Classical Ilayaraja 8

This is the 8th of 15 articles titled Classical Ilayaraja appeared on Usenet in the 90s.
I’ve added links to the songs, so you can listen as you read.
You could also try my Tamil song search.

South Indian classical music has got an excellent treasure of superb names. Most of the raaga names seem to be Sanskrit derivatives. Even though there are some Thamizh equivalent names for raagas such as Sankarabharanam, nobody uses them. Ki.Veeramani is probably very sad about this. Maybe, Vairamuthu has some plans like translating all the raaga names into Thamizh as he tried translating Thyagaraja’s ‘nee dhayaradha’ in Sindhu Bhairavi movie as un dhayavillaiyaa (if only Ki.Veeramani was ready to fund the project, from the 5 lakh rupees that he got for perpetrating the deeds of thandhai Ee.Vae.Ra. Periyar, from Selvi Jayalalitha). Alternatively, Ki.Veeramani may get somewhat sensible and appreciate the high-level idiocy in trying to translate the proper nouns in raaga names. And he may rather to encourage a lower level of idiocy by goading his clan to replace all the Sanskrit sounding sounds like ‘ksha’, ‘jha’ etc in all the raagas to their Thamizh equivalents and then accept the raaga names. Then, Shanmukhapriya would be called as Dhanmukapriya (as Vibhishanan in Valmiki Ramayanam became Vibidanan in Kamba Ramayanam)!

Some raagas seem to follow the first, middle and last name system! The only difference is, you don’t give a space between the first and last name. For example, Kalyani has a first name (which is commonly omited), and that is, ‘mesa’. This mesa helps in identifying the number and position that it occupies in the melakartha scale. While there is no dearth of names, for some unknown reason, there is lot of repetition in naming the raagas. Thus you have Mohanakalyani, Amirkalyani, Yamunakalyani and so on. In this case, the above said raagas are all ‘DNA’ testified offsprings of Kalyani. But there are some other unrelated raagas that have common last names. For example, the Ranjani group of raagas. We have Ranjani, Janaranjani, Mararanjani, Megaranjani, Sivaranjani, Karnaranjani and so on. Of these, Mararanjani is the 25th mela raagam. Ranjani, Janaranjani, Sivaranjani, Karnaranjani are janyams of the 59th, 29th, 22nd and 22nd melams respectively. See, how unrelated they are!

Unlike the Ranjani group, some of the Bhairavi raagams are indeed genitically related. In this group we have Nadabhairavi, Bhairavi, Sindhu Bhairavi, Ananda Bhairavi, Salakabhairavi and so on. Of course, there are other few Bhairavis like Ahir Bhairavi (the Hindustani equivalent of Chakravaagam) which are not related to the above said Bhairavi group.

Nadabhairavi is the 20th melakartha raagam. While it is such an important raaga in the western music (the C minor scale), its importance is completely undermined in our music. The fecundity of Nadabhairavi has been fully exploited in carnatic music to get innumerable janya raagams which are commonly sung, while the parent raagam has become totally ignored. There are not very many keerthanais in Nadabhairavi. But in cinema music this C minor scale is the supreme king. Probably one third of all the cinema songs are set in Nadabhairavi scale. Ilayaraja has scored countless songs in this scale. None of them is classical. So, even though one might know thousands of these songs, he might not be able to identify the Nadabhairavi raagam when sung in the classical sadas! Some examples for the songs in this scale would be kannE kalaimaanE (Moonram Pirai), kalyaaNa maalai (Pudhu Pudhu Arthangal), engirundhO iLamkuyilin (Brahma), raakku muththu raakku (Yejamaan), ennulE ennulE (Valli – what a song!), then thenpaandi seemaiyilE (Nayagan) etc…. A.R.Rahman’s chandralEkhaa (Thiruda Thiruda) is another fantastic example of the C minor scale. In many of these songs, the music directors tend to present a hybrid by incorporating Da2, and Ni3 usages. Ilayaraja, who is known for his very minimal deviation from the chosen scale, also seems to enjoy presenting an (expected) vagary of occasional Da2 and Ni3 usage in these songs.

Bhairavi is a major ‘gana’ raagam. It is a sarwaswara bashangam. Thus the aroganam is that of Karaharapriya and the avarohanam – Nadabhairavi! Hence you could call it as the janyam of either Karaharapriya or Nadabhairavi. However, since it is more closely related to Karaharapriya (sanchara-wise), it might be appropriate to call it a janyam of Karaharapriya, with a reduced daivatham in the avarohanam (from Da2 to Da1). The movements of Bhairavi have got a very powerful quality to evoke a gloomy mood. It is much worse than Subhapanthuvarali (the raaga which is oft used in the cinema for sad situations – a very ‘light’ one when compared to Bhairavi).

