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Infusing Sangam poetry into the Carnatic repertoire Specific Occasions

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Carnatic vocalist T.M. Krishna and Tamil writer-teacher Perumal Murugan have been collaborators for some years now. Collectively, their try has been to broaden the horizons of the Carnatic music thinkscape — a poetic effort to infuse the socio-political and extra. When Murugan wrote the tune on the chittukuruvi (sparrow) as a metaphor for joyous tidings, Krishna sang it in raga Mohana Kalyani. When he composed the aandhai (owl) keertana, he sang it in raga Reetigowla. Then got here one other on Ambedkar, on handbook scavenging, on farmer’s protests, on Periyar… Krishna included all of them in his live performance repertoire. For Murugan, responding to the right here and now was as necessary as together with different methods of life in his poetry. For Krishna, Carnatic music needed to look past the repertoire of the previous. It needed to carry resonances from different worlds, needed to embody different individuals and embody a number of feelings. The issues of the poet and the musician merged. Until date, 40 of Murugan’s compositions have been added to the present physique of keertanais. Krishna has additionally sung Asoka’s edicts, Narayana Guru’s compositions and twelfth Century Kannada vachanas.

As a part of The Hindu Lit Fest 2024, the duo can be in dialog about their most up-to-date undertaking – ‘Introducing ‘Sangam Poetry into Carnatic music’. “As a continuation of our experiments to carry other forms of poetry into the Carnatic repertoire, Murugan and I talked about Sangam poetry as properly. The topic panorama is numerous and delightful, and there’s a sure sort of universalism in these poems,” says Krishna. Up to now, there have been three concert events of Sangam poetry – in Tiruchi, Nammakkal, and Presidency Faculty, Chennai – all to packed audiences.

Writer Perumal Murugan

Author Perumal Murugan
| Picture Credit score:
RAGHUNATHAN SR

“I’ve composed a number of songs for Krishna. We’ve got had many discussions and I’ve written on a variety of points,” says Murugan. The concept of together with Sangam poetry got here from one in every of Murugan’s associates, a instructor in a school in Tiruchi. “Sangam poetry is classical, and the music is classical as properly. He urged me to strive.” Excited by the concept, Murugan began his analysis. Since he’s a Tamil professor by vocation with a good quantity of experience on the topic, he took it up. “I believed for a very long time. There are over 2,000 poems. I puzzled how to decide on, and the way I may carry these poems into keertanai kind. It took me greater than a 12 months to place them collectively. For many of my work, I referred to the important version of U.Ve. Swaminatha Iyer,” explains Murugan.

Sangam poetry poses a number of challenges by way of kind and language. “The language of Sangam Poetry shouldn’t be so tough,” clarifies Murugan. “Round 50-60 per cent of the phrases proceed for use in up to date Tamil as properly. Some phrases of these occasions have a unique which means in fashionable Tamil. I, subsequently, determined to make use of phrases which can be related now, and changed those who have a unique which means with expressions from Trendy Tamil.” Between the 2 broad classes of Akam (internal) and Puram (outer), Murugan selected 10 poems that belonged to the identical thinai (minor genres based mostly on the situation by which they’re set).

Retaining the reminiscence of these occasions, and giving it a recent rendition, was necessary to Krishna. Murugan’s Sangam creations labored properly for him. “The content material and the context appeared to go along with one another, they usually had not been rendered on the Carnatic live performance stage earlier than. The compositions aren’t dated, Murugan has reimagined it, and that’s necessary.”

To rekindle previous reminiscences is a worthy activity, however does it additionally herald a price system which makes it necessary to sing Sangam poetry in our occasions? ”I’ve an issue saying the previous was lovely and issues have degenerated now. That’s the reason I really feel good to work with Murugan. We don’t should reject the previous, we have now to maintain the past-present dialog alive. In taking on Sangam poetry we’re pushing the previous by 2,000 years. I consider that each continuum and rupture are necessary. And, there must be variety in what we’re saying,” causes Krishna.

Murugan places it in a different way: “There may be lots of worth in re-reading, and Sangam poetry is alive in Tamil literary circles. Persons are going again to studying classical literature. That’s the reason this undertaking has generated lots of curiosity. For our first live performance in Tiruchi over 1,000 individuals had attended. It’s obligatory to speculate recent meanings into the previous.”

Each act of revisiting enhances perspective; Krishna says he was crammed with wonderment studying the Sangam poems. “I’m simply shocked by their sensitivity – to self, society and the world round them. As an illustration, there may be this poem by which the person urges the charioteer to hurry up as a result of he can’t wait to see his beloved. However, he says, don’t knock on the door closely, the bugs can be disturbed. Their views on gender are additionally attention-grabbing.” He says as he learn the traces of one of many poems, a hardcore raga like Thodi simply flowed out of him.

The everyday Carnatic composition has a format, and to carry the Sangam poem into the same format, Murugan says he did a little bit of an inversion. As he was engaged on these poems – pondering, writing and rewriting – he felt that the closing traces of those poems had a twist. He felt these traces would work properly because the pallavi, whereas the remainder flowed into the anupallavi and charanam format. Whereas Krishna himself composed among the verses, he invited musicians R.Okay. Shriram Kumar, Arun Prakash, G. Ravikiran, Rithvik Raja and Vignesh Ishwar to compose as properly. “Some very attention-grabbing tunes have emerged,” he says.

At an earlier time, Krishna typically stated that it was the raga-ness of the tune that moved the listener and never the phrase. If the phrase was changed with one other one it will nonetheless evoke the identical emotional response. Why then is he eager to herald poetry of other forms into the Carnatic style? Has his place modified since? “In Carnatic music literature, the construction of the phrase is the set off. Nonetheless, the best way we take a look at the phrase shouldn’t be solely semantic but in addition emotional. I’ve, over time, realised that the semantic set off needs to be stored numerous. In Carnatic music, we set off just one emotion, a sure sort of bhakti, which emanates from a social expertise. However, if I need to invoke abstractions, there needs to be numerous semantic triggers. Therefore we have now to herald a variety of compositions. It is just then you’ll be able to transfer past a conditioned response. Then non secular expertise can occur with Tyagaraja, Murugan or Islamic poetry. My unique place negated these a number of voices.”

Within the three concert events, Krishna sang ragas resembling Bahudari and, Mukhari to a spectrum of people who find themselves not Carnatic music listeners. They have been in raptures and have been hooting. “To carry individuals to take heed to this style is to additionally demystify it,” says Krishna.

Conversations are all the time attention-grabbing. As we break limitations, we tread new terrains and discover newer methods of negotiating them.

The session titled ‘Discovering the tune in Sangam Poetry’ can be held on January 26, 11.45 a.m. at Sir Mutha Venkatasubba Rao Live performance Corridor, Harrington Highway, Chetpet.


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