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Today is 9/30/2014, the seventh day of Navaratri. In yesterday’s post, I wrote about a composition of a 20th century composer. Today also,  I am thinking of sharing a composition from another 20th century musician.

It’s often said that the ragas are infinite – “ananta”. Practically speaking, there are only a few hundred ragas that are in currency at any point in time. But due to many reasons, some well known ragas go out from circulation and some ragas considered rare become very famous at some other point of time. This cycle has repeated in the past millennium, and I guess the trend will continue to the next as well.

Right from the 14th century there were attempts at classifying ragas into different groups, based on the notes used in those melodies. This is very similar to how elements (and their compounds) are organized in the Periodic table. This method helps to understand similarities, differences etc, There were many such systems of classification, the last of which came in around 1650 AD. In this classification, Venkatamakhi not only did classify the ragas that existed at his time, but also built a framework for classifying such ragas that were yet to be invented at that time. This framework is known as the 72 mELa scheme. A mELa is a collection of notes, and does not become a raga by itself; but it is possible to create a raga by building around these notes.

This scheme paved the way for later day composers to experiment with notes and come up with newer melodies. For example, Muttuswamy Dikshita composed in all the 72 mELa rAgas postulated as possible by Venkatamakhi. Tyagaraja composed in most of these 72, and he also came up with some more with some permutation and combination of notes used, by dropping notes. This method was a bit different from earlier times, when a raga was defined by the form and phrases used rather than just from the notes and the order of the notes that occur in.

In general, when a raga is solely defined by the notes it uses and skips and the order of those notes, it offers less scope for elaboration. However, over time, such ragas also can develop their own character, and thereby become more expansive and can fire the imagination of more composers to come up with compositions. We can see examples this happening to many of the new ragas that were brought to life by Tyagaraja.

Ranjani is one of the ragas that were “created” by Tyagaraja. He composed only one composition in this raga. This raga is quite popular today, and many later day composers have also contributed to it’s popularity. One such composer is GNB.

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G N Balasubramaniyan, better known as GNB was a star in the musical world of the 20th century. He was also a star on the silver screen, at a time when actors had to be good singers as well, and acted in several movies in the early 1940s. He has composed about 50 compositions and “Ranjani Niranjani”, praising the Goddess Parvati is one of his very popular compositions.

Now listen to this kriti played by Mandolin U Srinivas:

The composition ends at around time 28:00, but you you can’t stop there, you are not to blame! One can go on listening to the Mandolin magic no end!

Happy listening!

-neelanana

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Today is the eighth day of Navaratri. Durgashtami is celebrated on this day. The Swathi Tirunal composition that would be elaborated at Navaratri Mandapam is ‘Pahi janani santatam’ in raga Natakuranji. Listen to this composition sung by Amrutha Venkatesh, sung at the Navaratri Mandapam in 2008. Till quite recently, women did not perform in the Navaratri Mandapam concerts. Thankfully, that has changed now!

Here is another rendition of the same composition, by K V Narayanaswamy.

Thanks to my post yesterday, I am in a ‘ranjani’ mood! The raga ranjani is a contribution of Tyagaraja. It is one of the many ragas that sprang to life with his compositions. There are a number of ragas with end with the suffix ‘ranjani’. They are not related musically, though.

But how about making creating a garland of such ragas? The composition you are going to listen to is indeed a garland – a ragamalilke in four ragas – Ranjani, Sriranjani, Megharanjani and Janaranjani. Interestingly, each section also includes the name of the raga in the sahitya. This is a composition of Tanjavoor Sankara Iyer, and quite well known as ‘Ranjani Mala’ because that is what it is – A garland made of Ranjanis.

Tanjavoor Sankara Iyear, born in 1924, is a well known composer, and known as ‘Musician of musicians’. Ranjani Mala is one of his famous compositions.

If you can read Kannada, here is the composition in Kannada script. The song is in simple Samskrta, and there are nice chitte svaras after each raga.

ರಂಜನಿ ಮೃದು ಪಂಕಜ ಲೋಚನಿ

ಮಂಜು ಭಾಷಿಣಿ ಮನೋಲ್ಲಾಸಿನಿ ಮಂದಗಮನಿ ಶ್ರೀರಂಜನಿ

ಸಾಮಗಾನ ವಿನೋದಿನಿ ಶಶಾಂಕವದನಿ ಮೇಘರಂಜನಿ

ಪಾಮರಜನ ಪಾಲಿನಿ ಶೂಲಿನಿ ಪಾಪವಿಮೋಚನಿ ಜನರಂಜನಿ

Listen to Dr Nagavalli Nagaraj and Ranjani Nagaraj singing Ranjani Mala here:

Happy Durgashtami to all!

-neelanjana

Today is the seventh day of Navaratri. The composition of Swathi Tirunal that would be sung at Navaratri Mandapam is  ‘Janani pAhi sada’ in raaga Shuddha Saveri. The first six of the Navaratri Kritis of Swathi Tirunal are in praise of Saraswati, while the last three are in praise of Parvati. Listen to this composition by clicking here – sung by Sankaran Namboodiri.

In yesterday’s post  where the composition of the day was a varna, I also wrote about different beginner lessons that a student of Karnataka sangeetha learns. Swarajatis part of such lessons.  Today before presenting the ‘composition of the day’ I’d like to present you a swarajati which happens be a composition of my own :). It is set in rAga ranjani and in Adi tALa.

A Swarajati in Ranjani

Right now I have posted only the notation and hope to post a recording shortly.

For a PDF version, click here:  A Swarajati in Ranjani.

Please note while the notation says “italics indicate mandra sthAyi” it should have read “lower case indicates mandra sthaAyi”.

Click here to listen to another swarajati I composed last year.

Since the swarajati is in Ranjani, I would like to choose another comspoition in Ranjani for listening on the seventh day of Navaratri. The sahitya is in Kannada, and written is by Kankadasa.

ವರವ ಕೊಡು ಎನಗೆ ವಾಗ್ದೇವಿ ನಿನ್ನ
ಚರಣ ಕಮಲಂಗಳ ದಯಮಾಡು ದೇವೀ || ಪಲ್ಲವಿ||

ಶಶಿಮುಖದ ನಸುನಗೆಯ ಬಾಲೇ!
ಎಸೆವ ಕರ್ಣದ ಮುತ್ತಿನ ಓಲೇ
ನಸುವ ಸುಪಲ್ಲ ಗುಣಶೀಲೇ ದೇವೀ
ಬಿಸಜಾಕ್ಷಿ ಎನ್ನ ಹೃದಯದಲಿ ನಿಂದು  ||ಚರಣ ೧||

ರವಿ ಕೋಟಿ ತೇಜ ಪ್ರಕಾಶೇ ಸದಾ
ಕವಿ ಜನ ಹೃತ್ಕಮಲ ವಾಸೇ
ಅವಿರಳಪುರಿ ಕಾಗಿನೆಲೆಯಾದಿ ಕೇ-
ಶವನ ಸುತನಿಗೆ ಸನ್ನುತ ರಾಣಿವಾಸೇ || ಚರಣ ೨||

Like many of the haridasa compositions, the music for this has been set by a later day musician. I am not sure who set this devarnama to Ranjani raga. Listen to ‘Varava koDu enage vAgdevi’ here, sung by Nagavalli & Ranjani.

-neelanjana

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