Sunday, 24 June 2012

Poetic Lions..

The young lady describes her meeting with her beloved- ‘Aththaan, en aththaan avar enniththaan..eppadi solvenadi!’(it is very difficult to translate this in English since the subtle nuances will be lost, but still this is the gist: ‘Man, My dearest Man, he came to me and…how can I say what happened after that’!).

These days-when ‘Daddy Mummy Veettil Illai’ and ‘EvaNdi Unnai Peththan’ are sung with pride by small kids in gaudy attire in ‘Super’ singing shows(in the presence of shameless parents)- ‘Aththaan..’ may not appeal to the senses of couch potatoes.

However, thankfully, there are still a lot of people around, who with their aesthetic sense appreciate the finer elements in life.There are also people who are like the Cat on the Wall.Unable to decide which side to go, they take the easy way out.The reasons could be many-upbringing, lack of opportunities, ignorance..

I am sure if such people are exposed to the songs of Kannadasan constantly, their life itself will be transformed.

What is it that it makes Kannadasan so special?

1. Simplicity- He never decorated his poems with needless adjectives and superlatives.The words were very simple which can be easily understood not just by the cognoscenti but also by the uninitiated.

2. Versatility: There is not a single subject which has been left untouched by the ‘Kaviyarasar’- Love, Compassion, Affection, Philosophy, Spirituality, Motherhood, Fine arts..

3. Depth: Since he had an in-depth knowledge of all the subjects-including practical knowledge in all aspects of Love-, he was able to go deep into any subject resulting in meaningful words.

4. Brevity: No long winding words despite having the liberty to do so-since those days tunes were set to the songs and not the other way round.He was able to bring out the essence of the subject with just few words.

5. Spontaneity: He hardly racked his brain.Words came in torrents and it was up to the Music Director/Film maker to use what they felt suited the situation. Please recall that in my last year’s special post, I had mentioned about 20 plus charaNams for the song ‘Yezhu SwarangaLukkuL’ putting MSV sir and KB in a quandary.

6.Openness: His life was like a open-book. His songs too have that honesty and openness but again not at the cost of aesthetics.

These are just some of the aspects of that great poet called Kannadasan.

This Blog bows to the genius of this poet on his birthday.

The various aspects mentioned by me equally apply to another gentleman  whose songs are being discussed in this Blog.

 ILaiyaraaja and Kannadasan had a very special relationship. Though the association ran just for about 5 years, the combination brought out some immortal songs.

Let us now look at one of the songs, which by all means is a rare gem.

The film ‘Pattakkaththi Bhairavan’, remade from the Telugu film ‘Katakatala Rudraiah’ flopped miserably at the box office and not without reasons.However, the film had some immortal songs always cherished by Yours Sincerely. Today’s gem is also from this album.

The song sung by two friends describes about their new found love.Not surprisingly, a kind of rustic innocence runs as an undercurrent in the song. But what is surprising is the ‘North Indian flavour’ in the song.

The song set in Sindhu Bhairavi- one of the most favourite ragas of the composer- starts with the flute that pierces our hearts. It then gives an impish smile even as the arabesque Mandolin gives the impetus.

‘Nenjukkulle singakkutti nikkuthu ammaadi ennadi seiven’ sings Suseela.
‘What did he do to you to cast a spell’ asks Janaki.

The strings flow like a river with the Shehnaiswaying like a boat. It meets the accordion on the way and the two are involved in a small question-answer session.The Mandolin appears as like the playful fish.

The first CharaNam says ‘Love is blind’.

In the second interlude, the flute glides, swirls and spirals.The western instruments like the accordion, electric guitar, and trumpet gallop while the strings move with a flourish.

The second CharaNam says ‘Talk as much as you like with him and then take a breath’.

The virulent Shehnai, the lightning Strings and the speedy Guitar, in the third interlude make us see the intermingling of all major genres- folk, western classical, pop.

The erotic third CharaNam says ‘The honey is ready to gush out from the flower’.

Subtle emotions, feelings expressed aesthetically with spontaneity.

Does this not typify the two geniuses whose compositions will continue to be etched in the memory as long as the Sun and the Moon exist?

Saturday, 23 June 2012


One of the most amazing things in this world is Time.

It is a fact that the entire world revolves around Time (literally and figuratively).
Despite our abusing, wasting, killing, passing, Time moves with the same precision. It is also a silent observer and knows every bit of us. One can cheat others; they can cheat themselves; but nobody can cheat Time.

There are different dimensions to Time. We can look back. We can look ahead. We can look now. If understood and utilized well, it is our best friend. If not, it is our worst enemy.

It also gives us a lot of opportunities to learn. It tells us what we know, what we think we know, what we do not know, what we know that we do not know and what we do not know that we do not know.

In other words, if we are wise enough we mature with Time.

Let us now look back.. Exactly 4 years ago, on this very day, this community was started with just one member whose only asset was his having listened to and grown up with the music of one of the greatest musicians.

One of the many specialities of Indian Music (Carnatic music in particular) is the concept of Tala. Each Tala has a unique cyclic pattern in terms of the number of beats. On the face of it, it may appear to be very rigid and therefore monotonous. But because of the possibilities of various permutations and combinations, the Talas embellish a composition and make it more vibrant.

 Needless to say that Time is an integral part of any Tala. It is no surprise that ILaiyaraaja who is known for his sense of Time always loves playing with the Talas.

In this rare gem ‘Vaan Sivanthathu.. Poo Malarnthathu…’ from ‘Anbin Mugavari’(1985), the Talas dance to his tune.

The song that follows the Tisram pattern(3 beats/cycle) starts with the resonant Mridangam that plays 1234 three times in the faster mode.That is each 3 beat cycle in the slower mode(keezh kaalam) equals the 12 beats of Mridangam in the faster mode(mel kaalam played thrice the speed).To make it more vibrant, there is more stress on the 1st beat in the third 1234.

The Pallavi-rendered by Krishnachandran and Janaki- starts as the Tala is already on or in other words the Tala starts before the Pallavi.Such a start is known as ‘Anaagata Eduppu’ in Caranatic music parlance.

In the first interlude the percussion instrument itself is changed and it plays the 123 pattern twice in the faster mode but not continuously. First when the trumpets start playing, there is no percussion. Exactly after a gap of 24 beats (8 Tisrams) in the faster mode, the bongos start playing 123.But here again, there is magic. The bongos play 123 twice, there is a gap of 6 beats and the bongos start again. This pattern continues 10 times.

Now the soulful guitar takes over to the accompaniment of the reverberating Mridangam which plays the same pattern of the prelude and the Pallavi (1234 thrice in the faster mode).Exactly after 8 rounds, the percussion stops and the electric guitar plays to a count of 24 beats(8 tisrams or 6 chatushrams).

In the first CharaNam, the pattern in the first part of the interlude is followed.

The first part of the second interlude has the drums again following the 1234 1234 1234 in the faster mode.

The magic happens in the second CharaNam this time in a new form. The 1234 pattern is now played in the ‘keezh kaalam’(slower pace).

‘KaalapramaaNam’ at its best!

Pace, Tempo, Tala…. Time-aren’t these amazing-just like his music?