Friday, June 27, 2008
Thursday, June 26, 2008
After reading my yesterday’s post, my brother remarked “Don’t you think this is too much?” Recently, my friend said to me: “I agree you are right. But, you should embrace the new changes and move on. Why are you writing only about Illayaraja? “
I can answer to this question in 3 ways:
I would like to dwell into just one aspect of His music today:
Great geniuses spend their lifetime to have a complete understanding of just the fixed tonal system of western classical music. I am no expert in this subject. But, (with my “Dhammathoondu” knowledge) it is possible to master (though it is not easy) the fixed tonal system (scale) to a level that you can start writing the notes on a piece of paper directly without playing the scale. We have history that shows many geniuses who have done that. On the other hand, the challenge that Carnatic music throws is the very key element of it – Gamakams. Gamakams, explained simply is the beauty of shaking those fixed notes. These floating tonal systems form the backbone of the Carnatic music.
No exaggerations here. If there is any living human being who has a complete understanding of both fixed and floating tonal system with a mastery level that he can play the fusion of both in his 1.2 kg mass brain and directly write the notes onto a piece of paper, it is only Illayaraja. The notes are close to machine perfection and this music making machine has mastered the range that each instrument can play and the harmony it can generate, all in the tiny brain.
Here is a sample of the notes hand written by Raaja (without actually playing a note) for a song in “Ezhai Jaathi” in less than 45 minutes:
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
I recently read a book “Before you quit your job” and found it very interesting. I would like to share one important takeaway from that book - The attributes that an entrepreneur/his team must possess for building a successful business.
For building a successful business model, the leader/his team must possess four key attributes personified. (Even if the leader doesn’t possess, he must chose his team in such a way that he has right representation of the attributes below)
To find a person who excels in all these fields is quite a challenge. A person who is more on the Creative side will break the rules and come up with innovations. A person with highly “Technical Thinking” will always like to have associations/dialogues around the subject of his/her interest. An Analytical thinker will evaluate every situation analytically. Finally, a people thinker possesses the key attribute for being a leader - Public relations.
Imagine a person with a high rating on “Creative” and “Technical” and with a poor rating on “People Thinking”. The output what you get is an “Eccentric” fellow.
I often wondered whether Illayaraja got the kind of recognition for what he has achieved. Technically, this man has left very little to venture and experiment. I hate to get into comparison. But, the bitter truth is that he still has not got the kind of recognition that some modern composers have got. What is missing in him?
I can come up with only one logical answer – He fits into the quadrant that is high in “Technical Thinking” and “Creative Thinking” with very less “People Thinking”. I can only think of other greats like “Bharathiyaar”, “Ramanujam” etc. who were genius, but eccentric. They never got the recognition for what they were when they lived.
On the other hand, I put A.R.Rahman into a quadrant rich in “Creative Thinking” and “People Thinking”.
This is evident in black and white when you look at the marketing of “Vande Maatharam” vs “Thirvaasakam in Symphony”. Compare Rahman and Bharat Bala’s effort in marketing Vande Maataram vs how Thiruvaasakam in Symphony album was launched in presence of Vaiko and Peter Alphonse!
I feel miserable to say this. Raaja is capable of wearing multiple hats – lyricist, singer, arranger, and composer – but fails miserably in public relations and managing marketing. And his team doesn’t seem to possess the trait either!
Monday, June 23, 2008
Having come up with a tune like “Siriya Paravai Siragai” (Movie – Andha Oru Nimidam), it would have been very easy to satisfy Kamal and the director. And for the caliber of Illayaraja, he doesn’t even have to go through the phase of “Convincing” the director. He could have completed the song recording, the traditional way and walked off. Composer had other thoughts!
This song is special for its uniqueness. Traditionally, film songs have a set structure:
· 1st Interlude
· 1st Charanam
· 2nd Interlude
· 2nd Charanam
· Mostly, Pallavi again
Firstly, composer decided to have 3 charanam in place of the conventional two. OK, so what? That would have only stretched the song more and helped the dancing angels to get few more bucks ;) Nope. 1st Charanam is backed with complete Western orchestration. After the 1st Charanam ends, the composer had other thoughts. He changed the tune, the raga completely for the 2nd Charanam and took a dramatic U turn. Few swara sangadhis and the orchestration completely changes to typical classical with the able help of Mridangam. The rhythmic meter and the pace complemented the tune for the 2nd charanam to be livelier. This song is very special for this “Visha Parikshai” that not many composers would be willing to take.
