Quite a task

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Melodious recital
Melodious recital


CD This twin pack contains songs composed in the 72 melakartas.

The concept of the 72 melakarta raga scheme is a unique feature of the Carnatic music system. All the melodies even in the Hindustani system can be correlated to the melakarta scheme either as equivalents or as janyas. The misra ragas in the Hindustani system, perhaps, cannot be strictly classified as a janya of a particular melakarta raga.

The list of vaggeyakaras who have composed songs in all the 72 melakartas is not too long. Composing in the vivadhi melas in particular calls for a thorough understanding of the swarasthanas. This apart, the vaggeyakara or the tunesmith have to put in their musical prowess to ensure that the raga chaya is at the forefront in such compositions without any ambiguity.

Laudable effort

Ashok Madhav, a scientist by profession, has painstakingly composed songs in the 72 melakartas. The vocalisation of these creations by M.S. Sheela is a good effort and engages one’s attention. It is a Herculean task for the composer and singer to have composed and sung these 72 songs. The task of the listener, which needs undiluted concentration to listen to these compositions at a stretch, is equally Herculean.

The songs covered in this twin disc pack are not rendered in the order of the melakarta scheme commencing from Kanakangi and ending with Rasikapriya. They cover a mixture of suddha and prati madhyama compositions with 36 songs in each disc. This is appreciable as one can savour the individual hues of the melodies without a sense of confusion while listening to the renderings.

The languages covered by the composer are Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu and Kannada. The songs are in praise of the various deities of the Hindu pantheon. A composition in praise of sage Narada is also offered in raga Ganamurthy.

Sheela with her crystal clear voice has put in a dedicated effort in the rendition of these compositions. Her singing is fluent and there is clarity in the handling of the vivadhi notes. Solfa passages are sung for a few compositions such as the ones in Lathangi, Kamavardhini and Dharmavathi.

The swaras rendered at ‘Sada Sangitha Rasika’ in the Dharmavathi composition engages the listener’s attention and is appealing.

A madhyamakala sahitya appendage features in the Sankarabharanam composition on Lord Siva and a chittaswaram finds a place in the Bhavapriya number. The use of namavalis is predominant in the compositions particularly in the Sanskrit ones. The namavalis employed figure in the compositions of earlier composers and abundantly in the various ashtothrams, sahasranamams and slokas on various deities.

Lyrical expression

The lyrical expression of the composer is to a greater degree in his Tamil and Kannada compositions when compared with his Sanskrit creations.

While the raga names are woven into the lyrics, in certain compositions their appropriateness is debatable. For instance in the Subhapantuvarali composition the pallavi lyric runs as ‘Shumbasura Mardhini Mahakali Subhapantuvarali.’

The usage of the name of the raga ‘Subhapantuvarali’ to denote the Goddess is not very apt.

Appreciable instrumental accompaniment has been provided by Nalina Mohan and Charulatha Ramanujam on the violin. Mridangam accompaniment is by Anoor Anantakrishna Sarma and H. S. Sudheendra. The ghatam players are Narayanaswamy and Giridhar Uduppa while M. Gururaj has accompanied on the morsing.

The composer’s mudhra (signature) ‘Bharani’ appears in most of the compositions. These compositions will kindle the attention and interest of music lovers who have a penchant for vivadhi ragas in particular.

Melakarta Ganamalika

Hamsadhwani Creations, Bangalore

M.S. Sheela

Carnatic vocal MP3 (Price: Rs.200)



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