Who is a vaggeyakara?

Carnatic composers (other than performing vidwans)
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#1 Who is a vaggeyakara?

Post by satyabalu » 28 Jul 2012, 17:51

* I am going to the basic question .
* In CM who is a composer - one who has composed lyrics or done the lyrics &set to tunes.
* If someone has set to tune the lyrics will the person who has composed the lyrics may not be considered vaggeyakara?
*If most of the forumites opine the proposed discussion will hinder our natural way of enjoying the divine music handed over to us over generations through tradition, I will not pursue with the same.
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#2 Re: Who is a vaggeyakara?

Post by Nick H » 28 Jul 2012, 19:25

A composer composes music not words.

Words are the business of a lyricist or poet.

When we hum the tune (or play it on an instrument), we should credit the composer.

This is not how the carnatic world sees it, I suppose because of the very great weight that is attributed to lyric and meaning of a song.

What we have is accepted usage, and it is not going to change in the face of definitions.

(especially when given by a foreigner :o )
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#3 Re: Who is a vaggeyakara?

Post by vasanthakokilam » 28 Jul 2012, 22:43

I do not think the following is anything new to people here. The word Vagyeyakara refers to someone who is both the lyricist/poet and the tune-smith who creates the full emotional experience ( rasa ) as a symbiotic whole out of the piece parts of words, raga, and thala. These three orthogonal dimensions come together to create the aesthetics we perceive. Problem occurs only when we translate that word to 'Composer'. In Western Pop and folk music genres, the designation 'Singer-Songwriter' comes close, especially the songwriter part.

( In fact, singer-songwriter brings the fourth dimension, namely the singer. Vaggeyakara does not necessarily capture that part, though the trinity sang their own songs. The fifth dimension of course is the 'Guru', so their creations are passed on to future generations. But the word Vaggeyakara does not capture the Guru aspect, though again, the trinity were great teachers as well )

I do not know much about Sanskrit derivation, but the 'va' part of it refers to the words ( as in वाक्य - vAkya - words ) and 'ga' part refers to the tune/song ( गा gA - song, several common words like gItha etc come from this).

I googled for the proper derivation for vaggeyakara and found one reference: "Vaacham geyyam cha kurute, sa Vagyeyakara".

I know I am stretching myself way out of my league here.. Others. please provide any corrections.
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#4 Re: Who is a vaggeyakara?

Post by arasi » 29 Jul 2012, 01:26

Yes, you have covered the ground and added more dimensions! I am two-dimensional at best--that is, a vAggEyakAra.
Here's an incident from years ago which informed me that I was one:

Someone: iva compose ellAm paNNuvA, theriyumA? She's a composer.
Someone else: No, she's not! A composer has just the words. A vAgEyakAra is both (the same derivation given by you was quoted).
I also want to say that some composers (like Ambujam Krishna) did not tune what you hear as a song now. True, but all the same, did hum it in 'some' rAgA--may be the same one as we hear it in. That dimension in them is not obvious because someone else tuned their songs. I think, just as words come naturally to us humans, music and beat do too. That's why when a song isn't lyrical but is just a string of words, it's difficult to sing it or tune it. My two cents worth.
I think, it's like the ever-evasive thAlam in me. It's there, I know, but it eludes me--and almost always, indicates the tAlam to the singer with no trouble ;)
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#5 Re: Who is a vaggeyakara?

Post by satyabalu » 29 Jul 2012, 02:45

*Thanks for the revelations.
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#6 Re: Who is a vaggeyakara?

Post by varsha » 29 Jul 2012, 08:50

I feel it is easier to pick out who is not a vaggeyakara . There was a time when the family physician was counsellor , nutritionist , physician , all rolled into one . We are now living in times when the practitioners move out of their specialised field ,even if they stray by millimeteres . We are living in times when composers ( in the vaggeyakara context ) get their compositions repaired by musicians , sanskrit pundits etc :(
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#7 Re: Who is a vaggeyakara?

