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Musings of a music student

Anandabhairavi

A soothing raga in Carnatic Music, Anandabhairavi is a janya ragam of Natabhairavi. The pann equivalent of it is Kausikam.

Aarohanam – S G2 R2 G2 M1 P D2 P S

Avarohanam – S N2 D2 P M1 G2 R2 S

Carnatic Compositions

Syama Sastri has composed so many types of compositions in Ananda Bhairavi including gitam, swarajathi, varnam, part of ragamalika and a host of krithis. Makes me wonder if it was his favourite ragam. The list includes O Jagadhamba, Marivere, Himachala Thanaya, Pahi Sri Girirajasuthe, Mahilo Amba, a swarajathi, Samini Rammanave (varnam), Parvathi Janani (gitam), Amba Ninnu Nera (first of the Ragamalika).

On the other end of the spectrum is Thyagaraja who stopped composing in Anandabhairavi as a gift to a theatre performance he enjoyed watching which had a number in Anandabhairavi. The artist apparently wanted his name to be synonymous with the raga’s name he seems to have made history like he thought! Hence there are just a couple of compositions in Anandabhairavi by Thyagaraja, including Nike Theliyaga.

Other compositions by other composers are:

  • Manasa Guruguha, Kamalamba Samrakshathu (1st Navavarnam), Thyagaraja Yogavaibhavam by Muthuswamy Dikshitar
  • Ramabhadra Raa Raa, Paluke Bhangara by Bhadrachala Ramadas
  • Samagana Priye by Periyasami Thooran
  • Ayyara by Aanayya
  • Ni Mathi Chellaga by Kavi Matrubhoothaiyer
  • Poomel Valarum by Mazhavai Chidambara Bharathi
  • Raveme (swarajathi) by Veerabhadrayya, who is said to have composed the first known swarajathi
  • Karpagavalli Nin by Jaffna Veeramani Iyer – first raga of the Ragamalika

Listen to Marivere Gathi a composition of Syama Sastri in Anandabhairavi.

Drama and Anandabhairavi

Kathakali performances uses an amalgamation of ragas, one of them being the characteristic Anandabhairavi. However, the raga used is entirely governed by the mood and character of the story. Kathakali music has no qualms in using one allied raga after another, if the mood demands the same. Where as in Carnatic music an Anandabhairavi or Huseni or Mukhari would not follow a Bhairavi rendition. (source)

Listen to a Kathakali padam, Sukumara Nandakumara, as a part of Poothana Moksham (story of a rakshas Poothana being killed by baby Krishna), which is sung more fluidly, unlike the krithis in the raga.

Yakshagana, a theatrical form of the West coast, also uses Anandabhairavi to perform stories from Ramayana, Mahabharatha.

Use in Movies

Here is a hilarious song from the movie Thooku Thooki where “Sethji” Baliah and Lalitha sings a duet in Kapi – Anandabhairavi, “pyari nimbal mele namki mazaa”, that definitely brought a smile to my face. The Hindi-ish portions are set to Kapi, while the Tamizh portions starts with Anandabhairavi.

Well, not just for wooing as in the above song, but Anandabhairavi has been extensively used in one aspect – baby shower songs in movies, I noticed.

  • Poi Vaa Magale from Karnan
  • Sri Janaki Devi from Missiyamma
  • Sittu Pole Muthu Pole from Iniya Uravu Poothadhu

Nalvazhvu Naam Vaazha from the movie Veetuku Veedu also seems to be some marriage related song, though there is no way to know for sure, it was not pictured in the movie.

Of course, other famous songs in this raga include Konja Naal Poru Thalaiva from Aasai, Anbendra Mazhaiyile from Minsara Kanavu.

P.S: I am adding some random facts here because I didn’t know where else to put them!

  • Muthuswamy Dikshitar’s Thyagaraja Yoga Vaibhavam has this famous prosody pattern in the Pallavi.
    • Thyagaraja Yoga Vaibhavam
      • Agaraja Yoga Vaibhavam
        • Raja Yoga Vaibhavam
          • Yoga Vaibhavam
            • Vaibhavam
              • Bhavam
                • Vam
  • Syama Sastri’s Himachala Thanaya was initially sung in Misra Chapu, in a thalam that he frequently used.
  • The movie Ananda Bhairavi does not have any song in the raga titled.

Until next,

Vid 🙂

Kuntalavarali

Kuntalavarali is a light raga – in carnatic music, one could classify a ragam that does not involve much gamakam in its grammer as light. I would even call it breezy. It is sung mostly with Madhyamam as base sruthi. A child raga of Harikamboji, it has a zigzag scale thus.

Aarohanam – S M1 P D2 N2 D2 S

Avarohanam – S N2 D2 P M1 S

Carnatic Compositions

  • Sankadame Jagam, Patiyil Pasuvinilave by Lakshmanan Pillai (I know the first song, but the second one is merely mentioned in an essay on the composer; there are no recordings I know of to corroborate it)
  • Kandavarkku Kanavilum by Swarna Venkatesa Dikshitar
  • Ninnupogada Tharama by GNB
  • Sara Sara Samarai by Thyagaraja
  • Bogindra Shayinam by Swati Thirunal
  • Thillana by Balamurali Krishna
  • Shivaya Namavendru by Papanasam Sivan
  • Antharyami by Annamacharya – set to tune by Pinakapani

Listen to Kandavarkku Kanavilum in Kuntalavarali ragam, a composition of Swarna Venkatesa Dikshitar.

