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Musings of a music student

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film music

Anandabhairavi – Ragapedia 12

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 🙂

Chakravakam – Ragapedia 11

Chakravakam, whose equivalent in Hindustani is Ahir Bhairav, has the same scale as the former and it is only the usage of the notes and the gamakas applied to it that would differentiate the two ragas. Chakravakam is the 16th melakartha ragam of the scheme and Dikshitar called it Thoyavegavahini.

Aarohanam: S R1 G3 M1 P D2 N2 S

Avarohanam: S N2 D2 P M1 G3 R1 S

Carnatic Compositions

  • Varahim Vaishnavim, Veena Pusthaka and Gajananayutham, Dikshitar compositions are in Vegavahini – assuming both Thoyavegavahini and Vegavahini are the same ragas, as there is no specific song in the Dikshitar book in the former.
  • Eesane Indha by Papanasam Sivan
  • Perinbam Ver Ariyen by Ambujam Krishna (not to confuse with song starting in Atana by same composer)
  • Sarojanabha by Swathi Thirunal
  • Pibhare Rama Rasam by Sadasiva Brahmendral is sung in Ahir Bhairav

Listen to Eesane Indha, a Papanasam Sivan composition in the ragam Chakravakam.

 

 

Use in Movies

This is yet another popular ragam used in film music and I shall list a few songs here.

  • Ullathil Nalla Ullam from Karnan
  • Pichandi Thannai from Ganga Gowri (1973)
  • Nee Paadhi Naan Paadhi from Keladi Kanmani
  • Poojaikkaga from Kadhal Oviyam
  • Vidukadhaya from Muthu
  • Karpanaikku Meni Thandhu from Paatum Bharathamum (sounds more Ahir Bhairav)

However, I wanted to share this song from the movie Achamundu Achamundu, Kannil Dhagam, which comes in parts through the later part of the movie; as an extension parts of the background music played in the movie is also Chakravakam, which I though was effective.

Azan and Ahir Bhairav

Adhan / Azan (i.e) the Islamic call for worship is invariably in shades of Ahir Bhairav; so are songs in the Muslim culture. Though it is not a representation, I would like to quote Allah Allah song from Mohammad Bin Thuglak as an example of Ahir Bhairav.

Until next,

Vid 🙂

Kuntalavarali – Ragapedia 10

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 – Ragapedia 9

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 🙂

Niroshta – Ragapedia 8

Niroshta is a relatively new age ragam, with a pentatonic scale. What is unique though, it doesn’t have either PA or MA as a part. How does it matter? It does because if you cannot smack your lips in between your singing for a long time, you might end up drooling.

The name of the raga roughly means “without the lips” and it follows the parent raga Sankarabharanam. Hence the scale would be:

Aarohanam – S R2 G3 D2 N3 S

Avarohanam – S N3 D2 G3 R2 S

Carnatic Compositions

Harikesanallur Muthiah Bagavathar invented Niroshta (sans P and M) and composed a song, Raja raja radhithe. The speciality of the song is, even its lyrics with no bilabial syllable in it (i.e) udhadugal ottadhu; and it has a crisp chittaswaram to add to the beauty of the composition. It is said that he composed this song when the Mysore Maharaja was unwell with swollen lips!

There is another interesting theory I read in Rasika forums, and I quote, “The word sin or papa comes from the first sound of the pa-group repeated twice. The sounds in the pa-group are called papa-pankti and avoiding these sounds is Niroshta. Avoiding papa-pankti is indicative of reminding ourselves that we are trying to avoid the papa and punya for the good of our extended self.”

Here is my attempt at singing the song.

There is a thillana in the same raga, composed and rendered by the genius TN Seshagopalan.

Use in Movies

Though there are no movie songs in Niroshta, the song Raja Raja Radhithe has been used in the Malayalam movie Ananda Bhairavi. I wonder at the Malayalam music directors who aptly place such unusual Carnatic compositions in their movies. Another such instance I quoted in my post for Andolika.

