Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Kanakaangi - II

I got inspired to write on Kanakaangi after reading posts written by "Lakshminarayan Srirangam Ramakrishnan". (I would have read all these articles at least 25 times in the last 8 years)

Look at how Raaja came up with such a great song using a stiff scale like "Kanakaangi" !!

I will share my 2 cents: Raaja has very cleverly handled this Raga. Many of the songs that Raaja has set to the pure scale of Carnatic - he simply traverses the notes of the scale in the Pallavi and sets the tempo. Let's take the example of "Chinna Kannan Azhaikkiraan" - The pallavi is simply traversal of notes of aarohanam of Reethagowli. Similarly, I can quote several several songs in Mayamalavagowli, Keeravani, Amruthavarshini, Kalyani and so on.

In this song, he has employed a completely different strategy, though looks simple now. "Any big surprise/shocking news should not be passed on directly to the mild hearts". Enough "Pakkuvam" has to be made before you convey the news to mild hearts, isn't it? Similarly, traversing Sa Ri1 and Ga1 as adjacent notes would have left a jarring effect on the ears of us. So, he cleverly split the Sa R1 into one segment and Ri Ga1 into other segment and repeated the notes several times before he did the traversal from one segment to the other. Though repeating of notes is not recommended by the definition of melody, Kanakangi doesn't offer enough room for melody, anyways.

Look at how the notes unfold:

moagam ennum theeyil en manam vendhu vendhu urugum
s s s s r s s s s n.sr n.sr n.rs
vaanam engum andhap pimbam vandhu vandhu vilagum
s s s s r s s s n.sr n.sr n.r rs
moagam ennum maayap paeyai naanum konru poada vaendum
r s r s r s r s r s n.sr s n. s r
illai enra poadhu endhan moochchu ninru poaga vaendum
r s r s r s r s r s n.sr s n. s r
dhaegam engum moagam vandhu yaagam seyyum naeram naeram
g g g g g g g g r r r r rs s s s
thaayae neeyum ingae vandhu thanneer ootra vaendum vaendum
g g g g g g g g gr r r r rs s s s

That's why Lakshminarayan says "Bending an unbendable"

Raaja, Unnai Isai Arasan Enbaena?
Illai Isaikku Adimai Enbaena?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Illayaraja Special

Couple of months back, I wrote a poem on Illayaraja: http://7swara.blogspot.com/2008/06/tribute.html

Immediately, my father-in-law jumped to compose a tune for the lyrics and he sung himself. Already my father-in-law spoke with Mr.Gangai Amaran and Gangai Amaran was very impressed with the song and has promised to take us to Illayaraja when I go to India. I can't wait for the D-Day!!

Meanwhile, my wife gave an idea of compiling Raaja's pictures with this background as a Video. And here you go:

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Kanakaangi - I

In our last post, we had finsihed with a Raga, whose swarasthaanam looks like "111001011100". The interesting thing to note in this is the 3 subsequent 1's appearing twice in the raga. If you try to play this scale by just traversing across the notes in your keyboard, you will feel like closing both of your ears. Simple, it will not be melodious as against playing "101101011001".

You can analyze why "111001011100" doesn't appeal as much as "101101011001" in several perspectives. If you ask a Carnatic pundit, he/she might simply say: "இரண்டு முறை விவாதி ஸ்வரம் வந்தா இப்படி தான் இருக்கும்". (Because of Vivadhi Swaras")

If you ask a layman like me, I will say "it is all because of the three 1's coming subsequently". If you look at the problem psychologically, our ears are trained with a sequence of melody notes and subconciously it starts expecting a pattern of notes. The notes that doesn't go well with each other becomes dissonnant note. Sa Ri1 Ga3, Sa Ri2 Ga3 and Sa Ri2 Ga2 notes sequence are well expected by our ears, whereas Sa Ri1 Ga1 makes a jarring sound!! That's why a tune that is considered melodious in one culture might not appeal mass in other culture.

Anyways, coming back to "111001011100". The Raga that has this swarasthaanam is the 1st Melakartha Raga - Kanakaangi. There cannot be a better challenge to a film music composer than to come up with a song set to this scale. According to various sources that I verified, Illayaraja is the only composer in Tamil who has given us a song set to the scale of Kanakaangi. The song is none other than "Mogam Enum Theeyil" from Sindhu Bhairavi.

Stay tuned for the next post on how Raaja has handled this delicate Raga.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Raaga Encoded

Hi All,

It has been quite since, I wrote a post on "Theory of music". It's just that I am not having enough quality time these days to sit and write posts that are lengthy! Today, I managed to squeeze some time around 4:30 AM and here you go !

I prepared a matrix of booleans for each raaga emphasizing on "Swarasthaanams". Simple. Let us take "Keeravani" (21st Mela) - It's aarohanam and avarohanam goes like - S R2 G2 M1 P D1 N3. The 12 swara sthanam (Places) go like: S R1 R2 G2 G3 M1 M2 P D1 D2 N2 N3. So, let us start giving a "1" where the swara appears and a "0" where it doesn't. So, we get - "101101011001" for Keeravani. Similarly, Mayamalavagowla would have "110011011001", Sankarabharanam would have "101011010101" and so on.

Since we all know that Mela raaga will have all the 7 swaras, if you all all the digits of this binary string, you will get always "7" for any Melakartha Raaga. Let's take "Mohanam" - a Janya raaga (derived from mela, a subset of notes in Mela) - it would have "101010010100" - totalling only 5 !

