It is not fair if I call this a review, me being the novice. I am writing down my impressions on the concert I attended this evening, at the Parthasarathy Swamy Sabha. A full bench with vocalist TN Seshagopalan, M Chandrasekar on the violin, Mannargudi Eashwaran on the mridangam, and B Purushothaman on the kanjira.
I was as usual late to the concert and he had finished a couple of songs by then. When I entered, he was singing swaram in raga Kamas and thalam Chatusra Jadhi Jampa. No idea what the song was. But I just felt – if God can take away one very important ability, sight, and instead bestow you the power to control the world with the music, then so be it! – on listening to Chandrasekar playing.
Aarabhi ragam started, and I was so very sure, it was going to be “Oongi Ulagalandha”, today’s Thiruppavai. It turned out to be a virutham emphasising “Kodhai Tamizh”, supposedly one of Aandal’s pasuram. Extensive phrases made me wonder, what next. That is when he takes you by surprise yet again, by singing “Oongi Ulagalandha” in Kanta Chapu thalam. Now, the tune I observed to be very similar. Maybe… maybe he modified the thalam so that there might be more space between words to do his usual gimmicks on brighas.
Link to the recording of this song… Aarabhi – Virutham + Oongi Ulagalandha :
Then he sang Subapanthuvarali, ragam notes ranging almost 3 octaves – from high Da to lower Pa. The song was Sri Sathyanarayanam by Muthuswamy Dikshitar. For the swara kalpana, he started with a casual vilamba kalam with combinations of “SRG SRG S… PDN PDN P… SRG SRG S…” this phrase as the basis. There was almost a sportive-competition happening between vocalist and the violinist, and they played nearly 20 minutes of 2 avarthana korappu.
And then it happened – TNS was in such a frenzied mode with ideas flowing, that Chandru simply put down his violin and let him sing uninterrupted. What a man!! The tani avarthanam was way beyond my comprehending abilities, so I give it a pass in this narration.
After the thani got over, he started singing ragam for the next piece. And I began guessing the ragam. Manirangu… no, it is Needhimathi… ah no, sounds more like Kaapi… a little wierd, probably Kaapi from yesterday’s decoction!?… hindustani/masala Kaapi… Lol 😛 TNS relieved all of us of the tension and announced the raga name as Varunapriya and gave a brief – the exact stuff I found on Wiki a couple of minutes later. Woah!!
The lyrics was customised to request rain, enhancing the raga’s qualities –
“Tharunamidhu Karunai Pozhi Varunapriya
Aazhi Mazhai-k Kanna… Nee” (repeat)
And the raga shifts were done in Amrithavarshini (more rain request), Subapantuvarali (water from eyes as well), Kaapi (he did sing the ragam finally!) and back. The piece was set in kanta jadhi thriputa thalam.
I was so engrossed in the concert, that I just did not bother to even unlock my phone and check – something we do always these days! Plus, I am so going to take my rain jacket to office the next day, just incase 😉
avarthana – a cycle of thalam
brigha – faster rendition of a phrase in aalap
chapu, thriputa, jampa – types of thalam
chatusra – 4 beats
full bench – all the necessary accompaniments are present (violinist, and 2 percussion instrumentalists)
kanjira – similar to tambourine
kanta – 5 beats
Kaapi, Needhimathiand Manirangu – are names of the ragas I guessed, wrongly 😉
Kamas, Aarabhi, Subapanthuvarali, Varunapriya, Amrithavarshini – are names of ragas of the songs performed
korappu – a pattern of swara singing
Swara, neraval, thanam, aalapana – various forms of showcasing the skill, improvising the raga on the spot
tani avarthanam – is the phase of the concert when the percussion instruments alone play
vilamba kalam – slow pace
virutham – format of singing a verse (/sloka) improvising, usually without thalam
– Until next,