 

Use In Movies

If I have to talk about movie songs in this ragam, I have to talk about this song in the malayalam movie, Manichithrathazh – Oru Murai Vandhu Paarthaaya. The tamizh portion of the song is a beautiful Kuntalavarali.

Other movie songs in this ragam are:

  • Raja Vaada Singa Kutti from Thisai Maariya Paravaigal (by MSV)
  • Maname Nee Eesan from Ashok Kumar (the movie, not actor), music by Papanasam Sivan

Until next,

Vid 🙂

Kedaragaula

Kedaragaula, another janyam of Harikamboji, has a very brisk characteristic to it. Probably why it is attributed as a morning raga or said to be apt to start concerts with. Also a ragam more frequented in ragamalikas in viruthams and RTPs.

Aarohanam – S R2 M1 P N2 S

Avarohanam – S N2 D2 P M1 G3 R2 S

Carnatic Compositions

  • Thulasi Bilva by Thyagaraja
  • Nilothpalambikaya by Muthuswamy Dikshitar (4th vibhakthi)
  • Samikku Sari Evvare by Papanasam Sivan
  • Jalajanabha by Swati Thirunal
  • Saraguna Palimpa by Poochi Srinivasa Iyengar
  • Seshachala Vasa by Chowdiah
  • Antha Rama Sowndharyam by Arunachala Kavi
    • I learnt this song from Padma mami who used to explain the meaning when she taught the charanam; it compares each body part of Rama to something very picturesque. While singing the song, I used to visualize a cartoonish effect of the whole charanam. I was amazed to find that musician+painter S Rajam had made an illustration of the same. (Check featured image)

Listen to a Chowdiah‘s composition in Kedaragaula, Seshachala Vasa sung by me.

Kedaragaula and Kathakali

Kathakali, is an art form that enacts a story during its performance. If you remember, the act starts with a large screen being drawn in front of the audience, behind which the decked up dancers would get into position. This is when the act is also inaugurated (invocation) by the vandana slokam, which is sung in Kedaragaula. Of course, in certain performances, I did find it being sung in ragamalika too. Below is a recording of the musicians rendering the said song in Kedaragaula. I wasn’t able to find a decent recording with dance included though.

Use in Movies

The last line Satre Sarindha sung by Ambikapathy (from movie titled the same!) in the song Vadivelum Mayilum, (supposedly the 100th / 101st) when his lover appears on the upparikai, that is Kedaragaula. So is Aanandha Nadamidum from Nandanar, sung by MM Dandapani Desikar.

Image credits: carnaticmusicreview.wordpress.com

Until next,

Vid 🙂

Natabhairavi

Natabhairavi has equivalents everywhere; Dikshitar literature is Naririthigowla, Hindustani is Asaveri, Western Classical is natural minor scale, Greek is Aeolian mode, Tamizh music is Padumalai Palai. It is the 20th melakartha raga in the system, and it seems to have started out as a synthetic raga, and then post Trinity vaggeyakaras should have composed krithis in it much later.

Aarohanam – S R2 G2 M1 P D1 N2 S

Avarohanam – S N2 D1 P M1 G2 R2 S

 

Carnatic Compositions

  • Sri Valli Devasenapathe by Papanasam Sivan
  • Parulaseva by Poochi Srinivasa Iyengar
  • Nalina Nayana by Balamurali Krishna

I have not added Sri Neelothpala Nayike in Naririthigowla by Muthuswamy Dikshitar to the list of compositions. All the renditions I find of the song sound more like Reethigowla; the scale is also slightly different.

Listen to Sri Valli Devasenapathe, a Papanasam Sivan composition in Sanskrit.

Also listen a composition in total contrast to the above, sung by Balamurali Krishna himself.

 

Use in Movies

You will find so many movie songs cast to this ragam, but it is not really that popular in the Carnatic scene. I think this is why. Natabhairavi is the parent raga for a huge list of popular ragas such as – Anandha Bhairavi, Abheri, Sudha Saveri, Hindolam, Saramathi, Darbari Kanada are a few among the lot. Music directors who score for a movie are obviously not carnatic grammer bound. But our obsession to label every movie song, to a raga probably made us go for the obvious parent raga Natabhairavi, which could justify most tunes. One more reason could be that the interval / gap between these notes follow exactly the same pattern of the natural minor scale notes under western music. (Source: link)

Having said that I will list out a few movie songs in Natabhairavi here.

