Category Archives: Abhishek Raghuram

Tamadam Tagadaiyya

This delay is not suitable, O compassionate Lord! Help me, O Lord Muruga!  This is right opportunity to govern this lonely and wretched one with lowly qualities! O son of Shiva unseen by even Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma! O Lord of sweet Valli! O Kanda who delights ladies! Please come quickly and bless me that I will always be protected by the spear and the peacock!

Murugan2Welcome to my first post in 2014! If you have been lucky enough to attend the December Season concerts, you are no doubt enjoying a breather at the moment. But for fans like me who live in lands barren of the music of our hearts, January is the time for trawling the net, looking for any music that has filtered out of the Season. And thus my last week was spent in listening to the Margazhi Maha Utsavam telecasts that Jaya TV has loaded on youtube. My gratitude!

While on the topic of music on the internet, I spent many hours recently fixing my old posts which featured videos on youtube – and there were many. For some reason, these old videos, loaded by fellow rasikas,  featuring telecasts from past years have been removed for ‘copyright violation’. Disappointed terribly, but understanding the right of the copyright owners for any income from their programs, I tried to find out how much advertising income they may stand to lose by these ‘pirated’ videos. Though I couldn’t get exact figures, it seems that the ad revenue is between $1 to $5 per 1000 views. Examining the latest videos loaded by Jaya TV, I see that the highest viewership is less than 19,000, most being far fewer. So we are talking of a revenue between $20 to $100 for the latest videos. How many hits do you imagine old videos would get? Perhaps a tenth? This translates to a revenue between $2 and $10. Is it even worth the time and effort for the copyright owners to load these for such small amounts? I doubt they would bother.  Instead these old performances, some gems amongst them, will lie forgotten in some corner of their offices somewhere, never to be seen again. Who profits from this? Nobody! I mourn the loss of all that lovely music buried forever. Please, copyright owners, I beg of you – allow your telecasts to be loaded by others if you have no intention of loading them yourself!

Whew! I feel better for having had a rant!

The concerts I watched this year have been of middling quality, with more disappointments than pleasant surprises. One of the renditions which stand out is the energetic presentation of Tamadam Tagadaiyya by Abhishek Raghuram. It has everything I like in a good piece of music – a great voice and instinctive musicality, a lilting melody interspersed with surprising and sometimes breath taking improvisation,  a well written song with interesting word-play, alliteration and sweetness of meaning, head-nodding rhythms and a magic something which brings it all together. I have his CD Kailasapathy in which he renders the same song but nowhere near as well. This rendition is a keeper.

In this song, the poet-composer Lalgudi Gopala Iyer has created an enchanting melody in Raga Mohanakalyani. Click here to know more about the raga. For those unfamiliar with this composer who is the father of Maestro Lalgudi Jayaraman, here is a short article in Hindu about him. Written as a plea to Lord Murugan, the lyrics demand that the Lord not delay in coming to bless him. The melody is truly catchy and Abhishek Raghuram, Vittal Ramamurthy and Neyveli Narayanan make Mohanakalyani weave and dance with joy. Listen below from 7:40 to 23:14.

For an instrumental version, listen to Lalgudi GJR Krishnan play his grandfather’s composition here.

 


Footnote (Lyrics) :

Language : Tamil

பல்லவி
தாமதம் தகாதைய்யா
தயாபரா துணை முருகய்யா

அனுபல்லவி
தாமச குண தீனன் ஆன
தமியேனை ஆள  தருணம் இதைய்யா

சரணம்
மாலும் அயன் காணா மஹாதேவன் மைந்தா
மது வள்ளி தேவா மாது மகிழ் கந்தா
வேலும் மயிலும் எந்நாளும் என்னைக் காக்கவே
வேகமாக வாரும் வரம் தாரும்

 Transliteration

Pallavi
tAmadam tagAdaiyyA
dayApara tuNai murugaiyyA

Anupallavi
tAmasa guNa dInan Ana
tamiyEnai ALa taruNam idaiyyA

Charanam
mAlum ayan kAnA mahAdEvan maindA
madu vaLLi dEvA mAdu magizh kandA
vElum mayilum ennALum ennaik kAkkavE
vEgamAga vArum varam tArum

Translation

This delay (tAmadam) is not suitable (tagAdu), O Compassionate (dayAparA) Lord (ayyA)! Help me (tuNai), O Lord Muruga!