Look at the beautiful “muthu muthaana” lyrics by Vairamuthu:
manramae thamizhin manjamae pudhiya sandhamae sindhinaen
anbanae ilaiya kambanae kavidhai nanbanae nambinaen
swarnamae arasa annamae idhazhin yudhdhamae muththamae
netriyil viyarvai sottumae kaigal ottumae patrumae
soazha kuyil paadugaiyil soalaikkuyil oayvedukkum
mellinangal paadu kannae vallinangal vaayvalikkum
sondhamae inbam thandhadhu gangaiyae ingu vandhadhu
thenralae indru nindradhu nanrudhaan sandham enradhu
kanrugal rendu indru poal enrum vendru vaazhginradhu
I can’t even imagine any singer other than SPB and Janaki who could have done justice to the lyrics and tune. The improvisation by SPB is a trademark. Vairamuthu has displayed his proficiency in the choice of words with a very rhythmic ‘sandam’. Absolutely stunning team effort.
Back to Raaja. After the experimentation with the second charanam (in a completely different tune & raga), he returns back to the same tune he used in 1st charanam for the 3rd one and back to Western Orchestration. When you hear the whole song, the scale, tune and style of orchestration change is so seamless that you only end up speechless. Let’s not forget to mention the chorus backing the higher octaves like “Vaazhgave Vaazhgave”, “Ezhudave Ezhudave” etc.
Friday, June 20, 2008
Sonnadhellam Marandhu Vidu
Arugil Vandhu Anaithu Vidu
Pudhu Kaaviyam Kaaviyam Ondrai
Indru Padaithu Vidu
· You can email me your tune to firstname.lastname@example.org.
· I don’t intend to use it for any other purpose than to just make the blog more lively and participating.
· Along with your entry, please do give your consent whether to publish in the blog or not.
· Please make your entry on or before 22nd June.
· I will post my tune as well on 23rd June.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
We all hear music during different times of the day under different circumstances and in different moods. Also, different people appreciate different aspects of the music because good music contains different layers built into it. One may merely say the song is good. Other may appreciate the significant lyrics behind it and a techie might talk about techniques employed in the song like counterpoints, Trill etc.
I have heard "Thamthana Thamthana" innumerable number of times in my lifetime and have always said "Good..Great song". Never tried to explore it beyond that. Once I start to get to the detail, it is absolutely stunning and I was floored because it had so many things special in it.
I sincerely request you to just prose-read the lyrics, especially the charanam.
thandhana thamdhana thaaLam varum pudhu raagam varum
pudhu bhavam varum adhil sandhana malligai vaasam varum
manamaalai varum subhavaeLai varum
mananaaL thirunaaL pudhunaaL unai azhaiththadhu
sillena melliya thenralum vandhisai solliyadhu
suvai aLLiyadhu manam nillena solliyum thuLLiyadhu
peNmanam poovilum melliyadhu thavikkum ninaivoa enaik kiLLiyadhu
malligai mullaiyil panjaNaiyoa mannavan thandhanan nenjanaiyoa
minniya minnalum kanniyin ennangaLoa ini kanavugaL thodarndhida
1) The lyrics is of great quality and neat. It was written by the same lyricist who wrote the most famous "Vaadi En Kappa Kizhange". (Kappa Kizhangu= Heroine - Whoe cares the logic ?). So, here are people who can write what you want. You want garbage, they can produce tonnes. You want Good Quality stuff, they can produce tonnes. Just that sometimes it takes more time to give quality stuff as they are used to giving garbage more. In this case, it is said that Gangai Amaran took 4 solid days to come up with this lyrics. Hats off.
2) Look at the charanam one more time. The chandam used in the lyrics (meter) is brilliant and it is rhythmic and uniform throughout the song. But, it poses a great challenge to the composer. When you start composing a tune for this, you might end up like a tune for chanting some Mantra.