Related Ragas

When I was reading about Niroshta, I found that there is a similar raga called Banupriya with the swaras in the scale the same as Niroshta. There is a composition by Aalathoor Vijayakumar in Banupriya, called Banupriyasani. (I am writing this here, because I don’t know much about this ragam to make a separate post). The flow of the song sounds a lot like Ganamurthi.

Until next,

Vid 🙂

Karnaranjani – Ragapedia 6

Karnaranjani’s (Karaharapriya janyam) unique identifier is its phrase “SRGMGP” and hence the scale is thus,

Aarohanam: S R2 G2 M1 G2 P D2 S

Avarohanam: S N2 D2 P M1 G2 R2 S

The ragam was a creation of Harikesanallur Muthiah Bagavathar, and he has aptly named it Karnaranjani which literally means “pleasant to the ears”.

Carnatic Compositions

  • Vanchathonuna by Harikesanallur Muthiah Bagavathar, the man who invented the raga itself
  • Om Namo Narayana by Ambujam Krishna
  • Deena Sharanyane by Nila Ramamurthi, daughter of Papanasam Sivan
  • Thillana by Lalgudi Jayaraman

Listen to a beautiful verse in Nachiyar Thirumozhi set in the ragam Karnaranjani (tuned by Devanathan).

Also listen to Seshagopalan singing a pasuram “Kulam Tharum” of Periyazhwar followed by Kamba Ramayanam verses in this raga, as a part of a 12 hour concert he did in January 2001 on Vaikunta Ekadesi in Ayodhya Mandapam (according to the below link). What is interesting is, even the group chanting at the end of this song is done in the raga.

Use in Movies

I was not able to find any tamizh movie song in Karnaranjani, but this Malayalam song “Harnakshi Janamoule” from the movie Kaliyachan is…

I have my own doubts about “Theertha Karai Thanile” from Thai Pongal being Karnaranjani, because it doesn’t use “SRGMGP” as clearly as the above Malayalam song.

Until next,

Vid 🙂

Saraswathi – Ragapedia 5

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 🙂

Panthuvarali – Ragapedia 4

Panthuvarali is also called Kamavardhini as per the katapaya nomenclature and called Kasi Ramakriya as per Dikshitar literature. It is the 51st of the 72 melakartha scale system.

Aarohanam: S R1 G3 M2 P D1 N3 S

Avarohanam: S N3 D1 P M2 G3 R1 S

Apparently Panthuvarali and Kamavardhini were not the same originally. What is now Subhapanthuvarali was called Panthuvarali or Shivapanthuvarali; what is now Kamavardhini was called Ramakriya. (Source: Sanjay’s blog) However, thanks to evolution, now Panthuvarali and Shubapanthuvarali are two different ragas.

Carnatic Compositions

  • Sambo Mahadeva, Saramegani, Aparama Bhakthi, Shobaane, Siva Siva are few of the many krithis by Thyagaraja
  • Ramanatham Bhajeham, Senapathe Palayamam by Muthuswamy Dikshitar
  • Sarasaksha Paripalayamam by Swathi Thirunal
  • Neeye Pedhai Mugam (varnam) by Papanasam Sivan
  • Enna Ganu Rama Bhajana by Bhadrachala Ramadas
  • Varuga Varuga by Balamurali Krishna

Listen to me singing Sambo Mahadeva, a Thyagaraja krithi.

Used in movies

When I was reading about movie songs based out of Panthuvarali, I observed that there are 3 or more songs in various Bala (director) movies – Piraye Piraye from Pithamagan, Om Sivoham from Naan Kadavul, Or Aayiram Yanai and Amma Endrale from Nandha. Probably because the raga fits the intense mood of his genre of movies.

This raga has been extensively used by other music directors as well. Amba Manam (a Papanasam Sivan composition in Sivakavi), Deviyai Poojai Seivai from Savithri, first part of Ezhu Swarangalukkul (in Apoorva Ragangal by MSV), Rojavai Thaalaatum /  Kanal Neer Pol (two versions with the same tune in Niniaivellam Nithya by Ilayaraja), Macha Machiniye (in Star by AR Rahman), and many other popular film songs exists in this raga.