  • Maniye Manikkuyile from Nadodi Thendral – sounds more like Jonpuri
  • Mandram Vandha Thendralukku from Mouna Ragam
  • Andhi Mazhai Megam from Nayagan
  • Aasaya Kaathula from Johnny
  • Oh Butterfly from Meera
  • En Iniya Pon Nilave from Moodu Pani
  • Snehithane from Alaipayuthey
  • Vaseegara from Minnale

Until next,

Vid 🙂

Saraswathi

Saraswathi, the raga shares its name with the Goddess of Learning – and that is probably why that almost every song I know or have heard in this raga, is sung on Her. Corollary: if you listen to a song that starts “Veena Pusthaka” or “Saraswathi” or the likes, take a quick guess that it is in the raga Saraswathi, you will almost always be right.

Technically, it is a ragam sans Ga & Ni ascending and only sans Ga descending. The parent raga is Vachaspathi. The Hindustani equivalent raga goes by the same name, Saraswathi (the raga is said to have been adapted from Carnatic by Hindustani).

Aarohanam – S R2 M2 P D2 S

Avarohanam – S N2 D2 P M2 R2 S

Carnatic Compositions

  • Anuragamule by Thyagaraja
  • Saraswathi Dhayai Nidhi by Papanasam Sivan
  • Saraswathi Namosthuthe, Kavalai Ellam by GNB
  • Vageeshwari Vani by Harikesanallur Muthiah Bagavathar
  • Kalaimagale by MM Dandapani Desikar
  • Kodu Bega Dhivyamathi by Purandhara Dasar – I know of the one in Vasantha, but I am not able to find any rendition online in Saraswathi
  • Sharade Chandranane by ES Sankaranarayana Iyer

Listen to Saraswathi Dhayai Nidhi by Papanasam Sivan.

 

Use in movies

The song Ilakkanam Marudo from Nizhal Nijamagiradhu sounds like Saraswathi in only some phrases. There is also a Malayalam song in the raga, Saraswathi Yaamam Kazhinju from Anavaranam. Yet another classical song in this raga is Yaanai Mugane from the 1947 movie Kannika, composed by Papanasam Sivan; irony is, this song is on Lord Ganesha 😉

This song Veena Vaani (again on Goddess Saraswathi) from the movie Pon Megalai rendered by Kalpana Raghavendar and Madurai Srinivasan is a classic in this raga.

P.S: You might already know this, but just clarifying – Swans of Saraswathi by Agam the band, is based on a Thyagaraja krithi, Bantureethi Kolu, a song on Lord Rama, in the raga Hamsanadham. It has no relevance whatsoever to the raga Saraswathi.

Until next,

Vid 🙂

Kalyana Vasantham

Kalyana Vasantham, a janyam of the melakartha Keeravani, is a pentatonic-septatonic raga with the scale…

Aarohanam – S G2 M2 D1 N3 S

Avarohanam – S N3 D1 P M1 G2 R2 S

Carnatic Compositions

  • Sri Venkatesham by Ambi Dikshitar (there is a conflict if the composer was Muthuswamy Dikshitar; as grandfather and grandson usedthesame signature guruguha)
  • Nadhaloludai, Kanula Thakani by Thyagaraja
  • Innudaya Bharathe by Purandaradasa
  • Deva Jagannatha by Gopalakrishna Bharathi
  • Annalin Aanai varnam which can be found in Panchapakesa Iyer’s varnam book (there are articles that claim this song to be Panchapakesa Iyer’s own, but the varnam book does not list a composer name for this varnam)

 

Listen to Sri Venkatesham of Ambi Dikshitar in Kalyana Vasantham. This krithi was popularized by Maharajapuram Santhanam.

 

Used in Movies

Bharathi’s song ninnaye rathi endru is presented in the raga Kalyana Vasantham in the movie Kanne Kaniyamudhe; so is the song Kanchi Pattuduthi from Vayasu Ponnu. However, the biggest challenge in identifying movie songs in this raga is to not mis-identify songs in raga Chandrakauns as Kalyana Vasantham. Note that Kalyana Vasantham’s ascending swaras if used in the avarohanam too, makes it sound like Chandrakauns.

l am leaving you with Kadri Gopalath’s saxophone play at the start of the movie Duet, which is an obvious Kalyana Vasantham.

 

Until next,

Vid 🙂

Ganamurthi

Ganamurthi is the 3rd melakartha raga in the Carnatic Raga system in vogue right now. Since the first two ragas on the 72 melakartha list aren’t that known, Ganamurthi was my best shot at kick starting Ragapedia. A close second choice was Mayamalava Gowla, the ragam we learn first in training, but more about that raga, much later. For now, read along about Ganamurthi.

Aarohanam – S R1 G1 M1 P D1 N3 S

Avarohanam – S N3 D1 P M1 G1 R1 S

Ganamurthi is also called as Ganasamavarali in the Muthuswamy Dikshitar literature.

Carnatic Compositions

  • Ganamurthe by Thyagaraja
  • Bruhadheeshwaro by Muthuswamy Dikshitar (has the raga signature, Ganasamavarali)
  • Indu Chakra Mein by SD Batish, a Hindustani musician and composer, who has composed Hindi songs in each melakartha raga, that beautifully describes the raga lakshana of the raga. Listen to Prince Rama Verma explain and then perform the song, here.

Listen to  Ganamurthe in the raga Ganamurthi, a Thyagaraja krithi.

