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The stats on ಅಲ್ಲಿದೆ ನಮ್ಮ ಮನೆ indicated today was the day with the highest number of hits in the last 7+ years! A quick look showed most of the people were searching for the phrase “Kannada Rajyostava” reached my post from 3 years ago. It’s then I found that I never posted an audio of the Varna (my composition in Raga Madhuvanti) that I promised to do in that post.
Anyway, let me cut the chaff. A Varna is a musical composition that generally has a romantic theme, and the words go as a conversation between two friends, where in the nAyika is telling about her lover to her friend. Varnas are set to music such that they give a very good overview of the various musical phrases any given raga accommodates. Generally sung at the beginning of a concert in multiple speeds, a Varna is often employed by performers as a quick way of ‘getting to the form’ when on stage.
The lyrics of a large number of Varnas are in Telugu, but that does not mean there aren’t any Varnas with words in other languages such as Kannada, Tamizh or Samskrta. Since this is Kannada Rajyotsava, I am sharing a Varna I composed, with it’s sahitya lines in Kannada.
True to the style of Varnas, the lyrics stick to a romantic format. The Varna is in raga Madhuvanti, a northern import to Karnataka sangeeta, and is set to 2 kaLe Adi tALa. The lines are are inspired by a shloka of Bilvamangala in his classic Krishna Karna Karnamrta.
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” (technically called the ragamudre),
You can listen to a recording of the Varna, played on the flute by Vidwan Vijay Kannan:
For those of you interested in the notation, click the following links:
A-Varna-in-Madhuvanti (Kannada version)
A-Varna-in-Madhuvanti (Notation in English)
ಎಲ್ಲ ಕನ್ನಡಿಗರಿಗೂ ಕನ್ನಡ ರಾಜ್ಯೋತ್ಸವದ ಶುಭಾಶಯಗಳು!
Today is 9/29/2014 – The sixth day of Navaratri. The first five days of the festival, I wrote a about a composition praising the Goddess whom we worship during Navaratri , and also wrote some notes about the composer of that composition. Today also, I am going to do just that.
The influence of Tyagaraja and his lineage of students to current day’s Karnataka sangeeta is immense. During his lifetime, Tyagaraja taught a good number of disciples. Often there are differences in how some kritis are handled in the traditions of Umayalpuram, Thillaisthanam and Walajapet traditions ( termed so because of the major disciples who hailed from these places.
There was also a disciple by name Rama Iyer from the town of Lalgudi. This town , downstream on the Kaveri river, on which Tiruvaiyyaru where Tyagaraja lived stands has a temple dedicated to Saptarshishwara & his consort Srimathi ( a form of Shiva and Parvati). Tyagaraja visited this town and stayed with his disciple for a few days, and at that time he composed a set of five beautifyk compositions about these deities, which have come to be known as Lalgudi Pancharatna Kritis.
Lalgudi Rama Iyer trained his son Radhakrishnan to be a violinist. In an earlier post, you’ve read how the violin was adapted to play Karnataka sangeeta by Baluswamy Dikshita, the younger brother of Muttuswamy Dikshita. And two generations later, Radhakrishnan’s grandson Jayaraman became one of the greatest violinists the world has ever seen.
Lalgudi G Jayaraman, or LGJ or just plain Lalgudi, as he is called by his millions of fans, passed away in 2013. But his music, in the form of numerous recordings and compositions remain with us. LGJ has composed a number of excellent compositions, many of which have become very popular.
A Tillana is a composition that is primarily composed for dance – so generally only the charana does have any words. This Tillana in Raga Mand, that I chose to share today has the sahitya lines about Goddess Gowri. The raga is a 20th century import from Hindustani, and is considered a minor raga. There are only a few compositions exist in this raga, but it is a very pleasant and bright raga!
Listen to the beautiful Tillana in raga Mand, composed by LGJ and played on the mandolin by U Srinivas:
Who hasn’t heard of Kalidasa’s opening verse from Raghuvamsha that shows how inseparable Shiva and Shakti, that goes as follows?
