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The first time I came across the phrase 'graha bheda' was in a book called Sangeetha Darpana by Prof. Ramaratnam. For someone who exactly knew the aarohana and avarohana of three or four raagas, a detailed discussion of graha bheda, it's possibilities and limitations were too much to swallow. What? Getting Kalyani from Shankarabharana and todi?
Luckily, I had the luxury of having my grandma's old harmonium at my disposal.
Dasara of 2012 is just over. In the past few years, I’d written series of music-based articles in my web spaces, in English, and in Kannada. This year, I was planning out another thematic series along the same lines during the festival but it ended up just being a plan. Or if I look at the brighter side, yay! it’s an opportunity for next year’s Navaratri! Just the case of seeing the glass half-full or half-empty I guess
Last couple years, I also posted some of my musical compositions on my blog around the Navaratri time. You can visit those posts from 2009 (Nasamani), 2010 (Ranjani) and 2011 (Bindumalini) by clicking the hyperlinks.
This year, I’m not posting a brand new composition, but am posting an updated one! Earlier this year, I’d composed a swarajati in the rAga Kamavardhini (also called as Ramakriya and somewhat incorrectly as Pantuvarali). You can listen to the swarajati here, sung by my friend “IndianMusicFan“.
Thanks to the Samskirtam group on Facebook, I met Sri Mahesh Bhat, who recently wrote a very beautiful lyric for this swarajati, just in time for Dasara 2012. Here it goes:
तव मृदुलम् पदयुगलम् मम शरणम् शिवे जननि
तव मृदुलम् पदयुगलम् मम शरणम् परशिवे जननि
तव मृदुलम् पदयुगलम् मम शरणम् जय परशिवे जननि ॥ पल्लवि॥
कल्याणानाम् वितरणि पापे मयि ते करुणा भवतु ॥॥
ईशनायिके लोकपालिके इन्द्रवन्द्य पदसरसिज लसिते
दितिसुत गजगण विदलनचतुरे सदा निवस मम हृदि गुहजननि ॥१॥
कुवलय दलसम सुरुचिर नयने निरुपम परिमलयुत मधुचषके
अतिधवल – रजतगिरि – वरनिलये कलशजनुते मधुमथनसोदरि ॥२॥
पायसमुदिते मधुरहसिते जनिमृतिहरसुधे कलिमलहरणि ॥३॥
संसारे परमविषमे संतापो दहति हृदयम्
एहि त्वम् तुहिनगिरिजे तापम् मे शमय ललिते
नीरागमतिरायातु मयि वेदादिनय संस्तुत चरिते
नाकलोकशोकहारिसुबले चारुचंद्रभासमान चिकुरे! ॥४॥
If you are interested in the notation along with sAhitya, click this link: A Swarajati in Kamavardhini
Finally here is a video slideshow from the “Bombe Habba” at our home during Dasara 2012:
Rajyotsava. Novermber 1st. A day no Kannadiga would forget. Last year, on Rajyotsava, I posted this video of Vidwan Ragavan Manian singing a varna in Kannada language that I composed. That varna had the sAhitya taken from a well known vacana of Basavanna – ನಾದಪ್ರಿಯ ಶಿವನೆಂಬರು. You can click here for the notation of that varNa in rAga nAgaswarAvaLi.
This year too, I am posting another composition of mine which I did a while ago, since it has gone through some “quality testing”! This too is a varna with lyrics in Kannada. No audio or video this time, because I don’t have one worthy of posting :-).
This varNa in rAga Madhuvanti, and set to Adi tALa. And, this time, the sAhitya lines are mine, although indirectly, they are inspired by a shloka of Bilvamangala in his classic Krishna Karnamrta.
Varnas generally have very limited sAhitya, and often have romantic themes. This one is also not an exception, and you could think the lines as being said by one gopika girl of Gokula to another.