Post by cmlover » 29 Jul 2012, 20:51

The word vAggeyakAra is
वाक् + गॆयकार
The first word means 'words' or in this case meaningful words i.e., lyrics
The second term is a upapada compound meaning 'one who makes singable'.
The vAggeyakara writes the lyrics, sets them in the singable format by writing the musical notations.
Hence technically Ambujam Krishna/Arasi/P Thooran/Bharathy are not vaggeyakara though they have set the raga but not the notations! On the otherhand P Sivan is a true vAggeyakara and there are several others. There must be those who can also perform their compositions according to their notations like (late) GNB/HMB etc. We need a separate term for them. May I suggest
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#8 Re: Who is a vaggeyakara?

Post by vasanthakokilam » 29 Jul 2012, 22:36

CML: Good input on the word derivation.. so the kAr goes with the gEya and not both vAk and gEya together..right? Previously I thought the 'kAr' ( the doer ) designation applied to both the words and music. That is, ( lyrics + music )doer = lyrics-doer + music-doer as opposed lyrics + music-doer which is what you are deriving. Since Sanskrit is quite a stickler for rules on such associativity, I assume only one of the two is correct. Please confirm.

1) Why should a gEyakAra use notations? If the criteria is to make the lyrics singable, it can be done in many ways, including just singing it to someone in the chosen raga and thala.

2) Stretching it a bit more, if the gEyakAra is the one who makes the words singable, it does not say that the vAk has to be his/her own. So, strictly speaking, someone who takes any vAk ( their own or someone's else ) and makes it singable is a vAgyEyakAra.. That is not the pragmatics and usage in CM, but strictly speaking from sanskrit perspective, wouldn't that be true?

3) If you buy into the logic of 2, then what is the unambiguous term for someone who sets their owns words to music: svavAggEyakAra ? ( and svavAggeyakAragAyakA )
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#9 Re: Who is a vaggeyakara?

Post by arasi » 29 Jul 2012, 23:59

Add another clause, if you wish: they should also be jagadAnandakArakAs :)

1: I see it. Did the trinity always write notations to their compositions? Or did their students? kELvi gnAnam from vedic times was still in vogue, wasn't it?

Input was also part of the creative process all along, I think. Of gurus, peers divine intervention ;) and so on.
We practise it here at Rasikas.org. We see it a lot in the kavidaigaL section.

Lots of sanskrit words come into focus--good!
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#10 Re: Who is a vaggeyakara?

Post by cmlover » 30 Jul 2012, 07:50

I am only explaining the sanskrit derivation.
The kAra goes with gEya meaning 'one who sings/singer' which is the potential participle of the dhatu (verbal root) 'gai - to sing'. Thus 'gEyakAra' is a tatpurusha upapada compound meaning 'one who makes a singer or one who makes singable'.
What singable? the answer here is 'vAk'. There is no stipulation that the vAk should be one's own. But the emphasis is on singability oneself or making a singer (which of course means making the notation or teaching a student/performer).
To answer arasis's point the Trinity were good singers themselves and they taught their shishyas though the notations were developed later by Subbarama Dikshitar. In addition the 'vAk' was their own though that may be secondary. Thus the list that I quoted excluding P Sivan were persons who were not singers or teachers of music. Hence it does not fit. They are excellent lyricists who composed lyrics which were set to music by other musicians.

One who makes singable another's verse could also be included in this definition.
But then SSI who set to music Swati/Ambujam krishna/... or TNS who set to music P thooran/AK or even DKP/DKJ who set to music Bharathy are not called a vaggeyakara! Perhaps the requirement that the words should be their own is enforced!

Incidentally 'vAggeyakAra' is a loosely used term and is not a title like SK etc., which is awarded by an august body. Perhaps it goes by general recognition unless and until it is challenged!
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#11 Re: Who is a vaggeyakara?

Post by vasanthakokilam » 31 Jul 2012, 09:59

CML: So, you are confirming then that by strict sanskrit derivation, Ilayaraja and Rahman are vAggEyakArA.. True?

Talking still in the sanskrit realm, on the 'singability oneself or making a singer' why are you connecting the 'sing-ability of the person' with 'making the lyrics sing-able'?
Strictly speaking those are two different things, aren't they? The first one modifies/puts the quality on the person where as the second puts the quality on the lyrics.
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#12 Re: Who is a vaggeyakara?

