Friday, June 6, 2008

Mettu Podu - II

I think every sensible person will agree that both Mettu and Paattu are important for a song. But, the question is what comes first?

The arguments of the proponents of “Lyrics First” are twofold:


  1. To express the situation/mood at hand, you must have quality lyrics. If the tune is composed beforehand, you have to fit some junk as fillers for the set tune.
  2. Thereby, quality of the lyrics goes down.

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.

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.

Isai illa Thamizhukkum Urugum
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.

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.

1 comment:

kumar.s.r said...

I agree with your point that "Pre-Set lyric that brings an emotion out needs a talented composer to elevate, decorate and not spoil." e.g. Mannil Indha Kaadhal lyric was written by Pavalar Varadarajan 3 decades before the song was tuned and orchestrated.
What a melody ! with S.P.B's superb rendition and the flute bits .
Isaikena Isaikkinra Rasigargal Rajjiyam I.R.kkedhaan .