tyAgarAja and vicitRa rAgas
We come to know of as many as 83 new/rare
ragas for the first time through the compositions of tyAgarAja. A few
examples are supradIpam, jujhAhuli, vijayavasantam, tIvravAhini, etc.
The varieties of Tamil music
The popular kAvaDi cindu genre is one
form of the nine varieties of Tamil songs mentioned in the pancamarabu
by arivanAr - cindu, kiripadai, cavalai, samapadem, centurai
venturai, tEvapani, vannam, nondicindu and vazhinadaicindu.
kAvaDi cindu was sung by devotees of Lord Murugan on their trek bearing the
kAvaDi, to shrines like Tiruchendur and Tiruttani. aNNAmalai reDDiyAr,
composed his famed kAvaDi cindus when his patron, the zamIndAr of uTrumalai
undertook a pilgrimage to Kalugumalai.
tyAgarAja on musical ignoramuses
In his k.Rti in cencukAmbhOji,
tyAgarAja castigates unscrupulous men totally ignorant about svarAs, rAga
lakSaNas and rhythmic patterns posing as vidvAns (masters of music) and
imposing themselves upon gullible folks for the sake of self-aggrandisement.
vara rAgalayAgnulu dAmanucu
vadarErayya shRi rAma
svara jati mUrccana bhEdamul svAntamandu deliyakayuNDina...
kIrttana and k.Rti - The distinction
The k.Rti is a highly refined musical
form that evolved from the kIrttana. kIrttanas were born as early as
the 14th century AD when the tAlapakkam composers created this musical form
with the divisions: pallavi, anupallavi and caraNam. In kIrttanas, the
sAhitya is of primary importance, with the music being merely a vehicle to
sing the devotional lyrics. In k.Rtis it is the other way round, with the
music being of prime importance - the delineation of the rAga in various
shades is the composer's primary concern.
The four deities common to the Trinity
dEvi kAmAkSi (kAncIpuram), shRi
varadarAja (kAncIpuram), dEvi dharmasamvarddhani (tiruvayyArU)
and dEvi nIlAyatAkSi (nAgapaTTaNam) are the four deities in whose
praise there are k.Rtis by tyAgarAja, muttusvAmi dIkSitar and shyAma shAstri!
The disciples of paTTaNam subrahmaNya ayyaR
rAmanAthapuram (pUcci) shRInivAsa ayyangAr,
M. S. rAmasvAmi ayyaR, maisUR vAsudEvAcArya, Tiger varadAcAri,
paramEshvarayya and others are among the galaxy of stalwart disciples of the
legendary musician-composer paTTaNam subrahmaNya ayyar.
Classifying rAgas by the number of notes
A rAga containing all seven notes is called
sampUrNaM, as is well known. A melody with six notes is called
a ShADava rAga, one with five notes is called auDava and one
with only four notes is known as svarAntara!
The sAma vEda
The sAma vEda is based on the kharaharapriya
scale (mELa 22).
yAzhmuRi paNN - The story
The paNN mEgharAgakurinji
(equivalent of rAga nIlAmbari) is popularly called yAzhmuRi paNN.
Legend has it that when tirugnAna sambandhar sang this paNN, nIlakaNtha
yAzhpANar was unable to accompany him on the yAzh as the instrument
did not give him enough scope to play this paNN. In his anger the
yAzhpANar broke his instrument, hence the paNN has been christened
The first svarajati
vIrabhadrayya is credited with composing the first svarajati in
Carnatic Music. It was set in rAga husEni.
purandaradAsa and vaRNams
Pitamaha Saint Purandaradasa who composed thousands of songs,
gItams and abhyAsa gAnams (musical exercises) has NOT composed a
single vaRNam! Probably, the vaRNam was not in vogue as a distinct musical
entity in his time.
in our Carnatic system is considered the closest equivalent to the basic
melody in Hungarian folk music.
tyAgarAja on Tanjavur
In his composition muripEmu
galige, tyAgarAja has described the Tanjavur region as "cOLa sIma" ("I
mahilo sogasaina cOLa sImayandu...")
Classifications in the
Melodies were broadly
classified into five groups in the ancient paNN system, based on the
type of landscape of their origin: mullai (forest), neidal (coastal
areas), marudam (plains/fields), pAlai (desert) and kurinji
tALams for temple rituals
The set of tALams most
commonly associated with temple rituals is known as navasandhi tAlams.
shyAma shAstri's guru
well known as the compsoer of the famous aTa tALa vaRNam viribONi (bhairavi)
was shyAma shAstri's guru!
mErattur vIrabhadrayya, the
noted composer of pada vaRNams used the mudras acyuta and
The noted composer duo
Anai-Ayya brothers, in their composition mahima teliya taramA (shankarAbharaNam)
lament their fate for having to perform before unreceptive audiences!