This is right opportunity (taruNam) to govern (ALa) this lonely (tamiyEn) and wretched (dInan) one with lowly qualities (tAmasa guNa)!

O son of Shiva (mahAdEva) unseen (kANA) by even Lord Vishnu (mAl) and Lord Brahma (ayan)! O Lord (dEvA) of sweet (madu) Valli! O Kanda who delights (magizh) ladies (mAdu)! Please come (vArum) quickly (vEgamAga) and bless me (varam tArum) that I (ennai) will always (ennALum) be protected (kAkka) by the spear (vEl) and the peacock (mayil)!

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Filed under Abhishek Raghuram, Carnatic Music, Compositions in Tamil, Lalgudi GJR Krishnan, Lalgudi Gopala Iyer

Idu Dano Thillai Sthalam

Ah! So this is the sacred site of Thillai! Alas, I did not really know it all these days! Like a madman I wandered wondering is it this? or is it that? He promised to show the way and beckoned me here. In Varanasi, I have heard everyone refer to it as Kailasa (the holy abode of Shiva) but (till now) I did not observe and really know it.

NatarajaEven the names of some places carry power, don’t you think? You hear the name Kashi and think of Lord Shiva, of salvation, of Adi Shankaracharya being asked by a Chandala ‘Who are you asking to move aside, the body or the Aatman?’. When you think of Srirangam, you think immediately of the immensity of Sri Vishnu, of the banks of Kaveri, of ancient shlokas and hymns which reverberate to this day. Such is also the power of the name Thillai. The Nataraja Temple is the most celebrated of temples for the worshippers of Lord Shiva. How many wonderful songs have been dedicated to the dancing Lord here! But I never had the opportunity to see it until last week. I was on a temple tour and the last stop was at Chidambaram. If you would like to read of my travel experiences, click here.

Ah finally’ I said to myself as we stepped into the temple. It was crowded where people stood peering into the sanctum from outside. We paid for the archana and were allowed into the hall in front of the sanctum. It was difficult to see the deity as He is much decorated with garlands and jewels. We arrived just in time for the Abhishekam of the crystal Lingam. The priest showered the icon with sandalwood paste, with curd, with rice and with ash. As I saw this, I was taken back to a memory from my teen years. We, as a family, were visiting the shores of Ganges close to Delhi for a dip. I asked my grandmother doubtfully ‘Truly? Our sins are all washed away?’ . That night as we camped near the river, I had a lucid dream of being showered by holy ashes as I sat still in lotus position. The dream was startling in its clarity; I can still picture it today. I felt washed of all evil, born anew. I woke the next morning and my dip in the Ganges felt like a confirmation of my dream.

All these thoughts flashed through my eyes as I watched the abhishekam conclude with the ashes. My sixteen year old self did not have many sins to wash out; my fifty-four year old self is burdened heavily indeed. As the icon was showered with ashes, I felt my soul being showered by them as well. Tears flowed from my eyes as as I watched, feeling the magic that is Thillai ambalam (temple). And I sang to myself இது தானோ தில்லை ஸ்தலம்- Ah, so this is the sacred site of Thillai!

This wonderful song by Gopalakrishna Bharathi is set to raga Behag. To know more about this raga, click here.

I would very much like that you hear both the versions I present below. The first version is by Ranjani and Gayatri. It is reverential, with a sense of amazement almost. This is how I felt when I stepped into the temple.

The second version by Abhishek Raghuram is joyous, elated. It is a discovery, a wonder, a celebration. This is what I felt as I sat amongst the old stone pillars afterwards, thinking of my experience. The young man is in superb voice, I feel joyful every time I listen to this song!

