Monday, July 14, 2008

Plagiarism – II

Physics has always thought us that there is no perfect black body in this world. I would extend the same analogy to the music. As I mentioned in my previous post, it is only varying degrees in which the music has been presented in an illusionary way out of the fundamental 7 notes that sounds innovative and different.

Type 1: If you are not able to associate a song with any other song and it is so fresh to our ears, then, the composer has been successful in his work of “Yemaatru Velai”. There are thousands of songs in that category, though they are all derived from saptha swaras.

If they are all derived from saptha swaras, how do they make it sound different? Composers employ several techniques to mask it, intentionally or unintentionally. Some of those techniques include change in rhythm, usage of instruments, acoustics, building layers of music around the melody, lyrical value and finally singer’s rendering.

That is why I think it is possible for many of us to come up with a tune; rather it takes someone knowledgeable to ornament the tune with sensible orchestration.

For all practical purposes, let us call these songs as “Original”, though we understand in spirit that they are all recycled from 7 swaras.

Type 2: If the composer has done some good homework to take a baseline song and apply some algorithm to it to transform in such a way that only a few people can figure out the magic, then, I would put that song in to this Type 2 category.

Need an example?

Kamal Hassan is a very tough customer. He apparently was not satisfied with various tunes that Illayaraja came up with for a song in “Apoorva Sagodharargal” and finally he gave a baseline song –

Naan Paarthadhiley
Aval Oruthiyay Thaan
Nalla Azhagi Enbaen
Nalla Azhagi Enbaen

The composer took this song as baseline and used the same “Sandham”, but transformed the tune to come up with-

Pudhu Mappilaikku
Nalla Yogamada
Nalla Mana Magal Than
Vandha Neram Ada

To mask the origin, composer has beautifully poured and applied “Babbabare Babbabare” all over the song. Also, he has beautifully mixed the voice of Shailaja in this song. All these have created enough illusion to the listener’s ears that we ended up applauding the song.

Sometimes, the composer is so inspired by his other number and he comes up with a varied version of it. Eg: "Anbendra Mazhaiyile" from "Minsaara Kanavu" was later transformed to "Dheemthanana Dheemthanana" in "Rhythm".

One other example is transformation of "Putham Puthu Poo Poothatho" from Dalapathi to "Piraye Piraye" in Pithamagan.

There are many such songs in this category. In my humble opinion, it still takes someone to have good acumen and brilliance to give some good Type 2 numbers.

Type 3: Many incompetent composers produce this category of songs. Less homework done, either changed the tempo of the song or made the same tune with a different rhythm or made to look different by making it sung by a nasal singer!

Example? Thanks to Ramesh. He wrote a nice post that would exactly reflect this Type 3 category ( Yes, it’s a shame. The composer (does he deserves to be called that way?) has merely changed the tempo of the song and changed the rhythm.

Some other examples are :- "Kurukku Siruthavale" was rehashed into "Maan Kuttiye" by S.A.Rajkumar; "Kannalane" was rehashed into "Sollamale" by the same gentleman again!

Some other examples would be many straight lifts that music directors like Shankar Ganesh, Sirpi and Deva did!

Finally, if I was successful in what I wanted to say, then you would agree with me that:

Maan kutti petha mayile” was not copied from “Vaa dee en kappa kazhange”.


முருகேஷ் said...

Some of Sirpi, Deva's songs should belong a new Type 4 category. Except singer and lyrics, everything would be same in those songs (e.g Maama nee maama from movie Ullathai alli thaa).

Emjay said...

Gladfully, I agree with you. There should be a Type 4 where the blatant, shameless lifts must be placed. I was surprised that the song "Theendi Theendi Theeyai" (Yuvan's song) was a blatant lift from one of the Raaja's hindi movie.

Vijay Krishna Narayanan said...

Deva once gave an interview to some Tamil magazine saying, "En isai ellaam kElvi gnanam dhaan." Of course, we all knew what he meant, right?

Vinith said...

Check out hte plagiarism post in my blog and tell me the type it belongs to!!! :)

kanna said...

I think that there needs to be another category, somewhere on the same level as type 2 : "Homage". For example, some pieces of music are very clearly from a different source, and the composer completely expects us to notice this. Often there is a variation in style or rhythmic meter, but it is clear where it came from.


Margazhi Poove's opening flute piece is a clear nod to suprapadham. Note I say "nod", not "rip".

Saroja Saman Nikalo's first interlude gas a very cute ending which I feel is homage to the old spiderman theme. Some may disagree, just my opinion.

Kaadu Thiranthu (vasool raja) has a background riff that is a nice nod to English Note (sorry I can't remember composer, I know it was popularized by Madurai Mani Iyer, and I've heard that it appears in the movie Thillana Mohamambal.

My criteria for calling these homage instead of copies is the fact that there is no necessity to have used these pieces. The composer already has an original tune, and chose to include that piece of music to enhance it. On the other hand, ripoffs will fall apart if the "stolen" bit is removed.

Btw, I think type 4 is a brilliant idea :)

Emjay said...


Thanks for your comments. Your comments about "Nod" itself deserves a separate post. I agree totally with most of your examples, though I haven't heard some of them. And probably even "Alwarpetta Andava" song has a small interlude piece of "Enna Thavam Seidhanai" violin that might belong to this category of "Nod".

Good one.