I shall leave you with this song Deviyai Poojai Seivai from the 1941 movie Savithiri, where MS Subbalakshmi dons the character of Naradha and acts and sings the said song; enjoy listening.

Until next,

Vid 🙂

Kalyana Vasantham – Ragapedia 3

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 🙂

Andolika – Ragapedia 2

The raga Andolika is a janyam of Karaharapriya with the scale as below. It is a creation of Thyagaraja and also goes by the name Mayuradhwani.

Aarohanam – S R2 M1 P N2 S

Avarohanam – S N2 D2 M1 R2 S

Andolika vs Mayuradhvani

The raga’s evolution seems to have two possibilities, and either or both could have happened in course of time.

1) Andolika was previously called Mayuradhvani – Here is Kittappa’s rendition of “Raga Sudha Rasa” which sounds exactly like how we sing today, and the record has Mayuradhvani written on it (look at the image on the video).

2) Raga Sudha Rasa is mapped to Mayuradhvani in the Thyagaraja literature – meaning it was sung in Mayuradhvani and somehow came to be sung in Andolika in the recent past.

Karnatik has a list of janya ragas where Mayuradhvani is featured 4 times with different scales, one of it being the same as Andolika, which doesn’t really help drawing a conclusion either.

Carnatic Compositions

  • Raga Sudha Rasa by Thyagaraja
  • Sevikka Vendum Ayya by Muthuthandavar (said to have been tuned to Andolika most likely in the later part of this century; obviously the ragam wouldn’t have been in vogue in 1600s when Muthuthandavar lived.)
  • Mahishasura Mardhini (varnam) and Vajreshi Maathe by Harikesanallur Muthiah Bagavathar
  • Nee Dayaradha (varnam) by GN Balasubramaniam

Listen to a rendition of Raga Sudha Rasa, a classic krithi in the raga, below.

Also listen to the Muthiah Bagavathar varnam sung by Professor K. Venkatraman, a disciple of Nellai Krishnamurthy, who in turn learnt from Muthiah Bagavathar himself.

Use in movies

We are again talking about Raga Sudha Rasa, in this section, because I am not able to find any other movie song even vaguely influenced by it. The song features in the movie Sargam (Malayalam) / Sarigamalu (Telugu) and is sung by Yesudas and Chitra. There is a swara dialogue between Vineeth and Ramba at the end of the song that highlights phrases from the raga. Below is the link for the song from Sarigamalu.

Until next,

Vid 🙂

Ganamurthi – Ragapedia 1

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 🙂

Romantic Ragas

I believe that ragas elicit certain emotions in you when you listen to them and each one has one emotional trait that is predominant. I am not well read when it comes to carnatic music theory, hence here is the disclaimer that whatever I write below is exclusively what I think from my experience.

For this love themed jodi posts by CBC, I thought I should write about ragas that I think are the most romantic, for various reasons. By romance, here I mean the “a feeling of excitement and mystery and happiness that might or might not be associated with love”.

Reethigowla

The reason I chose Reethigowla is hugely influenced by its usage and identification in tamil film music.The carnatic compositions were of no help due to its religious / spiritual context. Whereas in films, right from Chinna Kannan to Azhagana Rakshasiye to Sudum Nilavu to Kangal Irandal, most of these famous romantic duets are set in this raga. Maybe the GaMaNiNiSa phrase gives that lilting beauty when sung; or that the very structure of the raga is not flat and boring but mystical and interesting.

Here is a playlist of only movie songs in Reethigowla for you.

 

Kaapi

Kaapi I believe lives up to its name. If coffee is believed to be an aphrodisiac, then the name sake might as well be one. It oozes love, and at the same time manifests in many forms – be it Bharathi’s love for Kannamma in Chinnanjiru Kiliye or the Javali (composition type generally conveying sringaara) Parulanna Maata, or the motherly love of Yashodha in Enna Thavam Seidhanai, or ARR’s Kadhal Rojave. It seems to me that, like the various types of coffees from each part of the world, the various songs in Kaapi have a unique flavor and each have to be dealt with, different from the other. You might want it black, or with milk or cream or sugar, but each type (song) has to be savored in the way it has to be.

