The first name that comes to mind when I hear the phrase  ‘Vivaadi Raga’ it is that of Sri S Rajam who passed away last week. He was best known for very aesthetic renditions of ‘vivaadi ragas’ (so-called dissonant melodies) which need a very balanced and delicate handling-  making him no doubt the ‘King of Vivaadi’.

Sri S Rajam will be remembered for his mastery over paintings. In fact, we can surely say he was the one who ‘brought to life’  composers like Tyagaraja by his paintings!

Here is a slide show I put together – with some of  his paintings  (all taken from the internet) and in the background, listen to a  rendering Muttuswami Dikshita‘s  composition ‘kalAvati kamalAsana yuvati’ in rAga kalAvati, (One of the vivAdi-est of vivAdi ragas, so to say!) by, who else, Sri S Rajam.

Thanks to the good folks of  from where I got this beautiful rendition several years ago.

Click here for the sAhitya of the song. Notice how Muttuswamy Dikshita refers Saraswathi as ‘murAri snushA’ – daughter-in-law of Vishnu. Reminds me of Purandara Dasa’s composition on Saraswathi- SharaNembe vANi poreye kalyANi where he refers to Saraswati in a similar way.  Now, these comparisons could be the topic for another post, and I’ll stop right here!