ಗೋಕುಲವೆಲ್ಲಾ ಕೊಳಲಿನ ಇನಿದನಿಯಲಿ ತುಂಬಿದನೇ ||
gOkulavellA koLalina inidaniyali tumbidanE
(Translation: He filled Gokula with the melodies his flute)
ಅನುಪಲ್ಲವಿ: ಆಕಳ ಮಂದೆಯ ಕಾಯುತ ಗೋಪಿಯರ ತಾನು ಗೆಲಿದನೇ || ಗೋಕುಲವೆಲ್ಲಾ||
AkaLa mandeya kAyuta gOpiyarellare gelidanE
(Translation: The cowherd, won over the hearts of all gopis)
ಚರಣ: ಮಾತೇ ಮಧುವಂತಿದೆ! ಸಖೀ, ಇವನ || ಮಾತೇ||
mAtE madhuvantide! sakhi ! ivana || mAte||
(Translation: His speech is like honey! Oh my dear!)
The charaNa line was totally my imagination, to include rAga name “madhuvanti”
Here is the notation of the Varna for those interested:
A-Varna-in-Madhuvanti (Kannada version)
A-Varna-in-Madhuvanti (Notation in English)
I figure it is better to post the this video of Navaratri celebration at our home – since Deepavali is around the corner already!
Rarely does one come across a scholar who is well versed in all aspects related to music: lakshya, lakshaNa and the associated lyrical aspects. And it was the fortune of the listeners at South India Fine Arts Spring Festival (SIFA) to see one such scholar- Dr T S Sathyavathi.
‘Aesthetics in Muttuswamy Dikshita’s Compositions’ was the topic Vidushi T S Sathyavathi had chosen for her demonstration lecture at SIFA. She introduced aesthetics from the Indian perspective, as the essential aspect of art which elevates the listener from a lower stratum to a higher stratum. During her lec-dem, she illustrated this through various compositions of Muttuswamy dIkshita.
The first composition she chose for rendition was a kriti on Ganapati, very aptly – ‘pancha mAntanga mukha gaNapatiA’ in raaga Malahari. She illustrated how the instrumental case in the sahitya is used to connect various phrases in the charaNa, back to the pallavi enhancing the meaning. She also showed how various details of the deity on which the composition is composed is captured in the sahitya, leaving no doubt as to the identity of the kshetra. Through various phrases used in the composition, she illustrated how the raga develops as the composition progresses. She pointed out the subtle swarakshara usage in this composition.
She also alluded to the refrain of many musicians that it is very hard to take liberty with MD’s compositions. Although this is somewhat true, she showed how Muttuswamy Dikshita provides a great framework for any rAga he has composed in.The unambiguous clarity with which Muttuswamy Dikshita treats ragas in his compositions, in her opinion, forms the basis on which later day composers have built grand compositions. She sang some parts of his Saveri kriti, ‘kari kalabha mukham’, showing how the difference between Malahari & Saveri are shown right in the opening phrases of these two compositions.
She next took the sAma composition – ‘guruguhAya bhaktAnugrahAya’ drawing audience attention to the short rishabha and dhaivata, the widely oscillating madhyama in this raga – and indicated how the corpus of sancharas the composer has shown in this composition (and other compositions) could be used as a framework for a detailed elaboration of any ragas he has composed in. She pointed out how Muttuswamy Dikshita has woven a beautiful chitte swara for this composition that includes a beautiful asymmetry in symmetry, including different laya patterns.
The next raga under consideration was Brindavana Saranga. Vidushi Satyavathi sang ‘soundara rAjam Ashraye’ very beautifully describing interesting features of the sAhitya such as the Adi prAsa, antya prAsa, and interesting aspects like the caressing kaishiki nishada which is the hallmark of this delicate raga. She illustrated the differences in the treatment of nishada and rishabha in this rAga to other ragas such as Sri and Madhyamavati as well.
The last composition, the grand chaturdasha ragamalika – ‘srI vishwanatham bhajeham’ was indeed a treat to listen to. Vidushi Sathyavathi went into the details of each of the ragas in his gem of a composition showing how the sahtitya is woven to include the raga name for each raga in each segment (ragamudre), and how a modified phrase using the raga name is used as an adjective in the very next line enhancing the beauty of the sahitya, and how the key phrases of each raga are shown within a the short segment allocated to each raga.
Vidushi Sathyavathi concluded with saying that Muttuswamy Dikshita used both his heart and art in his compositions. With her scholarly presentation, the listeners at SIFA could very well appreciate that. She was very ably assisted by Vidwan T S Krishnamurthy on the violin and Vidwan Shriram Brahmanandam on the Mrdanga.