Sunday, 22 April 2012

Virtuous Innovation..

Raaja sir’s firm grip over the concepts of classical music is well known. But what is amazing is his innovative skill.

His compositions can be broadly classified as:

1.Compositions in pure classical ragas in classical style.

2.Compositions in pure classical ragas in a lighter style-without in anyway diluting the ragas.

3.Compositions in classical ragas but mixing alien notes.

He has excelled in all the three categories giving us many gems which cannot be forgotten for generations to come.

But as mentioned in the beginning, his innovative skill-not just in the tunes but also in the orchestration- is what bowls me over.

How he takes a very classical raga and mix alien notes without in anyway sounding jarring, remains a mystery to me.

Today’s gem is one such composition.

‘NaRumaNa malargaLin..’ from ‘URangaatha ninaivugaL’(1983) is full of innovation and improvisations .It starts with a musical question-answer session.First it is between the gorgeous violin and the mesmerising flute followed by the one between the guitar and the sitar.

The violin and the flute follow the Jog raag while the guitar and the sitar use the alien notes rather liberally.

The rhythmic cycle needs a special mention. The instruments follow the 6-beat rupaka taLam while the Tabla plays the 4-beat chatushram.

The Pallavi initially gives shades of Kedaram touching the notes of Jog in the last two lines. The sharp Tabla now follows the 6-beat cycle.What happens here is that the percussion plays 1234 thrice in the faster mode(mel kaalam) while the instruments follows 1 2 3 4 5 6.

12(fast) = 6 (slow).

The first part of the first interlude sees the romance between the lead guitar and the bass guitar.

In the second part, the silken flute oozes with melody.The Tabla follows the 4-beat cycle again.

The CharaNam is a mélange of sorts with the first 2 lines having shades of Khamaj, the 3rd line giving the contours of Jog, the 4th line Khamaj and the last line clearly establishing Jog.The improvisatory sangati after ‘oorvalamo..’ carries the stamp of the Master.

The ‘nadai’(gait) also undergoes a change here as the vocals and the percussion now follow the 3-beat Tisram.

The second interlude is imbued with energy.

The buoyant bass guitar and the enticing lead guitar jump with joy.
The flute then romances with the bass guitar albeit very briefly in the 3-beat cycle.
The breezy violin gushes on followed by the galloping guitar.

The notes alternate between Jog and Khamaj but rather than sounding cacophonic, it sounds astonishingly beautiful.

That is the power of virtuous innovation..


Aakarsh said...

Listening to this masterpiece after 6 years. discovered in 2006! what a gem! the interludes are amazing! sometimes, while listening to some sons, I feel like asking Raaja - "Were you doping when you composed this?". Before you jump on me, for that blasphemous question, let me clarify - I know he doesn't and that he is very pious! :-) but just that this man is in such a high plane - that i 'funnily' wonder that way. Afterall, music is also like dope.. and his music, all the more so! :-)

Raj said...


Suresh S said...

This is exactly what you would call innovation. There is so much going on here that you can analyze and analyze and still we will some things !! One of the reasons that we keep going back to his songs again and again. They never cease surprising us.

Vijay said...

Fantastic pick and excellently dissected. Can't stop listening to this now. Thanks to Jai for pointing this link. Every note is unbridled and has the beauty of a spring flowers. So intricately weaved by Maestro with terrific free-flowing arrangements surprising us in every note. Thanks a lot!

Raj said...

Thanks Vijay!

The raga of this song is also wrongly mentioned by a 'carnatic musician' recently in a national newspaper :).

Vijay said...

Yes Raj I read it. I think she mentioned it as Vaagadeswari :(

Raj said...

Yes..And this is not the first time.Often she gets it wrong!