3) Apparently, I read somewhere that the director and the assistant director (Manobala) gave a reference (baseline?) song for this situation:
Ayi Girinandini Nanditamedini Visvavinodini Nandinuthae
Girivaravindhya Shirodhinivasini Vishnuvilasini Jisnunuthae
Bhagavati He Shitikanthakutumbini Bhoorikutumbini Bhoorikruthae J
aya Jaya Hae Mahishasuramardhini Ramyakapardhini Shailasuthae
Can you imagine how Illayaraja has brilliantly transformed the baseline into a beautiful romantic melody?
4) Humming has always been a special weapon of Maestro's magic work. In this song, the humming is all over the song (backing even in the charanam), but without sounding jarring. The counterpoint technique has been brilliantly handled by Raaja.
5) The pallavi and the charanam due to its very nature needs the singer to have a better breath control during rendering.
6) On the lighter side, this song was also one among the firsts to have bunch of white-dressed Devathais dancing meaninglessly for a private affair of love-making of hero and heroine. Later, we got a chance to see many such devathais even in colors :)
Despite all these specialities, I read somewhere that Raaja was not satisified with the output especially the singing. He wanted a better output, it seems. My God!! As SPB always says, Raaja is a "Raakshasan".
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
I was doing my 3rd grade at Karaikudi. You can imagine that I had no affinity towards any genre of music, then. My first exposure to Raaja’s music came when my neighbor used to play “Mudhal Mariyaathai” and “Sindhu Bhairavi” songs all the time in their tape-recorder. It is really amazing that I still remember those incidents. The songs “Naanoru Sindhu Kaavadi Sindhu” and “Andha Nilava thaan Nan Kaiyila” that our neighbor used to play over and over. (He must have been a hard-core IR fan, I guess)
My parents used to take us to a movie once in a year and that too after doing a background check on the film with his colleagues to ensure it is kind of free from violence, adult stuff etc. If I try to do that today, I probably would end up having none to watchL. So, anyways, since we watch movies very rarely I never got a chance to get hooked to the songs.
With the kind of exposure today to cartoons, music, rhymes CDs that even my 8 months old daughter gets, I look back at our first 2-in-1 Philips Set we bought around 1988-89. And the first and the only cine-cassette we possessed for a long time was all time hits of MSV and KVM. The 2-in-1 used to play Vishnu Sahasranamam, Bhaja Govindam and occasionally the sole cine-cassette.
Meanwhile, our school got a new bus around that time and our new bus driver had installed a small music system in the bus. (Very nice of him) “Vetri Vizha” was released at that time and Balu (our bus driver) used play “Maarugo Maarugo” song and I didn’t realize that the tune got into me. One day, when I was getting dressed to go to school, my mom observed me all the crap lyrics I was singing (Paathu Paathu Engudhu Love Pannu …kalyani veli kattu etc.) and scolded. It was the same time, “Keladi Kanmani” movie was released and like many of you, I tried to sing “Mannil Indha Kaadhal” by holding my Dhum with no melody whatsoever. I still managed to get 4-5 fans for my singing in the school bus.
Within a year or two, Sun TV ‘in Tamizh Maalai entered Tamil Nadu and we again had a policy at home. Sun TV - only during the summer holidays. Now, I got a chance to hear more and more of IR songs. I remember, “Maadathile Kanni Maadathile” used to be in the first for several weeks of Top 10 compeered by Priya. Humming a tune, even if heard once was my strength. I used to hum almost every song I heard then.
Enter Yejamaan. When I went to my cousin’s place during the vacation time, he gifted to me “Yejaman” cassette. That was my first cassette and it made a great impact later. He explained me how Mottai (He used to call IR that way) is different than Rahman, in style and output. I got a passion for collecting His creations and didn’t have any money for that. I waited till I got into my college. We never had any pocket money concept at our home. I need something, I explain and I get it. I used to save the change from Xerox, Petrol etc. Once I have a decent Rs.30, I used to pull my friend (Badri) and drive to Adayar New Music India. Occasionally, I end up buying more cassettes than the money I have and end up getting a loan from Badri. Remember, loan for Rs.35 INTEREST FREE and I used to pay back in 7 installments. No kidding.
Later, I went on and on to collect around 150 cassettes, all IR.
