yAzmuRippaN (Re: viLari and tODi rAga)

Periannan Chandrasekaran perichandra at YAHOO.COM
Fri Jun 11 19:24:38 UTC 1999

This is to clarify the misconceptions and myths surrounding the term
"yAzmuRip paN" ("the melody that caused breaking of the lute") cited in
the following old Indology posting relevant portions of which are reproduced
Date:         Tue, 16 Sep 1997 20:13:29 -0700
From:         Vidyasankar Sundaresan <vidya at CCO.CALTECH.EDU>
Subject:      Re: viLari and tODi rAga (was Re: Q: Tamil literature)

I think Palaniappa is right in saying that the word narampu refers to the
individual note/string. Besides the straightforward linguistic meaning,
there is a practical matter which should decide the issue. Let us leave
the comparison of the octave to the zodiac signs aside, as it could just
be poetic in origin, and not have anything practical to do with music. How
does one execute the vaTTappAlai or the kural tiripu in real life?

These instruments were probably more like harps/santoors/svar-maNDals.
If so, the old story in which nIlakaNTa yAzhpANar was unable accompany a
singer on his yAzh is also explained. The melody got the name yAzhmuRippaN
(nowadays identified with aTANa), on account of this. If the yAzh were
anything like a modern fretted stringed instrument, there should have been
no problem in reproducing any of the standard vocal features on it. On the
other hand, if the yAzh were more like a harp, the task would have been


VPK Sundaram establishes with evidences that this story of the breaking of
the lute
because nIlakaNDa yAzp pANar could not keep pace with tiruJana campantar is
unfounded. He says that first of all the "Rakaram" there is wrong :  it
should the softer "r":
"yAz muri" ;and that secondly  "yAz muri" or simply "muri" is a way of
rendering a bunch of paNs
or melodies and is not the name of a specific melody such as atAnA or
He says that aDiyArkku nallAr, the master commentator , clearly
states this  in his commentary (to  the classical Tamil epic cilappatikAram)
he cites the following cUttiram:

eDutta iyalum icaiyum tammil
murittup pADutal muri en2ap paDumE"

VPK sundaram also states that the melody called niLambari was one of the
sung with muri.

 "tamiz marapu icai (karunATaka icai)"
 [Tamil Classical Music (Carnatic Music)]
supplied with the 2-CD music album rendering of  tirukkuRaL kAmattuppAl
performed by SPB and Chitra
and released by the International Tamil Langauge Foundation,
Chicago, IL, USA. 1998.


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