Post by cmlover » 31 Jul 2012, 19:49

Certainly IR and ARR qualify to be called vaggeyakaras though most of their works are not strictly CM. But nobody uses those terms in their context. Neither are KaNNadAsan or Vairamuthu called vaggeyakara though some of their lyrics are CM oriented. The term is strictly used in the CM context. But the term இசை அமைப்பாளர் (Isai amaippALar) is more generic.

I was always curious as to how one gets called a vaggeyakara since olden times the term was used to command high respect. One cannot compose 'vAk' without a deep knowledge of CM. In fact anything (even nonsense words) can be sung in any raga by a competent musician: Eg.,
திருப்பதிக்கு போயி வந்தேன் நாராயணா
திரு மொட்டை அடித்து வந்தேன் நாராயணா (quted from Sundaram Iyer 'Karnataka Sangeetham)
Or many vacana kavithai sung in CM ragas would not qualify as 'vAk'. In fact the Trinity composed music paying attention to grammar (chandas) particular to CM and then set them to music. It requires high proficiency in the languages and CM to compose the vAk. For example Guruji Raghavan has set to beautiful ragas and tALas (some exotic) over 200 of Thiruppugazh lyrics. Neither do we call Arunagirinathar a vaggeyakara or even Guruji himself ! Those are not even sung in CM concerts. At best they are relegated to the 'thukkaDA' region of the concert. Only the recognized 'vaggeyakAra' songs are sung and elaborated during the main body of CM concerts by the stalwarts. They are the true vAggeyakAras and the rest are so-called vaggeyakaras. I have no complaints :D

In fact in CM we should also have the Sanskrit term gEyakAra for those who create instrumental music (without words). LGJ eminently qualifies for that role as do many Thillana composers (which use sparse words).
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#13 Re: Who is a vaggeyakara?

Post by vasanthakokilam » 31 Jul 2012, 20:41

CML, OK, got it, though bringing kannadasan and vairamuthu expands the scope of this word even further. Is it a lyricist-tunesmith, lyricist, tunesmith or a singer? To resolve this cleanly from a Sanskrit point of view, let us try this.

Let us view this slightly differently. Let us set aside how it is used in CM circles. Let us go to an imaginary town which is rich in culture where everyone is proficient in Sanskrit and can speak the language fluently. Papanasam Sivan, Ilayaraja, kannadasan and SPB live there. You ask each one of them 'What do you do?'. Strictly from the language point of view, in a normal sanskrit conversational setup, who among these can call themselves a vAggeyakAra and the listener will understand what they do. Each one has the option to add more things to fully describe what they do if vAggeyakAra does not capture what they do fully but let us restrict it to the narrow aspect of who among these folks can correctly call themselves a vAggeyakAra.
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#14 Re: Who is a vaggeyakara?

Post by cmlover » 31 Jul 2012, 21:18

There is the generic term 'kavi' - one who writes poems. Of course the poem also has to stick to its grammar (based on the language). In sanskrit it has to follow 'kAvya' rules ( as per Dandi). In tamil there are specific rules (yAppilakkaNam). As do in English prosody. What is written today loosely called 'vacana kavithai' will not pass muster.

There is a coined term 'sangItakAra' - one who creates sangitam (all sorts including CM). These are folks who also write songs to be sung. They are distinct from 'kavi' in the sense that they write pieces to be sung. There is no strict grammar for their creations. Those who melodiously sing those pieces are 'gAyakA' who are distinct from 'bhAgavatA' who are CM trained vidwans.

Papanasam Sivan - vAggEyakAra
Ilayaraja - sangitakAra
kannadasan - kavi (so recognized)
SPB - gAyakA
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#15 Re: Who is a vaggeyakara?

Post by arasi » 31 Jul 2012, 22:10

'nAm kE vAstE' (both about definition and fame!) kavi (?) solvAr silar
palarO, manadil thOnRuvadaip paDaippAr. (Some will do it for fame and may also fit in when it comes to the above definitions. Others will just create, whatever comes to them.

Yes, and there are popular usages which have come about, for valid reasons or not.

