Sri Palapattu R. Rajendran presented a lec dem on the topic “Mallari and its Special Features” at Shri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha, Chennai on 30th Dec 2009. Here are some excerpts from the same based on the notes I took. I have taken the liberty to organize these under my own headings.
Lecture – Palapattu R. Rajendran
Demonstration – Vyasarpadi G. Kothandaraman & Party
Nadasawaram music has been and is an integral part of our festivals. It has been a part and parcel of temple rituals that are conducted during the different parts of the day. Mallari (mallArI) is played as the first musical item in nadaswaram music during temple festivals before the temple deity is taken out in procession.
Though mallaris are played in many temples, many artists today play mallaris that have come from the tradition belonging to the Chidambaram Nataraja temple.
TYPES OF MALLARIS
There are five types of mallaris:
- All mallaris have been/ are played only in ghambIranaTTai raga.
- A ghambhIranATTai raga alapana is played just before the mallari. The order, thus, is the following:
- Playing the shruti
- Playing the tavil alAripu (in kanDa naDai)
- Performing the raga alapana of ghambhIranATTai
- Performing the mallari
- Playing of mallaris in three speeds and in tisra naDai has become a common practice, especially in purappATTu mallari. This raises the possibility of mallaris having been the precursor to pallavi singing
- Eduppu of all mallaris is at samam (beginning of the tALam cycle)
- tha, thom, … like syllables are used
- “tha dhi ki Na thom” phrase usually occurs in the end (some artists have set mallaris with different ending phrases)
- Some mallaris have yatis included in their structure (especially the gOpucca yati)
This is played daily while bringing water from water sources (temple tank) to bathe the idols of the temple deity.
A tIrtha mallAri played by artist Achaalapuram Chinna Thambi Ayya belonging to the Chidambaram Nataraja Temple tradition set to tisra tripuTa tALam was played by Sri Kothandaraman and his team
This was not explained much. I guess this must be played when the naivEdya prasAdam is brought.
A taLigai mallAri played by artist Achaalapuram Chinna Thambi Ayya belonging to the Chidambaram Nataraja Temple tradition set to misra cApu tALam was played by Sri Kothandaraman and his team
This is played when the deity is brought to the tEr before the start of the procession
A tEr mallAri played by artist Achaalapuram Chinna Thambi Ayya belonging to the Chidambaram Nataraja Temple tradition set to kanDa Eka tALam (1 kaLai) was played by Sri Kothandaraman and his team
purapATTu mallArIs have been set and attempted by many nadaswaram artists, especially those belonging to the Tanjore region. They are set usually in all three sthayis – from madhyamam/pancamam of mandhara sthAyi to pancamam of tAra sthAyi. They have been set in a variety of tALams – right from rUpakam to sankIrNa dhruvam.
The order of speeds/naDais in the traditional way of playing purappATTu mallaris is the following:
1) madhyama kAlam
2) durita kAlam
3) viLamba kAlam
4) madhyama kAlam
5) durita kAlam
6) tisra naDai (3 times)
7) madhyama kAlam finish
purappATTu mallaris set to the following talams were played by Sri Kothandaraman and his team:
- rUpaka tALam
- kanDa tripuTa tALam (with different varieties of pUrvAngam and uttarAngam of the same mallari, one of which had a gOpucca yati formation in the uttarAngam)
- tisra tripuTa tALam (a rare mallari that has been played expertly by veteran Thirumeignanam T.P. Nataraja Sundaram in 3 kAlams with tisram and with kalpanA swarams played in 5 naDais for about 25 minutes)
- sankIrNa dhruva tALam
kumbha and tEr MALLARI
These mallaris were not discussed/ demonstrated. However I checked with Sri Rajendran after the lec dem and he said that kumbha mallAri is played when the pUrNakumbham is given while tEr mallAri is played when the deity is taken out in procession.