 


Footnote (Lyrics)

Language: Tamil

இது தானோ தில்லை ஸ்தலம்
இத்தனை நாளும் அறியேனே

அதுவோ இதுவோ என்று அலைந்திடும் பேயனை
கதி தருவேன் என்று கை காட்டி அழைத்திடும்

காசினியில் இதை கயிலை என்று எல்லோரும்
பேசக் கேட்டதே அன்றி பேணிப் பார்த்தறிந்திலேன் (alt: பார்த்தறிந்திடும் )

Transliteration :

idu dAno tillai sthalam
ittanai nALum aRiyEnE

aduvo iduvo endru alaindiDum pEyanai
gati taruvEn endru kai kATTI azhaittiDum

kAsiniyil idai kayilai endru ellOrum
pesak keTTadE andri pENip pArttaRindilEn (alt: pArttaRindiDum)

Translation:

Ah! So this is the sacred site of Thillai!
Alas, I did not really know it all these days!

Like a madman I wandered wondering is it this? or is it that?
He promised to show the way and beckoned me here.

I have heard everyone refer to it as Kailasa (the holy abode of Shiva) of this world but (till now) I did not observe and really know it.

Note: I am unsure how to translate the alternate version as the sentence feels incomplete.

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Filed under Abhishek Raghuram, Carnatic Music, Compositions in Tamil, Gopalakrishna Bharathi, Ranjani Gayatri

Sama Gana Lole

DurgaA very Happy Navaratri to all my readers! Like other South Indians, I celebrate the Goddesses Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati during these nine days. This year, I would like to make this Navaratri a festival of thankfulness, to express my gratitude to the Goddesses for their presence in my life.

I make my bow first to Shakti. She is the Goddess of Power worshipped in many forms. She is Durga, the peaceful and benevolent Goddess just as she is Kali, the terrifying and vengeful one. She is beautiful and alluring as Meenakshi just as she is frightening as Bhairavi. How can we reconcile these opposites and focus our minds on Her ?

As always I shall resort to analogies to demonstrate the perfection of who She is. Shakti is incarnate in this world as power and energy wherever you see. She is there, for example, in the bonds which hold the sub-atomic particles together. Without Her, the building blocks of this physical world would collapse.  In that form she is benign, life-supporting. But innate in those very bonds is the possibility of nuclear power of an intensity which can destroy all. In this form the same power becomes terrifying. So too are Durga and Kali one and the same.  She is both the benign ocean current and the terrifying tsunami. She is the energy of the magma which warms the earth from below, She is the destructive power of the lava from erupting volcanoes. She is light-giving electricity, She is the lightning which strikes to kill. She is everywhere around us and in us, from the physical power which holds the atoms of our body together to the psychic power of the Kundalini which holds our soul tied to this body.

Shakti Shri Saraswati

It seems to me that our Goddesses fit well into Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. I see Shakti’s domain as the foundation as it is She who makes life possible. She is the energy in our cells, in our limbs, in our heartbeats, in our Spirit, in the world which sustains us. Without her all else fails. So today I thank Shakti for her presence in our midst.

To celebrate her, I am offering a song in her praise which is set to the melodious Hindolam raga, written and composed by the great musician G.N.Balasubramaniam (1910-1965). It is not a prayer, but an invocation; the poet demands nothing, he remembers, he acknowledges and he pays obeisance.  He calls her ‘an abode of limitless greatness’ and ‘an expert granter of boons’. For lyrics and translation, see footnote. If you would like to know more about the raga, click here.

To present this song, I have a rendition by the remarkable young vocalist Abhishek Raghuram. Since I heard it, it has become my favourite version of this song. I hope you enjoy it as well. I have loaded only the kriti (21 mins). If you want to listen to the alapanai as well click the alternate link given below.

Alternate link : http://vimeo.com/26805640

 


Footnote (Lyrics)

Language : Sanskrit

पल्लवि
साम गान लोले सललित गुण जाले अम्ब

अनुपल्लवि
सोम बिम्ब वदने निस्सीम महिम सदने
सामज मृदु गदने काम दान निपुणे  अम्ब

चरणं
कोमलाङ्ग कामेश्वर वाम भाग सदने
नाम भजित साधु जन पाप कूट मदने
तामसादि गुण कल्पित तापत्रय शमने
तेम दया रस पूरित  दाम कमल नयने  अम्ब

Transliteration :

pallavi
sAma gAna lOlE, salalita guNa jAlE amba

anupallavi
sOma bimba vadanE nissIma mahima sadanE
sAmaja mrdu gadanE kAma dAna nipuNE amba

charaNam
kOmalAnga kAmEshwara vAma bhAga sadanE
nAma bhajita sAdhu jana pApa kUta madanE
tAmasAdi guNa kalpita tApatraya shamanE
tEma daya rasa pUrita dAma kamala nayanE amba

Translation :

She who longs for (lOlE) the music (hAna) of the Vedas (sAma), She who is a lattice (jAlE) of pleasing (salalita) qualities (guNa).