Behag

This is my favourite raga of the three. But not many would agree with me for even adding it in the list of romantic ragas. That might even be the case; but then I learnt this song Kamaladhala Kannan in Behag. I don’t know what ESS Iyer imagined when he composed it, but that part “madhi mosam ponenadi” does something to me, every time I listen to it. The context of the phrase is thus: (I am giving the text in Tamizh as the essence seems lost when I translated it to English, sorry)

… ஒருவரும் இங்கில்லை என்று ஒருமுறை கண்ணா என்றேன்
ஓடி வந்து என்ன என்றான் ஒன்றுமில்லை என்றேன் நான்
வருந்தி இனிமேல் அழைத்திட்டாலும் வரமாட்டேன் என்று சொல்லி
வருந்த வைத்து மறைந்தார் – மதி மோசம் போனேனடி…

(knowing none is around, she calls Krishna – he appears – she gets tongue tied – hence he leaves saying don’t expect me to come next time you call – and that is when she loses her mind).

Malargal keten from OK Kanmani and Aalapanam from Gaanam are the only two movie songs I can think of in Behag and both are abstract in a way. Maybe it is that abstractness that this raga embellishes, that is lovely.

If you have a difference of opinion, or think I’m incapable of writing about this topic, or got anything else to say, do leave a comment. I’m not really a fan of bouquets, so that and brickbats are equally welcome 😉

This post has been written for the ‘love theme’ contest by The Chennai bloggers club in association with woodooz and Indian Superheroes.

Having read my take on romantic ragas, please also read what my team mate Divya Narasimhan of Sayuri has to say about how music inspired her to create jewellery designs. Here, she has taken the natabhairavi sounding song “Vaseegara” and interpreted it in her necklace.

Until next,

Vid 🙂

Darbari Kanada

When OK Kanmani songs were released and I made my dad listen to Naane Varugiren, we started discussing how every few years one hit song in darbari kanada comes out somehow. And we were wondering what is so special about this raga that makes it a music director’s favourite. That is how I came up with this playlist of 12 movie songs in the raga, from then to now… from chinnan chiriya to katre en vasal, ennai konja and the recent one from OKK.

I haven’t learnt any Kriti in Darbari Kanada and it is only through movie songs do I identify this raga till date. Either it is attractive enough as is, or because it isn’t possible to meddle with – whichever reason be, I have found all the movie songs set in this raga unadulterated so far.

This post features a guest performance by my dad, Shri Devanathan. Please listen to chandra chooda siva sankara parvathi, a composition of Purandara Dasar.

Govardhana giridhara by Narayana Theerthar and varuvai varuvai varuvai kanna by Bharathiyar is sung in this raga. But nobody from the Trinity seemed to have dealt with it. Wikipedia says the raga was taken from the Carnatic world to Hindustani by Tansen (its called Darbari after the court of Akbar). Whereas, we call it a Hindustani raga. My hunch is the North India got influenced by our Kanada and created Durbari and then we brought back Durbari to Carnatic and named it Darbari Kanada. The raga is the descendant of 20th melakartha Natabhairavi.

Concerts to watch out for today, Dec 7….

6:45 PM Sanjay Subrahmanyan, R. Raghul, Tanjore Murugabhoopathy, Thirupunitura Radhakrishnan @ Narada Gana Sabha Main Hall, TTK Road, Alwarpet (Kartik Fine Arts)

6:45 PM Sikkil Gurucharan, B.V. Raghavendra Rao, Bombay Balaji @ Youth Hostel, 2nd Avenue, Indira Nagar, Adyar (Margazhi Maha Utsavam)

Until next,
Vid 🙂

Begada

The next raga in the series is Begada, a raga whose scale doesn’t conform to order. I always imagined ragas like Kamas and Begada to be these rebellious kids refusing to stand in line during school assembly. Nevertheless, they stand out, don’t they.

The below song is probably the reason why I wanted to do this raga. I first chanced upon the cover version by Agam band. The original is from a 1970 Malayalam movie, Sthree which has two solo versions sung by Yesudas and Janaki respectively. Below link is the female solo of Innale neeyoru. The song uses two ragas, and the first part is in Begada.

