10 favourite Carnatic songs

Posted on March 31, 2021

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Kaa vaa vaa: The pleading in this song kills me every single time, especially after reading Kala Krishnan Ramesh’s extraordinary volumes of Murugan poems.

Sujana jeevana: ‘Ramar-ukku alangaram pannra paattu‘ is how someone described this beauty to me. Later, I realised it was not just physical ornaments , like a bangle or a crown. It plays best in a slow tempo, with each epithet becoming an “ornament” to Lord Vishnu.

Amba kamakshi: Every learner learns this. I did, too.

Kshira sagara sayana: Oh dear Lord, a song that could make a believer of an atheist. I love that some storyteller from long long ago thought of an ‘ocean of milk’. To imagine it is just lovely.

Venkata shaila: So many songs are about ‘O Lord, why don’t you see my troubles, why don’t you save me, protect me’! I sometimes wish I could submerge myself into simple faith, just like that.

Aliveni: The padam is something I gravitated towards later in life. As a kid, I suppose the melisma is intimidating. And then you grow up and the heart realises what romance is, and you see this musical form in a whole new way.

Shankari shankuru: Something about its energy does something to me. If the Carnatic system had a ‘gaana song’, this might be it.

Akhilandeswari: A jewel of a song that I discovered after being mesmerised by Shankar-Jaikishan’s ‘Manmohana’ in the raag Jaijaiwanti. Dwijawanti is the Carnatic equivalent.

Yaaro ivar yaaro: One of my most favourite instances of how the sangati-variation technique of the pallavi can result in emotions so subtly different: each time Rama sees Sita and wonders who She is, you feel the difference in His regard of Her.

Sivaloga nathanai kandu: It’s hard to pick one song from the Nandanar Charitram, but with a gun to the head I’d go with this ultimate song of sheer belief. A line says: He gave us hands so we could worship Him!

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