Tag Archives: carnatic

Concert in Chicago

Dancing with Krishna

Dasa Sahitya refers to the songs composed by the devotees of Krishna or Hari in Kannada. The word “dasa” means servant and the Haridasas (servants of Hari) spread the word of God through their musical compositions.
Here is a composition of PrasannaTheerth in the form of a ragamalika.

Supporting the Arts

It was billed as an informal panel discussion. When rasikas (those who love classical music) get together, conversations can easily go down one of several well-trod paths – depending on the people present. Many deteriorate to barely disguised gossip sessions, some griping about what ails Carnatic music and a few into constructive exploration of what positive change can be wrought. Read the rest of the article in Sruti here.

Story of Rama

Drinking the nectar-like story of Rama is equivalent to ruling a kingdom.

This is the essence of Tyagaraja’s song “Ramakatha sudha rasa” in the raga Madhyamavati. Recently when I was invited to give a concert on Tyagaraja’s compositions, my biggest challenge was the sheer breadth of choice of songs that the composer’s prolific output offered! Tyagaraja’s compositions stand out for their lyrical simplicity and depth of emotion. Raga Madhyamavati is considered an auspicious raga and usually sung at the conclusion of a concert. However, “Ramakatha” is a slow-paced song that is often presented as a main piece, as I did in my concert. The lines “Bamamani janaki soumitri” from the anupallavi of the song, describe Sita as “a gem among women” and has ample scope for neraval. Here is a rendition of “Ramakatha” by stalwart Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dL9m0tKBJ8w

Jonpuri – Raga Ruminations

When Tamil poet Mahakavi Bharatiyar despaired that he’d forgotten the face of his beloved (Kannan or Lord Krishna in this case) his words left a deep impression on his fans. Bharatiyar’s imagination resulted in the epic song, Aasai mugam marandhu poche in raga Jonpuri. The first time I heard the song on stage by Carnatic vocalist D.K.Jayaraman I was transfixed by the lyrics, the melody and the singer’s presentation.

Jonpuri is a melody that takes you on a jaunty ride. It’s heard in lighter classical pieces towards the end of a concert. In another popular Tamil song Eppo Varuvaro set to the same raga, the composer Gopalakrishna Bharathi describes a yearning for Lord Shiva (Nataraja) to appear before him. I cannot think of anyone but Carnatic vocalist Madurai Mani Iyer when I listen to this song and the flair with which the maestro concludes the finishing notes.

This raga has been heard in several Tamil movies. In the movie “Ashok Kumar”(1941), the actor/singer M.K.Tyagaraja Bhagavathar sings Sathva Guna Bodhan  in raga Jonpuri and the notes are similar to Eppo Varuvaro. The actors then were also trained in classical music.

The song “Inji Iduppazhagi” by Illayaraja from the  movie “Devar Magan” is loosely based on this raga.

For Hindustani music aficionados, Jonpuri belongs to the Asavari thaat. I did find traces of the raga in an old rendition by Gangubai Hangal. Do listen and let me know what you think.

For those who want details, raga Jonpuri is a derivative of the 20th Melakartha raga Natabhairavi and the notes are SR2M1PD1N2 SN2D1PM1G2R2S.

Sama – Raga Ruminations

It’s not often that I think about what a raga makes me feel. Yet to explain to someone else the feeling of tranquillity that arises within me when I listen to raga Sama is not easy. When I’m stressed I find myself humming a few notes of the raga in my head. Raga Sama is meditative, devoid of fireworks and helps me calm down.  The raga is usually presented at a gentle pace without much fanfare and shorn of embellishments such as gamaka. The beauty of the raga is embellished by the use of long pauses and appropriate turn of phrases by experienced performers and allows the listener to easily experience the essence of this melody.

Carnatic songs in this raga include Annapurna Vishalakshi (Dikshithar), Santamu lekha (Tyagaraja), Manasa Sancharare (Sadashiva Brahmendra), Narayana Nalinayatha lochana (Papanasam Sivan).

For those of you, who like details –Raga Sama is a janya of the raga Shankarabharanam, the 29th mela (parent) raga. The scale for this raga is as follows SR2M1PD2 SD2PM1G3R2

I don’t think there is a Hindustani raga that corresponds to the raga Sama.

The best way to understand a raga is to listen to different musicians presenting it in their own inimitable style. For newbies, it serves as a basic exercise for identifying ragas.  After a while you can pinpoint the name of the raga when the first few notes waft through the air. 

Listen to Vani Jayaraman sing Manasa Sancharare in the movie Shankarabharanam.

There has been a lot of research on the therapeutic role of ragas but to me it’s simple. In the words of Carnatic great Tyagaraja from his song, Santamu lekha – “without peace of mind there is no comfort and joy.” Raga Sama makes me appreciate all the finer things in life.

Click here for a playlist that I’ve collated for the raga. Listen. Feel. Rejoice.

Jugalbandhi #jb Carnatic and Hindustani ragas

This last week, I got introduced to Twitter and have begun posting a Raaga-a-day. Truth to be told, I have probably learnt more than my (slowly) growing tribe of Twitter followers. Am still learning to express myself in 140 characters. Given how much fun I am having with this, I reckoned I should try and expand my horizons. So starting today I’ll tweet about one raga common to Hindustani and Carnatic music in my new jugalbandhi series with the hashtags #jb #raaga

The first jugalbandhi pair we can look at is Shankarabharanam, one of the big five ghana raagas in the Carnatic tradition and Bilawal (sung in the late hours of the morning) in the Hindustani tradition. Both  run as SR2G3M1PD2N3 SN3D2PM1G3R2 with their jiva swaras G,M,P,N. Here are two good videos of Shankarabaranam (Vijay Siva) and Bilawal (Ustad Ghulam Hasan Khan Shaggan).  Students of Hindustani music begin their basic training exercises with Bilawal.