Saturday, August 2, 2014

Balleilakka (Fusion Music/Multi-Ethnic Worship?)

Do you listen to songs in languages you don't know? Can you worship in a language you don't understand? I do and I can.  It hardly seems to matters that I can barely make out the words;  I wish I could understand, of course, but even without the shared meaning I seem to be able to appreciate the music deeply, enjoying the beauty and creativity of the sounds, and become lost to the wonder of our Creator. In other words,  not understanding the words isn't a barrier to worship or enjoyment. And so I have an eclectic music collection. Recently, I acquired a song in a language I should know and understand but with which I still struggle, my native language Tamil. A social media friend shared a video of the Augustana Choir singing Balleilakka.  The young American college students rendition of this song along with their choir director's verve and energy so completely captured me that I bought and began to research it. At first, I wasn't even sure if the words were in Tamil because it is such a tongue-twister.

Very simply, the song asks: "who is he? is he the sun or the moon? who is he? tell me now." 


 Those who know me will know immediately how I interpret this song (as a worship song even though its a romantic song). I like this particular song so very much because it highlights an aspect of multi-ethnic worship I just love to visualize too:  A scene straight out of Revelation. All peoples singing in different languages and worshiping the awesome Lamb. So very different from what often passes for multi-ethnic worship.

Here's a little bit about Tamil, the language, the song's history/origins, and the composer, and two videos of it.  The original video is from the movie and features an actor who was just making his acting debt when I was a kid. The other is the Augustana Choir's performance of it.  Finally the lyrics. Tamil transliteration (not translation although I guess I should attempt to do it). Enjoy!
"Balleilakka (arranged for earthsongs by Ethan Sperry) is a song from the Tamil film Sivaji, which means “The Boss.” Tamil is the language of the Southern Indian province of Tamil Nadu whose capital, Chennai (Madras under British rule) is India’s third-largest city and A.R. Rahman’s home. An old language dating back to before 300 B.C., Tamil is the native language of Singapore and Sri Lanka as well as tens of millions of Indians (there are almost 2,000 newspapers in print in Tamil today of which about 350 are daily papers). The text of this piece is a tongue-twister lamenting how traditional Indian culture is being subsumed and listing the speaker’s memories of his homeland in increasingly faster syllabic patterns." Often referred to as “The Indian Mozart”, A.R. Rahman writes at least as fast, having completed over 100 film scores since 1992. His soundtracks have sold more than 300 million copies worldwide, making him one of the best-selling recording artists of all time. He has won fourteen of India’s Filmfare awards (the equivalent of the  Oscar) and his first two Academy Awards in 2008, one for “Jai Ho” being the Best Song of the Year." Source: Earthsongs (one world. many voices)

Original movie video: 


Augustana Choir: (this version isn't as nice as the one I watched but still I hope you will enjoy it)


 Lyrics: (source: http://www.paadalvarigal.com/108/balleilakka-kaveri-aarum-kai-kuthal-arisiyum-sivaji-song-lyrics.html)

Balleilaka
Sooriyano Chandirano Yaarivano Sattunnu Sollu…
Sera Paandiya Sooranum Ivano.. Sollu Sollu.. Sattunnu Sollu..
Sooriyano Chandirano Yaarivano Sattunnu Sollu…
Sera Paandiya Sooranum Ivano.. Sollu Sollu.. Sattunnu Sollu..
Paaradi Paaradi Yaaradi Ivano
Paaigira Siruthayin Kaaladi Ivano
Kooradi Kooradi Yaaradi Ivano
Kettathai Pattena Suttidum Sivano..
Ae Balleilakka Balleilakka Selathukka Maduraikka
Madrasukka Thiruchikka Thiruthanikkaa..
Ae Balleilakka Balleilakka Ottu Moththa Makkalukka
Annan Vanthaa Tamil Nadu America..
Kaaveri Aarum Kai Kuththal Arisiyum Maranthu Pogumaa?
Oh. Thaavani Pengalum Thoothu Vidum Kangalum Tholainthu Pogumaa?
Namma Kalathu Medu.. Kamma Karai Karisa Kaadu..
Šemman Alli Thelikkum Røadu..
Ae…Šadugudu Šadugudu Šadugudu Šadugudu
Šadugudu Šadugudu Šadugudu Šadugudu
Šadugudu Šadugudu Aadiya Marathadi..
Padu Padu Paduvena Pørthiya Pulveli..
Thøda Thøda Thøda Thøda Udaikira Pani Thuli..
Šuda Šuda Šuda Šuda Kidaikkira Idli..
Thada Thada Thada Thadavena Athirkira Rayiladi..
Kada Kada Kadavena Kadakkira Kaaviri..
Viru Viru Viruvena Madikkira Vetrilai..
Muru Muru Murnuvena Murukkiya Meesaikal..
Manathil Irukkuthu Mei Mei Mei Mei Mei Mei.. Mei..
Šøøriyanø Chandiranø Yaarivanø Šattunnu Šøllu…
Šera Paandiya Šøøranum Ivanø.. Šøllu Šøllu.. Šattunnu Šøllu..
Èley.. Gramathu Kudisayila Kønja Kaalam Thangi Paaruley..
Køørayin Ottai Virisal Vali Natchathiram Ènni Paaruley..
Køøvum Cell Phøne'nin Nacharippai Anaiththu,
Kønjam Šil Vandin Uchcharippai Kaetpøam..
Verum Kaalil Šeruppindri Nadanthu, Mannødu Paesikkøndu Pøvøam..
Mazhalaigal Aavøam..
Aala Marathukku Jadaikal Pinni Thaan Pøøkkal Vaikkalaamey..
Oørøram.. Ayyanaaridam Kaththi Vaangithaan Pencil Šeevalaamey..
Ae Balleilakka Balleilakka Šelathukka Maduraikka
Madrasukka Thiruchikka Thiruthanikkaa..
Ae Balleilakka Balleilakka Ottu Møththa Makkalukka
Annan Vanthaa Tamil Nadu America..
Èley.. Ley.. Anjara Pettiyila Aathavøda Rusiyirukkum…
Ammiyil Arachu Aakkivacha Naattu Køzhi Patta Kelappum…
Èley.. Aadu Maadu Mela Ulla Paasam..
Veettu Ratiøn Card'il Šaerkka Šølli Kaetkum..
Verum Thanni Ketta Møru Tharum Naesam..
Vellanthi Manithargal Vaasam.. Mannu Èngum Veesum..
Paampada Kilaviyin Pachilai Marunthukku Peyum Odi Pøgum..
Pangaali.. Pakkathu Veettukkum Šaerthu Šamaikkira
Anbu Ingu Vaalum..
Ae Balleilakka Balleilakka Šelathukka Maduraikka
Madrasukka Thiruchikka Thiruthanikkaa..
Ae Balleilakka Balleilakka Ottu Møththa Makkalukka
Annan Vanthaa Tamil Nadu America..


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