It is very nostalgic when I recollect my journey towards IR’s music. Thank God, now I have enough money to buy all of IR’s creations. But, I have a new found wish now. Guess what? I want to meet our Maestro and prostrate. If possible, see with my naked eyes one or two recording sessions.
If it ever happens, I will consider myself blessed and that day will remain as the most unforgettable day in my life.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
I still haven't had a chance to read it myself. I am sure all Raaja fans would love this.
Raagangal Thaalangal Nooru
Raaja Un Per Sollum Paaru
Monday, June 16, 2008
Good news first. Good news is that I have some precious and special material to share with you all. You would be ecstatic like me especially, if you are a fan of Illayaraja.
Bad news: I will be able to share with you all only in my next blog. I would love to see any guess work..
Friday, June 13, 2008
Why things that I love to eat is not healthier? And why are the songs that I love so much are too short?
Yes, I am taking about those bit songs. It comes like a "Vaaa Ma Minnnnallll" type. Illayaraja has used the bit songs very aptly to fit to the situation. Wherever director wanted to convey a mood without too many dialogues, Raaja used his "Brahmaastram" - Bit Song. I cannot imagine how Vijaykanth (Chinna Koundar) could have ever expessed sorrow and grief when Sukanya turns down his gift (in the form of money for saving his mother) without the help of "Sollal Aditha Sundari". Such songs do not last more than 2 minutes and performs its role to the perfection and goes away. A great relief to the directors :-)
Some of my favorite short songs under Illayaraja's compositions are:
Yamunai Aatrile - Dhalapathi
Sollal Aditha Sundari - Chinna Koundar
Aathula Anna Kili - Veera
Yaarudhu Yaarudhu - Pithamagan
Theeradha Vilayaattu Pillai - Kaatrukkenna Veli
Dharisanam Kidaikkaadha - Alaigal Oyvadhillai
Nethiyile Pottu Vei - Virumaandi
Thangachi Thangachi - Kutty
I'm sure, there are quite a few more..doesn't come to my mind instantly... Your comments are welcome.
There is another beautiful similar song composed by Laxmikant Pyarelal (I guess, not sure) that starts like: "Pallavi Illamal Paadugiraen"
Thursday, June 12, 2008
You would have already guessed what I am going to blog about.
M.S.Viswanathan was once requested by Illayaraja to work on some re-recording for a movie. MSV readily obliged. As Kannadasan has mentioned several times, MSV is an innocent person with little ego. Soon the rumor mills started working overtime to declare that MSV has become Illayaraja’s assistant. Both of them got a bit upset and decided to work as peers in one movie and thus “Mella Thirandhadhu Kadavu” was born.
People must play to their strengths. They did. MSV focused on churning out tunes for all the songs (except one) and Illayaraja focused on orchestration. What a musical hit! Every song is special for a reason. My favorite is the apparently the one tuned by Illayaraja.
Do you know which song was tuned by Illayaraja in that movie? Any guess?
Click here to listen songs from Mella Thirandhadhu Kadavu
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
“Better”,”Faster”, “Relatively slow” etc are taboo in our project.
“Give me metrics” is the standard response from my manager. Is it because managers like PowerPoint presentations and love to see charts? Interpretation of data in the form of metrics brings facts to limelight. Sometimes, we miss the obvious. Don’t we?
While surfing, I got some important data on our Maestro’s work. Thanks to http://www.ilayaraja.co.in/movies.html. Immediately, I jumped into doing some magic on the data and came up with some interesting facts and figures. Thanks to Microsoft Excel.
Look at the graphs above. There is a reason why everyone calls Illayaraja as a prolific composer!! More than 50 movies per year – back to back to back to back……? Simply INCREDIBLE and phenomenal!!! Help!! Is there any other word to describe this?
Some more statistics:
Throughput = (28 movies per year for a span of 30 years) OR (12 songs + re-recording for 2 entire movie per month for a span of 30 years)
(This includes composing the tune, writing the musical score for all the instruments manually, rehearsal, lyrics writing, arrangement, orchestration and recording. Not to forget that re-recordings for the entire movie, scene by scene)
I kept starring at the chart post-ARR period and became quite emotional. What a steep fall for a genius? Would he have ever imagined that within few years he would be doing only less than 10 movies a year?