Use in Albums

I doubt there are any film songs composed in Ganamurthi. However, there is a song tuned by Ilayaraja in the raga, in his devotional album Geethanjali – “Vetrigalin Mudhar Porule”.

What is Ragapedia?

As it is my first post in the series, I want to tell you a bit about the background. I have had partially successful and unsuccessful attempts at the AtoZ blogging challenge earlier (the one that happens throughout April).  This year too, I was planning to write for a month at first. Then I chanced upon this movie Julie and Julia, where Amy Adams takes up a challenge to herself that she would try out French recipes and blog about it for an year, that piqued my interest. Actually, she wanting to take up a challenge and see it through to completion, piqued my interest, and I wanted to do something like that. Only difference is I am trying out carnatic ragas instead of French recipes 😉 Tick tock!

Until next,

Vid 🙂

Saketharaman – interesting and rare

Five years ago, I attended my first Abhishek Raghuram concert as a TMK concert at the same time, different venue, was overflowing with rasikas. Yesterday (27th Dec) the same happened as tickets sold out for AR, and thus I ended up at the concert of Saketharaman, a disciple of Lalgudi Jayaraman. He was accompanied by Mysore Nagaraj on the violin, Bengaluru Praveen on the Mridangam and Guru Prasanna on the kanjira.

I don’t believe in blindly listing all the songs performed, hence I directly move to highlight the best parts of the concert. I would call Muthuswamy Dikshithar’s Arthanareeswaram the sub-main song of the concert, even though there were other songs with equal improvisation(manodharma). It is set in the raga Kumudhakriya (a child of Pantuvarali raga), and Saketharaman performed crisp neraval – swaram to the madhyama kalam.

The other best part of the concert was pulling off a weird concept as Ragam Thanam Pallavi. If someone takes two polar opposite ragas such as Vasantha and Behag and sing a Pallavi in misra (7) jathi triputa thalam, that has similar lyrics for Lord Siva in Vasantha and Lord Vishnu in Behag, that alone requires an applause.

lolanai, gana lolanai (sama / venu) gana lolanai, (haranai / hariyai) sadha ninaindhidu

That was the pallavi lyrics for you; read before the slash for the uttaranga and after the slash or the purvanga. The pallavi was also presented in ragamalika where ragas such as Sama (sama gana lolanai) and Patdheep were well chosen and handled.

What could have been different

Sharavana Bhava in Pasupathipriya (Harikesanallur Muthiah Bagavathar) was unintelligibly fast. Uyyalaluga Vaiyya’s (Thyagaraja) aalapana in Neelambari was also hurried than what you would expect as the raga’s comfort.

What I liked

The choice of songs at the start of the concert were from rare composers like Aanayya (Intha Paraka in Mayamalava Gowlaiand Pallavi Sesha Iyer (Palimparavathe in Arabhi). The korvais at the end of kalpana swarams by Saketharaman embellished the Lalgudi style. The fillers / arudhi played by Bangalore Praveen for each song was bang on.

Until next,

Vid 🙂

Hello World ;)

I remember the first post I wrote on my blog. It was a challenge to myself on how lengthy a post I could cough up without it being about anything. The writing might have started silly, but it has helped me research and learn a lot as much as it has helped me express what I think and explain what I know.

Which is why I am delighted to announce the movement of my blog from viddev.wordpress.com to my very own domain, viddev.com. I hope to continue posting on carnatic music and other topics of interest. You might also have to endure posts of my singing in this space, real soon! 😛 You will continue receiving emails for my posts if you have subscribed already.

Thank you all for your continued support!

Until next,

Vid 🙂

Standing Up

For having a blog with tagline “If you have something to say, I shall be saying something as well”, I have not been saying what I have wanted to say for a long long time, I realized. It was a conscious decision because I decided to write only about music in this space. Though it was a good choice with respect to the music, it also dawned on to me recently that even when I had other things to say, I did not have a space to say it, thanks to my choices.

So here I am breaking out of confinement (my own though) and writing stuff. If you think you are not here to read this, there will be other music posts coming up. So adios!

I have been lucky enough to have a circle (/gang) of friends wherever I go. In one such gang in a girls school I studied, a topper-leader-teacher’s pet girl spoke ill about a fellow average-scoring girl for her marks. I remember the rest of the girls in the gang taking it up to the topper and when things got hot, we isolated her from our circle. Now, I do know how wrong isolating someone was, and I am sorry for that. Nevertheless, the idea had been to stand up for a friend being discriminated.

Another incident that came to memory on similar lines was something that happened in college (though there may not be many nice things to say about my college). We had a weird-looking drools-while-he-talks professor, and a guy drew a cartoon of him and passed it around in another class. Needless to say, the paper got caught, and the issue went up to the management level. For those who don’t understand the repercussion of this, kindly google “Chennai engineering college atrocities”. But even with a threat of everyone being beaten up for a silly prank one played, all the boys stood up and refused to give away the name of the “doodle artist”.

