Friday, August 8, 2008

Free for all

Even though more than half of the things I read about "Classical Music" goes over my head, still the thirst to read and get to know more doesn't end. Having NOT been exposed to "classical music" in any form, where did this thirst originate from? Naan ariyaen..

I really believe that classical music is not only for "Pattu Veshti" Vidwaans and "Haarathi Edukkum" Maamis. The roots of the fruits that we (as layman) enjoy today lies in the framework that our great ancestors had set. We often appreciate a song as "Soft number", "Very Brisk", "Divine" and so on. All these "Bhaavams" are extracted from the 7 Swaras. What do we actually mean when someone says "Kaatril Endhan Geetham" is set in Keeravani or "Kalaivaaniye Unnai Thaane" is based only on aarohanam? Knowing the roots will only help us to appreciate the music better. I will try my best to explain that I have understood and let us make some of these posts interactive so that we all shall learn together.

Due to the British invasion and the political system in our country, we have often got a misinterpreted version of History. There is a debate on how the music evolved and a theory says it all originated from "Sama Veda" where it is believed that 3 fundamental notes were used to recite the hymns. Let us reserve this topic for a separate research study and let us first salute "Tri Moorthy" of Carnatic music. Who are these "TriMoorthys"?

Is it KJY, MS, Balamurali Krishna? It reminds me of a joke - There is a movie where Vivek asks "Who got us the independence?". A boy replies "Puratchi Thalaivar Vijaykant"!! Ada paavi makka !!

Between 1750 and 1850, thousands of compositions were done, new raagas were manifested and performance styles were established. Big three, who contributed towards this massive effort were - Sama Syama Sastry, Tyagaraja and Muthuswamy Dikshitar, called as "Sangeetha Mommoorthigal".

I heard in an interview recently where Illayaraja said: "I decided to get copyrights enforced strictly for Thiruvaasagam in Symphony unlike all my previous projects where many music directors lifted my tunes...". I only wonder, if the "Sangeetha Trimoorthigal" had met in a conference and decided to "copyright" their work, what would all these composers do? But then, that was 1750 and today is 2008, dynamics have changed and we need "Dabbu" for everything!!

(This is a new domain for me as well, so I love to be corrected when I am wrong)


Vinith said...

Thats a fantastic information Emjay. Thanks a lot.

If what i understood is right, on looking at Raaja's words abt copyright on "Sangeetha Trimoorthigal" works, it seems that many music directors have blatantly ripped so many tunes from their sangeethams. Oh God! Is that what he was trying to convey?

Bharath V said...

History of music is fascinating. Western classical has its roots from Gregorian Chants (much like our hymns) and chants themselves were supposedly based on Phythagorean theory of music. Weird part is Chinese, us, Egyptians etc all have similar systems and I can't believe it is just a co-incidence. While we had our Trimoorthigal, contemporary period saw Bach, Handle, Vivaldi creating similar master pieces and they didn't copyright their music as well.

kanna said...

As far as copyright laws go, I do believe there's an expiry date on most intellectual property. For eg, American books go to public domain after 75 years. This means that books by mark twain etc can now be legally distributed for free on Internet. I suppose it is to encourage the spirit of learning from the greats. Like newton said, "if I've seen further than others, it is because I stood on the shoulders of giants", referring to past scientists.

So even if mummoorthigal had copyrighted their work, it probably doesn't hold anymore. And I think we are glad for it, because it is by learning and performing the songs of these greats that subsequent artists were able to improve on the art by adding their own creative touches.

I think as long as artists have the right spirit, copyright doesn't even need to exist. Unfortunately, lots of modern composers seem to care only about the bottomline, and knowingly rip off tunes. Where is the fun in that? Isn't it a beautiful feeling to come up with a tune, orchestrate it competently, and see it become a soundtrack that is a hit? How can one know that he stole a tune and still be satisfied with the output? Really sad.

Any ideas on how to change this trend of copying?

Prakash Srinivasan said...

MJ---A very minor correction, i am saying this just so that we get things perfect for Trimurtis-Its SYAMA SASTRY, you have put "Sama." I have read books on these 3 divine composers-its great to read their life & anecdotes about them. They are born geniuses.

Emjay said...

Thanks Prakash for correcting.

Emjay said...


I agree with you totally. Only if people work for the art. However, today music making is more a money making profession than "Aathmaarthamana Kalai". So, that is what we get !!

P Chandra said...

this is a great information for beginners like me!