She whose face (vadanE) is an image (bimba) of the moon (sOma), She who is the abode (sadanE) of limitless (nissIma) greatness (mahima). She who arises from the Sama Veda (sAmaja), She who speaks (recites, gadanE) softly (mrdu), She who is expert (nipunE) in bestowing (dAna) our wishes (kAma).

She whose limbs (anga) are delicate (komala), She who resides (sadanE) in the left (vAma) part (bhAga) of Shiva (kAmeshwara). She who embraces (madanE) the heap (kUta) of sins (pApa) of the good people (sAdhu jana) who revere (bhajita) Her name (nAma). She who puts an end to (shamanE) to the threefold suffering (tApa traya, the three being adhyAtmika=caused by one’s own self, adhibhautika=caused by those around one, adhidaivika=caused by the Gods) caused by the qualities (gUna) such as Tamasa. She who is full of (pUrita) moist (tEma, implying perhaps melting?) merciful (dayA) feeling (rasa). She whose eyes (nayanE) is like a garland (dAma) of lotuses (kamala).

 

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Filed under Abhishek Raghuram, Carnatic Music, Compositions in Sanskrit, G.N.Balasubramaniam

RTP in Kalyani

Abhishek RaghuramRagam Tanam Pallavis are the most important part of a Carnatic Music concert. It is easily the most difficult and demanding aspect of a concert but equally, it gives the freedom to musicians to demonstrate their skills, their understanding and their creativity. For those unfamiliar with Carnatic Music, I have written a very short description of RTP structure in the footnote.

RTPs being of 40-50 min duration in a normal concert, I have not attempted to present them in this blog so far. However, I listened this morning to a very nice 12 min RTP which I present to you today.

Abhishek Raghuram is one of the young Carnatic vocalists whom I admire very much. I find his music to be both aurally and intellectually interesting and I am certain that he will go on to have an illustrious and well-applauded career in the years ahead.

The Pallavi is by T.N.Seshagopalan.

பததிர்க்காக ப லயதிர்க்காக ல விஞாசதிர்க்காக வி சேர்ந்து அமைந்த முறை தான் பல்லவி
சித்ரதன மார்கத்தில் சொல்லும் பொருளும் விளங்க எழில் மிகு

padattirkkAga ‘pa’ layathirkkAga ‘la’ vinyAsattirkkAga ‘vi’ serndu amainda muRai thAn pallavi
chitratana mArgathil sollum poruLum viLanga ezhil migu

The RTP is in Raga Kalyani (click here to know more about this raga). This is from the very recent Margazhi Maha Utsavam concert on Jaya TV on 30 Dec 2011.

Alternate link: Click here


Footnote (RTP) :

This is purely improvisational music, the only exception being that the words of Pallavi.

  • The first section, Ragam Alapana, is a leisurely description of the Raga in all its hues ie. it is pure melodic improvisation within the rules of the Raga. This is not accompanied by percussionists.
  • The second section, Tanam, is the rhythmic exploration of the Raga in Madhyamakalam (middle speed) and rarely in Dhuritakalam (fast speed) as well. Tanam phrases are built by the musician using syllables such as ‘aananda’, ‘nam tom da’ etc. which have no innate meaning. This section may or may not be accompanied by percussionists.
  • The Pallavi is a short composition of one or two lines set to an interesting Talam or rhythm which may be composed by the performer himself/herself.
  • The Neraval for the Pallavi is the  exploration of the composition using different musical phrases highlighting the lyrics.
  • The Kalapana Swarams are pure musical phrases using only the notes (no lyrics) sometimes interspread with the Neraval. They are always sung in the basic raga but once that is done, the musician may launch into a Ragamalika (a garland of ragas) with Kalpana Swarams in other ragas which are selected to enhance the basic one.

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Filed under Abhishek Raghuram, Carnatic Music, Compositions in Tamil, T.N.Seshagopalan