If you asked Harimau, he's bound to say, "Every street can boast at least of one Mami who's a vAggEyakArA ;)
Well, I'm a MAmi (not a title I think much of) and yet I suppose I can call myself a sangIthakkAri until more work is done in the area for the correct usage for every kind of sangIthakArA ;)
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#16 Re: Who is a vaggeyakara?

Post by cmlover » 31 Jul 2012, 23:37

The word sangItakAra is gender neutral like vAggEyakAra.
If you want to create a feminine it must be

Those who create kavi on the spot are 'Ashu kavi'.
However the kavi should stick to grammar!

mAmi is also a loosely used term generally referring to older brahmin ladies. If it is used for the wife of mAma then it is generic...

I am not sure about the customary practices in other communities...

In ancient Tamil we had the term பாணர் (pANar) for those who could compose and sing a song. Later it became a caste name though the profession was the same...
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#17 Re: Who is a vaggeyakara?

Post by arasi » 31 Jul 2012, 23:45

In SangIthakkAri, I slipped into thamizh :(

As for MAmi, you are right--though I hear more of Aunty-s nowadays.
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#18 Re: Who is a vaggeyakara?

Post by cmlover » 01 Aug 2012, 00:01

The Tamilized term for the male will be SangitakkArar respectfully or SangItakkAran irreverently :D
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#19 Re: Who is a vaggeyakara?

Post by arasi » 01 Aug 2012, 02:16

It also depends on the context--respect and disrespect, I mean--as about those in any profession. In orumai or panmai: inda sangIthakkArALai ellAm theriyAdA? (Don't we know these musicians!). Substitute lawyers plumbers, medical professionals etc ;)
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#20 Re: Who is a vaggeyakara?

Post by cmlover » 01 Aug 2012, 19:29

Though HMB is an outstanding vAggEyakAra when attention to his kritis was drawn to ARI (who would not recognize any one other than the Trinity) commented:
"ivan paNRathu pOk kIrthanam" :D

Though ARI set to music the ThiruppAvai at the behest of periyavaaL he is not called a vAggeeyakAra.
He would have resented it anyway :D
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#21 Re: Who is a vaggeyakara?

Post by arasi » 01 Aug 2012, 22:59

Even those who cannot come anywhere near HMB are called vAggEyakArAs these days. I know of one who is called that by a few for the want of a better word (yet to be coined for a lowlier class of folks of music)! Well, if that person comes from a village a stone's throw from HMB's own village, does it count?? On top of it, if he has lived in your ancestral home for a while?? ;)
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#22 Re: Who is a vaggeyakara?

Post by satyabalu » 18 Aug 2012, 21:13

* After reading the recent thread on Geethams &Varnams I observe that those vaggeyakaras who have composed those are not hailed as much as We do for vaggeyakaras of kritis thillanas etc., e.g., Paidala Gurumurthy Shastri -exception pachimiriim Atiappier for Bhairavi .
* I am eager to know who have composed all/nearly all of them -Geetham varnam Kritis ...OVK?
Purandaradasa,MD? SS, ( Veenai kuppier, Tiruvoottyur Thiagaier.PSI,.ST Tanjore Quartet, Poochi ).LGJ .....Those are in brackets have composed Varnams .More to come from members.
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#23 Re: Who is a vaggeyakara?

Post by Lakshman » 02 Oct 2012, 22:20

satyabalu: The list that includes gItams, lakSaNa gItams and lakSya gItams would be very long. I will therefore post three separate lists. Here is the list of gItams:

