Music related questions

Sun May 17 00:01:46 UTC 1998

At 02:13 PM 5/16/98 PDT, Vidyasankar writes:

>Most padams of pre-Tyagaraja and post-Tyagaraja composers start with the
>anupallavi and then lead into the pallavi. Many of the utsava sampradAya
>compositions of Tyagaraja are also sung that way. The major criteria are
>that -
>1. The pallavis of such compositions do not offer great opportunity for
>musical elaboration in the form of sangatis. For example, the musical
>structure of elani dayaradu (in balakakamaya) is like that.
>2. The pallavi acts mainly as a refrain, and sangatis are avoided even
>if they are possible. This is especially the case with Tyagaraja's
>utsava sampradAya compositions and with padams.
>The form of musical composition that is called a kRti was still evolving
>during Tyagaraja's time. Composers like Margadarsi Seshayyangar and
>Uttukkadu Venkatasubbaiyer were some of the earliest to explore the kRti
>format. The earlier dhruvapada form of composition did not have a
>three-fold division into pallavi, anupallavi and caraNam, but a two-fold
>(a)sthAyI and antara division, to be preceded by free improvisation of
>the raga, with AlApa and 'nom-tom'. This has been retained in the
>dhrupad of Hindustani music and in the Ragam-Tanam-Pallavi of Carnatic
>music. In fact, Tyagaraja's disciples and grand-disciples were the ones
>who gave great importance to sangati development in the pallavis of
>kRtis. Any such features in the compositions of Syama Sastri and
>Muttuswami Dikshitar are because of the predominance of Tyagaraja's
>disciple lineages in Carnatic music. Many of Dikshitar's compositions
>only allow for one or two sangati variations, as compared to the
>numerous sangatis possible with Tyagaraja's compositions. As for
>pre-Tyagaraja composers like Puranadaradasa or Annammayya, their
>compositions have been retro-fitted into the mature kRti format that
>musicians have become used to, although it did not exist in their own
I would like to add that in "bAlakanakamaya" the
anupallavi consists of invocation (saMbOdhana). Keeping
saMbOdhana at the end of sentence is not natural for
conversational telugu. Usually it is at the beginning of the
sentence. (Ofcourse there are exceptions to this in metric
poetry). But for the bhAva to come out naturally the conversational
structure and intonation  will be of great help. Both of
these are satisfied by starting with anupallavi. The dhAtu
starts with madhya sthAyi pancama with a general upward trend
reaches the tAra madhyama near the beginnig of pallavi and
then has a general trend of going down reaching madhya shaDja
at the end of the pallavi. This is in agreement with the
speech intonation of a sentence starting with saMbOdhana.
Usually invocation involves an ascending pitch and
questioning (ElA) involves a high pitch. End of a sentence
(virAma) corresponds to low pitch. Knowledgeable people say
that the beauty of tyAgarAjA's compositions lies in this frequent
blending of the musical notation with speech intonation. Afterall
in his compositions the bard is conversing with his ishTa dEvata
rAma. We have also to remember that the earliest sishyAs and
vidvans who sang the compositions of tyAgarAja knew conversational
telugu very well and preserved this aspect.

        This also answers the question why in tyAgarAjA's
compositions we do not find the complete rAga swarUpa which we
find in dikshitar's compositions. Dikshitar's compositions
are mostly descriptive in nature. No conversation is involved.
He can give the complete rAga structure without any fear of
going against the intonation. But tyAgarAja has to confine
himself to those phrases of the rAga which agree with the
general intonation in speech of the sahitya.



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