For a guy who daringly ventures into the bermuda triangle of classical music, that is, the rare vivadhi raagas such as Kanakangi, Bhaavani etc, it is a kind of surprise why Ilayaraja so far did not bother to touch upon the greatest of all the janya raagas, Bhairavi, in at least one of his songs. Even in his classical music albums like the ‘how to name it’, I don’t remember there is any Bhairavi piece. On the contrast, MSV has tried Bhairavi twice (as far as I know) in cine-music. Both of them are excellent. They are ‘oru puram parthal midhilayin mydhili’ (the second charanam in the song adhisaiya raagam in the movie Aboorva Raagam. MSV says that the rest of the song is set in some vague raagam called as mahathi); The second Bhairavi that MSV gave was thiruppaarkadalil paLLikondaayE (Swamy Iyyappan). What a lovely song! What an unbelievable classical presentation of the essence of Bhairavi! What a marvelous rendition by K.J.Yesudoss! You have to enjoy this song atom by atom (anu anuvai rasikanum!) There is no doubt that the ultimate classicism in carnatic music lies with few raagas like Bhairavi, Thodi, Sankarabharanam, Begada, Karaharapriya and Kalyani etc. The ascendency in the scale of knowledge and performance of even the classical musicians would be evaluated by the critics according to the mastery and proficiency that they show in handling these raagas. Such is the weightage that a raagam like Bhairavi deems from the purely classical people. Ilayaraja miserably failed in this aspect.

There was a wonderful opportunity recently for him to handle Bhairavi. That is, in the movie Moga Mull. The author of that book Thi.Janakiraman, writes pages about this great raagam. In the novel, he actually writes few paragraphs of just Bhairavi swaras alone, and about the beauty of those swaras. This he writes in the context when the hero Babu and his friend Rajam sit in the Kumbakonam public park and listen to the Bhairavi raagam broadcasted in the park radio. Since so much emphasis was given to this raagam in the story, I was lead to believe that the director Gnana might have told Ilayaraja and got a superb Bhairavi song. But, alas! There was just a small piece of re-recording in Bhairavi alone, that too, Bhairavi varnam, when Babu’s music master Ranganna teaches music to his disciples. Thats all.

Mukhari and Husseni are raagas very closely related to Bhairavi. Though it is generally said that Mukhari is the apt raagam for gloomy mood, perhaps Bhairavi suits more to such a situation than the former. Cinema musicians have preferred to use Sivaranjani or Subhapanthuvarali for sad situations than Bhairavi or Mukhari, probably because of the terrific gamakam involved in these raagas. Too much of gamakam and cinema music don’t go together! However, MSV has taken a shot at Mukhari too, in two songs: vaadaa malarE thamizh thEnE (Ambikapathy), pOgaadhE pOgaadhE (Veera Pandiya Kattabomman). I have not heard both these songs. But have heard people say that they are very good Mukharis.

Ananda Bhairavi is a fantastic raagam. It is a sharp contrast to Bhairavi. As the name indicates, Ananda Bhairavi does not have a sad quality like Bhairavi. It brings ‘aanandam’ to the listener. It is traditionally used in real ‘mangalakaramana’ situations. During the celebration of marriage occasion, when the bride and the groom sit in a swing and play ‘oonjal’, there is a kalyana sampradhaya song. That is ‘ponnoonjal aadinaalae’! The raagam is Ananda Bhairavi! You should have listened to that song, to appreciate how pleasant it is, particularly when a group of ‘maamis’ sing this song in an early morning muhoortha schedule! It will even make the father of of the bride who is performing a ‘dowri’ kalyanam, lacrimate due to aanandam, forgetting all the sufferings he had to go through to perform the marriage.

Ilayaraja has given two Ananda Bhairavis so far. The first one came in Rajni’s Raghavendra. The situation is: Manorama sings this song humouring Lakshmi, who develops an affair with the Raghavendra (future swamy). That song starts like: parthalae theriyadho naeku, adiyae sarasu… The second Ananda Bhairavi that Ilayaraja gave came in Sridhar’s Iniya Uravu Poothadhu. The situation is: the heroine (Nadhia) or somebody gets pregnant and the ‘thozhiyar’ crowd sings this song (during valaikapu?). The song starts like chittu pOlE mottu pOlE piLLai vara pOraan kattil mElE. Both those Ananda Bhairavis were good ones. Look, he has used the raagam to suit happy occasion in both the instances! Mangalakaramana situations!

Ananda Bhairavi is one unique raagam in carnatic music. It defies the general grammer that regulate the structure of all raagas! We know that there are 12 (normally) definable swaras in an octave (from lower to upper Sa). They are Sa, Ri1, Ri2 (Ga1), Ri3 (Ga2), Ga3, Ma1, Ma2, Pa, Da1, Da2 (Ni1), Da3 (Ni2) and Ni3. If you count in terms of the number of individual swaras considering each of them seperately (like Ri1, Ri2, Ri3, Ga1, Ga2, Ga3 and so on), then you would say that there are 16 swaras in an octave. Of these 12 swaras, we use almost all the swaras in Ananda Bhairavi. The ‘namkevastha’ arohanam and avarohanam of this raagam is Sa Ga2 Ri2 Ga2 Ma Pa Da2 Pa Sa; Sa Ni2 Da2 Pa Ma1 Ga2 Ri2 Sa. But there is much much more than this arohanam and avarohanam. You have Ga3, Da1 and Ni3 proyogams in this raagam. You can use Pa Ni2 Sa prayogam. With so much of bashangam, it looks as if it is very ungrammatical. Yet, it follows perfect grammer of its own, that define its raaga-lakshanam. Ga3 and Da1 is mostly used in making Ga3 Ma1 Pa Da1 Pa sancharam. Ni3 is used in making Da2 Ni3 Sa Ga2 Ri2 Ga2 Sa sancharam. In short Ananda Bhairavi typifies the purely aesthetic hallmark achievement of carnatic music.