tyAgarAja and vINa
kuppayyaR - the kEdAragauLa connection
vENugAnalOlunI in kEdAragauLa at vINa kuppayyaR's residence on the
occasion of a vENugOpAla svAmi pUja.
tAna vaRNa mArgadarshi
composer of the famous viribONi vaRnam is known by the sobriquet
tAna vaRNa mArgadarshi. However, the sangIta sampRadAya pradaRshini
attributes the same title to another person, gOvindasAmayya of
kArvetnagar (1680 - 1710)
An music festival is held
every year in the town of Tiruppunturutti in honour of the composer
in Anandabhairavi, Adi tALam is kSEtrayya's first composition
m.Rdangam and the
Carnatic music's trademark
percussion instrument is said to be composed of the five elements: Fire
(the valantalai), Water (the toppi), Earth (the
shell made of wood or clay), Air (the vibrating column) and
Space/Ether (the inner hollow space)
Operas in Carnatic Music
tyAgarAja's pRahLAda bhakti
vijayam and gOpAlak.RSNa bhArati's nandanAR caritRam are perhaps
the longest operas in our music, each taking more than 5 hours for a
The reputed vaiNika M. A.
Kalyanakrishna Bhagavatar was born in 1913 at Manjapra in Palghat
District, Kerala, the same village that produced the legendary M. D.
Ramanathan. The bhAgavatar was the sixth generation artiste in a family
of vINa vidvAns and an exponent of the Travancore style of vINa playing. He
was AsthAna vidvAn for many years at the Travancore Palace until his
death in 1979.
tyAgarAja makes a mention of
his father rAmabrahmam in the composition, dorakuNa iTuvaNTi sEva
sadAshiva brahmEndra went by
the pseudonym paramahamsa in his compositions
Number of compositions
In his k.Rti vAsudEvana
nAmAvalia in mukhAri, purandara dAsa says that he has
composed 4,75,000 songs. kSEtrayya, another prolific composer says in
his vEdukato (dEvagAndhAri) that he has written almost 4000
tyAgarAja and svarARNavam
In his composition svara
rAga sudha in shankarAbharaNam, tyAgarAja mentions the musical work
svarARNavam as a reference.
The seven notes in
In Tamil Music, the
seven notes are called kuRal, tuttam, kaikkiLai, uzhai, iLi, viLari
dIkSitar and the 22
muttusvAmi dIkSitar refers
to the 22 shrutis in his k.Rti vamshavati shivayuvatI in the
rAga vamshavati. In the popular composition mInAkSi mEmudam dEhi,
dIkSitar refers to the dashavidha gamakAs (the 10 gamakAs)
The tyAgarAja paramparAs
The three major
shiSya paramparAs (traditions) of tyAgarAja instrumental in handing
down and propagating his compositions are: tillaisthAnam, vAlAjAhpET and
pApanAsham shivan's first composition
shivan's first composition was unnai
tudikka in kuntaLavarALi
Raghunatha Nayak (1600 - 1634), the author
of sangIta sudha is credited with the discovery of jayantasEna.
The missing Kalanidhis
The Music Academy did not
confer the Sangita Kalanidhi title on anyone in 1946 and 1967 since
those were the Centenary and Bi-Centenary years respectively of Saint
Tyagaraja's Samadhi and Jayanti. Similarly 1975 was the
Bi-Centenary year of Muttuswami Dikshitar's Jayanti. The annual
conferences in those years were dedicated to these great masters.
Naina Pillai's accompanists
In a performance in 1929, the legendary
kAncIpuram nainA piLLai had the following accompanists: tirucci
gOvindasvAmi piLLai (Violin), azhaganambi piLLai (mR.dangam),
dakSiNAmUrtti piLLai (kanjIRa), umayALpuram sundaram ayyaR (ghaTam), vENu
ceTTi (dhOlak), sItArAma ayyaR (mORsing) and mannARguDi pAkkiria piLLai (konnakkOl).
This concert was at the vaNNiAr sangam School in Mylapore, Chennai and was
five hours long: 4.25 pm to 9.30 pm!
saurAStram and prahLAda bhakti vijayam
In the opera prahLAda bhakti vijayam, tyAgarAja has
employed rAga saurAStram for the first song shrI gaNapatini, the middle
song entanUcu varNimpa and the last song nInAma rUpamulaku
tyAgarAja and bhadrAcalam rAmadAs
tyAgarAja has paid tributes to bhadrAcalam rAmadAs
in three of his compositions, namely: kSIra sAgara shayana (dEvagAndhAri),
bR.ndAvana lOla (tODi) and kaligiyuNtE (kIravANi)
dIkSitar and nAgasvaram
muttusvAmi dIkSitar has made a reference to the
nAgasvara vAdyam in one of his kR.tis: tyAgarAja mahAdhvajArOha (shRi