Sunday, May 04, 2008

Dikshitar - Dhrupad ...the connection

Muthuswami Dikshitar was the youngest of the Trinity. (1776 - 1835). He was born in Thanjavur. He was one of three brothers and one sister and hailed from a family of musicians, often compared to the bach family of Germany. Dikshitar moved to Manali from thanjavur, a place near chennai. He came in contact with western music played by the bands of the East india Company. It could have been here that his brother Baluswami Dikshitar first learnt the violin and adapted it to carnatic music. Dikshitar was an avid traveller. During his lifetime, he was spiritually inspired by Chidambara Yogi. Dikshitar went to Varanasi with him. This phase of life which brought him in touch with Dhrupad, whos influence shows in his later compositions.The slow dhrupad style of North Indian music captivated him. This is why his songs are normally slow in tempo and majestic. They bring out the depth and beauty of the raga using ornamentation (gamakas). He also used what is known as Madhyamakala (medium tempo). The hindustani influence is amply reflected in his works like: Cheta Sri (dwijavanti), Balagopala (Bhairavi), Sri Rajagopala (Saveri), Minakshi Me Mudam (Poorvikalyani) and Sri Subramanyaya Namasthe (khambhoji).His kritis are normally in Sanskrit and a chowka kala pramanam. Here are the different speeds in carnatic music to give you an idea of the pace of his compositions - Vilamba laya = chowka laya (slow) Madhyama laya (medium) Druta laya (fast)The Chowka Kala Pramanam is comparable to the Dhrupad style in Hindustani Music. This style is striking in his compositions in ragas like Dwijavathi, Ramkali, Yamakalyani, Hamirkalyani and Brindavan sarang. Dikshitar introduced the Raga "Hamsadhwani" in Carnatic music, the most famous compostion being, "Vatapi". People say he created this ragam, but one can arguably state that he "introduced" it to the carnatic genre based on his knowledge of Hindustani music.