Adimai vazhavi aghatrivaye (g) Varali C.S.Natarajasundaram Pillai
Adiya padanai nadi ni manamE (g) Kambhoji C.S.Natarajasundaram Pillai
Amarikapari para bhramari mukhari kritam (g) Nata Paidala Gurumurti Shastri
Anaittuyirkkum oru andavan (g) Shankarabharana C.S.Natarajasundaram Pillai
Analakaravunni poladi sakala shastra purana (g) Shuddhasaveri Purandaradasa
Ananda tandava murti (g) Jaganmohini C.S.Natarajasundaram Pillai
Anavaratamum unnaiye (g) Bilahari C.S.Natarajasundaram Pillai
Annam mudalai ariya (g) Arabhi Nerur Shrinivasachar
Ara neri vazhuvadiruppade (g) Vachaspati C.S.Natarajasundaram Pillai
Aram sheya virumbu (g) Shuddhasaveri C.S.Natarajasundaram Pillai
Araro dasharaha natha (g) Ritigaula M.D.Ramanathan
Are are sarvagala bhravinuresara (g) Narayanagaula Vinai Kuppier
Are dina parijatu revi radhiviru revi (g) Yadukulakambhoji Vinai Kuppier
Are re dasharatha raja nandana paripalitaga (g) Shankarabharana ?
Are re dasharatha vara tanayare tataka (g) Bhupala ?
Are re dinakara vamshaka sambudhi (g) Todi Ramamatya
Are re nada svara grama jati ragadi svarupa (g) Saranganata Tiruvettiyur Tyagayya
Are re sarva kala pravinu resara (g) Narayanagaula ?
Are tume bhutali ativikrama krurere (g) Shuddhasaveri ?
Areyanaka dundubi udatile avatarutva (g) Nata Appiah Dikshitar
Arivudaiyar nerivudaiyar (g) Gambhiranata C.S.Natarajasundaram Pillai
Arul natha arul varam ta ta (g) Shri Abraham Panditar
Arul taruvar engal ananda(g) Malayamaruta C.S.Natarajasundaram Pillai
Atti vaikkum bommaiyinal (g) Gaula C.S.Natarajasundaram Pillai
Ayan enaip-padaittan (g) Purvikalyani C.S.Natarajasundaram Pillai
Bhaja bhaja nityam manasa krishnam nijabhakta (g) Dhanyasi ?
Bhakti vagittavar parinai(g) Shuddhasaveri C.S.Natarajasundaram Pillai
Bhaya maya deva enna deva shri venkatachala (g) Deshakshi Purandaradasa
Bhaya samaya devuvuni deva shri venkatachala (g) Bilahari Purandaradasa
Bhoga yoga bhoga raga naga vega dega(g) Todi Shahji Maharaja
Bhushani gangeya janaka hrdaya (g) Shriranjani Vinai Shesha Iyer
Bhuvanatraya mohana vamsha (g) Kambhoji Paidala Gurumurti Shastri
Charanaravinda padame varapradayakame (g) Pranavapriya Vinai Shesha Iyer
Dalita navakotirore (g) Gaula ?
Dasha mukhari dina dayalu natajanavana (g) Mukhari ?
Devaki vasudeva nandana devata krta vandana (g) Todi ?
Dhara dalita champaka ghora kalam (g) Shankarabharana Vinai Kuppier
Dhirutu jharusa marigini singini gunadhana (g) Bauli ?
Dhumakuma kumakuma kumita (g) Gaula ?
Dina jana chintamani parthasarathire ananta (g) Saurashtra ?
Eduvum satamalla ezhai (g) Abhogi C.S.Natarajasundaram Pillai
Gajavadanam gunasadanam shri (g) Shankarabharana ?
Gana vidya durandara venkata subharya guro (g) Nata Paidala Gurumurti Shastri
Ganapati enre karudi (g) Kalyani C.S.Natarajasundaram Pillai
Gereyaniranu (g) Malahari Purandaradasa
Gesi narakasura (g) Kalyani ?
Ghuma ghuma ghuma ghuma ghumita kumkuma (g) Gaula Vinai Kuppier
Giridhara mamava (g) Navaroj ?Muttusvami Dikshitar
Govinda gokulavana nipuna dharanija ramana (g) Nata ?
Guru govinda dikshiddakhila samuha (g) Ritigaula Vinai Kuppier
Hari dayite vara charite surarchite (g) Bilahari ?
Harihara vinuta (g) Nata ?
Ila mane himagiri vazh ezhil menpidiyanai (g) Bilahari Periasami Tooran
Ishaiyil ishaiya (g) Saveri ?
