Monday, July 21, 2014

Raga Sivaranjani - the all-pervasive beauty!

Once again, thanks to my FB friend Hareesh Iyer who pushed me to get to Raga Sivaranjani ahead of few others. But once I got ready to do the mix, I was faced with a stiff challenge - of having to pick not just the best songs, but also the right genre to stick to. Reason being that Sivaranjani has been adopted by various musicians and adapted to suit almost every genre you can think of .

Before we get to the mix details, here is the usual text - a bit of raga understanding, thanks to Wiki:

Sivaranjani is a musical scale used in Indian classical music. There are two scales, one each in Hindustani music and Carnatic music. The Hindustani rāga is a pentatonic scale, while the Carnatic scale is a sampoorna scale (has all seven notes). Sivaranjani rāgam brings out karuna rasa (pathos) and lends itself for elaboration and exploration. It has many compositions in classical music and in film songs. In Carnatic music, a very popular ragamalikas (songs which have different stanzas in different ragas) start with a refrain in Shivaranjani - the popular "Kurai onrum illai" by Dr M S Subbulakshmi begins with this scale. Kurai onrum illai literally means "there is no defect" or "there is nothing left wanting", alluding to "we are satisfied and thankful" in prayer to "Kannan" (Lord Krishna).

Sivaranjani's notes when shifted using Graha bhedam, yields 2 other pentatonic rāgams, namely, Sunadavinodini and Revati. Graha bhedam is the step taken in keeping the relative note frequencies same, while shifting the shadjam to the next note in the rāgam.

As seen above, Sivaranjani is originally a raga intended to bring out the Pathos or Karunaa rasa but in our land of innovative composers, we have the privilege of seeing this raga in various other emotions too. There are hundreds of wonderful film songs in this raga, and it was a stiff challenge for me to settle on a few that I have finally picked for this medley.

However, I could not stop with just three songs as I usually do for a medley. There are just too many wonderful collections and I hence decided to do a medley of two categories - one each for Duet & Pathos. So we have two medleys - six songs in total from this raga. And finally, to top it all, a superb, genius adaptation of this raga to the western notes - by none other than the Oscar winner from India - Isai Puyal A R Rahman.

First - the Duet Medley:

We start this Medley with a brilliant opening note from Maestro Ilayaraja - a superb, fast-paced melody from the movie "Oru Kaithiyin Dairy". A very little known fact about this song is that Unni Menon made his debut in to Tamil Films with this song, under the pseudo name "Vijay" but he finally made his mark under ARR in the movie "Roja". You can hear his soft vocals in this opening piece, which also has a innovative chorus starter leading into a nice Sivaranjani feel with the flute touch as well.

At the end of this Pallavi, the medley continues with a musical interlude from yet another Kamalhasan starrer - "Kaaki Chattai" which had a bunch of all time hits. Ilayaraja again did his magic with Sivaranjani to bring it to the duet world - especially with the charm of SPB & S Janaki in this superb song - "Kanmaniyae Paesu". Though this is a duet song, you will realize at the end of the first Pallavi line that it still has a tinge of the Karunaa rasa with the hum that sets it distinctly in Sivaranjani.

The Medley transitions at the next juncture with a soft, melodius interlude from the evergreen song "Adi Aathaadi" from "Kadalora Kavithaigal" - once again by the Maestro. You can make out the beautiful way in which Ilayaraja has adapted Sivaranjani with the distinct folk beats to make it sound like a folkish raga, and brilliantly suited it to the film script. As a fitting tribute to the Maestro's handling of this raga, this final piece in the Duets Medley ends with his vocals on the song.

Second - the Pathos Medley:

Turning now to the other side of the coin, the Pathos genre is best brought out with this raga, and I had to struggle to pick the best songs as there are a bunch of them out there. I started out with a simple opener - in the voice of Maestro - "Kuyil Paattu", a popular song from "En Raasavin Manasula", that is sparkling Sivaranjani and is a soulful rendition by the Maestro.

We continue with the musical interlude from this opening number and merge into another vocal interlude from Gangai Amaran (you can easily mistake it to be Ilayaraja, who composed this) and P Susheela - this song titled "Solai Pushpangalae" is a blend of pathos and duet, with the Pathos underlined in a very subtle way.

At the end of this Charanam, we join another wonderful song where the King of Singers - Dr SPB reigns all supreme. This is a brilliant song, composed by Laxmikant-Pyarelal for the Kamalhasan starrer Hindi movie "Ek Duje Ke Liye". It is no wonder that SPB won a National Award for this song, and the lyricist Anand Bakshi also won Filmfare Awards for the lyrics. K Balachander, the director of this film also won the Filmfare Award for best screenplay, and this song is the ultimate highlight of the film itself. Interestingly, this same raga has been used twice in the movie - the same song comes in as a Duet first, and then as a Solo Pathos song by Dr SPB - just the beats and tempo are different, but the key difference for this song's success is the beautiful delivery by SPB. This film naturally met with resounding success - SPB captured the pathos emotion so well in this song and captivated the hearts of billions of people. You will certainly love this song and surely will be humming this for the next few days!

Finally - the westernized Sivaranjani

Who else can give us such a superb western adaptation of our own Sivaranjani? None other than ARR - who is always known for his ingenious usage of chords and sound effects to bring about a mix of modern and classy compositions. In this song from one of his early days, Rahman has used the best innovative thoughts to westernize Sivaranjani and gave us this wonderful song from the movie "Thiruda Thiruda". Though this film was not a great commercial success, it is still spoken of so highly only for ARR's songs - every piece was a mega hit and is worth listening to with headphones to capture the brilliant sound effects embedded into every passing second. Magnasound took the opportunity of releasing this movie's audio, and was rewarded in big terms with the success.

I knew I would not do any justice to Rahman's genius if I cut this song and merge it with any others, as it is a pioneering effort by him to give us this masterpiece. So, the full version of "Kannum Kannum" is presented here, with a special Kudos to ARR!

That completes my Sivaranjani Medley - hope you guys like it. As always, welcome your comments and thoughts.

Here are links to the original full tracks for those interested to download the same (use to rip off the MP3 tracks if you want to download only the audio):

1) Pon maanae -
2) Kanmaniyae Paesu -
3) Adi Aathaadi -
4) Kuyil Paattu -
5) Solai Pushpangalae -
6) Tere Mere Beech Mein -
7) Kannum Kannum -


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