And then there are these multiple instances we see online – #metoo posts by people from many different walks of life; campaigning for a fellow blogger whose content got plagiarized, and the likes. Though they are commendable gestures, it came as a result of a cry for help. What if someone around you has been targeted and bullied? What if they are a victim of falsely asserted defamation triggered by revenge? What if they did not plead for help? What if this happens in the realms of a virtual social circle? Above all, what if apart from the victim and the perpetrators, the others in the social circle are mere onlookers?

If I was in the place of the victim, I am sure I would start questioning why my friends didn’t support me, when they see what is happening. I could even go to the extent of blaming them for being opportunistic. But then I thought if I had ever been that friend who raised my voice for support. And my answer was, yes, maybe a couple of times. Not always though. Why? There could be various other reasons apart from being opportunistic. Maybe we never realize that bullying happened; maybe we did not want to unnecessarily get involved (namakku edhuku vambu); or simply because of the magnitude of the social circle (meaning number of facebook friends) our non-involvement is justified.

It could mean one of the two things – either increased online living has diluted the humanity in us; or I need to seriously revisit my understanding of a “friend”.

Until next,

Vid 🙂

Koteeswara Iyer

The two contestants for the letter K were apparently grandfather – grandson, and I chose the grandson Koteeswara Iyer over Kavi Kunjara Bharathi. Koteeswara Iyer (1870 – 1936) studied music under Poochi Srinivasa Iyengar and Patnam Subramania Iyer both of whom were eminent composers.

Works

Koteeswara Iyer was one of the first composers to compose in all the 72 melakartha ragas. Implies, he should have given life to many of the otherwise synthetic ragas in the melakartha scheme. These compositions included ragas which were vivadhi, a classification of ragas considered taboo to be sung in concerts.

His compositions were mostly in Tamizh and his favourite god of praise was Lord Muruga. His songs had many variations (sangathis) as in a Thyagaraja’s but had chittaswaram, raga and composer mudhras as in a Dikshitar’s.

Other literary works of Koteeswara Iyer includes Siddhi Vinayakar padikam, Shanmukha Malai, Sundareswara Padikam, Kayarkkanni Paditrupattu, Meenakshi Andadi.

All India Radio conducted a series of concerts in 1950s, rendered by S Rajam and G Vaidehi – detailed rendition of one sudha madhyama and one prathi madhyama kriti.

Listen to…

Listen to Dr. Vijayalakshmy Subramaniam singing ‘arul seyya vendum’ in Rasikapriya which is the last melakartha ragam of the chart. My guru, Dr. Vijayalakshmy is the disciple of S. Rajam “who did learn them from RM Sundaram, a relative of Koteeswara Iyer. Rajam Sir has published all his compositions in a very neat volume.( Earlier, he would give xerox copies of the book– covering only photocopying charges!) He has also rendered all the 72 , with raga niraval and swaras.” (words of my guru in this thread).

Disciples

N Ramakrishnan (also PA to Kamarajar) published the melakartha kritis with notations

RM Sundaram, who in turn spread the KI tradition through his disciples and family

T L Venkatarama Iyer, D K Pattammal, Parur Sundaram Iyer, V V Sadagopan, S V Parthasarathy

Mudra

Kavi kunjara dasa was Koteeswara Iyer’s mudra; not to be confused with “kavi kunjara” which is his grandfather Kavi Kunjara Bharathi’s mudra.

References

carnatic.net, Wikipedia

Until next,

Vid 🙂

Lalgudi Jayaraman

Consider this a double post on (L for) Lalgudi (J for) Jayaraman (1930 – 2013), the violinist, vocalist and composer. I grew up listening to recordings of yester year singers, mostly accompanied by Lalgudi. There was a time when I had the entire dancing thillana cassette by heart, but didn’t know lyrics for even one. Even the featured image for this post was a sketch drawn by artist Deva the day after the demise of the violin maestro.

Okay, enough about my love for his compositions, and more about him and his compositions. Young Jayaraman started learning from his father Gopala Iyer and took to performing and accompanying concerts at the age of 12. Like I said earlier, he has accompanied all the leading musicians of his age. He created the Violin, Veena and Venu, and formed a formidable trio comprising himself, Ramani and Venkatraman. The trio had given a number of concerts across the country. His biography, An Incurable Romantic, by Lakshmi Devnath, was released posthumously in 2013.

Works

He composed the lyrics and music for the operatic ballet Jaya Jaya Devi, which premiered in 1994 at Cleveland, Ohio (US) and was staged in many other cities in the United States. He also conducted five orchestral pieces for the All India Radio’s famous “Vadya Vrinda”.

Famous for his dancing thillanas, Lalgudi has composed in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Sanskrit. I am listing down a few favorites:

  • Desh thillana on Lord Muruga
  • Maand thillana on Kanchi Kamakshi
  • Neeve gatiyani, varnam in Nalinakanti
  • Innum en manam, pada varnam in Charukesi

Listen to…

Well, for a change, why not listen to a violinist’s composition being rendered in Mandolin by a friend Vidwan Aravind Bhargav, who is the disciple of late Sri U. Srinivas. Here is a video of Dwijavanthi thillana from the artiste’s facebook page.