Ishayulam emadiraiva orezh aya suram (g) Svaramanjari T.A.Dhanapandian
Jada makuta bhaka ghattagam (g) Saveri ?
Jagadisha bhuvi tannil un tiru malaradi (g) Nata Abraham Panditar
Janaki ramana te namo namo (g) Nilambari Paidala Gurumurti Shastri
Jata makutabha gaka tita ganga (g) Kedaragaula ?
Jaya jaya damaja poshana mridubhashana (g) Shri ?
Jaya jaya madhavi mata (g) Mechabauli Venkatamakhi
Jaya jaya vibhishana (g) Gangatarangini Govindacharya
Jaya shura vedasara (g) Punnagavarali Govindacharya
Kakustha tilakure (g) Gayakapriya Govindacharya
Kalai vani taye (g) Sarasvati C.S.Natarajasundaram Pillai
Kamala janardhanuta padam (g) Arabhi ?
Kamala malaranil amarum amalai (g) Dhanyasi Ponniah
Kamala sambhava vinuta padayuga kari varada (g) Ritigaula ?
Kamala sulochana vimala tatakini marala kamini (g) Anandabhairavi Paidala Gurumurti Shastri
Kanakambari are raganga (g) Gundakriya Venkatamakhi
Kandadum kettadum (g) Mayamalavagaula C.S.Natarajasundaram Pillai
Karnata konkana manohara birudanga (g) Ragamalika ?
Karunai amudu pozhiguvai un kazhal (g) Malahari T.A.Dhanapandian
Kaushika puravarure (g) Lalita Shrikaanth K.Murthy
Kereya niranu kerugajalli varava (g) Malahari Purandaradasa
Kshira navanita chora trilokarchitapada (g) Behag Vinai Shesha Iyer
Kudiye vazhvadu (g) Varali K.Ponniah Pillai
Kunta gaura gauri vara (g) Malahari Purandaradasa
Lambodara lakumikara (g) Malahari Purandaradasa
Madanajanaka madhusudana (g) Natakuranji Rallapalli Anantakrishna Sharma
Madhava manini mangala dayini madhava vakshoma (g) Saveri ?
Malai tanil ulavidum (g) Saveri C.S.Natarajasundaram Pillai
Mandara dharare moksha murare daitya kulantaka (g) Kambhoji Paidala Gurumurti Shastri
Manmatha nala nala kupara sama samaronmukha (g) Malavashri ?
Mariyadai teriyada (g) Huseni C.S.Natarajasundaram Pillai
Mina lochani mamadurai vazh pandiya (g) Shankarabharana Vinai Shesha Iyer
Minakshi jaya kamakshi gangadika vamakshi (g) Shri Paidala Gurumurti Shastri
Mudadayar potri sheyum munnavane muzhu (g) Bahudari Tiger Varadachari
Murugayyane guhane panniru kayyane mal maruga (g) Shanmukhapriya Vinai Shesha Iyer
Nal malaril uraivai (g) Kalyani K.Ponniah Pillai
Nanda gopa kumaram sukumaram (g) Sindhubhairavi Vinai Shesha Iyer
Niraja ghanashyama mukunda madhava (g) Basant Vinai Shesha Iyer
Nitya jiva patriya adiyar (g) Malahari Abraham Panditar
Padma sambhava pujita padayuga kamala aprameya (g) Shankarabharana ?
Padumanabha parama purusha paranjyoti (g) Malahari Purandaradasa
Pahi shri ramachandra kausalya (g) Anandabhairavi Paidala Gurumurti Shastri
Paidala vamsha jata (g) Arabhi Paidala Gurumurti Shastri
Paidalavayanka guru (g) Nata Paidala Gurumurti Shastri
Palayanage svara vandi budha vali (g) Bilahari Paidala Gurumurti Shastri
Paraman unakku (g) Kambhoji C.S.Natarajasundaram Pillai
Parame pirava (g) Devamanohari C.S.Natarajasundaram Pillai
Paraparan magizh paintamizh ishai (g) Saveri Ponniah
Paripali sada sumukha (g) Malahari Shrikaanth K.Murthy
Parishuddha sarveshan unadadi (g) Shuddhasaveri Abraham Panditar
Parvati janani bhavani shri rajarajeshvari (g) Bhairavi Shyama Shastri
Patiye daivam enrodiya (g) Saveri C.S.Natarajasundaram Pillai
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#24 Re: Who is a vaggeyakara?

