Wednesday, March 24, 2010


I recently came to a realization- it seems to me like I'm not an artiste in the true sense of the word at all. Here's why: I think a key characteristic for an artiste is to be spontaneous. And I'm the least spontaneous person with respect to almost everything. I don't talk spontaneously, I don't write spontaneously and I don't SING spontaneously. I don't do anything on impulse. Everything needs to be reasoned and planned out. I never surprise myself or anyone around me. When I think about it, it's such an irony that I'm into as spontaneous an art as music. I sat down to think one day, why I love composing Carnatic songs. And it dawned on me that that has to do with my lack of spontaneity as well! May be if I were a natural talent, I would tend to do alaapanais with ease and rattle away kalpana swaras. Why compose? Coz it involves careful thought, construction and coming up with a concrete form. It's so much easier than doing an aalaapanai or singing swaras.... for the simple reason that it doesn't require spontaneity and is not extempore!

I've always firmly believed that with singing, Carnatic is much tougher than film songs, but with composing, it's exactly the other way round. Why? coz true singing in Carnatic involves manodharma- or imagination (in the form of aalaapanai, neraval, swaram etc), and if you want to be good, it better not be "pre-meditated imagination"! And composing Carnatic I believe is easy since SO much of it comes ready made in the form of ragas. So if you pick a raga in which to compose, it has its standard usages and nuances and you just go with the flow. There are boundaries. There are rules. And with limited pieces to move around in the game, its not too hard to come up with a standard classical composition. (There's at least a small challenge only if you pick rare ragas, but that's not all too tough either) Where as with "filmi" songs, a whole new range of possibilites arise. Chords. Harmonies. Overlays. Variety of instruments. There's lesser rules, so it's that much tougher to produce a good piece with not much to follow.

Anyway, coming back to me- if art means spontaneity, then I must admit I'm hardly an artiste. I'm so regimented in my thoughts... Sometimes, the thought that I'm fundamentally wired this way scares me. But many times, I feel good as well. I find immense pleasure in analyzing a piece of music philosophically. So if this is what is "natural" to me, then is this art as well? I don't know.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

endha mugam with Lalitharam

I have a lot to thank tfmpage for. Back in the day, that was my point of entry into the online world of musically like minded people. The Raga-Of-Song page (or ROS) was like home for a good 2-3 years and that's where I made some of my best musical associations. The song I'm presenting here today is the result of one such association- with Ram. Ram wrote the lyrics for which I composed the tune. This was one of my first compositions , and my very first experience with online collaboration (back then, Ram was in the US and me in India), which has become the order of the day today. Needless to say, it was a lot of fun! Although the song made its rounds within part of the ROS community and was quite well received, I think people were just being nice to me- probably because I was this kid just out of high school :P I now think the song was such an immature composition- half baked and cliched in a lot of ways despite some moving lines by Ram... (Not that I'm great now...!) Nevertheless, wanted to post it just for records- and to revisit those old ROS days... I can't believe it's been 9 years!!

Today, Ram is a noted music critic in the Chennai circles and the author of a book on the Carnatic music stalwart, G.N.Balasubramanyam titled "isaiulaga iLavarasar". I can only say I'm so pleased and proud! Way to go, Ram :)

This song goes out to my three good friends from ROS - Ram, Murali and Sheela. Glad to have met you all.

And dear blog visitor, will be glad to know what you thought of this piece!

Song: endha mugam
Ragam: Ragamalika (Darbari Kanada, Sahana, Ranjani, Charukeshi, Behag)
Thalam: Rupakam
Lyrics: Ramachandran Mahadevan (Lalitaram)
Tune: Self

And here are the lyrics:

entha mugam nOkkinaalum unthan mugam thOnRuvathEn
enthan manam thudippathaiyE unthan manam uNarnthidumO?
thanthai thaay thamakkai muthal entha mugam kaNda pOthum
chinthai ellaam silirkkachcheiyyum vinthai mugam therigiRathE!!!

munnam pala piRavigaLil kaLiththu kaziththu magizhnthathupOl
innum pala eNNam en agththil vazivathu En?
pongum un karuNai veLLam pagarndhidumE naan maRaiyum
Engum en mananilaiayi nee paarthaalthaanE thuyar maRaiyum

thEdum en manam kaNdum irangaamal oLivathEnO
naadum nOkkaththudan naanirukkum thavam veeNO
pathiyenRu koNdEn unnai,sathi seithu thaviRkkalaamO
mathimayakkum maayavanE,vithi maaRRa thayakkamEnO

nithamunnai piriyEnena muththamittuth thazhuvi ennai
eththanayO kURiyathu aththanaiyum poiyaachchuthO?
meththamaiyal koNda intha kuRRamaRra pEthathanai
saththaminRi neengkiyathu uththamanuk-kazhagaagumO?

pannagaththil paduththurungum ennagaththu naayaganE
viNNavarum maNNavarum vaNangum anbar-kaavalanE
paNNisaiththu kathaRum intha pEthaithanai paaraayO
ennilaiayi uNarnthu enthan idarneekka vaaraayO

Download here.