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Faravind.bhargav%2Fvideos%2F1352838848131481%2F&show_text=0&width=560

I am not sure if he used any mudra, but it is relatively easy to narrow down his composition using his pattern brilliance, if you know what I mean. If you don’t, listen to a few compositions of his, then you would understand what I meant by “pattern brilliance”.

Disciples

This is another musician who has taught a list of more renowned disciples, including his children Lalgudi Vijayalakshmi and Krishnan, and Bombay Jayashree Ramnath, SP Ramh, Saketharaman, Visaka Hari and the likes.

References: Wikipedia, the Hindu

Until next,

Vid 🙂

Irayimman Thampi

Irayimman Thampi (1782 – 1856) was a carnatic musician and composer / poet from Travancore. He had his initial lessons from his father Shastri Thamban, who also belonged to the royal family of Chertala. Even as a kid, he wrote a shloka and submitted to the then king, Karthiga Thirunal Maharaja. He was later made the court poet in 1815 and he wrote poems for the Anantha Padmanabha swamy temple during auspicious occasions.

Works

One of Irayimman Thampi’s noted compositions “karuna cheyvan” was set in ragam Shree, but later made popular by Chembai Vaidyanadha Bagavathar in raga Yadhukula Kamboji. Another padam of his, “aarodu cholvene” features in the movie Gaanam in the raga Nadanamakriya. He has composed keerthanas and shlokas in Manipravalam and Sanskrit.

His works also include Subhadraharanam kaikotti kalipattu, Murajapa pana, Keechaka vadham, Uttara swayamvaram, Daksha yagam – to me they all looked like musical interpretations of the said legends. Only then did I learn that these are attakathas, which are the songs / poetry used for kathakali dancing.

Listen to…

You might have heard this composition as an interlude between charanams in the song “Kulu Valley le” in the movie Muthu. Listen to KV Narayanaswamy singing omana thingal kidavu in raag Navroj. In the video, he also gives a brief about the simplicity of the lullaby and its lyrics. This song was composed as a lullaby for Maharaja Swati Tirunal.

Until next,

Vid 🙂

Harikesanallur Muthiah Bagavathar

Harikesanallur Muthiah Bagavathar (1877 – 1945) was a 20th century carnatic music composer, and a ra’ga creator. Let us call him HMB for ease from now on.

HMB learnt from Padinaindumandapa Sambasiva Iyer for 9 years and made his name as a Harikata Vidhwan. (harikatha is an art of story telling infused with music) He was also adept at playing the chitra veena and mridangam.

Works

He had to his credit almost 400 musical compositions, the largest among the post-Trinity composers, that included many different types of Varnams as well as Kritis and Thillanas.  His inventions included ragas such as  Vijaysaraswathi, Karnaranjani, Mohana Kalyani, Niroshta, in which the trademark songs were “charanam vijaya saraswathi”, “vanchathonuna”, “bhuvaneshwaria”, “raja raja radhite”.

The famous English notes made popular by Madurai Mani Iyer was actually written by HMB himself. Though the Trinity composed many nottuswarams in their period, this is the one that first comes to our mind.

Until the invention of Niroshta, all the audava ragas (with  notes per scale) had at least PA or MA in its grammer. This raga is sans PA and MA, the only two swaras which are pronounced by closed lips (bilabial). Leave it to the genius of HMB to also compose a song whose lyrics are devoid of bilabial sounds.

Listen to… TN Seshagopalan singing mathe malayadhwaja, a dharu varnam in raga Khamas. A speciality in the last chitta swaram of this varnam is it is fully a swaraksharam (same syllables denote swara and lyric) praising the Goddess. Also to be noted is that TNS was the disciple of Sankara Sivam, who in turn was the disciple of HNB.

Mudhra Harikesa after his birth place

Disciples include Sankara Sivam (as mentioned above), Madurai Mani Iyer. HNB also opened a music school called the Tyagaraja Sangita Vidyalaya in Madurai in 1920 on the lines of a gurukulam.

Until next,

Vid 🙂

GN Balasubramaniam

Gudalur Narayanaswamy Balasubramaniam (1910 – 1965), popularly known as GNB, was a vocalist in the Carnatic tradition. He did diploma in music with Madras University (first batch) where Tiger Varachari was the principal. He gave his first concert in 1928. He was also a tamizh movie actor and performer, but we are concerned about the composer here, aren’t we.

His unique style, regulated tempo and masterly delivery were the delights of performances. His mellifluous voice would traverse the three octaves and the three speeds with ease. His brugas were infectious and he kept his ears and mind open to receive what was best in other musicians. This style probably reflected in his compositions too.

Works

He composed over 250 compositions krithis in Sanskrit, Tamil and Telugu. He invented ragas too viz., Chandrahasita, Sivasakti, Amrita Behag. I am listing a random few compositions here:

  • sonnadhai seidhida sahasama a Ragamalika
  • ni padhame gathi in Nalinakanthi
  • ranjani niranjani in Ranjani
  • samana rahite in Saranga Tharangini
  • sadapalaya in Mohanam

Listen to… Sikkil Gurucharan sing unnadiye gathi in raga bahudari. My memory and stealthy concert recordings reminded me of this song 😉 Though this video is just a sample, it has almost until charanam, so enjoy listening.

