Sunday, June 3, 2007

Making Allies of Ragas

A recent revisit of two compositions of Dikshitar in Darbar.There is more to this raga than meets the eyeapart from the obviously stated and restated issue that this raga in the South Indian system as an allied raga to Nayaki.There is even a standing joke attributed to various musicians that when someone told them that their Darbar had traces of Nayaki, the musician retorted saying that 'A Darbar (court) ought to have a Nayaki'

An old school musician of the Dikshitar school once told me that Dikshitar's Darbar ought to have traces of Kanada.Recently someone pointed out an interesting fact to me - Why does Dikshitar's Darbar not have any G G R Sprayogas which are usually stressed as its typified distinguishing prayoga.When I say distinguishing prayogaI mean in the context of today's South Indian musicians trying to distinguish it from Raga Nayaki. with its elongated Nishadha. So the South Indian Darbar at one point of time was closer to the Kanada constellation. Interestingly one compositionof Tyagaraja Nityaroopa which was supposedly sung originally in raga Karnataka Kapi is now sung in Darbar.(Karnataka Kapi is again another raga whose name keeps cropping up everywhere but not much detail is known of its identity - which is today conveniently placed closer to Kanada than Kapi) .

My guess is that Dikshitar and Tyagaraja had composed in a certain older flavor of Darbar.This Darbar probably had an older flavor similar to the North indian Kanada group.Dr.Harold Powers in one of his papers , mentions that at some point of time this Darbar usurped musical material from Nayaki thus weakening Nayaki in the process. This seems to be the perfect explanation for this phenomenon.Raga X arrives on the scene and in its form very different from Raga Y.,Some enterprising musician/composer mixes in some Y with this X , making a modified X. Now this Raga X begins to slowly sound more and more like Y so now we have Y's existence questioned. To combat this situation they add additional distinguishing characteristics to X, so X now morphs into a complete Z and now in the new world this Z and Y become related. So when this Darbar acquired new features from Nayaki there needed a way then to distinguish it from the other raga and thus this new set of phraseologies such as GGRS was invented. It would be interesting to see a study on the supposedly distinguishing characteristics of some of the Carnatic allied ragas in vogue today andtrace them historically.I would like to think that several of these distinguishing prayogas would be relatively newer additions to these ragas added specifically for this process of grouping,regrouping and reinventing.