Tunbam nergaiyil yazheduthu nee Inbam serkka mattaya
துன்பம் நேர்கையில் யாழெடுத்து நீஇன்பம் சேரக்க மாட்டாயா
Bharatidasan asks in the above poem ‘During tough times, won't you play the harp to cheer me up?’
This lovely poem was set to music by the legend MM Dandapani Desigar. There is an audio segment during a live concert where Desigar explains his rationale for choosing Desh as the ragam to tune this poem. (https://youtu.be/cqsPo7meoFk)
Back in the late eighties I was quite taken in by the ragam Desh. I wanted to learn as many songs as possible. Mr RT Chari, a music connoisseur and collector obliged me with a cassette containing recordings of about 7/8 pieces in this ragam. The first song happened to be Tunbam nergaiyil sung by Maharajapuram Santhanam in a live concert for the Parthasarathy Swamy Sabha. I was going through this long phase of not wanting to have anything to do with film songs in classical concerts. I knew this song had appeared in a film but was not aware of the background information including who tuned it etc.
My own musical senses, aesthetics, priorities continued to change over the years. Performing more concerts gave me different perspectives on the value systems that I had established for myself. Understanding was helped with inputs from gurus, musicians, friends, family etc.
Fast forward to 2008, the centenary year of MM Dandapani Desigar. I decided to use MMD as my theme for that year’s Margazhi Maha Utsavam concert. Here is a blog post I had written before that concert - https://www.sanjaysub.com/blog/2008/12/04/mm-dandapani-desigar/ That was also the first time that I sang Tunbam nergaiyil in a concert. It was very well received and has become the most requested song in my live concerts.
Recently a version of Tunbam Nergaiyil that I have shared on my YouTube Channel (http://www.youtube.com/sanjaysubmusic) hit a million views. Now a million views is pretty significant for me and my team and I am thankful to all of you who have seen, liked, shared, commented and recommended this. I thought this would be a nice time to share some information about this particular recording. Usually I sing it as a stand alone piece in most concerts. So I have this very good friend of mine who started coming to my concerts basically because he liked the Tamizh songs that I sing. He regularly attended my concerts at the Tamizh Isai Sangam. In December 2018 he made a request for me to sing Tunbam Nergailyil in a concert that he would attend. Of course he stood me up and never got to listen to it. I promised him that if he attended my concert on the 1st of January 2019 I would sing it again. He came, and I sang an alapana of Desh and followed it up with this song and some kalpana swarams. This was an almost one time effort on my part to sing the song with these improvisations. I am happy that we decided to upload it on to the YouTube channel and it has been received well. However, the guy for whom this was sung still prefers an earlier stand alone version sans any improvisations!!!

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