May be, he was satisfied and happy with what he gave, but not me as a fan. I know, I am very greedy here.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
The most common complaint I hear about Illayaraja is that he persisted with ONLY SPB and Janaki and lots of talented singers went unnoticed during the period 1976 – 1995. Before I proceed with my viewpoint, let us get the record straight.
It is very clear that though SPB and Janaki dominated that era, there were so many other singers (Jesudas, Mano, Jeyachandran, Malaysia Vasudevan, Deepan Chakravarthi, Chitra, Swarnalatha, Susheela, Uma Ramanan, Vani Jayaram, Jency, Sasirekha to name a few) who sang under him. (I will come up with detailed statistics a little later)
I cannot buy the theory of “persisting with SPB/Janaki” and “talented singers went unnoticed”. It is one of the allegations with no logic, whatsoever. My argument is twofold:
Firstly, opportunities are not given. It must be grabbed. A talented singer will grab an opportunity instead of having a composer notice him/her. No one person elevated A.R.Rahman. With his shear talent, he rose to the new heights when Raaja was already at his peak.
Secondly, if you were to come up with a roles & responsibilities of a music director, it would look something like this, IMO:
I don’t think introducing new singers is a said responsibility of a composer. He/She might choose to do it, if needed. Composer understands the emotions needed for his/her composition better than anyone else. By now, every one of us know Raaja’s throughput. He was able to score for over 50 movies a year and if SPB and Janaki could match his throughput with the best quality, why should and why would he have to go out of the way and start looking for new singers? How many songs did SPB or Janaki mess up with, anyways?
With the dearth of tunes, quality lyrics and innovation, new singers are the only solace to the current music directors. Anyways, in the name of introducing new singers the current crop of music directors have made a mockery of things. Singers (I hate to call them that way) who cannot even sing in proper Shruthi, who cannot pronounce the language properly end up singing several albums L All they have to do is do basic rendering with some stylish mispronunciations. Thanks to the sound engineers. Sad state of affairs! And after 5-10 albums they are thrown in the dust and they end up being models, looking for acting chances and what not! There were at least 200-250 new singers introduced in the last 10 years. How many of them have stood out the time and test? With just one or two success under their belt, they already are on the top of the world. Thanks to the hysteria in the media! What is the whole point in having plethora of singers who have sung only 2-3 songs are never used again?
Illayaraja has a no non-sense approach to this. We all know that he is a perfectionist and a strict disciplinarian. He has a score sheet and track ready when a singer comes to the recording studio. He doesn’t like to settle for anything less than what he had envisioned. Almost every singer has acknowledged that it is a great learning experience and you must be really talented to sing under him. That isn’t a fault of him, huh!
Thank God. The reformists have not started demanding reservation in this industry.
Rather, I have a poser to Raaja. Why the hell (with all respect) you stopped giving chances to SPB, whose voice is only getting better as his age progresses?
Monday, June 9, 2008
Nevertheless, there is one man who is bashed all the time by everyone for plagiarism, but stands naked and doesn’t have anyone to speak for him. Yes, I intend to talk about “Thenisai Thendral” Deva. Deva stands like a whipping boy in the forums and blogs and everyone has an easy go at him.
To understand more about this man, I will take you two decades back. As many other artists, Deva had to struggle against all odds before he could give his first hit – “Vaikaasi Porandhaachu”. I remember two songs that become quite popular – “Thanni Kodam Eduthu Thangam” and “Chinna Ponnu Thaan Vekka Paduthu”. For the most part, it had the entire IR flavor in it. (Usually the IR clones get exposed in their inability to match His brilliance in interludes and re-recording. Few examples are Shankar Ganesh, Chandrabose, Gangai Amaran and Deva)
He rose as one of the top and popular composers in Tamil industry after “Baasha”, “Annamalai” and “Aasai”. Agreed, he lifted many of the tunes and beats for even the movies mentioned before. His shop could customize your album with 3 songs that sounds IR’ish, 2 songs that sounds Rahman’sh along with a native grown state-of-the-art Gaana. Directors and Producers who couldn’t afford Rahman and convince IR to score music for their film found it a blessing. They paid way less than what they had to pay otherwise and walk out with some hit numbers. He scored more than 30 movies a year back-back, a phenomenon.
