Delving into the soul of Ashtapadi

TRIPUNITHURA: Some people are under the impression that sopana sangeetham and Ashtapadi belong to the same class. But it is not so. Yet many sopanam singers try to render Ashtapadi also in tra

Published: 31st March 2011 01:23 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th May 2012 09:50 PM   |  A+A-

TRIPUNITHURA: Some people are under the impression that sopana sangeetham and Ashtapadi belong to the same class. But it is not so. Yet many sopanam singers try to render Ashtapadi also in traditional sopana ragas, said V Jayadevan, who has been presenting Ashtapadi concerts based on the norms of carnatic vocal concerts.  

Sopana sangeetham is ritualistic and takes its origin from the ethnic style of singing ‘Kottipaadi Seva’. The ragas used are Poraneera, Kaanakurinji, Indolam and Bhowli and they are time-bound. Moreover, the lack of a classical structure for these ragas tend to add beauty to sopana sangeetham which is comprised of ‘thyaanis’ (songs in praise of the presiding deity). But these ragas are not suited for Ashtapadi, said Jayadevan.   In order to keep the sanctity of Ashtapadi which should be rendered in the prescribed ragas, Jayadevan decided to follow in the footsteps of his father.  

“From my childhood days I have been accompanying my father, Ashtapadi singer, the late Mankombu Vishwanatha Kurup, by supporting him on the thampura,” Jayadevan said. He certainly has a legacy as an Ashtapadi singer. “Thus I could learn the basics of Ashtapadi in its traditional ragas,” he said.  

“What inspired me most is the portrayal of myriad human emotions like happiness, sorrow of parting, ardent devotion and so on hidden in each line of Ashtapadi. Keeping these basic moods in mind I tried to give musical wings to selected versions of Ashtapadi,” he said.  

Thus he introduced a few unconventional ragas such as ‘Sivaranjini’, ‘Bageswari’ and ‘Suddha Panthuvarali’, which could portray the sensitive mind of Radha, into it.   

After absorbing the essence of the style followed by his father, Jayadevan added some improvisations such as the soothing tone of flute and self- styled ‘Niraval’ and elaboration of ragas to add a classical flavour to his concerts.  

“Through this approach I am trying to give a classic touch to the rendering of Ashtapadi,” Jayadevan said.  

While rendering ‘Kuru Yadunandana...’ Jayadevan skillfully introduced the rustic nuances of the traditional rag, Poraneera, which was immortalised by the great sopanam singer, the late Njaralathu Rama Pothuval.  

Similarly, other traditional ragas such as ‘Dhanashi’ and rare ragas are used to expose the ardent love of Radha towards Krishna.  

With his ardent love for Geetha Govindam the singer could present his music to former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee for the Global Investors Meet held in Kochi.  “I had begun singing even before he entered the hall, but what I sang for the next 30 minutes, he learnt carefully,” Jayadevan said.  

Jayadevan, the manager of a construction Company in Kochi, is an artist with the All India Radio. He heads a music school, Surya Kalakshethra, in east Kodungaloor. Jayadeven focuses on giving importance to Kerala’s traditional music and Kathakali sangeetham. 

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