 

Disciples

He had many students, most of them popular in the Carnatic Music industry, such as M. L. Vasanthakumari, Radha Jayalakshmi, Tanjore S. Kalyanaraman, Trichur V. Ramachandran, M. S. Subbulakshmi, T. Balu.

On a parting note, I would like to leave a line from an article on GNB: “…did not agree with those who maintained that the last in composing had been done by the Trinity and that it was a sheer waste of time to attempt to produce anything that may be greater than the works of those three great masters.” I agree.

References: Wikipedia, Karnatik, the Hindu

Dharmapuri Subbarayar

I took the liberty of choosing Dharmapuri Javali Subbarayar for the letter D (his mudra was Dharmapuri after all!). He was a composer of the 19th century. His name has been prefixed with Javali (which has sringaara themes, is fast paced and used in dance performances), as most of his compositions were of this type.

Works

Subbarayar composed mainly in Telugu language and his mudhra was Dharmapuri, after his birthplace. Some of his compositions include:

  • Parulanna maata in Kaapi
  • Adhi neepai marulu in Yaman Kalyani
  • Sakhiprana in Senjuruti
  • Smara Sundara in Paras

It seems Sakhiprana and Smara Sundara were composed for Veena Dhanammal, in whose house he composed most of his Javalis.

Listen to…

My favourite song in Kaapi is a Subbarayar’s Javali that goes parulanna maata. In my opinion, the raga was approached with a very different outlook than the usual compositions in Kaapi. Listen to Ramnad Krishnan sing…

Lyrics

rAga: kApi
tALa: rUpaka
Composer: Dharmapuri subbarayar
Language: Telugu
Pallavi
parulanna mATa namma vaddu prANa nAyaka
Charanam 1
mOmu cinna pOyinadi marmamEmirA mAyalADi bOdhanace pAya cEsErA
Charanam 2
dharmapurini sthiramugA nelakonna sAmi nI dharmamuna nElukOrA nIku mrokkerA 

 

Until next,

Vid 🙂

 

Chowdiah

Tirumakudalu Chowdiah (1895 – 1967) was a Carnatic classical violinist and he has also composed a handful of songs. He was of Kannada origin and thus his compositions were in Kannada. He was home schooled by his violinist uncle initially and then he learnt from Sri Bidaram Krishnappa.

Chowdiah devised a unique method of enhancing the sound of the violin. He crafted a violin with seven strings. What the additional strings did was to resonate along with the string being played upon. This gave the Carnatic violin a greater volume in sound. He also developed a technique of playing it.

The Chowdiah Memorial Hall was constructed in memory of the violin maestro Chowdiah. It is located in Bengaluru and provides a home for musical and theatrical performances as well as competitions. The auditorium is built in the shape of a gigantic seven stringed violin, complete with the strings, keys, the bridge and the bow.

Works

The way I came to know Chowdiah compositions, like most other rare composers I know, was through competitions. The sabhas hold composer-wise competitions every year and I remember most of my high school days went running from one sabha to another for the same. The mandatory number of compositions to apply was 2 in case of category Chowdiah, hence I know only 2 of the list of the 31 songs (kritis and thillanas included) that were there in the book we bought. They are:

  • Prasanna Parvathi in Bilahari
  • Seshachala Vasa in Kedara Gowla

He used the Mudhra trimakuta after his birthplace (the T in T. Chowdiah).

Lyrics and Notation

I learnt these songs from the notations given in the tamil transliterated book of Chowdiah’s compositions. Hence I am presenting here one such kriti’s notations – prasanna parvathi, in Bilahari. The crisp chittaswaram is something to be noted.


Listen to… Chowdiah playing the said composition in Bilahari. I am assuming this is the 7 string violin as it sounds different from the regular violin carnatic solos I have heard.

Disciples: Prof. V Ramarathnam, HS Anasuya Kulkarni

References: Wikipedia, BM Sundaram’s book of Chowdiah’s compositions

Until next,

Vid 🙂

The Same Old Sanjay

Thalaivar mania

There is a kind of Rasika that goes to concerts whenever they find time and there are others who would not want to miss a concert of their favourite musician – this is what the article in Times about Sanjay starts with.

I wouldn’t want to be tagged to either of the categories, but I enjoy listening to Sanjay. And I avoided his concerts for 2 years due to his stardom and the maniacs that go with it. What better way to get back to a Sanjay concert than at the 74th year Isai Vizha at the Tamizh isai mandram!

The concert I am writing about happened on 30th Dec, and the accompanying artists were the usual Varadharajan and Neyveli Venkatesh.

What had changed 

For a fan listening to him for the first time after he attained the “Thalaivar” status , nothing much had changed.

  • He still is not that clear on diction
  • His style of singing and voice was just the same
  • Stuck to the concert template
  • His ever best long standing kaarvais
  • His choice of ragams at the end of RTP (we even managed to guess 2 right, beforehand)

One thing was new though – the popular song request for the one on demonetisation? Looks like it is a song about money that made waves in this season, thanks to you know who.