He is not known as “Thenisai Thendral” for nothing. Within a span of 20 years, he has composed for 400 movies!! A rare feat, indeed. He was able to dilute some of the pop, rock albums and present to the mass. If we don’t take the hypocritical approach, we can acknowledge that despite lifting many beats and tunes, he gave some of the wonderful melodies. My favorites are:
Konja Naal Poru Thalaivaa (Superbly diluted Anandha Bhairavi raga to give a light number)
Thanga Magan Ingu Singa Nadai
Kaadhali Kaadhali (Avvai Shanmugi)
Manam Virumbudhe (Some carnatic song transposed)
Vaanil Kaayudhe Vennila (Vaali)
Many many of his Gaanas
He became an authority for a genre of music that he mastered – Gaana. After a stressful day of work, daily wage workers used this form of song to relax. They used to sing a metrical structure (may not be with significant lyrics) with “Dappanguthu” beats. The ending words in each line must be very rhythmic. Deva brought this Gaana to limelight by giving different flavors. Some of them had great philosophy in it, no kidding.
Recently, I paid attention to “Alwarpetta Aandava” lyrics (scored by Bharadwaj) and what a great explanation on distinction between love and infatuation.
“Indha Ezhavu Ellam Hormone Seyyum Kalagam Thaanada”
He indeed reached a bigger segment of people with his “Gaana”, though some hypocrites might feel embarrassed to admit that they too enjoyed the same. These hypocrites are those who would rather watch something they don’t understand and prefer to be called “A” class, as box office prefers to.
In my book, I would rate Deva way ahead of plethora of other music directors we have today who can’t even have their singers sing in Shruthi.
Friday, June 6, 2008
Me : Why are you playing it again and again?
Sandhya : What a beautiful song! The lyrics are so good and…
(I already went inside the room and after 10 minutes still the same song is ON!)
Me : What’s so great about the lyrics in this song?
Sandhya : Listen to this …
(She pauses at a point in the media player and plays it)
Me : I still don’t get it. Looks like one of His hallucination.. (I could see her RED already!) Seri Seri.. What is He trying to say?
“Enadhu Vaanam Nee
Ezhandha Siragum Nee”
Sandhya : Listen..I can see myself in this position. After Sahana is born, almost everything I do/think/work is around her…She has occupied my whole life and she looks like a sky in my life…
Me : Okay....What about the “Ezhandha Siragu”?
Sandhya : Exactly.. She is those “lost wings” of mine.. I can’t do whatever I want to now.. I have to always work around her….Isn’t it nice?
Me : Very nice..
“Did He really mean this when he wrote those lines?” – I said to myself ;)
Digression: If you hear very carefully, it is quite clear that this song (Nenjil Jil Jil Jil) is sung in several pieces and stiched together to present in a wonderful fashion. And I feel pity for the budding singers in shows like "Saptha Swarangal", "Ennodu Paattu Paadungal" etc. attempting to sing in a stretch going off in shruthi ! Brilliant composition by A.R.Rahman and wonderful singing by Jeyachandran. And credit to Vairamuthu for wonderful lyrics too.
I think every sensible person will agree that both Mettu and Paattu are important for a song. But, the question is what comes first? Makes sense superficially. Isn’t it? However, I see a hidden strong assumption here. This theory assumes that lyrics alone can bring out the feeling and it has to be done first. Tune/orchestration can supplement and decorate.
The arguments of the proponents of “Lyrics First” are twofold:
If that’s the case, why did our ancestors laid out certain ragas for certain moods? By just playing “Subhapanthuvarali” notes (mind it, with no lyrics) in your violin, even an amateur player can bring out the feeling of sorrow/gloom to the forefront.
Pre-Set tune that can bring out right emotions for the situation needs a talented lyricist to come up with right choice of words. (Didn’t Vaali come up with ‘Sundari Kannal Oru Seidhi’ for the preset tune?)
Pre-Set lyric that brings an emotion out needs a talented composer to elevate, decorate and not spoil. (Didn’t Raaja come up with mind-blowing tunes for lyrics written by none other than Bharathiyaar and Manickavaasagar? Can someone claim better than Bharathiyaar or can someone come up with more complex and melting Tamizh sorkal than Manickavaasagar?)
