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TN Seshagopalan

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 🙂

ï»żHarikesanallur 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 🙂

Impressions from a TNS concert

It is not fair if  I call this a review, me being the novice. I am writing down my impressions on the concert I attended this evening, at the Parthasarathy Swamy Sabha. A full bench with vocalist TN Seshagopalan, M Chandrasekar on the violin, Mannargudi Eashwaran on the mridangam, and B Purushothaman on the kanjira.

Kamas…

I was as usual late to the concert and he had finished a couple of songs by then. When I entered, he was singing swaram in raga Kamas and thalam Chatusra Jadhi Jampa. No idea what the song was. But I just felt – if God can take away one very important ability, sight, and instead bestow you the power to control the world with the music, then so be it! – on listening to Chandrasekar playing.

Aarabhi…

Aarabhi ragam started, and I was so very sure, it was going to be “Oongi Ulagalandha”, today’s Thiruppavai. It turned out to be a virutham emphasising “Kodhai Tamizh”, supposedly one of Aandal’s pasuram. Extensive phrases made me wonder, what next. That is when he takes you by surprise yet again, by singing “Oongi Ulagalandha” in Kanta Chapu thalam. Now, the tune I observed to be very similar. Maybe… maybe he modified the thalam so that there might be more space between words to do his usual gimmicks on brighas.

Link to the recording of this song… Aarabhi – Virutham + Oongi Ulagalandha :

Subapanthuvarali…

Then he sang Subapanthuvarali, ragam notes ranging almost 3 octaves – from high Da to lower Pa. The song was Sri Sathyanarayanam by Muthuswamy Dikshitar. For the swara kalpana, he started with a casual vilamba kalam with combinations of “SRG SRG S… PDN PDN P… SRG SRG S…” this phrase as the basis. There was almost a sportive-competition happening between vocalist and the violinist, and they played nearly 20 minutes of 2 avarthana korappu.

And then it happened – TNS was in such a frenzied mode with ideas flowing, that Chandru simply put down his violin and let him sing uninterrupted. What a man!! The tani avarthanam was way beyond my comprehending abilities, so I give it a pass in this narration.

Varunapriya…

After the thani got over, he started singing ragam for the next piece. And I began guessing the ragam. Manirangu… no, it is Needhimathi… ah no, sounds more like Kaapi… a little wierd, probably Kaapi from yesterday’s decoction!?… hindustani/masala Kaapi… Lol 😛 TNS relieved all of us of the tension and announced the raga name as Varunapriya and gave a brief – the exact stuff I found on Wiki a couple of minutes later. Woah!!

The lyrics was customised to request rain, enhancing the raga’s qualities –

“Tharunamidhu Karunai Pozhi Varunapriya

Aazhi Mazhai-k Kanna… Nee” (repeat)

And the raga shifts were done in Amrithavarshini (more rain request), Subapantuvarali (water from eyes as well), Kaapi (he did sing the ragam finally!) and back. The piece was set in kanta jadhi thriputa thalam.

I was so engrossed in the concert, that I just did not bother to even unlock my phone and check – something we do always these days! Plus, I am so going to take my rain jacket to office the next day, just incase 😉

Glossary:

avarthana – a cycle of thalam

brigha – faster rendition of a phrase in aalap

chapu, thriputa, jampa – types of thalam

chatusra – 4 beats

full bench – all the necessary accompaniments are present (violinist, and 2 percussion instrumentalists)

kanjira – similar to tambourine

kanta – 5 beats

Kaapi, Needhimathiand Manirangu – are names of the ragas I guessed, wrongly 😉

Kamas, Aarabhi, Subapanthuvarali, Varunapriya, Amrithavarshini – are names of ragas of the songs performed

korappu – a pattern of swara singing

Swara, neraval, thanam, aalapana – various forms of showcasing the skill, improvising the raga on the spot

tani avarthanam – is the phase of the concert when the percussion instruments alone play

vilamba kalam – slow pace

virutham – format of singing a verse (/sloka) improvising, usually without thalam

– Until next,

Vid 🙂

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