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2013 September 9 [Monday]

Ata tala varnam::Viriboni

A varnam is one of the hardest phase of the learning process in the shishya-parampara (student learning process) within the Karnatic classical school, a grounding in fundamentals of sorts. In my opinion, that intricacy makes them more soulful and complete as compared to. say, a kriti.

Varnam's are further classified into "pada" varnam and "ata-tala" varnams.  "Viriboni" is one such Ata-tala varnam set to Bhairavi ragam by Pacchimirium Sri Adiyappaiyer

Composition: Viriboni
Composer: Pacchimiriyam Adiyappa
Raga:  Bhairavi                 
Mela: Natabhairavi - 20

Type:  Varnam                  
Tala :  Khandajathi Ata

Arohana:    S G1 R2 G1 M1 P D2 N1 S || S Gi Ri Gi Ma Pa Dhi Ni S
Avarohana:S N1 D1 P M1 G1 R2 S      || S Ni Dha Pa Ma Gi Ri S
Bhashanga Raga: Chatusruti dhaivata

viribōṇi ninnē kōri ||
marulu konnadi-rā ||

sarasuḍau dakṣiṇa dwāraka ||
sāmi śrī rājagōpāla dēva ||

chirunavvu mōmuna ||

If you are thinking this is just five lines, dont. Ata-tala varanams are very complex pada-varnams and we usually take 25 minutes to finish it. Yeah 25 minutes to practise five lines of lyrics!

Ata-tala varnam, as the name suggests, are set to a 14-beat cycle, far different as compared to a varnam set to Adi tala. That complexity in beats makes it complex and yet soulful, thanks to the complex svara structures.

They are also used for the Bharatnatyam dance recitals, where the ragam-tanam-pallavi is more intricate as compared to a regular varnam and it could go on for as long as 35-45 minutes, depending on the choreography and the visual story-telling the artiste-dancer indulges in.

2010 June 5 [Saturday]

Raga Darbari Kanada

"Devan ke pati Indra", composed in raga Darbari Kanada - Deshadi is a Hindustani raga composed by Svati Tirunal in HINDI language set to chowtaal. Pandit Ganapathi Bhatt, whose rendition is in two parts: Part one is around 8 minutes and part two is under 6 minutes, lends soul to one of the most beautiful Hindi bhajans that I have heard of Svati Tirunal, ala, Maharaja Svati Tirunal Rama Varma, a king from Travancore, now erstwhile Kerala.

Svati Tirunal's karnatic compositions were the first I learnt and it is not surprising that he was a prolific linguist, having composed music in 5 Indian languages. Most people can only learn multiple languages but imagine composing music in languages like Hindi,  Malayalam, Manipravalam, Sanskrit and Telugu -- they have different scripts, a different vocabulary and grammatical structure. That needs abnormally high intelligence. 

Had he been alive today, he would certainly put all the current narrow-minded egoists who play language-politics against Hindi to shame. I have never understood how politicians/people who cry hoarse against Hindi can readily accept English which is afterall a language we adopted after we were enslaved. But, i digress.

I noted the lyrics and all the scribblings (in brackets) are my notes made while listening to the song. These would not make much sense outside of a student wanting to learn this raga. I still prefer good old pen and paper as its easier to put small notations at each gamaka or niraval which is harder to do on a blog or a text file.


देवन के पति इंद्रा ॥ तारा के पति चंद्रा ॥ 1 ॥  {repeat, देवन के....}
विद्या के पति गणेशा ॥ दुख भर हरी ॥ 2 ॥ {repeat pallavi: देवन के पति इंद्रा..}

Charanam ONE:

रागपति कानडा ॥ बजन के पति बिन ॥ 1 ॥|
रितुपति है बसंता (small aalap) ॥ रतिपति सुखकारी ॥ 2 ॥
{repeat pallavi: devan ke pati indra}

Charanam TWO:

