Music

Tyagaraja-Radha

It is one school of thought that bhakti, absolute devotion to Sri Rama, was the fountainhead of the songs of Sri Tyagaraja and hence analysing them for technical merit may not be appropriate. But it has to be acknowledged that in the music of Tyagaraja, we find a perfect amalgamation of tradition and innovation. The fertility of imagination and variety, richness and grace in the formation of compositions has opened up endless vistas for the music explorer.

Among the various musical forms, we see that Tyagaraja opted to compose only the kirtana and kriti and in his hands, the kriti grew to become truly magnificent in its structure. Tyagaraja has used the kriti to give maximum melodic expression. The charm of his compositions is in the use of medium tempo, fewer words in the Maatu, employment of easy flowing time measure and above all, a very clear picture of the raga which is depicted in an impressive manner.

Tyagraja’s handling of Apoorva ragas - Umabharanam, Chandrajyoti, Kiranavali, Jayantasri, Bindumalini, Sudhasimantini - served to immortalise them. Again, major ragas like Todi, Bhairavii, Kalyani, Kambodi, Sankarabharanam have found different facets of expression in his kritis.

Tyagaraja is the supreme architect of the kriti form, giving it the Pallavi, Anupallavi and Charanam template. The music of the Anupallavi is generally repeated in the latter part of the Charanam. Example – Banturiti (Hamsanadam) where we see that the tune of the entire Anupallavi i.e “tuṇṭa viṇṭivani modalaina madadula koṭṭi nela kula jeyu nija” gets repeated in the latter part of the Charanam - “Rama namamane varakhadgamivi, rajillu nayya thyagaraju nike.” Other examples include Marugelara (Jayantasri), Ramakatha sudharasa ( Madhyamavati). This form of the kriti with three parts has been adopted by many later composers including Papanasam Sivan, Patnam Subramanya Iyer, Mysore Sadasiva Rao and Kotiswara Iyer.

Tyagaraja was a trend setter in employing sangatis in each kriti with a view to unfolding in the logical sequence of the melody, the multiple layers of the raga employed. For instance, ‘Etavunara’ in Kalyani raga where the first line of the Pallavi has six sangatis. Other classic examples are ‘Chakkani raja’ (Karaharapriya) and ‘Darini thelusu konti’ (Sudhasaveri).

A mention must also be made of the Desadi tala which has been profusely used by Thyagaraja. The special beauty of compositions is the symmetrical construction of the Purvanga and Uttaranga. In the

Desadi form of kriti, there are two assertive pauses – one falling exactly in the centre of the tala as the Padagarbha and another in the beginning of the tala. There are many examples of this format - ‘Brovabharama’ (Bahudari), ‘Marugelara’ (Jayantasri), ‘Makelara’ (Ravichandrika).

The most significant contribution of Tyagaraja, however, is the variety in form that he has introduced in kritis. Let us examine some types:-

Kriti with Pallavi, Anupallavi and Charanam where the tune of the anupallavi gets repeated in the latter part of the charanam. Example – ‘Etavunara’ (Kalyani), ‘Ramabhirama’ (Durbar).

Kriti with Pallavi, Anupallavi and Charanam where the tune of the Anupallavi and Charanam are not similar. Example – ‘Sri Ganapatini’ (Sourashtram), ‘O Rangasayi’ (Khambodi).

Kriti with Pallavi, Anupallavi and multiple charanams, where all the charanams are sung in the same tune. Example – ‘Etijanma mithi haa’ (Varali), ‘Swararaga sudha’ (Sankarabharanam) which have four charanas.

Kriti with Pallavi and several Charanams, all in different tunes. Example – ‘Brochevarevare’ (Sriranjani) and ‘Sri Raguvara’ (Khambodi).

Kriti with Pallavi, Anupallavi and several Charanams where the Charanams follow the swara-sahithya pattern. To this special class belongs the Ghanaraga Pancharathnams.

The kirtana form, which is ideally suitable for congregational singing because of its simple and repetitive structure, also blossomed in the hands of Tyagaraja. Classic examples of these are the Divyanama kirtanas and Utsava Sampradaya kirtanas.

By investing the kriti with a multi faceted form, especially the deployment of sangatis in adherence to the raga bhava and artha bhava Tyagaraja set the trend. A solid foundation had been laid for the music which was to come later.

(The writer is a musician & Musicologist)

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Printable version | May 7, 2021 6:59:13 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/music/tyagaraja-the-trendsetter/article8590101.ece

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