December 23, 2009

Lec-dem by Ritha Rajan : Different patantharas in Tyagaraja Compositions

...........................by Sivapriya Krishnan


Ever wondered , as to why the same Tyagaraja composition gets presented in different formats by different artists?

The answer to this question and wonderment, was provided by Smt.Ritha Rajan, the Musicologist- Musician and the former Head of the Dept. of Music, Queen Marys' College, Chennai, at a lecture in the Music Academy on 20.12.09 of the morning conference session.

Ritha brings with her , a training of many number of years, right from her childhood days in Kanchipuram and from her later tutelage under Sri. Ramnad Krishnan. Under him she had the opportunity to learn many more compositions and finer aspects of music. She also got introduced to Naina Pillai's style of singing and the Vina Dhannamal school through her Guru. She furthered her knowledge on her own during her tenure with Queen Marys and her research work.

In her lecture at the Music Academy, she brought out the differen singing approaches to the same composition of Tyagaraja.

Tyagraja has three groups of sishya parampara viz: Umayalpuram school, Walajapet school, Tillaisthanam School.

She explained about several compositions ; to name a few, Chitra Ratna maya , Vidulaku, Anyaayamu Seyakura,NaradaGuru Swami, Ramaanee Vadhu , Etula Brothuvo, mahita Pravrudhha, Siggumali, Raghuvira Ranadeera.

The changes that are observed are in the ollowing areas :

1. Overall changes in notation and approach of the same song from one school of Tyagaraja tothe other, followed by changes later on .

2 Change in ragas

3. Change in kaalapramaana and tempo, mainly towards a slower tempo

4. Change in tala

5. Change in the eduppu and swara notations between one school and another.

What was admirable about her lecture was the ease with which she juggled between one patanthara and another for the same song. She is fluent with Telugu and had learnt a few songs from the Telugu notations and script. Also amazing is the fact that she has assiduously collected material and scripts over a period of time and has worked on a critical analysis of the same.

She said that the changes have occurred from the third generation sishyas. One other observation on changes in kalais , kalapramaana and tempo , she said could be because music which was sung in tthe Bhajana tradition demanded a slightly faster tempo, whist in the concert format on stage , the demand shifted to a slower pattern of singing.
Also the raga changes and morphing has occurred over a period of time may be due to the singers method of holding on to a similar note or phrase between two ragas leading to a shift .

Some snippets :

1. Chitra Ratna maya acording to the Umayalpuram school and popularly in Andhra Pradesh is sung in 1 kalai, but the Tillaisthanam school sings it in 2 kalai, as sung by Sangita Kalanidhi R. Vedavalli.

2. There are different versions of Vidulakhu Mrokkeda in the swara notations.

3. There are lots of kritis that have morphed from Darbar to Kaanada to Kapi, Lalita to Vasanta.

4. Naradaguru sami sung in Darbar now, is given as Kapi in the manuscripts.

5. Etula Brotuvo is given as in Triputa tala, now sung as Misra Chapu.

6.Hechariga Gaa raa raa is now sung as Khanda Jhampa, has been listed as Khanda Ekam

7. In Walajapet version, the song Raghuvira Ranadira, now popurlarly sung in Huseini, is listed under Kharaharapriya.

8. Gnaanamosagarada is given as Gamanaasrama in the manuscripts, but later on has morphed into Purvikalyani

9.Siggumali which is in Jhampa is now sung as Adi tala.

A little of what I could note and understand I have tried to write. There is more that I may have left, and all that is due to my limitations perhaps.

Thanks to the Academy for such informative morning sessions, where serious students of music like me get an opporunity to find answers to many queries and develop a curiosity to know why, what has happened has happened.

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