Dr. Rama Kausalya talked on the influence of folk music in Thiruvachagam.
It is interesting to know that most of the Tamil scholars, who have an ear or knowledge of classical music intriguingly, find a link between the music and the language. Dr. Rama Kausalya, in her lec-dem on the topic ‘Thiruvachagathil Naattuppura Koorugal’ traced the influence of folklore in Thiruvachagam identifiable from the words used and the rhythm flowing through them. She was given vocal support by Madhuwanti.
Her opening remarks referred to the close relationship between Tamil music and devotion since long. Manikkavachagar’s Thiruvachagam could be looked and sung both classically (‘Sevviyal’ in chaste in Tamil) and in folk style (‘Nattuppura Koorugal’). ‘Classical,’ said Rama Kausalya, fit into grammar and mostly composed by a single person, whereas folk songs are basically simple, relaxed and represent the expressions of a common man. Further, the folk numbers were not recorded or notated like the classical music. Mohanam was her first choice as it is a melody that exists in almost all musical genres both classically and in a bucolic style. ‘Thaanthanthu Unthannai,’ a verse was sung in classical Mohanam followed by showing several other ways of singing similar verses for an easy beat or rustic tune. ‘Ammanai’ was a play among the village women and this word could be found in many places in Thiruvachagam. ‘Kayyar Valai Silamba’ demonstrated this. Use of the same word at the end of each line (‘Anthaathi’), alliteration, question and answer type, were all common in folk music and these were included in Thiruvachagam also. ‘Ele Ilankkiliyae’ was one another verse that established the above in the form of question and answer. At the same time, the literary value comes to it as it explains the great qualities and accoutrements of Lord Siva.
Thiruvembavai verses were based mostly on the plays and penance (‘Paavai Nonbu’) of young women. Kausalya quoted a song sung during the cosmetic material grinding (‘Ponchunnam’) which had a heavy folk influence though it had been grammatically set in Aruseer Asiriya Virutham. Dr. Kausalya wondered whether there were several games referred to such as ‘Thiruthellanai,’ ‘Thiruchchalanam’ and ‘Tholveechu Chadal,’ which were not exactly known or in vogue now except ‘Ponnoosal’ (swing).
She digressed from the topic and analysed the musical forms used in marriages for the ‘Oonjal’ songs are invariably in Anandabhairavi, Navroj and Nilambari, which are folk inspired. She offered a simple song of Oothukkadu ‘Sri Ragavesan’ in Anandabhairavi, which described the marriage ceremony of Rama and his brothers. Manikavachagar had employed simple vocabulary even in his expressions on the experiences of eternal bliss (‘Arputham’). Dr. Kausalya lamented the extinction of such wonderful cultural activities such as singing bhajanai and pastoral songs that improved both mental and physical health are just being replaced with urban and western pleasures.