Distinguishing aspects of allied ragas discussed

S. A. K. Durga

S. A. K. Durga  

"MUSIC IS an entertainment in all the other nations, but in India, it fills the soul, is pleasing and divine."

The above words of T. K. Govinda Rao were approved of whole-heartedly during his lecture demonstration on the distinguishing features of allied ragas.

Rajalakshmi Fine Arts, had recently organised a series of lecture demonstrations as part of its annual music and dance festival at Nani Palkhiwala Auditorium, Coimbatore.

The organisers had selected those ragas which are usually confused and the veteran musician used his long and rich experience to throw light on their characteristics.

Some of the ragas that were taken up that day were: Arabhi-Devagandhari, Pushpalathika-Manirangu, Anandabhairavi-Reetigowla, Pantuvarali-Poorvikalyani, Punnagavarali-Ganta, Bilahari-Desakshi, and Sahana-Dwijawanti and Mayamalava gowla-Nadanamakriya.

He explained the differences by singing the aarohanas and avarohanas, as well as a few swaras.

On the first day, Radha Bhaskar spoke on "Mudras in Carnatic Music."

Defining mudra as the signature of the composer, she elaborated on Swanama Mudras (one's own name) and Ithara Nama Mudras (other names).

Saint Tyagaraja and Purandaradasar were two of the most significant composers who used their own name as their mudras. Muthuswami Dikshithar used `Guruguha' as his mudra and wove it beautifully into the sahitya, unobtrusively blending it with the meaning.

Sriram Parasuram

Sriram Parasuram  

She dealt in great detail about the various kinds of mudras such as Ragamudra, Thalamudra, Rajamudra, Prabhanda mudra, Kshetra mudra and Grahamudra.

She also sang many of the compositions of the prominent composers by way of illustration which was a pleasure to listen to.

S. A. K. Durga, spoke on voice culture the next day. According to her, voice culture had three aspects, physiology, physics and psychology. Good music is created when the voice, a physiological organ, produces the sound at the correct pitch, with appropriate emotions.

She pointed out that breath is the source of energy while singing and so breath control plays a vital role in voice culture. It was gratifying to learn from her that no voice is a good or bad voice and with proper voice culture any voice can sound better.

Taking Padam as her subject, Reetha Rajan elaborated on the origin and development of padams. She stated that in a padam, the anupallavi is the brightest and the charanams are quite serene. Padachcheda (splitting of the word) in padams was a unique feature adding to their charm, and as padams flow continuously, the singer needs enormous breath control, she said.

Sriram Parasuram's lecture demonstration was on how the ragas are formed in Carnatic and Hindustani Music. While in Carnatic, the ragas revolve round the melakarthas and sapthaswaras, in Hindustani, the raga's form is allowed to seep into the learner.

Radha Bhaskar

Radha Bhaskar  

Ragas are formed mainly in two ways: Misra (combined) and Vakra (disjunct). He went into great lengths into the formation of various ragas and sang the relevant ragas, swaras and even keerthanas.

His excellent diction, enviable mastery over the subject and rich voice made his lecture truly enjoyable.

While talking on Pallavi, Vedavalli described it as a drop in the ocean of manodharma. She explained that ragam has only syllables, thalam includes the layam, while Pallavi is completely controlled by the thalam.

For pallavi, eduppu, aruthi and kaarvai are important, she said. She reminded the students of music that pallavi should not have too many words as they will be troublesome at the time of niraval.

V. V. Srivatsa's lecture reflected his depth of knowledge and the extent of his research. While talking about the five lingas representing the five elements - Prithivilingam (earth) - Kanchipuram, Appulingam (Water) -Thinuvanaikka, Tejolingam (fire) Thiruvannamalai, Vayulingam (Wind) - Sree Kalahasthi and Akashalingam (sky) - Chidambaram, he sang every song and explained every word. His discourse was packed with interesting and useful information as also delectable stories.

Suguna Purushottaman, armed with her extensive mastery over the thalas, spoke on the difficult thalas like Lakshmeesam (25 aksharas), Simmanandhana Thalam (128 aksharas), Sarabhandana Thalam (79 aksharas) and Chaturmukha thalam with 28 aksharas. When she demonstrated dwithalam, (two different thalams for the same song) for the Thiruppugazh, Marugulaviya Malaranai, there was a loud applause. She took care to remind the musicians that the raga, sahitya and bhava should not be sacrificed on the altar of thalakkattu.

The lecture demonstration on the last day was on Mallari. S. M. Sundaram gave an excellent introduction to Mallari, and gave a lot of useful information such as Mallari is always played in Gambira Nattai as the raga stands for the Veera rasa. According to him, there are two major types of Mallari - Chinna Mallari and Periya Mallari.

While Chinna Mallari can be played on all days, Periya Mallari should be played only on specific days.

He spoke on Thriputa Mallari, Ther Mallari, Theertha Mallari and Thaligai Mallari. The nagaswaram party from Thanjavur played effectively bringing alive the tradition that is an inseparable part of temple festivals.


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