Sunday, February 28, 2010

An Attempt to Understand Raagas in Carnatic Music-II

(This blog post is written by Vidhyashankar, MBA student at W.P. CareySchool of Business in Arizona State University. With no formal training in carnatic music, he writes about how he learned about the different ragas in particular and carnatic music in general.)

As I was discussing with my friend the first part of this blog, she gave me a quote from one of her readings,” A raga is like a plain canvas given to the artists, which they can paint their own way with their creativity and their understanding of the raga.” How true!!! If it is given to an artist he/she looks it like an art if given to a scientist he/she uses it as a science. Anyway that’s a completely different discussion.

While we have seen ragas which are charming (Reetigowla), brings enthusiasm (Kuthuhulam), an artist not only sees one side of the coin. There are ragas which just by listening can put you into deep sorrow or deep emotions. Chakravakam is one such raga, which is played to evoke pity or karuna. Isn’t it incredible? Have we ever heard such a ragam before? Why not? Our “Thalaivar” (Rajini) when chased out of the house in the movie Muthu, the song played “Vidukathaiya” is Chakravakam.

Didn’t you feel like crying with him? Another song with the same raagam is from movie Karnan when Karna (Shivaji Ganesan) is stuck by arrow and about to die Lord Krishna sings the song “Ullathil Nalla Ullam” which is again Chakravakam. In the movie Veyil, a folk version of Chakravakam is sung to induce pity for Murugesan (Pasupathy).

Yet another raga which induces melancholy is Sivaranjani. There are lots of songs in Indian cinema that is based on Sivaranjani (quite expected because every movie has some character that has to cry). “Therey Merey Beech Mein” in “Ek Duje Ke Liye” is a beautiful Sivaranjani number. Naan paadum mouna raga Idhaya” in “Idhaya Koil” is Sivaranjani.

Coming out of the sorrow mood, it is time to get some devotion. The great Thyagaraja said, “Sangeetha Gnyanamu, Bhakthi vina, Sanmargamu kalade”? Can the knowledge of music, find the right path without devotion? He wrote so many wonderful songs, that it is impossible for me to even praise them adequately. He is a father of Carnatic Music. Kapi is a one such raga that can induce devotion and empathy. Carnatic songs? “Kurai Ondrum Illai” (People can sink into devotion listening great M.S. Subbalakshmi sing that song). “Enna Thavam Seithanai” is yet another beautiful song. The beauty of the song is that the composer is so deep in devotion on Krishna that he starts questioning Yashoda on, “what penance did you do to have the Great Krishna in your womb”.

Honestly, I don’t know much movie songs in Kapi but people told me “Idhu Kuzhandhai Paadum Thaalaattu” from movie “Oru Thalai Raagam” movie is Kapi ragam.

It has always been fascinating for me think, how just by varying fundamental swaras (Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Dha Nee) there has been discovered a wide range of music that can represent any form of emotion and take us to different levels.

To be continued....

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Blogger jhanvi said...

Good one!!...
Also the famous "aval sentamizh thenmozhiyal" is in Kapi raagam!!! best composition ever!! Also this song "aalan kuyil koovum rayil" from parthiban kanavu is in kapi.. in a way it starts with "enna thavam seithanai yashoda"..

February 28, 2010 6:46 AM  
Blogger Satyask said...


March 01, 2010 9:10 AM  
Blogger The White Rider said...

One of my favorite bits :

March 01, 2010 5:17 PM  
Blogger Smrithi and Adi said...

many AR rahman songs are kapi: kadhal rojave is one.

March 02, 2010 4:20 AM  
Blogger rukmini haran said...

one more song in kapi "ANDHA SIVAKAMI MAGANIDAM SAETHI SOLLADI" from the movie PATTANATHIL BOOTHAM is also kapi raga base

March 16, 2010 1:50 PM  

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