Anyways, there are some relevances of this "Swarasthaanam" string.

Remember, all beginners in carnatic music are first introduced to "Sarali Varisai" set in "Maayamalavagowli". The main reason for it is because of the symmetricity of the string - or in other words, equal spacing of the frequencies - even though in the keyboard it is hard to find the symmetricity, you can appreciate the frequency spacing by looking at the "swarasthaanam" string.

Secondly, look at this string "111001011100". The thing that comes to one's mind is three 1's appearing twice inside this little string. Sounds good!! However, it doesn't sound that good if you play :)

Stay tuned and I will cover this in my next post.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Unsung SPB - II

Couple of months back, I had presented to you all a song sung by SPB, unsung by him in the actual movie !! Click here to hear "Poongaatru Thirumbuma" sung by SPB - http://7swara.blogspot.com/2008/05/unsung-spb.html

This is the clip of "Raasathi Unna" from "Vaidhehi Kaathirunthaal". Originally, this song was sung by Jeyachandran and this version of it is sung by SPB. Once we have heard a song sung in a way by someone, it is not that easy to outscore by other person. But, somehow, I feel SPB's pronounciation and crystal clear rendering is simply superb and he makes me think twice !

SPB's Version:

Original Version:

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Sandi Raniye

Take a guess of number of movies where the heroine is rich, arrogant and well-edcuated and the hero is a poor little chap, but brings the heroine on-track in the second half. Without thinking much, I can bet, there are more than 100 movies with this proven formula. P.Vasu's Mannan was one such movie and Vijayshanthi suited the role so aptly that her body language didn't miss an inch from the role throughout. Ofcourse, our Rajini did the rest.

I always remember this movie for 2 things:

>> Rajini gave his voice to one of the song - "Adikithu Kuliru". It was really funny to hear Rajini trying to blabber and counter-melody the tune. He tried hard. Trust me.

>> Combo of Koundamani & Rajini - in my mind, one of the hilarious moments.

Anyways, I wanted to write a bit about other song in the movie that in a sense forms the theme of the movie. The overall theme of this movie is how the Rajini brings back Vijayshanthi to the senses (read as 'Tamil Kalaachaaram'). The song is: "Sandi Raniye Enakku Kappam Kattu Nee".

The song starts with heavy brass section and percussions and a voice bursts with arrogance filled with male-chavinism with around 10,000 W power!! Who else can do that other than SP.Balasubramaniam?

"En Sudhandhirathil Ennaalum Pen Magal Jeyithathillai" - A "muzhakkam" and crystal clear rendering & no "kozhayal"

"Enna aachu Engu Pochu Sandi Raani Un Saahasam" - A "Nakkal" "Aanava" sirippu!!

Towards the end, you could notice the power of percussion. A short piece but, conveys enough and sets the tempo for the situation.

Raja Rocks!!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

McDonalds in Madurai - II

I heard recently a clip from some program where Illayaraja was interviewed by Bhavathaarini and Illayaraja explained how he perceives Western Classical Pieces as Indian Scheme of music, with an example.

Having said that all music is based on the 12 swaras, still, there is a fundamental difference in the way music is approached between Western and Indian classical music. Even if Illayaraja gave us Pizza, he made sure he created a "Chettinad Pizza" so that we never lost the identity of us.

My only concern is, when my daughter turns 16, there must be atleast a trace of our identity in the music we hear at that point in time.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

McDonalds in Madurai

I read very few books, though I have a big wish list! One of my favorite author is Thomas Friedman and I love his "The world is flat". His other book "The lexus and the olive tree" is primarily focussed on the globalization and the impact it made on various cultures around the globe. Mr. Friedman has a great technique of narrating even the complex subject in a simplified way.

I would like to quote one of the observation (with some context changes) in his book that I consider as the best.

"No two countries that has McDonalds is likely to wage a war in near future". A great point conveyed in a simplified way.

Anyways, globalization has made McDonalds play in both Michigan and Madurai. That's no problem. As long as the identity of McDonalds is associated with San Bernardino and not with Salem, its just fine.

You may be wondering what am I talking about. I heard "Taxi Taxi" from Sakkarakatti just now and I felt like writing this post with all due respect to the composer.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Kamal Bhagavathar

It was a pleasant surprise to me when I heard in an interview (way back) that Kamal Hassan learnt Carnatic music from none other than Dr.Balamurali Krishna. Here is the clip from an interview with Kamal Hassan and he even demonstrates his skill as a singer in our classical system.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Thanthaen Thanthaen

Of several actors who managed to stay in the stardom with the grace of Raaja's music, Ramaraajan would stay top in the list. 'Villupattukaaran' is one such movie and there is a situation in the movie where the heroine challenges the hero to sing a song where the lips never touch !! Meaning, never use Pa, Ma, Va etc.

A challenging situation for a lyricist, ofcourse!! I think this song was written by Gangai Amaran. Hear the song and you will find that never lip touches in the whole song.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Illayaraja about Kannadasan

Any amount of appreciation would be less for the brilliance of Kannadasan's instinct when it comes to lyrics and his philosophy.

Though Kannadasan and Illayaraja worked for a brief period, here is what Raaja has to say about Kannadasan and his experience with Kavignar:

I apologize about the quality of the clip.