Recently, Thamizh cinema music has got two more Ananda Bhairavi additions, from the now very famous Deva and Rahman. Deva’s one is konja naaL poru thalaivaa in the movie Aasai. Hariharan has sung this song. It is a great piece. Superb job by Hariharan. Look at the way the gamakam of gandaram is used in this song. Katcheri type of gamakam in a cinema song! Yet, it seems that this song has become a big hit! A welcomable change in Thamizh cinema music! In this song the lyricist (Vaali?) says ‘thEnaara paalaara paanja en kaNNukuLLa’ to indicate what a visual delight the heroine’s beauty is! Look how he is crossing the gustatory (taste) and visual sensory modalities! How can honey flowing into the eye give any pleasant sensation? Perhaps we should not look at a poetic usage from the scientific stand point of view! Then he says ‘dhEsiya kodi pOlE poththi vachchEn nenjukkuLLE’! What an atypical analogy to indicate the preciousness of the heroine to the hero!

Rahman’s Ananda Bhairavi is the song mettu pOdu in the movie Duet. Prabhu and Ramesh Aravind sing this in a light music concert. It is a fantastic song. Rahman has used this raagam in a very intelligent manner. The song starts like Sa Sa Sa Ri2, Sa Sa Sa Ri2, Ri2 Ma1 Ga3 Sa, Ri2 Ma1 Ga3 Sa, Sa Sa Ri2 Sa. Look at the way he uses Ga3 in the begining of the song itself! Classically when you sing Ananda Bhairavi, when you descend like Pa Ma1 Ga3, there is a caveat right at the Ga3 “don’t go any further down”! But Rahman goes further down to Sa from Ga3! In this poor grammatically ungrammatic raagam, what can you say about this usage? When you listen to the song it is so illusory and sounds perfectly Ananda Bhairavish! Intelligent musicians can re-define raaga lakshana! Perhaps this is one instance. I don’t know if classicists will agree with the way the raagam has been used in this song. Vairamuthu’s lyrics is just wonderful in this song. He advises the janatha to achieve success like the tender roots of a germinating seed inside a hard rock (paaraikkul vErai pOlE vetri koLga)! What a powerful analogy to boost one’s confidence to achieve success! Maybe, I could add ‘dinosaurai pOlE tholvi adayaadheer’ (don’t attain failure like the dinosaurs)! One of the theories for the extinction of the dinosaur family is that the females could not bear the weight of the males during mating! What a stupid reason for such a mammoth species to perish and become extinct! Shame, Shame, Shame…!

Lakshminarayanan Srirangam Ramakrishnan,
Internal Medicine Department,
Brackenridge Hospital,
Austin, Tx 78701.

Three words that end in gry

There are three English words ending in “-gry”. Two are “angry” and “hungry”. What is the third one?

See the answer.

Classical Ilayaraja 7

This is the 7th of 15 articles titled Classical Ilayaraja appeared on Usenet in the 90s.
I’ve added links to the songs, so you can listen as you read.
You could also try my Tamil song search.

Kanakangi is the first melakartha raagam. It is also called as Kanakaambari (what a wonderful name!). While man’s aesthetic sense gave birth to raagas like Mohanam, Sudha Saveri etc, his increasing scientific knowledge about the structure of music over a period of many centuries gave birth to raagas such as Kanakangi. In the days of yore, when man began exploring the music world, there was no Kanakangi. All he knew were those tunes or raagas that were immediately appealing to his mind. No wonder, simple pentatonic raagas like Mohanam made their genesis during that early period of man’s irresistable pursuit for melody. Later, as is usual, science took over the aesthetic sense. The dominance of MOOD, which often served the purpose of being the mighty commander of raaga creation, was pulled down by the even mightier science. That the central theorm governing the whole of music was only simple mathematics became evident. The tip of the iceberg eventually lead to the unearthing of the whole of the rest! String instruments like the veenai and gottu vadyam etc., helped the ‘music thirsty’ thathas of yesteryears apply some good logic and figure out the progenitor raagas of the already existing raagas and narrow it down to the 72 melakartha system. It became a relatively simple task like filling in the unknown elements in the periodic table once you knew the general structure of the atom in various elments! The first melakartha became christened as Kanakangi.

There are not many keerthanais in Kanakangi. There is a Thyagaraja keerthanai on lord Ganesha (who seems to have decided to rock the whole hindu community by resurrecting from his idolhood to drink vitamin D fortified milk!) in Kanakangi. Thats all. I know of no other Kanakangi keerthanais. There are few short pieces like the one in M.Subulakshmi’s cassette in all the melakartha raagas. If you want to listen to pure Kanakangi in cinema go to KB’s Sindhu Bhairavi movie. Ilayaraja scored a marvellous Kanakangi in that movie. The situation is: Sivakumar (called as JKB in that movie) is a famous vocal musician. His wife Sulakshana is a carnatic music ag-gnani. Hence, to quench his music thirst at home too, Sivakumar falls in love with Suhasini, who is a great gnani in carnatic music! This dual love creates problems in his public performance. He tries to forget Suhasini, but not able to do so. He is haunted by her thoughts all the time. In that situation he sings a song mOgam ennum theeyil en manam vendhu vendhu urugum. It is this song that gave the first and last Kanakangi to Thamizh cinema music.