I wasn’t able to find any Tamil movie songs in Begada – let me know if you do.

The scale that I was talking about for Begada goes thus…

S G3 R2 G3 M1 P D2 N2 D2 P S

S N3 D2 P M1 G3 R2 S

Below is my attempt at singing Vaa Muruga vaa in Begada, a Spencer Venugopal composition.

Few other notable kritis in this raga include

  • Thyagaraja namasthe and vallabha nayakasya by Dikshitar
  • naadopasana by Thyagaraja
  • Elle ilangiliye, a Thiruppavai
  • Veenai Kuppaiyar’s varnam inta chala

This raga was a specialty of Patnam Subramanya Aiyyar and earned him the name ‘Begada’ Subramanya Aiyyar.

Concerts to watch out for today, Dec 3….

10:30 AM S. Karthick – Lec Dem – ‘Appreciating the role of Ghatam, Khanjira and Morsing in a concert’ @ Ragasudha Hall, 85, 2, Luz Avenue, Mylapore (Parivadini)

6:00 PM – Mysore Brothers (V), Umayalpuram K. Sivaraman, S. Karthick @ 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 🙂

Kanthaa…

Remember the scene where Parvathy goes to meet Dulqer in the malayalam movie Charlie? Its a festival called pooram a.k.a thiru-aadi-pooram.

Pooram is a festival held at a temple in Thrissur on the day of the pooram star. This year it falls on April 17th, that is today. One of the major events in the festival is the pancha vadhya melam performed by more than 200 artists.

One of the songs sung during the festival is Kanthaa njanum varaam… Below is a link that I believe is how the original folk song is sung. (very feeble, raise volume and listen).

During an interesting conversation with a friend, who blogs at https://devadhaithozhan.wordpress.com/, I learnt the meaning of this song. It is about a person (probably a girl) pleading Kaanthan to take her to the Trissur Pooram festival. She lists out the reasons as to why she wants to make it to the festival and what she would do there. She says, she wants to see pooram; wants to be with Kaanthan in the pooram crowd; wants to listen and play the percussions of pooram; wants to see the fireworks, et al.

I just wondered why a song about a girl talking to her guy, be sung and performed by a bunch of men. Weird. If only someone could explain.

Enough wondering about the meaning, this post is about the chronological versions this folk song has evolved to; though my story started the opposite way.

There are a couple of malayalam movie references to the song, though I have not seen the song been fully used.

Then came the Masala Coffee band which was started two years ago, which did a cover for this song. The song starts off with the lead vocalist Sooraj Santhosh playing an intro in a kazoo. The entire song sounded to me like a fusion of classical and rap, there is a bit played in esraj, and the flavours brought out of the same old song are so refreshing and scintillating. (do I sound like a cook-off’s judge here :O) The folk song took a good turn at this juncture – the Masala Coffee version remains my favourite to the day.

 

This song which typically has flair of ragas Sankarabharanam and Yadhukula Kamboji, got a language variant that was released in Tamil. A movie Uriyadi, that was released earlier this year, had music composed by the very same band, and they have used one of their trademark compositions and made a tamil version out of it. The song, also starting Kanthaa, was written as a funny take on the middle class challenges. However, I wasn’t sure if the lyrics did fit into the existing composition. That being just my opinion, the tune does seem to have stuck on and created the magic. Listen to the same in the link below.

 

Wondering where would Kantha go from here?! Hopefully to somewhere nice 🙂 Kanthaa njanum varam…

Until next,

Vid 🙂

P.S: Esraj and Kazoo are musical instruments, whose name I learnt only while reading up for this post!

The Real Show

We know there is so much drama, hype and emotions in a reality show, right. All for a TRP rating one would think. Midnight shoots, contracts to sing whenever summoned and capturing you weep on TV – is probably lesser known. But the real show starts much earlier than all this.

I was talking to this friend when she narrated an incident that took me to nostalgia (not in the nicer memory sense).

