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There are going to be innumerable articles written on Shri Thyagaraja on account of his 250th Jayanthi.

There are going to be innumerable articles written on Shri Thyagaraja on account of his 250th Jayanthi. Am I going to add any value or make a difference by writing about one of the greatest composers ever? These were my initial thoughts. Hailing from Shri Thyagaraja’s sishya parampara, I felt I should and hopefully I can give a glance into some aspects that are new to our dear Rasikas.

Shri Lalgudi rama Iyer was a direct disciple of Shri Thyagaraja and padmabushan Shri lalgudi Jayaraman sir was the great grandson of Shri rama Iyer. I consider myself extremely fortunate to be his student and hence belong to the Thyagaraja sishya parampara or lineage. Shri lalgudi Jayaraman sir was mesmerised by Shri Thyagaraja’s compositions so much that he would play atleast one Thyagaraja’s kirthanas even in Tamil isai sangam concert which was outright an exclusive Tamil compositions concert. There was an incident when Shri lalgudi sir had played a concert in Mylapore fine arts on 1 Jan and after a hugely successful concert realised that he had not played even 1 Kriti of Thyagaraja when he was coming back home. After a 4 hour concert, he continued playing a Thyagaraja Kriti at home and only then he had lunch. So what makes Thyagaraja kritis so special, why was lalgudi sir so fond of shri Thyagaraja’s kritis, why am I intoxicated by his works, why are thousands of Rasika’s glued to his compositions?

These are purely going to be my opinions. First of all, Thyagaraja’s kritis strike an easy chord with listeners. While there is no doubt that Muthuswamy dikshithar and Syama Sastri kirthanas are of the highest order, they require a bit of musically trained ears to appreciate the beauty whereas with thyagaraja , his compositions attract one and all. They appeal equally to the connoisseurs and laymen alike. True there are nottuswaram of dikshithar that can appeal to anybody easily but by and large that proportion is more in Thyagaraja’s works

Secondly, the variety in his compositions stand out. One can easily perform an exclusive Thyagaraja concert without worrying about the success of the concert. Once Shri Palghat mani Iyer remarked that if you have to play a concert, start with 3 back to back Thyagaraja compositions and the success is guaranteed. Especially the Madhyama kalapramanam stand out in his compositions and is catchy. There is so much variety in ragas, talas and most noticeably kalapramanam. This is such an essential part of a concert’s success.

there is a personal connect in his compositions with the almighty that everybody can relate to. If he has recovered the Rama Vigraha,he composes kanukontini with gay abandon. As a musician and as a Rasika, one gets transported to those moments instantly and feel the same emotion that Thyagaraja would have experienced.

The concept of Sangathi is best illustrated in his compositions. Musicians have a lot more flexibility to add sangathis in his compositions without disturbing the structural form. For eg, darini telusukonti in suddhasaveri – Shri g n Balasubramaniam has added so many sangathis and decorated it beautifully. Lalgudi jayaraman sir has beautified na jeevadhara in bilahari with 17 sangathis in the Pallavi.

there is something for the connoisseurs and the explorers. The ekaika ragas – compositions with just one Kriti in that Raga is Mindboggling. For eg entha Muddo in bindumalini, sadamathim in gambheeravani, dayajooda in ganavaridhi – the list goes on and on. As a musician it’s very fascinating how he has used the vakra sancharas in such rare ragas. I have tried my best to beautify such compositions further by composing chittaiswaras in such rare ragas like jingla, sindhuramakriya, veeravasantham which give a glimpse into the arohanam and avarohanam and the permutations possible.

The thematic possibilities are aplenty. Nava vidha bhakthi kirthanas of Thyagaraja, the Laya aspects in his kirthanas in terms of Thalam, eduppu, mathematical patterns, landings, Pancharathna kirthanas of Kovur, Srirangam, lalgudi, Prahlada bhakthi Vijayam, Divya nama kirthanas, Nouka charithram, etc

He has composed magnum opus compositions like chakkani raja, Mari Mari ninne and also composed the most simple ones for beginners to learn such as Sara sara Samarai, raminchuva

I can just go on and on. This is not a very structured article but a collection of randomised thoughts on Shri Thyagaraja. Hopefully Rasikas find some takeaways from this article into his works.

Here is link to Entha Muddo in Bindumalini

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