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Musings on Music
a handy music diary for writing notation by S.Rajam
Text by S.Rajam, Text assisted by "Garland" Rajagopalan, Illustration by S.Rajam


Music is associated with melody. Melody with meaningful words (compositions) becomes a masterpiece.

"Vaagardha viva sampruktau vagartha pratipattay
Jagatah pitarau vande parvati parameswaran"

says the very first verse of the kavya 'Raghuvamsa' by the poet par excellence Kalidasa. It conveys that a word & its meaning are indivisible and it is like the Divine unity of Parvathi & Parameswaran. Such is the importance of meaning to a word. And in India, where music is perceived as a means to salvation, we find many compositions which excel in meaning, melody & technical efficiency. We owe much to the composers, who, through their structured melodic patterns, poetic phrases & technical brilliance have enriched Carnatic music.

Sarangadeva - Musicologist : (13th century)
Sarangadeva - Musicologist  (13th century)
Authored 'Sangita Ratnakara' the greatest work after Bharata's 'Natya Sastra'. Hailed as "Nissanka", as he was supreme in knowledge of music. 'Sangita' as referring to music alone came to be used first by him. A magnificient musicologist....Read more  

Jayadeva - Composer (1101-1173)
Author of the Song Celestial 'Gita Govindam' the first known composition in India specifying raga & tala. Called 'The Indian Song of Songs', it has inspired composers, dance choreographers & poets. The lady gracious behind Jayadeva's success was the eminent Padmavati, his spouse, who danced to his singing.....Read more  

Purandaradasa - Father of Carnatic Music System (1484-1564)
A pioneer in bhakthi cult & a brilliant, popular composer. His compositions inspired Tyagaraja & others......Read more

Kshetrajna - Poet of Divine Love (1610-1685)
His music & lyric share the honours equally & it is in padams, Kshetrjna excelled. There is enchanting beauty & exquisite finesse in his songs of dignified sringara. A great composer who excelled in bringing out diverse emotions.......Read more

Bhadrachala ramadasa - Composer (1620-1680)
Religious bent of mind from boyhood. Was Tahsildar at Bhadrachalam & he rebuilt the temple of Rama. Was incarcerated at Golkonda. Divine will got his release. Exquisite songs of Ramadasa are popular. He was the 'Mulapurusha' of harikatha sampradaya.......Read more

Tyagaraja - Fragrant gold of Carnatic Music (1767-1847)
The most popular of Carnatic Music Trinity. 'In devotion & religious fervour, he is like Purandara & Ramadasa', in lyrical moods he takes a leaf off Kshetrajna; in the language of Gods, he seems to beckon his contemporary Dikshitar & Sastri; in dramatic composition, is like Narayana Tirtha & Merattur Venkutaramana Bhagavathar. His adherence to sampradaya is supreme.......Read more

Muthuswami Dikshitar - Architect of Raga forms (1776-1835)
The compositions of Dikshitar are rich in raga bhava full of gamakas & graces, beauty, majesty, mastery & wisdom. A magnificient composer, vocalist & veena player, he was all serenity & poise. One of the Carnatic Music Trinity.......Read more

Syama Sastri - Tala Prastara (1762-1827) 
One of the Carnatic Music Trinity, his songs are noted for tala intricacies. 'The melodic form of his compositions are strikingly original, unconventional & free.' Devi Kamakshi of Tanjore was his patron deity........Read more

Swathi Tirunal - Royal Composer (1813-1846) 
Proficient in many languages with great talent in music, he was the Maharaja of Tiruvancore, a great patron of arts. Lord Padmanabha of Travancore was his Ishta Devata.........Read more

Thiru Gnanasambandar - Divine Composer (6th century) 
While yet a baby was suckled by Goddess. One of the four great Saivaite Apostles. His divine musical hymns in Tamil are delightful & the lyric is magnificient.

Thiru Navukkarasar (Appar) - Divine Composer (6th century) 
One of the prime apostles of Lord Shiva. A life of fragrant devotion & service to humanity.

Sri Periyalwar (C.700-750) 
Vishnuchitta, as Periyalwar was called before he was included in the apostolic order, brought up Sri Andal full of love & affection but had to part with her when the Lord took her as spouse.

Andal (716-732)
Divine origin, glamorous life, spiritual union mark the verdant life of Sri Andal who had left to posterity the enchanting songs called "Thiruppavai" & "Nachiar Thirumozhi".

Thirumangai Azhwar (716-821/750-800) 
'The effulgent lamp that shuts out darkness in mind', Thirumangai Azhwar fulfills all the demands of modern fiction. He had covered the largest number of temples among Vaishnavaite apostles with pilgrimage & songs.

Sundaramurthy Nayanar - Divine Composer (8th century) 
A romantic apostle of Lord Shiva, his musical hyms form part of Thevaram along with those of Gnanasambandar & Navukkarasar.

One of the main four Nayanars of Shiva. He exhorts all to 'Sing the ecstatic joy of the Lord soaked in graceful raga; He shall bestow his grace in return.'

Tallapaka Annamacharya - Architect of Devotional ecstacy (1408-1503) 
Annamacharya family was a fountain of divine ecstacy which has dedicated a whole range of poems of madhura bhakthi. 12,000 songs are engraved on copper plates to ensure against ravages & insanity of nature & man. Lord Venkateswara of the Seven Hills was his patron deity.

Arunagirinathar - Eminent Divine Poet (c.1450A.D.) 
The finest flower among Tamil composers, devoted & dedicated. His composition 'Thiruppugazh' in praise of the Lord 'is a vast ocean of intricate time measures'. An unrivalled Master of Verse.

Muthu Thandavar - Fragrant Bhava exponent (16th century) 
Depth of theme, felicity of presentation, simplicity of lyric underline his romantic poems. Lord Nataraja was his destiny & patron. His padams, the delight of dancers, are a mine of bhava, bhakthi & rasa.

Uthukkadu Venkatasubba Ayyar - Composer & Divine (1700-1765) 
His love of Lord Krishna was unparalleled & his bhakthi for Muruga was non pareil. His songs are graceful & soulful.

Arunachala Kavirayar - Eminent Composer (6th century) 
'Rama Nataka Kirtanas', a pioneering musical opera, enjoys simplicity of chaste language, easy-pace, flowing presentation, mastery & versatality. It was released at the temple of Sri Ranganatha, Srirangam in 1771 A.D. His songs were set to tune by Sattanadapuram Venkatarama Ayyar & Kodandarama Ayyar.

Goplalakrishna Bharati - Father of Tamil Music Renaissance (1811-1881) 
Author of the pioneering socio-spiritual musical opera 'Nandanar', Bharati led a unique life of excellence & mastery of spirit over matter. Has covered the whole gamut of musical compositions. Lord Nataraja, the Cosmic Dancer, was his Ishta Devata. He was an eminent musical discourser too.

From Musings on Music - a handy music diary for writing notation by S.Rajam
Text by S.Rajam, Text assisted by "Garland" Rajagopalan, Illustration by S.Rajam