Eight years ago – me in yet another popular TV studio auditioning for a then popular TV competition. I got till the third round where I had to sing something of a genre I wasn’t comfortable with – I thought I did a decent rendition of thoodhu varuma when I walked out. An uncle from the audience with a familiar face walked up to me and said, “you did pretty well, they were talking about putting you in already. Why don’t you call me once you are selected; I am looking for someone to sing the title song of a serial that I’m producing? Maybe we can use your voice…” It was then I realised he was a serial actor from the same TV.

No calls came and so I called this actor / producer back after 3 days. He asked me what I had sung. Then he asked me why I wasn’t selected. How would I know? “Did they ask you anything else?” I blinked. “Well, if they had not called you yet, then you should have been rejected”, he said and cut the call.

Getting back to current day, this is the story my friend had shared.

She went to the auditioning grounds of yet another popular TV music show and stood as the third person in queue. But 150 of them got selected much before her and they were double promoted – owing to the fact that they learnt from the judge there.

Poor girl had sung every song she was asked before she was rejected. When she came out, a well wisher had suggested her to take a detour and go meet the voice specialist there. She had to repeat sing the same list of songs before the guru asked what was her result in the panel. Then he said same goes here, and rejected her. When she came out, this is what the well wisher said: “If you had offered donation or else asked to learn from them, you would have gone through easily!”

I didn’t have words to console her when she shared the story, but having listened to her sing in person, I know she has a beautiful voice and is very much capable of going places.

Comparing the two instances, I just thought… Had I figured it out that day itself, at least I wouldn’t have doubted my ability to perform.

– Until next,
Vid 🙂

Mohanam

After Nattakurinji, for a fitting finale, I could not have chosen anything better than Mohanam. One will have the feeling of having lived life King size after listening to this raga; it is that grand and fulfilling.

Mohanam belongs to the family of Harikamboji with 5 swaras in scale – S R2 G3 P D2 S / S D2 P G3 R2 S

Mohanam is the oldest ragam known to mankind, according to Dr. S. Ramanathan’s doctoral dissertation. It can be sung in any phase of the concert, proving to be the all-time raga that it is. Also called as Bhoop / Bhoopali in hindustani, this raga is used to denote bravery; it is used in Chinese, Japanese and Swedish music it seems.

A favourite of trinity and contemporary composers alike, mohanam holds a lot of kritis to its credit:

  • Thyagaraja’s Bhavanuta, Dhayaranee, Mohana Rama, Nannupalimpa, Evarura Ninnuvina …
  • Dikshitar’s Rajagopalam, Narasimha Aagacha, Gopika Manoharam (by Ambi Dikshitar) …
  • Papanasam Sivan’s Kapali …
  • Annamayya’s Cheri Yashodhaku …
  • Arunachala Kavi’s Yen Palli Kondeerayya …
  • Oothukkadu’s Swagatham Krishna …
  • GNB’s Sada Palaya (Sa Da Pa are the same notes) …
  • Maanikka Veenai Endhum from unknown composer …

For a complete understanding and enjoyment of Mohanam, please listen to this blend of instruments by Lalgudi Jayaraman, Ramani and Venkatraman – playing violin, flute and veena respectively. (performed in 1967)

Below is a rendition of a Thillana in Mohanam raga, a composition of Harikesanallur Muthiah Bagavathar.

Some very interesting compositions from the myriad of movie songs I had to choose from are:

  • Aaha Inba Nilavinile from Maaya Bazaar
  • Pazhaga Theriya Venum from Missiyamma (writing this suppressing the feminist in me!)
  • Giridhara Gopala from Meera
  • Paadumbodhu Naan Thendral Kaatru from Netru Indru Naalai
  • Ninnukori Varnam from Agni Natchathiram
  • Kanmaniye Kaadhal Enbadhu from 6 ilirundhu 60 varai
  • Vaan Pole Vannam from Salangai Oli
  • Porale Ponnuthayi from Karuthamma (influence)
  • Pakkadhe Pakkadhe from Gentleman
  • The Chinese song in 7am Arivu …

In the striking voice of Ghantasala and P. Leela, Aaha Inba Nilavinile…

A special thanks to dad (for equipping me with most of the knowledge that I have said and teaching and singing along in all the recordings), karnatik.com (main reference) and to everyone else for your encouragement.