As a matter of fact, Manickavaasagar’s Tamil was like Greek to many of the music lovers, being born and brought up in Chennai Thamizh. They were all literally in tears when they heard “Thiruvasagam in Symphony” album.
Thamizh illa Raajavin Kuralukkum Urugum
Isai Rasigargalin Manam
We have seen both pathetic tunes for beautiful lyrics and mediocre lyrics for a brilliant score. It is not a question of who does first. It is a question of compatibility between personalities and styles.
Makes sense superficially. Isn’t it? However, I see a hidden strong assumption here. This theory assumes that lyrics alone can bring out the feeling and it has to be done first. Tune/orchestration can supplement and decorate.
And one must acknowledge that as much as lyrics can bring the emotions out, music (Tune, Singer, Orchestration, Instrument choice etc.) can bring out too.
“Kanmani Anbodu Kaadhalan” song from the movie Guna was different in its own kind.
The song went on to prove a point that even a lunatic can come up with bunch of words (With no metrical structure) that can be tuned to make it sound brilliant. The lyrics were very prose like, no complex choice of words. This song came at a time when Illayaraja and Vairamuthu had split; Raaja was at his peak and hardly any takers for Vairamuthu. Who else was composing those days, anyways.. Huh?
So, the song went on to take a dig at Vairamuthu’s wife (Ponmani) - “Ponmani Un Veetil Sowkyama, Naan Ingu Sowkyamae”. (There was/is a rumor that VM’s wife assists VM to come up with some beautiful lyrics!! I have no business to validate the same.)
The point Raaja wanted to prove (perhaps!) was that he could bring the mood to forefront with his shear brilliance in his tune and score, even with simple lyrics.
So, lyrics are just fillers?
In an obvious retaliation, once VM got a chance to tie up with Rahman, he shot back:
“Thai Kodutha Tamizhukku Illai Thattupaadu…. Mettu Podu… Mettu Podu.”
So, what should come first? Mettu or Paattu….
Will continue in my next post…Meanwhile, your comments are welcome :-)
Thursday, June 5, 2008
Let me take the shelter of “Freedom of opinion” and say: 90 out of 100 songs are utter trash, these days. Neither an impressive tune nor any significant lyrics. Be happy with the rest 10%, you may say.
Unfortunately not. 5 of these 10 are remixes. So, not much credit to the composers. Rather, as long as they don’t spoil the original tune and rhythm, I say “Sabaash. Well done”
Of the all the albums I heard in 2007, one of the top pick would be Mozhi composed by Vidyasagar. "Oru Paanai Sotrukku Oru Soru Padam" – Vidyasagar proved himself his excellence in “Malare Mounama” of the movie Karna.
Vidyasagar’s shop is very interesting.
It all depends on what you want, finally.
Any amount of praise is not enough to praise the effort of Vidyasagar for the song “Kaatrin Mozhi Oliya Isaiya”. Vairamuthu at his best, again. Only very rarely all the elements for a great song come together. Excellent lyrics, brilliant composition, neat singing for a meaningful movie. All the factors turned around for Radha Mohan’s movie Mozhi.
Put your headphones ON and you are taken to a different world altogether. Excellent singing by Balram and Sujaatha. Even the other songs in the movie were really brilliant and apt for the movie.
“Pambarakannu, Pachamolaga, Appadi Podu, Eppadi Podu” nnu kaettu kaettu kaduppaana kadhugalukku, a soul stirring treat!
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
My customer always insists on KISS. KISS? Keep it simple and stupid.
Rajkiran was one such actor/director who kept things simple and carved a segment of the crowd for his creations. And not to leave out Maestro’s music that was the backbone to his success. During those days, only some people had Raaja’s “Kadaaksham” and made their living solely due to Maestro’s magic like Ramarajan, P.Vasu, RV Udhayakumar, R.Sundarrajan etc.
Some songs are very dear to your heart. One such in my list is: - “Kuyil Paattu .. O Vandhadhenna Ila Maane”. Whenever I hear this song, I make it a point to tell whoever is next to me that Maestro has given a song packed with joy, love and a hidden sorrow (have you felt that way?).
This song comes in 2 versions. One sung by Illayaraja (a sad number) and the other one by Swarnalatha (a fast paced).
The situation of the latter version of the song goes like this.