Kanakangi is a difficult raagam to handle properly. The reason is that it has got vivadhi swarams at two levels. Sa Ri1 Ga1 and Pa Da1 Ni1. The transition from one note to its immediate adjacent note is discernable by human ear. But when you get such transitions consecutively like in Sa Ri1 Ga1 and Pa Da1 Ni1, it becomes jarring to the mind! Often, to score background music to eerie situations, cine-musicians press immediately adjacent keys in the harmonium in a row, say, Sa Ri1 Ga1 Ga2 Ga3 Ma1; or if the music director doesn’t have any knowledge about musical grammer or a taste for melody, he may even press all the above said keys together to startle the audience by his unpleasant music, than by the situation per se! So, that’s the only use for raagas like Kanakangi in cinema! But, Ilayaraja made a fantastic song out of this raaga. The tonal quality of that song appropriately suits that situation. He has handled that raaga in a very intelligent way. Nowhere in that song does he travels the entire octave. Because if you travel like that, it will be very jarring and unmelodious. He has divided the raaga into bits, delivering sancharas around Sa Ri Ga first, and then going over to Pa Da Ni later, carefully avoiding the sancharas of both the vivadhi levels in the same stretch! Only at the very end, while he goes to the climactic thara sthayi panchamam, he travels from madhyama sthayi panchamam in a single stretch, covering all the notes in between. K.J.Yesudoss has sung that in a wonderful manner. Nobody else could have sung that song as he did, because it needs lot of ‘akara’ practice. One should be a carnatic musician himself and be well versed with such vivadhi sancharas to do justice to the raagam.

Kanakangi is one example that proves the old saying ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’. The concept of a raagam and mood is only in the mind of the beholder! Because, look what happens to Kanakangi, when you change the reference shruthi from Sa-Pa-Sa to Ri-Da-Ri. This jarring, inharmonious vivadhi raaga becomes Panthuvarali, a superb meloncholy! The same vivadhi swaras exist in Panthuvarali too, but because of the change in reference shruthi the quality of the mood changes! Similarly, if you knock off the Ri and Da in Kanakangi, you get Sudha Saveri, a superb melody! These are all wonders in our perceptual system, the beholder’s mind!

Ilayaraja has got many songs in Sudha Saveri, a very melodious, ‘desiya’ raagam (Sa Ri2 Ma1 Pa Da2 Sa). His first Sudha Saveri probably came in Bharithiraja’s Kizhake Pogum Rail. kOvil maNi Osai thannai has been sung by Jayachandran and Janaki. His other Sudha Saveri are maanaada kodi in Mudhal Vasantham, kaadhal mayakkam (AVMin Pudhumai Penn), raadhaa raadhaa (Meendum Kokila), maNamagaLE maNamagaLE (Thevar Magan). In maNamagaLE, he has given a sad quality to Sudha Saveri. The shanai interlude evokes a gloomy mood. Ilayaraja’s latest Sudha Saveri came in Prathap Pothan’s recent movie (Aathma). That song has been sung by T.N.Seshagopalan. The song is innaruL tharum annapooraNi. Even this song has wonderful shanai interlude. T.N.Seshagopalan has done a good job in this song (his first song with Ilayaraja). However, the best of TNS’s voice has not been brought out. Perhaps just ordinary cinema vocalists would have been enough for this song! I am sure Ilayaraja has got a lot more numbers in Sudha Saveri. Only thing is my senescent mememory seems to be failing!

Rasikapriya is the last melakartha raagam. Hence, Sa Ri3 Ga3 Ma2 Pa Da3 Ni3 Sa. I don’t know of any keerthanai in Rasikapriya. Ilayaraja has tried this raaga in his early days. It seems like a daring venture at that time. The first and last Rasikapriya in cinema came in Kovil Pura. The three songs in that movie became very famous even before the movie was released. The movie starred ‘Oru Thalai Raagam’ Shanker as the hero and Saritha as the heroine. But, alas! Despite the wonderful songs, the movie was a big flop. The Rasikapriya song was sangeethamE en jeevanE. I vaguely remember the tune of that song. It has been sung by Janaki. It starts like Pa Da Ni Sa; Sa Ri Sa Ni Sa and so on. The tune in the charanam is fantastic. Unlike the first melakartha, the last melakartha sounds melodious to me. Ilayaraja himself had told in one of his early interviews that he expected national award for this song. But, he did not get it.

Lakshminarayanan Srirangam Ramakrishnan,
Internal Medicine Department,
Brackenridge Hospital,
Austin, Tx 78701.

Using Google Code Search for hacking

How hackers are using Google to pwn your site. Includes a very practical example of how to use Google Code Search to hack a MySQL account.

The Six-Lesson Schoolteacher

The Six-Lesson Schoolteacher, by John Taylor Gatto, New York State Teacher of the Year, 1991. (The first part of it is sarcastic. This man is speaking passionately of things he despises in the education system.)

The first lesson I teach is: “Stay in the class where you belong.” I don’t know who decides that my kids belong there but that’s not my business.

The second lesson I teach kids is to turn on and off like a light switch. I demand that they become totally involved in my lessons, jumping up and down in their seats with anticipation, competing vigorously with each other for my favor.

The third lesson I teach you is to surrender your will to a predestined chain of command. Rights may be granted or withheld, by authority, without appeal.

