OVK and Madhyamakala
OVK is one of the greatest masters of madhyamakala in Indian music. It has to be noted that MK is one of the most dazzling features of music, when handled by a master composer. However, for musicians, it can be highly daunting - because it requires tremendous skills in melody, rhythm and pronunciation as well as lyrics as well as breath-control. But true skill lies in being able to master MK and render it with bhava, rakti and bhakti, be it the works of OVK, Tyagaraja, MD, Mysore Sadashiva Rao or HH Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar's compositions. But this is not impossible, if one works hard.
MK is generally used as an optional part by most composers, often to serve as a contrast/punctuation point. Almost invariably, it is used only at the end of a section. However, OVK has employed MK in at least 10 different ways. It is surely one of his greatest melodic contributions and one of his most distinctive features as well. From the point of view of MK usage, his compositions can be classified as below:
1. Pieces with no madhyamakalas.
Eg: Rajaraja gopala (Manji), Ennadan inbam kandayo (Devagandhari), Parvai onre podume (Surati) - Adi 2-kalais.
Taye yashoda (Todi), Kathaya kathaya (Suruti), Adimudi kanada (Huseni) Adi 1-kalai.
Enna punniyam sheideno sad gurunatha and Koti janmani saphalani santu (Reetigowla) - Mishra Chapu
Agama rajagopala (Kedaram) and Vandaduvum ponaduvum (Bilahari) - Khanda Chapu.
2. Compositions which are wholly in MK. Eg: Pranavakaram (Arabhi) and Ananda nartana ganapatim - Nattai
3. Pieces mostly in MK but have normal speed sections more for contrast. Eg: Shri Vighnarajam bhaje (Gambheeranattai) and Chintittavar These are brilliant examples which inverse conventional concept of compositions where MKs are used in small doses more as contrast.
4. Conentional pieces with a sprinkling of MK: Hundreds of examples like Geeta rasike (Kalyani), Brindavana nilaye (Reetigowla), Adinan (Sama).
5. Pieces with several charanams in MK: Saptaratna krtis, Ranganatham anisham (Gambheeranattai) and Kshanameva Ganya (Bhoopalam).
6. Pieces where MK is used within a section, in between 2 lines in normal speeds: Aganita mahima (Gowla), Vanchasi yadi kushalam (Kalyani). Here the first lines are in normal speed, there will be a line in MK and then the music moves back to normal speed.
7. Pieces where MK fits into pre-composed jati patterns: Marakata manimaya (Arabhi), Nalladalla enru sholladi (Shankarabharanam), Bhuvanamoha sundara (Dhanyashi) etc...
8. Pieces where MK is used with the same melody but lyrical variations - sahitya sangatis: Mahashaya hrdaya (Abhogi)
9. Pieces in MK in two gatis: Uma maheshwaratmajam (Umabharanam), Mummada vezha mukhattu vinayakan (Nattai).
10. Pieces which use MK in 2 degrees of speeds (double and quadriple): Oyyaramahave (Saranga), Vitasamavara (Vasanta).
As one can see, just this one aspect - madhyamakala - would alone by sufficient to give one an idea of OVK's stature as a master of melody, rhythm and lyrics. But it is still only a small part of him...