वागर्थाविव सम्पृक्तौ वागर्थ प्रतिपत्तयॆ |
जगतः पितरौ वन्दे पार्वती परमेश्वरौ ॥
(Picture taken from : http://satyamshivamsundaram.blogspot.com/2010/10/art-indian-but-not-in-india.html)
vAgarthAviva samprktau vAgartha pratipattayE
jagataH pitarau vandE pArvatI paramEshvarau
(Veneration to the parents of the world, Parvati and Parameshwara
Who remain inseparable as the word, and it’s meaning )
Here is the Kannada translation of the same verse, which I had written a while ago:
ತಲೆವಾಗುವೆ ನಾ ಶಿವಶಿವೆಗೆ
ಜಗದಲಿ ಎಲ್ಲರ ಹೆತ್ತವರ;
ಮಾತಿಗೆ ಬೆಸೆದಿಹ ಹುರುಳಂತೆ
When I was thinking about this verse, I was also reminded of couple of earlier translations about Shiva and Shakti which I had done(You can find them here and here). Then I ended up reading a few more verses about Shiva in the subhashita compilation called “Subhashita Ratna Bhandagara” (This is available on Google Books for those of you interested! Yay! )
Among the verses, I found the following verse very interesting:
च्युतं इन्दोर्लेखं रतिकलहभग्नम् च वलयं
द्वयं चक्रीकृत्य प्रहसितमुखी शैलतनया
अवोचद् यं पश्येत्यवतु स शिवः सा च गिरिजा
स च क्रीडाचन्द्रो दशनकिरणापूरिततनुः ||
chyutAm indorlekhAM ratikalahabhagnaM cha valayaM
dvayaM chakrIkRRitya prahasitamukhI shailatanayA |
avochad yaM pashyetyavatu sa shivaH sA cha girijA
sa cha krIDAchandro dashanakiraNApUritatanuH || (Vidyakara: 47)||
(Original source of the shloka is likely Vidyakara’s compilation called Subhashita Ratna Kosha – who in turn may have taken it from another earlier source )
Here is my translation of this verse in Kannada:
ಇರುಳಿನಪ್ಪುಗೆಯಲೊಡೆದ ಕಡಗವನು ಉರುಳಿ ಹೋಗಿದ್ದ ಎಳೆಯ ಚಂದಿರನ
ಜೊತೆಗೆ ಸೇರಿಸುತ ಬಳೆಯ ಮಾಡುತಲಿ ಗಿರಿಜೆ ಶಿವನೆಡೆಗೆ ನಗುತ “ನೋಡಿಲ್ಲಿ”
ಎನುತ ಬಾಯ್ದೆರೆಯೆ ಅವಳ ಹಲ್ಲುಗಳಕಾಂತಿಯನ್ನೆಲ್ಲ ತನ್ನ ಮೈದುಂಬಿ
ಹೊಳೆವ ಚಂದಿರನು ಜೊತೆಗೆ ಶಿವಶಿವೆಯ ಸೇರಿ ಕಾಪಿಡಲಿ! ನಮ್ಮ ಕಾಪಿಡಲಿ!
(Although it is not a verbatim translation, I hope I have captured the essence of the verse)
The musician/composer G.N.Balasubramaniam, popularly known as GNB passed away on May 1st, 1965. And on this day it is quite appropriate that I am thinking and writing about Shiva-Shakti! GNB was an innovator, and he composed in some ragas that he brought to life. The raga Shiva Shakti was also one such raga. He has a very catchy composition this rare raga:
You can listen to this composition by Smt P Ramaa here in this YouTube video link.
Sometime ago, I had composed a swarajati in this raga, and I thought it was appropriate to share it with the readers on this day of remembering the great GNB:
Please listen to this composition! Feel free to post your thoughts about the composition either on this post or on the MixCloud track.
Today is the first day of Vasanta – the spring season. Although spring can’t arrive in an instant, for the calendar, we need to have an official start of spring, and that is the Vernal equinox. From today, the days get longer everyday, till the summer solstice. In India, spring is associated with koels singing in mango trees, and the smell of jasmine flowers.
In California, there is no dearth of flowers during spring!
Unfortunately, there aren’t that many singing birds. But to make up for that deficiency, I’m posting here a recording – of my composition, sung beautifully by “Arvind”.