The fourth lesson I teach is that only I determine what curriculum you will study. (Rather, I enforce decisions transmitted by the people who pay me).

In lesson five I teach that your self-respect should depend on an observer’s measure of your worth. My kids are constantly evaluated and judged.

In lesson six I teach children that they are being watched. I keep each student under constant surveillance and so do my colleagues. There are no private spaces for children; there is no private time.

It is the great triumph of schooling that among even the best of my fellow teachers, and among even the best parents, there is only a small number who can imagine a different way to do things.

He concludes:

School is like starting life with a 12-year jail sentence in which bad habits are the only curriculum truly learned. I teach school and win awards doing it. I should know.

Classical Ilayaraja 6

This is the 6th of 15 articles titled Classical Ilayaraja appeared on Usenet in the 90s.
I’ve added links to the songs, so you can listen as you read.
You could also try my Tamil song search.

In carnatic music, while we have three kinds of rishabham, gandharam, daivatham, and nishadham each, the madhyamams are only two kind. They are the suddha and prathi madhyamam. If only the madhyamams had life, they are certain to demand reservation for the reason that the other more populous swarams like the rishabhams are dominating the music scene, not giving enough space for the madhyamams to come up in life! However, any species that is less in population become precious in due course. That is the general law of the nature. That is true for the madhyamams too. They are wonderful precious swarams.

The prathi madhyamam is the second madhyamam. In the perceptual scale the distance between any two adjacent notes in the harmonium is the same, irrespective of whether the notes are in the manthra sthayi, madhyama sthayi or the thara sthayi. (This is in contrast to the physical scale, where the frequency difference between any two adjacent notes in the harmonium keeps on increasing as you go to the right). In other words, the perceived tonal difference between any two swarams is the same. Thus the transition between Sa and Ri1, Ri1 and Ri2, Ri2 and Ri3, Ri3 and Ga3, Ga3 and Ma1, Ma1 and Ma2, Ma2 and Pa, Pa and Da1, Da1 and Da2, Da2 and Da3, Da3 and Ni3, and Ni3 and Sa will all be perceived as the same by our mind. However when you sing with the Sa-Pa-Sa shruthi vibrating from the thamboora, the ‘aadhara’ swarams for the shruthi, ie., the shadjam and the panchamam will have a pulling effect on their immediate adjacent swarams. It is this phenomenon that gives the beauty to the prathi madhyamam. It is for the same reason that the gap between Ri2 and Ga2 appears wide while that between Ma2 and Pa appears so narrow, giving an illusion that these notes are extremely close to each other.

The beauty of the prathi madhyamam can be well appreciated in raagas like Hamsanadham. There has been quite a good discussion about this raagam for a while in rec.music.indian.classical (rmic). It will become hackneyed to recapitulate it once again. Just to present the gist of the material: Originally a Neethimathi janyam and hence using Sa Ri2 Ma2 Pa Da3 Ni3 Sa (and the converse as avarohanam), it later became reduced to a pentatonic raagam when singers practically preferred to eschew the usage of shatsruthi daivatham (Da3). Thus, the Hamsanadham that we hear nowadays seem to be a janyam of Kalyani, instead of the 60th melakartha Neethimathi.

Ilayaraja was the only music director who tried Hamsanadham in cinema. His first Hamsanadham came in Sridhar’s ‘Harry Met Sally’ kind of movie, Thenrale Ennai Thodu. It was a typical ‘Mills and Boons’ plot, the heroine first fighting with the hero and later developing love, while the hero first develops love and later fighting with the heroine. ‘Moadhal/oodal/kaadhal’ sequence finally culminating in love signal from both the sides! Ah Ha! This type of plots seem to be like a never ending amudhasurabhi, giving the cinema directors innumerable situations, song sequences, and help them make lot of money. Rarely, such plots give us songs like thenRal vandhu ennai thodum in superb Hamsanadham. Sridhar who was almost dead at that time could make a comeback in the cinema world, because of the richness of the songs in that movie. Also, he introduced Veenai S.Balachandar’s sister’s grand-daughter Jayashree (who is also a cousin of the actress Sukanya) as the heroine in that movie.

Ilayaraja starts his first Hamsanadham like Ma Pa Ma Pa Ri Ma Ri Ni Sa…. An excellant start! An ingenious start considering from the scientific aspect of music, because this is the first and the last song that I have heard with a start in prathi madhyamam. When you are bred in a society wherein there are certain established styles, you would automatically imbibe them and then start manifesting them. Saint Thyagaraja starts the pallavi of his ‘pantu reethi kolu’ (Hamsanadham) in panchamam. In this raagam, anybody would be tempted to make a start in Pa or Sa. If somebody started in Ma2, then it is an abnormal behaviour. If he doesn’t deviate from the classical style even a teeny-weeny bit, and is able to sell it to the public and make a mega hit song, then it only means that he is brilliant! Ilayaraja did it! He has shown this kind of non-traditional start of his songs (from the point of view of the trinity’s approach to raagas) in many songs. Another example would be the kakali nishadha start in jananI jananI‘ and ammaavenRazhaikkaatha in Kalyani.

The background rhythm in thenRal vanthu is a fantastic monotonous tabla beat, not exhibiting change for every line in the song. This is in sharp contrast to the newer Rahman style, wherein there is lot of high tech scientific manipulations of the rhythm, with a change for each line of the song. As usual, our cinema kavigner (Vaali?), has made lot of ‘paethals’ in lyrics in such a wonderful raaga based song.