मुनिजन पति व्यास (small aalap) ॥ पंछी पति हंसा (ट्वाइस, प्लस नीरावाल) ॥ 3 ॥
नर पति रामा (twice, small niraval+swaralapana) ॥ अवध विहारी ॥ 4 ॥
{repeat pallavi: devan ke pati indra}

Charanam THREE:

गिरीपती हिमाचल ॥ भूटान के पति महेशा ॥ 5 ॥
तीन लोकपति श्री (ट्वाइस, नीरावाल) ॥ पद्मनाभ गिरिधारी ॥ 6 ॥
{repeat pallavi: devan ke pati indra}

There is another wonderful Darbari bandish by Ustad Ghulam Hassan Shaggan (My guess is they are Pakistani singers as i've never seen them on the Hindustani classical circuit nor are their CD's available in any shops), and listening to him gives me goosebumps. Those aalaps at that age...wow, just wow!! This is my main grouse with karnatic music -- most karnatic music teachers dont want to teach aalaps. Their excuse being, students dont like to learn the hard stuff, or listeners dont like wasting time listening to boring aalaps. Doh! For me neither is true. I like mental challenges and certainly dont intend performing on stage. I'd hardly care if there is another listener around, rather I'd prefer to be alone with music, something that i can create and enjoy for myself. A very famous instrument artist had once said that he does not like to talk after a public performance and dislikes people asking for autographs, asking questions, smile and pose for pics, because he was lost in the trance that he just created through music and wanted to remain there, but he could not as he was a public figure. All he wants to do is sit in a corner thinking about a raga and I *totally* grok that feeling.

Well, now I want to check out the differences between a Darbari and the Darbari Kanada ragas. Some years ago I had created a webpage comparing Hindustani and Karnatic ragas and a listing of Ragas which are supposed to be sung only in the morning, evening and night ragas. I cant seem to find this page now. I'd declare it lost but plan to search all my backups before I give up searching.

2010 April 13 [Tuesday]


Todi is a perennial favorite, especially the kriti "taye yashoda" composed by uthukadu venkatasubbaiyer in Tamil. We were learning this when I had stopped attending class. That rankled me enough to spend the better part of the weekend dissecting the kalpanasvarams from this fusion version in the movie Morning Raga.

While I love the ragam-taanam-pallavi style, we dont learn that too much. The reason being people, or should I say listeners, like short performances for each song sans kalpanaswarams, long aalaps and niravals. In the movie, Sudha Raghunathan renders the playback but I have more admiration for Shabana Azmi who has to lip sync to render the kalpanaswarams perfectly.

Watch the video of Morning Raga and you will realise why she is so awesome as an artiste. Not only has Shabana learnt the swarakalpanas by rote (classical indian music is not as easy as it seems) but she has rendered the swara jugalbandi perfectly. Even for a music student like me, its far easier to write down the notations and learn them as I am familiar with the intricacies. However, it would not have been easy for her. In an interview, I recall her husband mentioning that before the shooting of the movie he was subjected to this song 24x7 for six whole months. Observe the charanam part where she sings the swara jugalbandi like she were to the manor born. Tres bien!

taayE yashOdaa(lyrics from, http://www.karnatik.com/ragast.shtml)

ragam: tODi

8 hanumatodi mela
Aa: S R1 G2 M1 P D1 N2 S
Av: S N2 D1 P M1 G2 R1 S

Talam: Adi
Composer: Uthukadu VenkaTasubbaiyer
Language: Tamil


tAyE yashOdE undan Ayarkulattuditta mAyan
gOpAlakriSNan seyyum jAlattai kELaDI (tAyE)


tayalE kELaDi undan paiyannai pOlavE inda
vayyagattil oru piLLai ammamma nAn kaNDadillai (tAyE)

caraNam 1

kAlinil shilambu konjak-kaivaLai kulunga muttu mAlaigaL asaiyat-teru vAsalil vandaan
kAlashaiyum kaiyashaiyum tALAmODisaindu vara nIlavaNNak kaNNanivan narttanamaaDinaan
bAlanenru tAvi aNaittEn aNaitta ennai mAlaiyiTTavan pOl vAyil muttamiTTaaNDi
bAlanallaDi un maghan jAlam migha seyyum kriSNan nAlu pErgal kETka colla nANamigha lAgudaDi

