New Songs, Quick Posts and Other Updates

Gandhi Jayanti, 2018:  I have been meaning to add some songs and other content for a while, but kept putting it off. Now, with some updates in blogger in recent years, I find the template I used to get the color-coded Pallavi, Anupallavi etc., doesn't work as well. So, for the time being, I am just adding all updates and songs to this page.

What's in a name?

The observant reader would have noticed the word-play in the name of this site, there is double-meaning. Tyagaraja-Darshana means both, a glimpse of Tyagaraja as well as, the philosophy of Tyagaraja akin to message, or Tyagaraja-mata.

Bibliography for this site (aka Sources)

As I frequently mention, I use TKG's book a lot. I think, TKG and P. Sambamurthi pretty much covered all available sources that preceded them, such as the Adi series. TKG's Bibliography to his book is a very solid list. P. Sambamurthi covered just about everything possible for his biography. Together, the two subsume earlier "complete" anthologies like Rangaramanuja Iyengar's Kritimani-maalai volumes, and give a very strong foundation. There is not much more to be done with primary sources. So, in general, what more can be done, lies in terms of what new techniques that have not been used before that we could throw at these songs, like philology or data sciencc, than search for missing material somewhere, or see if new research has thrown up something, in the few Carnatic music journals there are. The choice and layout of some of the more graphic songs here, are, no surprises, inspired by the Tyagaraja Ramayana discourses of T.S. Balakrishna Sastrigal - because, like with him, the vivid descriptions Tayagraja gives, are what would first strike the eye of someone analyzing Tyagaraja's poetry: e.g. Alakallata, Hecharika etc., whereas, in general we focus on Tyagaraja's philosophy, method and message, than on other things.

Tyagaraja and Tempo:

We never touch upon trite or overdone topics in this site – like discussing Tyagaraja's raga choices threadbare – and prefer choosing new perspectives to develop. But, sometimes there’s use in touching such hoary, old chestnuts. Here’s one – though with some risk  ol loose talk and poor recall due to the press of that thankless mater, Time : The tempo of Tyagaraja’s songs. It’s said Tyagaraja’s songs are mostly in madhyama kaalam, as it is easier and has more mass-appeal, whereas Dikshitar’s songs are in chauka kaalam or slow speed, and it is not layman’s music but musician’s music. I recall reading GNB’s comments along these lines, in his president’s address to the Music Academy and his views on Tyagaraja were deeply studied and judiciously held. I don’t think “Madhyama is natural with layman appeal”, says all of it. Let’s look at the lyrics. Tyagaraja is often conversing, more lyrical, graphical, uses everyday dialect frequently. This cannot be done in slow tempo or fast tempo and sound normal. For an example, why go too far? Take: “Ela! Nee dayaraadu?” He’s conversing, and so the tempo fits. We just don’t find such frequent personal dialogs with Dikshitar or others. The highly ornamented, prolix style of Dikshitar, has to go slow. In his lyrics and his tunes, Dikshitar's approach is to pack a lot of nuance. This is can only be highlighted at slow speed. The other thing, which is often not considered in Carnatic music, but is analyzed in Western musicology, is that Dikshitar seems to have composed with the Veena in mind, or just composed often at the veena itself, and we get the slow, rich gamakams. Compare this with the usual remark that Mozart and J.S. Bach were violinist-composers and this tells in their music, whereas Beethoven and most others, certainly Liszt and Chopin, were pianists. There is a pinch of salt to add to any such generalizations. So many Tyagaraja songs have gotten modified, even bowdlerized in transcription, preservation and propagation, that we just may not have them in the original shape, showing his original intent.

Stats for this site:

In about 10 years, this site has seen quite some traffic - unexpected, because this site is never advertised anywhere and doesn't link to any other sites, and its focus - message-in-music/musicology - is very narrow, even for the small Carnatic music community of which only an even smaller part is even online. At some point it crossed I think a million or two views, and for its coverage regularly appeared at the top of web searches. I suppose this was all before tweeting and selfies and instagramming got so big. I suspect traffic must have chilled a little these days as with all blogs in general. I am however, mulling a major revamp of this site, and moving away from blogger as well, if this project ties into some other Indological projects of mine that I have on the anvil. Let's see.

Raaga-anuraaga - Raaga-praaganuraaga:

Raaga-anuraaga - Attached to ragas.  Raaga-praaganuraaga - Formerly attached to ragas. In our great Manichean contrast study between Dikshita and Tyagaraja, here's another thing that stands out. The standard lore is that Tyagaraja is a master innovator who brought us so many rare, never before heard ragas and usages, popularizing them single-handed. We mention a few on this site. Even in known ragas, he found so many new usages. There is even the question about "which" Abheri, the raga of the signature song of this site. He covered such a large spectrum rarely repeating himself across hundreds of compositions. Yet, amidst all such odes to him, there is enough reason to be skeptical, because the verifiable historical record is so scarce. The one or two reliable sources that do exist, like the notebooks of his disciples, do not give the raga signatures and full information, whereas so many songs have been rescored by later musicians and these versions have by now, become the norm. For many of the hard to verify songs, the earliest raga assignation comes from his earliest anthologists, who were on shaky ground in some cases. Often, we just don't know what the composer originally intended, if the lyrics do not spell it out. Such facts and the overabundance of discussion is why we often discuss other perspectives than ragas in this site, as we really try to be historically accurate. With Dikshita though, there is no such problem. He is much better documented in terms of historicity. His direct descendant of course, wrote the landmark Sangita-Sampradaya-Pradarshini. His lyrical and compositional style often leave little doubt. Most of all, he himself, as a lyrical device, often specifies the raga name. This study in contrast between these two contemporaries just keeps going on and on.


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