features in film music is a mix of logical and lateral thinking. In fact, he has struck a perfect balance between the two. Maanjolai kiLithaano  was in 1978 while Aaagaya veNNilaave Sollatha raagangaL Vanakkuyile and  Kottunga Kottunga were in the 90s. And as I mentioned in my first post in the series, these are only some samples and he has done and has still been doing a lot with laya at times in the entire song or most of the times in some part(s) of the song. His quest and thirst have not stopped and the most recent NandRi solla veNdum (Chiththiraiyil Nila ChoRu) is a classic example.
Therefore his spring is a divine spring for the kind of penance he has done for and with music.
As regards 1, this experience of decoding/unraveling/deciphering has helped me get more insight into the world of Laya and has fine-tuned my sensibilities. As we come to the penultimate post in the series (with the last one reserved for 24th Aug), I must confess that the experience has been unique and somewhat different from the way I have been conceiving the other normal posts.
To recap, we saw two different taaLas played simultaneously (Aagaaya VeNNilaave), two different taaLa patterns in the same song but not together (Vanakkuyile), a differently constructed Pallavi (Maanjalai kiLithaano), a very differently constructed composition in terms of taaLa as well as raga,(Sollatha) and a free flowing composition but following a structure and with the percussion drawing a different pattern though in the same taaLa (Kottunga Kottunga).
Today, let us see a composition which follows another unique pattern.
En iniya pon nilaave from Moodu Pani(1980) is composed in such a way that two different taaLa patterns occur one after the other with the percussion following only one pattern throughout.
The composition as such is set in Chatushra Eka taaLam.
The TaaLa starts only after the initial strumming of the guitar. Just to clarify that this cannot be taken as ateeta eduppu and we can consider the strumming as 1 2 3- Now get ready to listen to something unique.
The guitar plays for 6 taaLa cycles (aavartanam) of chatushra ekam without percussion though one hears the drums sounding twice at the fourth beat of cycle 1. and 2.
When we hear En iniya pon our trained ears recognise it to be tisram. But the problem starts with nilaave  and pon in the beginning of the next line-pon nilavil en. If the song follows tisram, then all the words must follow the three beats but it does not happen here. Moreover, if one puts the taalam as plain 1 2 3 4, from en to nilaave,the full aavartanam is completed. So, is this Tisram or Chatushram?
The mystery is unravalled with closer and minute analysis and observation.
The syllables are divided as 3, 3, 2 per cycle (8 maatraas in 4 aksharaas).
Therefore, we have En (3), Pon(3) Nilaave(2) with Iniya falling between the two tisrams.
Same is the case in the next line-Pon(3) En(3) Kanaave(2).
As a matter of fact, Nilaave and Kanaave are 1 2 3 4 in the mel kaalam. However, since we follow the keezh kaalam for the tisrams in En, Pon, Pon, En, these two are in keezh kaalam and therefore have 2 maatraas each and not 4.
Now, what about the next two lines? Dont these sound different?
Yes, these simply follow the Tisram:
Ninaivile(3) Pudhu Sugam(3) Dhadhadha(3) dhadhaaaa(3)
Thodaruthe(3) Dinam Dinam(3) Dhadhadha(3) dhadhaaa(3).
So, we have 3, 3, 2, 3, 3, 2, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3- a total count of 40 in 5 aavartanaas.
The percussion follows 1 2 3 4 in the first two lines (4 times each) while there is no percussion in the tisram part (last 2 lines).
The CharaNam follows the same pattern except in the end part.
Panneerai thoovum mazhai and Chillendra kaatrin alai follow 3, 3, 2 / 3, 3, 2 and the next line sernthaadum innerame follows 4 tisrams the chorus part included.
Same is the case with the lines that follow.
The next two lines-ViNNeela vaanil and Oorkolam pogum. follow 3, 3, 2 four times.
Now for the OHenry in ILaiyaraaja.
The last line Puriyaadho en eNName anbe. goes as 4, 4, 4, 4 in plain Chatushram!
What we have is 8 divided as two tisrams and one ta ka(2)  four times, 4 Tisrams, 8 divided again like before as two 3s and one 2  four times, 4 Tisrams  and finally 4 chatushrams.
If this is not a marvel in laya, what else is?
The composition shines not just with this intricate laya patterns but also with Melody and yes Harmony.
The composition is based on Diatonic Minor scale which is the equivalent of the Nata Bhairavi scale in Carnatic Music.
With finesse and musical delicateness, the guitar draws a beautiful sketch in the prelude. We feel the gracefulness of musical animation with the sympathetic strings smiling now and then. The oodling of Yesudass towards the end is a class by itself.
Harmony is in full flow in the beginning of the first interlude with the chorus singing with impeccable perfection. In fact, the entire interlude is embroidered with the chorus. In between we have the brass flute and the strings playing with exactitude exploring the avenues of beauty. The interlude is finally decorated by the ecstatic brass flute
The haunting chorus makes its appearance in the CharaNams too superimposed and sandwiched between the lines in the first part.
If it is the chorus in the first interlude, it is the strings in the second interlude for Harmony. After a beautiful and different plucking of guitar, the two sets of strings move pleasantly and peacefully. It is passionate and at the same time tranquil. The haunting electric guitar plays with a purpose and is melodically backed by the staccato brass flute.
Eternal spring- Is that not what his music is?

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