Thendral vandhu ennai thodum
aaha saththam inri mutham idum
pagalae poi vidu; iravae pai kodu
nilavae, panneerai thoovi oaivedu!

Look at the audacity of the poet, asking the ‘night’ to give a mat, moon to sprinkle scented water, so that the hero and heroine could indulge in carnal love! Literally, he is trying to drive the ‘daytime’ away so that night time could come!

The second Hamsanadham that Ilayaraja gave was Om namahaa in Maniratnam’s Geetanjali. It was a good one too. The third number came in his brother Gangai Amaran’s Ooru Vittu Ooru Vanthu. The song was sorgamE enRaalum. Our village hero ‘touser payyan’ Ramarajan and Gowthami go to some foreign country and become nostalgic about Tamizhnadu and then sing that song. That song was one first-class example of how to popularize carnatic music. From the pallavi ‘hei thanthana thanthana thantha’ to the very end of the song, it is absolutely classical. In such a short piece, he has brought out the full essence of Hamsanadham. Of course there are few slips, like the usage of Da2 when he sings ‘namnaadu poalaguma’, and the use of Ma1 when he sings ‘paaka oru vazhi illayae’ in charanam. He could have avoided these, and rendered a ultra pure Hamsanadham. But, what to say, cinema music directors seem to have all the right in the world to do anthing to any raagam!

He has daringly ventured to test his vocal skills in that song with S.Janaki. There are real fast sancharas covering one entire octave in such short span of time. Somehow he has done a good job! Perhaps, he thought that Ramarajan does not deserve any better voice than his! The lyrics of that song is also funny. I think he himself (or Gangai Amaran) has written that song. It goes on to narrate how village life in Tamizhnadu is much superior to that in other foreign countries.

Maadugalai meika, adhu maeyuradha paarka
mandhaiveli angu illayae hei!

In the short story collection of Fredrick Forsyth’s ‘No come backs’ the hero happens to go to Tamizhnadu. He takes note with disgust, how people urinate in public places, defecate in streets, in Tamizhnadu. Ilayaraja could have written that in his song.

Avasarama onnuku vandha sattunu
oru oarama onnuku adikka
nalla roadu illayae….

If the DMK succeeded in getting a seperate country ‘Thamizhnadu’, as they demanded the centre in early 1960s (beleive me, they had the arrogance and foolishness to do that, while Thamizhnadu didn’t even have basic necessities like water of its own!), it would definitely make this song as the national anthem! Perhaps, LTTE Prabhakaran has already made a note of this song as the national anthem for his Thamizh Eazham!

Lakshminarayanan Srirangam Ramakrishnan,
Internal Medicine Department,
Brackenridge Hospital,
Austin, Tx 78701.

Classical Ilayaraja 5

This is the 5th of 15 articles titled Classical Ilayaraja appeared on Usenet in the 90s.
I’ve added links to the songs, so you can listen as you read.
You could also try my Tamil song search.

In cinema music, starting from the period of Ilayaraja, the lyricists got into a pact of servitude with the music directors. They were dictated by the mighty music directors. Since the selling of audio cassette and the success of the movie were only depended upon ‘how catchy’ the tunes were, and not on the quality of the lyrics, it became the unquestioned ‘rajyam’ of the music directors like Ilayaraja. He would come early in the morning to the Prasath recording theatre. Probably by that time the lyricist would be waiting there already. Maybe they even routinely prostrated before him as he entered into the theatre like the God incarnate himself! Then he would fill the theatre with his tunes in the ‘thanthana thaana thathana thaana thaana nanana’ form. The lyricist had to get this into his intellect and rack his brain to get words that would replace the ‘thaana thathana’ junk! What a pity! If Subramania Bharathiar had been alive he would’ve shed blood tears at the sordid state of Thamizh in cinema! Ilayaraja was definitely one important reasons for this abyssmal degenerancy in the state of ‘kanni’ Thamizh! (Maybe the LTTE/DMK/DK combo have Ilayaraja in their murder hit list for causing this change to their beloved Thamizh!).

There is one guy who repeatedly proved that he could stand upto the pressure of Ilayaraja. He gave new form to cinema songs. After the period of Kannadasan (even though Vaali and the lot were giving some good meaningful songs), on an average, Vairamuthu gave much much better cinema songs. Some of his cinema songs even had splashes of supreme ‘kavithuvam’. The song in which he made his debut was a feast both in music and lyrics.

That song came in the movie Nizhalgal. The situation is that, hero Rajasekhar (a ganja case in that movie) returns back to his home in an elated mood. It was not shown whether he has a puff of ganja before that song! If you were the music director, what tune (to our discussion, what raaga) would you want to score in this situation? The points that director Bharatiraja gives you regarding this situation is: ‘evening time/hero/ganja case/very happy/sings.’ Thats all. Isn’t your mind fully blank about what raagam to choose? Okay, if you were the lyricist (that too, making your entry into the cine-world in this song), what would you write? Ilayaraja chose to use the all time pleasantry of Kedaram in this situation! Vairamuthu decided to write pon maalai pozhudhu.