caraNam 2

anroru nAL inda vazhi vanda virundivarum ayarndu paDutturangum pOdinilE-kaNNan
tinradu pOgak kaiyyil irunda vaNNaiyai anda virundinar vAyil niraittu maraindananE anda
nindai mighu pazhi ingE pAvamangE enrapaDi cintai migha nondiDavum seyya taghumO
nanda gOparkkinda vidam anda mighu piLLai pera nalla tavam seidAraDi enna sheivOmaDi

caraNam 3

veNNai veNNai tarum enrAn veNNai tandAl tinruviTTu peNNai tArum enru kETTu kaNNaDikkirAn
vaNamAi niruttam Adi maNNinaip padattAl Etrik kaNNIlE iraittu viTTu kaLavADinAn
paNNIshaiyum kuzhalUdinAn kETTU ninra paNBilE arugil vandu vambungaL sheidAn
peNNinattukkenru vanda puNNiyangaL kOTIi kOTi eNNI unakkAghumaDi kaNNImaiyAip pOgudaDi

caraNam 4

mundAnAL andi nErattil sondamuDan kittE vandu vindalgaL palavum sheidu viLaiyADinAn
pandaLavAgilum veNNai tandAl viDuvEnenru mundukilai toTTizhuttup pOrADinAn
anda vAsudEvan ivan tAn aDi yashOdE maindanenat toTTizhuttu maDimEl vaittEn vaittAl
sundara mukhattai kaNDu cintai mayangunEram antara vaikuNTHamODu ellAm kATTinAn

caraNam 4

ThottililE piLLai kiLLi vittathum avai alaRa
Vitta kaariyam agala veNNai thinRaan!
Kattina kanRai avizhththu ettiyum oLiththu vittu
Mattilaath thumbai kazhuththil maattik koNdaan!
Vittu vittu ammE enRaan kanRinaip pOlE
Attiyillaadha maadum ammaa enRathE!
Kittina kuvaLaiyOdum ettinaal un selva magan!
Pattiyil kaRavaiyidam paalai ootturaan adee! (thaayE)

caraNam 5

ChuRRi chuRRi ennai vanthu aththai veettu vazhi kEttaan
Siththaththukku ettum varaiyil solli ninREn
Aththudan vittaanO paarum aaththankarai vazhi kEttaan
Aththanaiyum sollivittu ninREn
Viththagamaai onRu kEttaan - naaNamaaguthE!
Muththaththukku vazhi kEttu saththam ittaaNdee
Aththanai idam koduththu meththavum vaLarththu vittaai!
Iththanai avanaich chollak kuththam illaiyeyadee! (thaayE)

caraNam 6

VeNNai veNNai thaarum enRaan! VeNNai thanthaal thinRu vittu
PeNNaith thaarum enRu kaNNadikkiraan!
VaNNamai niruththamaadi maNNinaip paathaththaal eRRik
KaNNilE iraiththu vittuk kaLavaadinaan!
PaNN isaiyum kuzhal oothinaan- kEttu ninRa
PaNbilE arugil vanthu vambugaL seithaan!
PeNNinaththukku enRu vantha puNNIyangaL kOdi kOdi
ENNi unakku aagumadi- kaNNIyaamaaip pOguthadee! (thaayE)

caraNam 7

MunthaanaL anthi nEraththil sontham udan kittE vanthu
VinthaigaL anEgam seithu viLaiyaadinaan- oru
PanthaLavaagilum veNNai thanthaal viduvEn enRu
Munthugilaith thottizhuththup pOraadinaan
Antha vaasudhEvan ivan thaan adi yasOdhE!
Mainthan enRu thottu izhuththu madi mEl vaiththEn vaiththaal
Sundara mugaththaik kaNdu sinthai mayangum nEram
Anthara vaigunthamOdu ellaam kaattinaan adee ! (thaayE)

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