Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Celebrating GNB: (4) Kamalacharane in Amritabehag

Here's the next in the ongoing GNB series.
Ram writes...

The Amritabehag kriti, "Kamala Charane", is another example of GNB's genius. This raga, like Sivashakti is a creation of GNB. The twisted arohanam goes like, "Sa Ma Ga Pa Ni Da Sa" and the avarohanam is "Sa Ni Da Ma Ga Sa" and the raga is classified as a Janyam of 65th Melakartha, Mechakalyani.

According to hearsay, GNB conceived this raga inspired by some vakra/varja phrases in Kalyani played by the legendary Rajaratnam Pillai. I feel that could have been true only if Ragas were just scales with Swaras. Many ragas, especially ones like Kalyani are much more than a scale. While the scale certainly forms the skeleton of the raga, the life of a raga is much more than a scale. While we can say Amruta Behag is derived from the Kalyani scale for all practical purposes, it has nothing to do with the Kalyani Raga (lakshana). In fact, it seems to have some resemblance to amrutavarshini (which in turn has little to do with Kalyani).

The composition "Kamala CharanE" set in Madhyama Kala is often sung as a brisk filler before than main piece in a concert. There is a genre (or shall we say sub-genre) of songs that are suited for rendering at a high speed and are good vehicles for projecting the capabilities of voice. (It is interesting to note many such Adi-tala songs have an eduppu after 1.5 beats). It is needless to say "Kamala CharanE" is among them. The song is a joyous outburst with several sangatis. Some sangatis revolving around the dhaivatam are very moving too.

The beautifully coined chitta swarams helps the listener get a proper understanding of the characteristics of the raga.

GNB's family say this is one rare song in which GNB has left a Mudra. The name "Vimarsanananda" in the Charanam is apparently GNB's "Diksha name".

Sindhu has done justice to this wonderful composition by rendering at a liesurely pace. This speed, unlike the often heard break-neck speed, helps the listener appreciate the beauty of the raga better.

Read in Tamil here.

Song: kamalacharane
Ragam: Amritabehag
Thalam: Adi
Composer: GNB