What was sung

I have sweet memories of having listened to an hour long Hindolam at Vani Mahal, an illuminating Rasali at Krishna Gana Sabha. What I will remember from this concert are 2 main pieces, Simmendra madhyamam (pasuram on thirukurugur followed by a song, maya vamanane) and RTP in Valaji.

The RTP lines that were Bharathi’s, brought a smile in the so-called feminist in me 🙂

“Aanum pennum nigarena kolvadhal – arivil oongi vaiyam thazhaikkum” 

Even though the conception of this RTP can be attributed to the brilliance of Sanjay, Varadharajan beat him by narrow margin in the execution with his violin. What a Valaji it was!!

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Disclaimer: Bloggers who had ACT subscription are permitted to write reviews one month (or later) after the event happened. Oh but wait, this is not a reivew 😛

– Until next,

Vid 🙂

 

Where you listen matters

A few years ago, I had been to a concert of Sikkil Gurucharan, where he sang a scintillating marukkulaviya thiruppugazh as sub main. Unfortunately we were not able to continue listening the concert in peace, owing to the light music songs blaring through the speakers from the next building which turned out to be a marriage hall. No offence to cine music, but shouldn’t we choose when to listen what?

I believe that the structure, sound and ambience of the concert hall should be good enough in order for one to have a good listening experience. I’m not a sound engineer, nor do I know architecture. But I can recognise decent Carnatic music. And even the best music produced, will reach you as it is, only if you listen to it in the right place.

Only when the mike arrangement is good, can singing in lower octaves be enjoyed; a Kaarvai (sustaining at a swara for a length of time) be heard without distortion; and the lyrical beauty be appreciated. For the very same reason, I would choose a closed A/C hall to attend a concert any day, over open air (kottagai) kind of locations.

I found this study done by an M.Arch research scholar from IIT Madras on “The Acoustics of Concert Halls Through a Subjective Evaluation”.

http://www.informedesign.org/Rs_detail/rsId/2331

The study identified that:

  • Consider surveying regular concert attendees during the design of music halls, as regular concert attendees may be reliable and effective judges of concert hall acoustics and surveys may be sufficient instruments for rating concert halls.
  • Be aware that clarity, liveliness, and definition may be preferred acoustic qualities for Carnatic music and that a lower Reverberation Time (i.e., 1.3 to 1.6 seconds) may provide for this quality.
  • Be aware that the ability to see the performer may be important to most regular concert attendees.
  • Be aware that most concert attendees may prefer a venue specifically designed for Carnatic music.

Well, that was their findings; however it does emphasise on one thing – where you listen, matters.

Below are my picks of sabhas / halls where listening would be bliss, here in Chennai. It would be double whammy for the listener, if the performer is also top notch 😉

1. The Music Academy

2. Krishna Gana Sabha

3. The hall in TTD, Venkatnarayana Road

4. Sivagami Pethachi Auditorium

Concerts to watch out for today, Dec 4….

6:00 PM Trichur Brothers, L. Ramakrishnan, Trichur Mohan, D.V. Venkatasubramanian @ Sivagami Pethachi Auditorium, MCTM School, Alwarpet (Brahma Gana Sabha)

Until next,

Vid 🙂

Keeravani

I started writing a series of posts on Carnatic Ragas, a few years ago. We did 16 ragas then, and having been inspired by a few requests to continue, here I am kick starting the second set of ragas. The phase one started here.

The format usually is to give an explanation to the raga (with any specialty of it), the scale, a song in the raga (usually a sound cloud recording), how movies dealt with the raga and a youtube link of a film song or two. This time, you might find a few tweaks, which might include guest performances (this post does feature one). Without further ado….

Keeravani is the 21st melakartha ragam in the 72 raga chart and its scale is:

Aarohanam- S R2 G2 M1 P D1 N3 S

Avarohanam – S N3 D1 P M1 G2 R2 S

In western classical music, this corresponds to the  Harmonic Minor scale. There are some classic kritis in Keeravani:

Kaligiyunte by Thyagaraja,

Devi neeye thunai by Papanasam Sivan,

Varamulo sakhi by Patnam Subramaniya Iyer,

Innamum sandeha padalamo by Gopalakrishna Bharathi.

The song that is featured in this post, however, is a relatively new one on Paramacharya by Swarna Venkatesa Dikshitar, set in Jampa thalam.

Instead of the usual YouTube link I give to popular movie songs in the raga, this time we have a mashup sung by fellow blogger Sriram

http://www.smule.com/recording/keeravani-medley/862022072_807299211/frame

Apart from the songs in the above mashup (i.e) Paadadha paatellam, Raja Raja Chozhan, Kannale Pesi Pesi, there are lot many film songs that adopt or are influenced by this raga. I found a forum discussion on Ilayaraja and Keeravani.

Concerts to watch out for today, Dec 1…

6:45 PM – Malladi Brothers @ Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Main Hall, East Mada St., Mylapore (Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan)

6:45 PM – Abhishek Raghuram, Akkarai Subbulakshmi, R. Sankaranarayanan @ Youth Hostel, 2nd Avenue, Indira Nagar, Adyar (Margazhi Maha Utsavam)

Until next,

Vid 🙂

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