Contributions

 

The true stature of a composer is not merely about creating compositions.  It has to be measured against the backdrop of original contributions, which have enriched music. Which is why composers such as Venkata Kavi, Tyagaraja, Dikshitar or Shyama Shastri are in a class by themselves.

Though the site has dealt with in detail about Venkata Kavi's contributions in various pages, this page attempts to spotlight on a few of them briefly, mainly to put in perspective his immense stature as a contributor of enormous significance. 

 

  • Use of jatis (rhythmic syllables) – Venkata Kavi has used jatis in several compositions, making it suitable for both music and dance.  He has often colourfully interspersed lyrics within jati passages.  This adds immensely to the melo-rhythmic as well as lyrical value of music.  Further, the rhythmic syllables he uses are highly interesting and some of them are quite unique.

  • Gati bhedams – It is interesting to note that very few composers have handled gait changes (say from chaturashram (4 per beat) to tishram (3) or khandam (5) within a composition. While latter day composers like Papanasam Sivan have changed from 4 to 3 occassionally, almost no one has ventured into khanda gati, even as a whole composition. Venkata Kavi's gati bhedams are thus not only path-breaking but also unmatched in Carnatic repertoire. 

  • Formidable talas – Even though a few uncommon talas have been used by the Trinity and others such as Sadashiva Rao, the percentage has come down heavily post 1850s. Venkata Kavi has used several sophisticated talas with elan and a list has been provided here, (though it may not be exhaustive).  

  • Madhyama kalam – Venkata Kavi has employed contrasting speed passages in most of his compositions, which are almost like a signature by themselves.  His masterly madhyamakalas - often set in interesting meters - impart a brightness and brilliance to his creations. Some of his innovations in madhyama kalas have been captured here (point 4).

  • Partitioning within krtis – Venkata Kavi's compositional structure is as refreshing as can be seen in under Melody (Point 3).

  • Operas – Among Carnatic composers, Venkata Kavi easily has the maximum number of operatic creations to his credit which includes magnum opuses such as Ramayana, Bhagavatam, Mahabharatam.  Even one such creation would be sufficient to put a composer in the giant class. 

  • Mythological value – The educative value of Venkata Kavi's creations can never be over-stated.  He has mentioned innumerable mythological characters in his compositions, including several rare personalities.

  • Historic significance – Among Carnatic composers, Venkata Kavi has eulogized or cited the maximum number of real-life personalities and contributors before his times. Needless to say, this forms a strong internal evidence with regard to his own probable period.  The last two that he seems to have mentioned are Tulasidasa and Bhadrachala Ramadasa.

  • Kalai change – The only instance of this feature seen in a Carnatic composition is Venkata Kavi's 6th avarana krti, Sadaanandamayi (Hindolam - Sankeerna jati Mathya tala), where the pallavi and anupallavi are in 2 kalais and the charanam shifts to 1-kalai.  

  • It is indeed amazing that the composer has done all these effortlessly and soulfully without prejudicing the emotive value of his compositions, which is an eloquent testimony to the extent of his command over every aspect of music, dance, mythology and various languages. .