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Music Review - Navarasa - Eternal Emotions

Ranjani Saigal

(This article is sponsored by Sounds of India)

Title: Navarasa- the eternal emotion
Composed & Directed by : V.K.Raman

The Artsists

Bamboo Flute: V.K.Raman
Violin: V.Srikanth
Mridangam: Anoor Ananthakrishna Sharma
Keyboard: Shabbir
Rhythm Pad Arun Sukumar
Ghatam & Morching: Ramesh
Konnakkol: Shiva,Venu & Arun
Dancer (Model): Nirupama Rajendra

Indian classical music and dance, based on the Natya Shastra puts great emphasis on the concept of “Bhava” and “Rasa”.

Creating Rasa means to give aesthetic delight or to give an experience of ultimate bliss and happiness. The term Rasa unfortunately has no equivalent in the English language. But it can be translated as flavour, to relish, sentiment (emotion), as explained by scholars. Thus it could be best translated as the aesthetic feeling that is created in the spectator when he witnesses an effective presentation of the art.

According to Natya Sastra, an ancient treatise on Indian Drammaturgy, there are 8 Rasas and this was accepted till ,Uddhata ,the first commentator on Natya Shastra began to speak of Rasa as nine in number.

Amongst the eight Rasas, four Rasas happen to be the sources of the other four Rasas:

Shringara comes from Hasya, from Raudra comes the Karuna, from the Vira comes the Adhbuta and from the the Bibhatsa comes the Bhayanaka. The culminating experience of all Rasas is supposed to be the ninth Rasa Shanthi Rasa.

Creating the right Rasas in your audience is perhaps the most difficult challenge for any musician . This challenge is even greater when there are no words to add to your music. Kudos to New England composer and flutist Shri V.K.Raman for bringing out the Navarasas through his music in an very successful manner.

His CD , Navarasa features nine pieces. In an attempt to bring carnatic music to an audience that is addicted to music from Bollywood, Raman has combined pure Carnatic classical music played on the violin and the flute with music based on popular film tunes using a keyboard, along with his own keyboard tunes creating an interesting fusion.

The first piece titled Ananda, (Happiness ) is in Ragam Mohanam woven with crisp and fast rhythm patterns, changing into Ragam Shuddha Saveri in the later part. We then move on to the Rasas. Karunyam (kindness) is in Ragam Sahana emphasizing the natural kindness and magnanimity slowly culminating into Ragam Dwijavanthi. Shringaram (love), known as the king of the Rasas follows in the popular Ragams Behag, Kapi and Kamas with a lively mix of percussive patterns. Adhbutham(awe) is wonderfully created with intricately spun notes in Ragam kadanakuthoohalam which is combined with Jathis (oral rhythmic syllables) and lively percussions.

Raman uses Ragam Rishabapriya to express Bhayankam(fright). Ragam Kuntalavarali brings out fun and frolic to suit Hasyam(Humor). Bheehatsayam(disgust) is done by blending a variety of Ragams. Veeram(valor) and Roudhram(wrath)are brought out in full force with a chain of exuberantly fast rhythmic patterns in Ragams Atana and Hamsadwani. The last piece of the album is Shantam(serenity) in Ragam Sama.

Raman’s exceptional musicianship makes this a classy CD. His beautiful flute playing elevates the music. All the musicians have done a fine job on their respective instruments. The seamless blending between Carnatic Raga Alapanais, familiar film tunes and the new creations make for a wonderful experience.

The music also makes use of interesting rhythmic patterns that dazzle the listener. The patterns created with Konnakol, Morsing, Mridangam and Tabla especially in Adbhutam, Bhayankam and Hasyam is intricate and exciting.

As a dancer I was excited to see this CD since the music that can depict Rasas is always valuable to dancers. I think the CD can be used to create background music for dance-dramas. Creative choreographers could make light dance presentations based on the music.

Overall the CD is excellent. The research done by Raman and musical ideas presented are very useful to all musicians. The violin and flute alapanais are beautiful. While Carnatic music affectionadoes will like the CD, it is also a wonderful CD for your “Rehman” trained kids and friends. A gift of this CD would be a nice way to bring Carnatic music to them.

For more information on buying the CD, please send mail to anil@lokvani.com

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