Arvind, is known as IndianMusicFan on Twitter world, and his website is http://www.aboutindianmusic.com/
Click on the play button to listen to the composition.
The composition is in rAga kAmavardhini, that is also known by other names as Kashi Ramakriya & Pantuvarali. You can read why this rAga has so many names, in this old post here.
Your feedback & comments on the composition are welcome!
Since the music season is upon us, here is old one: a list of tweets I’ve been posted on Twitter earlier.
A few of them may be lame, some of them repeats but hopefully good for a read!
I should acknowledge some of these are from my ideas of my friends too.
Some knowledge of Samskrta and/or Kannada might help.
Q: Name a raga that is liked by male snakes
A: PunnaagavarALi ’ಪು’ನ್ನಾಗವರಾಳಿ
Q: Name a raga that is sung by snakes
Q: Name one raga that can be played even in a ‘broken’ instrument?
A: ‘bhinna’ shaDja
Q: Which raga is the favorite for hypnotists?
Q: Which is a raga that might be liked by a street seller?
A: ‘mAruva’ dhanyAsi ’cause it has the word ‘sell’ in it :
Q: Which is the best raga to sing on November 1st?
Q: Which raga is best to sing in a Court?
Q: Which raga is very aptly sung during the Fall season?
Q: Which raga is apt to sing in the spring season ?
Q:Which is the best raga to sing on a road?
A: bahu’dAri’ ಬಹು’ದಾರಿ’
Q: What is a really funny tALa?
A:Mathya tALa, Because it goes like: LOL. One laghu (l),one drta(o), followed by laghu(l) (Courtesy @p6)
Q: Which raga most film makers can’t do without?
Q: Which is the raga bore well diggers sing?
Q: Which raga do folks from Norway, Sweden or Iceland wish for during their long winter days?
Q:Which is the favorite raga for KPC (Karnataka Power Corportation) employees?
Q: Which is the raga liked by those working in armed forces?
A: Senagrani, a.k.a. Senapati/Senavati
Q: Which raga do theater artists like best ?
A: Nataka Priya
Q: Which raaga do school teachers hate most?
Q: ಚಿಕ್ಕಮಗಳೂರಿನಲ್ಲಿ ಹೆಚ್ಚಾಗಿ ಕೇಳಿಬರೋ ರಾಗ ಯಾವುದು? Which is the raga often heard in Chikkamagalooru town?
A: ಕಾಪಿ Kaapi
(Chikkamagalooru is a big producer of Coffee in India)
Q: Which is the favorite raga of thieves?
Q: Name two ragas observational astronomers dislike most?
A: Suryakanta, Purnachandrika
Q: Which raga amateur astronomers hate most?
Q: Which raga does a high school physics teacher like most?
(Andolika = pendulum)
Q: Which raga do they sing at an Ayyangar Bakery?
Q: Name 3 of the most favorite ragas for astronomers?
A: mangaLakaishiki, budhamanohari, gurupriya
Q: Which raga did P T Usha listen to before her athletic events?
Q: Why was the musician’s wife angry?
Q:Because he sang “ni mama dapa, ni mapa dapa, nee dapa’
( for non-kannadigas – this means “your mom is obese, your dad is obese, you’re obese)
Q: Which is the favourite raga of ENT specialists ?
A: There are two : Karnaranjani and Nasikabhooshani
Q: Which raaga did Gouthama Buddhya sing in Bodh Gaya under the pipal tree?
A: “Calm” Bodhi
Q: Which ragas does Abhinav Bhindra listen to before his gold medal?
A: Mararanjani, Charukeshi, Sarasangi, Harikambhoji, Shankarabharana & Naganandini ( May be a bit technical)
Q: Which is the best raga to sing on a solar eclipse day?
Q: Name the most favored raga at Procter and Gamble?
Q: Which ragas should not be sung by people suffering from allergies, asthma etc?
A: Vasantha, hindolavasanta, vasantabhairavi etc
Q: Which are Shiva’s favorite ragas?
A: Gouri and Gangatarangini
If you haven’t read earlier, here is an old post of mine, with my memories of a music season I attended.
Lot of water has flown through Kaveri, but I am glad some things have not changed!
Enjoy the music season.