Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Darkness follows Light..and Light follows Darkness..

I have often wondered at the beauty of the Raga system.A simple permutation and combination of same set of swaras give us what is called as Raga.This set pattern gives us various patterns and the probability of the same pattern getting repeated is very low.

Let us take just three compositions of Saint Thyagaraja- ‘Amma Raavamma’, ‘Nidhi Chaala Sukhama’, ‘Ethaa Unaraa’.All these are in Kalyani but still each one evokes a different kind of emotion.

‘Amma Raavamma’ extols Tulasi,’Nidhi Chaala Sukhama’ridicules the materialistic world and ‘Ethaa Unaraa’has philosophical contours.

While it is a fact that each Raga is unique, the mood of the raga also depends on how the composer conceives the composition and importantly how successful he is in terms of communicating this to the listener.

Hindustani music is very strict in even the time of a raga.For example, a Raag like Yaman(Kalyani in Carnatic music) can be sung only in the night while a Raag like Bhairav(Mayamalawagowla in CM) must be sung in the morning only. It is considered sacrilegious if these rules are broken. This is because it is believed that certain ragas evoke certain emotions and these are directly related to our biorhythms.

Carnatic Music does not have such strict rules though it does have morning ragas(Bhoopalam, Bowli, Bilahari), afternoon ragas(Madhyamavathi,Sriragam,Manirangu),evening Ragas(Vasanta, Lalita).There are also ragas for each rasa.

But the greatness of Carnatic music lies in its ability to be flexible and at the same time adhering to the rules.

That is why great composers like Thyagaraja, Dikshithar, and Shyama Sastry have been very successful in bringing out the emotions so subtly.

Long back, the great G.Ramanathan broke a rule.Mukhari, a raga considered to bring tears in our eyes was used by him in a romantic duet in a movie called Ambikapathi.Of course, there was a reason behind this as well.The movie was based on a (supposed)romance between Kamban’s son Ambikapathi and the King’s daughter Amaravathi with the Hero meeting a tragic end. GR sir brilliantly used Mukhari to foretell what was to come later.

Musicians are great indeed!

The Genius whose other name is ILaiyaraaja has used ragas so differently that at times it is difficult to believe that such ragas are also capable of evoking such emotions.

Mohanam was used in a pathos song-Oru Raagam Paadalodu Kaadhil Kettatho.
Kalyani in ‘Alai meethu Thadumaaruthe siru odam’.

Subhapantuvarali in a humourous song-‘Kandu Pidichchen’
Chakravaagam in a love duet-‘Nee Paathi Naan paathi’
VakulabharaNam as a philosopher-‘Aarum Athu Aaazham illai’.

These are just some examples.More examples will be shown in my 'Ragaranjani' Blog.

But I have always been intrigued by his use of one particular raga. Not a single human emotion has he left out using this raga. Not a single facet of this raga has he left uncovered in this raga.

In ‘Madha Un Kovilil’, the raga prays.

In ‘Mani Osai Kettu Ezhunthu’, the raga cries with the lover.

In ‘Shenbagame’, it waits patiently for her husband.

In ‘Enna Saththam intha neram’,it cries,laughs,dances,walks,runs,sits,meditates.

In ‘Enna solli naan ezhutha’, it writes a letter.

In ‘Aaatama Therottama’,it is a cabaret dancer.

In ‘Aasai Adhikam Vaichchu’, it is a tribal dancer.

In ‘Poongaatru Puthithaanathu’, the raga jumps with joy totally oblivious to the uncertain future.

In ‘VaLai Osai ‘, it is the naughty love.

In ‘Muththu Mani Maalai’ it is the newly married couple.

One can go on and on…

The rare gem of today is also based on the same raga.

It is ‘Hey Masthana..’ from ‘Azhage Unnai Aaradhikkiren’(1979).

The sequence is somewhat interesting.Two young lovers travel to Goa and dance with the hippies in the evening.The girl’s aunt- ditched by a man(villain!)-and a man totally devoted to this lady accompany the couple.

Listen to the prelude.The long flute slowly takes us away from the hustle-bustle of city life while the guitar and the chorus leave us in the midst of hippies.
A short interlude with the strings and the trumpet and we start dancing to the voices of Jayachandran and Jency.

The next interlude is what shows us the genius.

The western fast –paced beats suddenly give way to the violin evoking a totally different and contrasting emotion.

The next CharaNam is slow in keeping with the mental state of the senior couple.Vani Jayaram and SPB do full justice to the situation.

As the CharaNam ends, we start jumping with joy with the young lovers.

We continue to dance in the next interlude as the Shehnai and the other instruments stare at us with glee.

This continues in the CharaNam as well.

Now comes the beauty.
The flute and the violin making us close our eyes and just relax.
We become sober in the following CharaNam.

Contrasting emotions depicted so musically.

Well..after all what is life?
Darkness after light..and Light after Darkness..

Just like the Ragam-Sindhu Bhairavi!


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