Kedaram is a fantastic raagam. It is one of the innumerable janyams of the 29th melakartha Sankarabharanam. It has got a small U turn in its arohanam (vakram!). Sa Ma Ga Ma Pa Ni Sa. Avarohanam is Sa Ni Pa Ma Ga Ri Sa. Though this looks simple, there is a specific phrase in its avarohanam to make the raaga identity clear. That is, Pa Ma Ga Ri Sa is not just the same when you sing, you have to sing/play like Pa Ma Ga…. Ri Sa Ga Ri Sa. The temporal duration (kaarvai) of gandaram is more. This is what gives beauty to this raagam. Before Ilayaraja used, I know of only one song which is in Kedaram. That is, raamasaami thoodhan naanadaa in Sampoorna Ramayanam. Lord Anjeneya sings this song to Ravanan!

Ilayaraja’s use of Kedaram is splendid. He uses the key phrase of Kedaram in the opening of that song itself like ‘Sa Ni Pa, Pa Ma Ga, Ga Ri Sa, Sa Ni Pa’ travelling from madhyama sthayi upper shadjam to manthra sthayi panchamam in a single stretch. At the time when the movie was released, I was amused by the chirping of birds in the prelude. How could they catch many birds and bring it to the recording theatre and make them chirp according to their will and wish and record it? Now that I’m a little older, and know that you can make birds chirp, lions roar, kuyils ‘koovufy’, just by pressing a single button even in your $ 30 casio, I’m more amused by the use of Kedaram in the song. The use of accordion in the first interlude ‘Sa Ni Pa Ni Pa Sa Ni Sa Ni Pa, Ga Ma Pa’ is excellant. In the second interlude he suddenly introduces a meloncholy with a solo violin piece well within the scope of kedaram. I don’t know why he did it. Why that sudden sadness in the tune?

The intellectual, poem writing part of Vairamuthu’s neuro-circuitry reached the boundaries of imagination in that song. He writes:

Idhu oru pon maalai pozhudhu
vaana magal naanugiraal
vaeru udai poonugiraal

Oh God! What a ‘karpanai’! He personifies the evening sky as a girl and says: she is changing clothes from evening to night, and blushes out of shyness because everybody is seeing her! Can anybody refer to redness in sky during dusk any better than this? There might be light scattering and such kind of hi-tech physical events that might cause this phenomenon! But, look, what the poet has to say about this from his point of view! In the charanam, he goes a step further and starts characterising the normal events occuring during dusk in a poetic way. He says:

Aayiram nirangal jaalamidum
raathiri vaasalil kolamidum
vaanam iravukku paalamidum
paadum paravaigal thalamidum
poomarangal saamarangal…

Proper translation would be: Birds would sing and clap welcoming the night; evening sky would establish the bridge for the coming of the night; all the trees would sway hither and thither and produce gentle breeze welcoming the night; the appearance of thousands of colourful lights all over the world would be magical; it would be like a ‘kolam’ in the gates of night!

The second Kedaram from the theatre of Ilayaraja came in Kamal’s Michael Madana Kaamarajan. sundhari neeyum is a fantastic song. It is not as pure as pon maalai, but it is a good Kedaram. Though, it was MSV who discovered Kamal’s singing capabilities (nyayiru oLi mazhaiyil thingaL kuLikka vandhaan; was it Kamal’s first song?), it was Ilayaraja who gave him chance to sing repeatedly in his movies. In fact, in one non-Kamal movie he made him sing for some other hero (ponmaanE theduthE, en veeNai paaduthE: O Maane Maane). Kamal and Janaki have done a wonderful job in sundhari neeyum. Ilayaraja has given the required weightage to manthra sthayi Pa Ni Sa sancharas in this song too. In the charanam, during ‘kannana kannae en sontham allo’ he uses, Sa Ga Pa Ga Pa Ni, Pa Ni Sa Pa Ni Ri which is definitely unbecoming of kedaram. But, I guess we have to forgive this, because this is cinema music and not a katcheri! The second interlude flute pieces are exceptionally good.

A.R.Rahman’s ennavaLE ennavaLE in Kaadhalan is very frequently alluded by some as Kedaram. Reportedly ‘thatha’ Suppudu also commented about this song in some interview as ‘Kedarathuku sedharam’, meaning damage to Kedaram. Personally, I am not able to place this song under any raagam. It starts like Sa Sa Ni Pa Ma Pa Pa Ni Pa Ma Ga, Sa Sa Ga Ma Pa Ga Ma Pa…later it deviates with liberal usage of chatusrathi daivatham, chatusrathi rishabam, with one flash of shatsruthi rishabam too (kaadalinaal varum avasthai enru kandu kondaen). But it is a very good song, establishing A.R.Rahman’s typical marks throughout the song. Unnikrishnan has done a good job. But unfortunately, Vairamuthu has made lot of ‘paethals’ in that song. Time and again, Thamizh ‘pudhu kavignars’ have written (to emphasise the dramatic impact of love on the lovers) ‘after seeing you, and falling in love, I’ve even forgotten my name’! Vairamuthu has gone a step ahead and tries to characterize why the hero lost his speech (literally) after seeing the heroine:

Vaai mozhiyum enthan thai mozhiyum
vasappada villayadi.
Vayitturkum thondaikum naduvinil oru
uruvam illatha urundayum uruludhadi.

