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Musings of a music student

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behag

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 🙂

ES Sankaranarayana Iyer

Kallidaikurichi Dr. ES Sankaranarayana Iyer (1881 – 1947) was a medicine man and a carnatic music composer. A large part of propagating his works was done by the Maragatham Sankaranarayana Trust. They conducted annual concerts of exclusive ESS Iyer compositions by various eminent musicians. The recordings are held by the trust and you can contact and them here.

When the top sabhas hold competitions about ESS Iyer, the trust helps by giving cassettes to prepare. The winners of the competion are invited to the trust’s annual concert, and their Guru is given a ‘Bodhaka’ award (probably one of the very few proud moments I could make happen to my father, who taught me these songs).

Works

There are over 150 songs written by him, in languages Tamil, Telugu and Sanskrit. I am going to list down the ones I know, here.

  • Ekadasa rudra keerthana rambe in Yaman Kalyani
  • Bhakthi illadha sahithya sangeetham in Aarabhi
  • Deva devam in Saranga
  • Mahavishnu in Bhairavi 
  • Sharadhe chandranane in Saraswathi
  • Kamaladhala kannan in Behag

It is said that after his demise, few (balance) of his compositions were set to tune by family members.

Lyrics

My all time favourite Behag composition is Kamaladhala kannan, which is about the lady describing to her thozhi, how much she misses Kannan.

There are no videos or audio tracks of ESS Iyer’s compositions available online, I’m not sure if it is due to copyright issues. I wanted to post Sanjay Subramaniam singing Behag from the cassette, but in vain. Nevertheless, I can give the lyrics here.
Ragam: Behag / Thalam: Rupakam

P: Kamaladhala kannan inimel karunai seiguvano thozhi 

A: Nimala manathodavar paadham ninaithavar mel nesikkum

C: Oruvarum ingillai endru oru murai kanna endren

Oodi vandhu enna endran ondrumillai endren naan

Varundhi inimel azhaithittalum varamatten endru solli 

varundha vaithu maraindhaan – madhi mosam ponenadi thozhi

Update on 25th Apr:

Thanks to Subramaniam Krishnan‘s thoughtful gesture, I now have a brilliant song to share:

Listen to Parasala Ponnammal sing ESS Iyer’s composition “muladhara kshetra mooshika vahana” in mayamalava gowlai…

References: http://essfamily.tripod.com/ess.html

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 🙂

இது சென்னை பதிவர் சங்கத்தின் “அ முதல் ஔ வரை” தொடர்பதிவு. இதில் சென்னை பதிவர் சங்கத்தைச் சேர்ந்த சிலர் பன்னிரெண்டு நாட்களுக்கு உயிர் எழுத்துகளில் தொடங்கும் வார்த்தைகளில் பதிவிட முனைந்துள்ளோம். நான் எடுத்துக்கொண்ட தலைப்பு தமிழ் இசையமைப்பாளர்கள்.

இன்றைய எழுத்து – இ
பாடல் – இரக்கம் வராமல்
இயற்றியவர் – கோபாலகிருஷ்ண பாரதி
– தே. வி 🙂
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