Rajkiran (a rustic chap) finally is touched by love of Meena and Meena is getting ready to receive Rajkiran who has gone out to buy some flowers for her. Towards the end of this song, Meena who is pregnant slips and meets a fatal end.
On one hand, you must bring out the joy, happiness and longing for love.
Yet, on the other hand the tune should have a hidden sorrow and a gripping feel. What a challenging situation for a composer!
Illayaraja clearly brings out both the aspects in this evergreen number. He had chosen “Sivaranjani” raga for this situation. I read a review that Sivaranjani could also be called as Mughari + Ranjani. Meaning: It brings out the Joy/Love with a backdrop of sorrow. No wonder he is also known as “RaagaDevan”. What an apt selection!
The traversal of sa ri ga2 pa sa ri ga2 pa da in “Indru Vandha Inbam Ennavo” brings the joy and once the higher octaves are reached (da Ga2 Ra Ra Ga2) for “Kuyile” you are touched with a sense of gripping sorrow. The raga lakshanam is completely exploited as melody and presented to our ears in the Pallavi.
In the Charanam, he beautifully elevates us between lower and higher octaves. He has constrained himself to the grammar and carefully avoided Ma and Ni.
I recollect a review about usage of Sivaranjani in film music as “Every Tom, Dick and Harry has handled this raga …” Might be true, but Maestro has been simply superb in his own style.
Other creations set to this raga are:
Tere Mere Beech Me (Laxmikant Pyarelal)
Oru Jeevan Thaan Un Paadal Thaan (Laxmikant Pyarelal?)
Adi Aathaadi (Raaja)
Unnai Thaane (Raaja)
Enadhu Gaanam Un Kaadhil Vizha Villaya (T.Rajendar in Oru Thaayin Sabadham)
Poraale Ponnuthaayee (ARR)
One similarity in most of the songs tuned to this raga is that they all indicate the intimate relationship between two and most of them are repeated twice in the movie (once for a happy occasion and other for pathos).
Will meet you all with a different post soon.
P.S: Being my first attempt to analyze more technically, please excuse any technical mistakes on raga analysis and kindly bring to my attention.
Monday, June 2, 2008
That reminds me of an incident:
Nasser as an actor was often type-casted and stereotyped nothing new to our industry. Only a genius like Kamal identified a genius in Nasser and gave him different characters like the one in “Magalir Mattum” and “Avvai Shanmugi”. However, Nasser as a director was bold enough to experiment with offbeat subjects. His movies didn’t focus on stars, rather on a theme. “Avatharam” was one such wonderful creation of Nasser.
Nasser took his risks in story and casting, but not with the music. He had signed up none other than Illayaraja for his first directorial debut in “Avatharam”. Nasser was patiently waiting for Raaja at Prasad Studios in the early morning hours as Raaja was busy inside writing some scores.
Raaja had just finished his score writing.
Having waited for more than 30 minutes, Nasser took some courage to step up till Raaja and said:
“Innikku music pathi pesa vara solli erundheenga…. Avatharam padathukkaaga. Eppa pesalaaam?”
Raaja smiled and gave him the bunch of musical score sheets and said I just completed the scores for your movie. Yes, scores for all the songs in that movie were written in less than an hour.
A tidbit about the lyrics in the song – “Aridhaaratha Pusi Kolla Aasai”:
“Paattunnu Ninapethalaam Adhu Paattagi Viduvathillai
Adhu Lesana Vishayam Illai
(Adhu En Paattu Illai)
Adharkaaga Thaan Isai Avathaarama Naan Porandhaennu Bhoologam Paarattume”
A clear dig at Vairamuthu!!
One of my friend said that Illayaraja’s strength lies mainly in the melodious tune composition.
I shot back: “Then, what about his orchestration?”. “Yes, they are definitely his other major strength”, he admitted.
I couldn’t stop there. “And what about his interludes?”, I asked.
“Oh, yeah. Raaja was the first composer to have given enough emphasis for prelude and interludes. His interludes are mind boggling”, he said.
The technical knowledge of both idioms of Indian Classical and Western Classical music - Simply superb. And what about the mind boggling pace and style at which he executes. A treat to watch, isn’t it?
Bottomline: He is Isaignani
Wish you a very happy Birthday, Raaja.