Poets frequently indulge in abstract thinking trying to define inexplicable ideas. In another song he says, ‘pookal pookum osaigal kaadhil ketpadhilai’ (engE en jeevanE in Kamal’s Uyarntha Ullam), when he writes about the onset of love. That is, as the sounds of flower blooming cannot be heard, the onset of love is indiscernable! That is a good abstraction. But in the above said song he has grossly failed in his abstraction, trying to explain the effect of love on an individual. In the charanam of this song his ‘paethals’ continue: Unthan koondalil meen pidipaen, Un viral sodduku edupaen… and so on. Luckily he did not go to say ‘Oh, my love, when you shout from the toilet, I will bring the tissue paper’!

Nalinakanthi is another Sankarabaranam janyam. Structurally, it is closely related to Kedaram. It has got a sharper U turn (vakram!) in its arohanam. Sa Ga Ri Ma Pa Ni Sa. The avarohanam is Sa Ni Pa Ma Ga Ri Sa. So kedaram differs from Nalinaganthi in only in the arohanam. Of course, you can sing the avarohanam of Nalinakanthi as it is, while in Kedaram, you have to add some special dealings of the swaras. Ilayaraja has one good Nalinakanthi in Kamal’s Kalaignan. It came as a surprise in that movie because all the other songs were ‘kuppai’. endhan nenjil neengaadha has been sung by Yesudoss and Janaki. Ilayaraja captures the essence of the raaga in the start of the song: Sa Ga Ri Ma Ga Ri Sa Ni Sa Ga Ri Ma GA…There is no deviation in that song at all. In the second interlude there is a short thara sthayi swara alapana too. He should have avoided that alapana, and that person too, in that song! (I think it is he who has rendered that short piece!). It seems like he has used gottu vadyam in that song.

Lakshminarayanan Srirangam Ramakrishnan,
Internal Medicine Department,
Brackenridge Hospital,
Austin, Tx 78701.

Fog in London

This is the park in front of my office in the evening. Fog completely covered London this week. Visibility: 200 ft. Hypnotic.

2006-12-22 14 Canary Wharf Jubilee Gardens

Telemarketer in a murder investigation

Tom Mabe likes playing pranks on telemarketers while recording the call. This is a recording of a hilarious telemarketing call.

Tom: Hello?
Mike: Yes, can I speak with Tom Mabe?
Tom: Who’s calling?
Mike: This is Mike (beep). You’ve been selected to receive a complete digital satellite system for free. With this, you’re going to…
Tom: Um, let me ask you something. Did you know Tom Mabe? Are you a friend of his?
Mike: No, I’m not. I’m just calling to…
Tom: Hold that thought… hold on one second, alright? (off phone) Hey guys, get really good pictures of the body. Yeah, dust everything down for prints. (on phone) Are you there?
Mike: Yeah.
Tom: Let me bring you up to speed. You have actually called a murder scene and Mr Mabe is no longer with us. I’m Officer Clarke. I’m conducting a homicide investigation. I want to ask you a series of questions. Firstly, what was the nature of business you had with Tom Mabe?
Mike: I, uh, had no business with him. I’m… I’m sorry to have bothered you…
Tom: No, no, no hey hold on look, I want to ask you to stay on the phone. This call has already been traced and we may need to you to come here for further questioning. This …
Mike: You see, you don’t understand. I’m just calling …
Tom: No, no, look, you don’t understand. Unless you want to be charged with obstruction of justice it’s imperative to keep your ass on the phone, Mike.
Mike: Or, how about you just talk to my supervisor then?
Tom: No no no no we’ll get to your supervisor in a second. Now, give me your whereabouts.
Mike: I’m at work.
Tom: You’re at work?
Mike: Yes.
Tom: You being a smartass?
Mike: No, sir.
Tom: Let me put it to you this way, Mike. Say I want to mail your ass a letter. What would I have to write on the outside of that envelope to ensure that the mailman will deliver it right to your ass? Geographically speaking, Mike, where is work?
Mike: 40 West (beep), Middleton, Colorado.
Tom: Hold on, that’s 40 …
Mike: Yes sir.
Tom: Michael, hold on one sec, alright?
Mike: Yes sir.
Tom: (off phone) Get the Middleton homicide department on the phone. Yeah, give them this information. Tell them there been a talk in connection with a fatal shooting and aggravated robbery. (on phone) Mike, how did you know Mr. Mabe again?
Mike: Wait, you’re calling the Middleton police department? I’m hundreds of miles away! I don’t even know the guy… I’m in Colorado!
Tom: No, no, it’s not that scary… that’s just a formality. Tell me, have you been to any place other than work, then?
Mike: No!
Tom: OK, and tell me again what, where were you last night for twenty hours after eight and ten?
Mike: I’m not feeling really comfortable with any of this.
Tom: Have you even ever spoken to Mr. Mabe, Mike?
Mike: No I haven’t. I don’t even know the guy. That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you!
Tom: OK, very good, calm down, calm down, look, I’ve got one more question for you, Mike. As you well know, I’m sure, Mr. Mabe was a flaming homosexual. There’s no easy way of asking this, I don’t want to embarrass you or nothin’, but, were you his gay lover?
Mike: What!? No… what kind of a question is that?
Tom: (you just have to hear what he says!)

No to all in Windows

Windows has a “Yes to all” in some of its dialogs — for example when replacing files. Here’s how you can simulate a “No to all”. (Just shift-click the “No” button).