Post by satyabalu » 04 Oct 2012, 13:39

*Thank you Lakshman! will go through the long list.There is one in 'Natabharavi". We must first bring this to open. :!:
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#25 Re: Who is a vaggeyakara?

Post by classicallover » 08 Oct 2012, 12:06

Balu may have asked this question and started the topic in right earnest and innocence. But this subject is not new in musical circles wherein it is akin to asking what is a “wheel”. A wheel is a wheel and would remain a wheel for all time to come . Similarly, there is no need for redefining the term vaaggEyakaara .

In this thread, there has been too much discussion with some digression too and I feel that still nothing definite has been precipitated at the end of it. Too many terms have been brought into the discussions. I attempt below to bring some clarity to the issue.

A. : Vaak = words . Other form of this term is vachanam. Gitam = which is sung or has been sung, gEyam = which can be sung, gaanam = singing or song.

B. : VaaggEyakaara: = it is a compound word of Samskritam origin which can be split-defined in two ways .
a. vaakkaarascha asau gEyakaarascha = which means that the person is both the writer of lyrics and also the tune & rhythm setter. This is like the phrasing in English “ He is NOT ONLY the writer BUT ALSO the music composer.
b. vaakkaara: eva gEyakaara: = the song writer is himself the music composer

Hence vaaggEyakaara is both the lyric writer and also the music composer.

VaaggEyakaara is not a genderless term actually but has been converted to be so in English for sake of convenience. It is derived from the masculine form “ vaaggEyakaara:” the feminine of which is vaaggEyakaarika. There are other forms of this word with the same meaning like vaaggEyakartaa / vaaggEyakartri (masc./fem.) and vaaggEyakaarii / vaaggEyakaariNii ( masc./fem. ) respectively.

C. : There are five types of composers so far as we can see through history.

1. Original two-in-one : The Trinity, GKB, many of those before them like Melattur Veerabhadraiah, Ramaswami Dikshitar, etc. and many afterwards like Patnam SI, HMB, Poochi Iyengar, Papanasam Sivan, etc to name a few are true vaaggEyakaaras. This is because they have to be qualified sufficiently in both the language grammar/literature as well as music. In Carnatic music the lyrics are the skeleton which conveys the emotions intended and embellished by the tune and rhythm, which is in contrast to the western and Hindustani music where lyrics have either no role or minimum role. Hence a Western or Hindustani composer is less than half a composer as per Carnatic definition of VaaggEyakaara.

2. Combination vaaggEyakaara : The duo of Ramaswami Sivan and Maha Vaidyanatha Sivan are in this category. The former wrote the lyrics while the latter set it to tune & rhythm and sung them.

3. Default or proxy vaaggEyakaara : The songs attributed to them have actually been written and composed by the court musicians and dedicated to the rulers in return for patronage. Swati Tirunal, Mysore Maharaja, etc come into this category.

4. Vaakkaaras or poets : They are true poets ( extempore or otherwise ) and hence are responsible only for the words. They are not concerned whether their poems can be sung or not. Annamacharya as an extempore poet ( aashu kavi ) falls into this category. His poems have been sung by many persons in many ways , many after being altered to conform to musical aesthetics. Even in film world, the song writer and the music composer are defined separately by the terms songwriter and music composer/director. Hence, poet, songwriter, lyricist, sahityakaari/sahityakaariNi, etc., are all same.

5. gEyakaaras or music composers : These set to tune & rhythm the songs written by others and made the lyrics worthy of singing. Semmangudi ( for Swati Tirunal ) , MSS, DKP, etc ( for Subrahmanya Bharati ), Nedunuri ( for Annamacharya, Ramadas, etc. ) are in this category.

C. : One more category of composers is those about whom we may not know much . We are not aware whether they composed the lyrics with any particular tune in mind or not and even if they did, we wouldn’t know what those tunes were. Jayadeva, Kshetragna, Purandaradasa fall into this category.

It is suggested hereby to please read " Musings of a musician " by R. Rangaramanuja Iyengar.
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