Until next,

Vid 🙂

16. Mohanam

After Nattakurinji, for a fitting finale, I could not have chosen anything better than Mohanam. One will have the feeling of having lived life King size after listening to this raga; it is that grand and fulfilling.

Mohanam belongs to the family of Harikamboji with 5 swaras in scale – S R2 G3 P D2 S / S D2 P G3 R2 S

Mohanam is the oldest ragam known to mankind, according to Dr. S. Ramanathan’s doctoral dissertation. It can be sung in any phase of the concert, proving to be the all-time raga that it is. Also called as Bhoop / Bhoopali in hindustani, this raga is used to denote bravery; it is used in Chinese, Japanese and Swedish music it seems.

A favourite of trinity and contemporary composers alike, mohanam holds a lot of kritis to its credit:

Thyagaraja’s Bhavanuta, Dhayaranee, Mohana Rama, Nannupalimpa, Evarura Ninnuvina …

Dikshitar’s Rajagopalam, Narasimha Aagacha, Gopika Manoharam (by Ambi Dikshitar) …

Papanasam Sivan’s Kapali …

Annamayya’s Cheri Yashodhaku …

Arunachala Kavi’s Yen Palli Kondeerayya …

Oothukkadu’s Swagatham Krishna …

GNB’s Sada Palaya (Sa Da Pa are the same notes) …

Maanikka Veenai Endhum from unknown composer …

For a complete understanding and enjoyment of Mohanam, please listen to this blend of instruments by Lalgudi Jayaraman, Ramani and Venkatraman – playing violin, flute and veena respectively. (performed in 1967)

Some very interesting compositions from the myriad of movie songs I had to choose from are:

  • Aaha Inba Nilavinile from Maaya Bazaar
  • Pazhaga Theriya Venum from Missiyamma (writing this suppressing the feminist in me!)
  • Giridhara Gopala from Meera
  • Paadumbodhu Naan Thendral Kaatru from Netru Indru Naalai
  • Ninnukori Varnam from Agni Natchathiram
  • Kanmaniye Kaadhal Enbadhu from 6 ilirundhu 60 varai
  • Vaan Pole Vannam from Salangai Oli
  • Porale Ponnuthayi from Karuthamma (influence)
  • Pakkadhe Pakkadhe from Gentleman
  • The Chinese song in 7am Arivu …

In the striking voice of Ghantasala and P. Leela, Aaha Inba Nilavinile…

A special thanks to dad (for equipping me with most of the knowledge that I have said and teaching and singing along in all the recordings), karnatik.com (main reference) and to everyone else for your encouragement.

– Until next,

Vid 🙂

Nattakurinji

And this is the penultimate raga – N  for Nattakurinji, after a detailed Brindavana Saranga.

Nattakurinji is a child raga of Harikamboji. It is very vakra (zigzag) in usage.

Aarohanam: S R2 G3 M1 N2 D2 N2 P D2 N2 S

Avarohanam: S N2 D2 M1 G3 M1 P G3 R2 S

Nattakurinji, I feel is ruggedly beautiful, say like a trek route, in its nuances 🙂 Classical songs in this raga include –

  • Budhamashrayami, the navagraha kriti for Wednesday, by Dikshitar
  • Parvathi Kumaram Bhavaye by Dikshitar
  • Kuvalayadala Nayana by Thyagaraja
  • Ekkalathilum by Ramasamy Sivan

This soundcloud link has me singing a song Parvathi Kumaram by Muthuswamy Dikshitar.

Maybe because it should be identified very precisely, this raga has not been handled that much in movies. But those evident pieces of work are:

Kavalayai Theerpadhu Naatiya Kalaye from Shivakavi… wherein the last line goes “…raagathil sirandhadhu naatakurinjiye…”

At Chitra’s best and in all shades of blue and green, Kannamoochi Yenada from Kandukonden…

And the last post will be M for …

Until then,

Vid 🙂

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