Saturday, June 27, 2009

Math and Music - Part II

Hello All !

In my previous posts, I had emphasised the importance of mathematical patterns, predictable sequencesand symmetry in music. It would not be fair to say that applying these forumula in music alone will make a musical hit. However, it plays a big role and I wish to talk about one such formula today, that I call "Break the sequence".

Here is an interesting sequence -
131 131 131 421
The interesting part here is the sequence "1 3 1" is repeated over and over again and the sequence is deliberately broken in the last by "4 2 1". The repetition of sequence and breaking it gives birth to melody. Illayaraja has used this pattern in 100s of his songs and I want to highlight some famous ones:

"ABC Nee Vaasi So Easy Un Raasi Vaa Rosi" song from Oru Kaidhiyin Dairy. If you assign Sa = 1, Ri = 2, Ga = 3 and so on, the swara sequence goes like this:

312 312 312 312 521

"Vaanile Thenila Aaduthe Paaduthe Vaanampadi" song from "Kaakki Chattai"
The sequence goes like this:
121 121 121 121 1442

"Vizhiyil Vizhundhu Idhayam Nuzhaidhu Uyiril Kalandha Urave"
The sequence goes like this:
888 777 555 444 111 001

Wow!!! Mere avarohanam played in a sequence of "Sudha Dhanyasi" scale. Oh God! I can't believe, he created a magical with such a simplicity. The beauty and melody lies when the sequence breaks at "Urave".

The super famous "Thakida Thathimi" has a sequence:
123 123 123 123 1 2 3

This is a different way of breaking the sequence. Not in swaras, but in the time signature. If the first 4 sets has a quarter note signature, the last part broke the sequence by a half note!

Another variation of the sequence in "Solai Poovil Maalai Thendral Paadum Neram" from "Vellai Roja":
88 88 88 88 7 6 7 8
We can go on and on by illustrating several sequences Raaja has employed in his hundreds of songs. Some of the others include:

Siriya Paravai Siragai Virithu Thudikiradhe
Naan Enbadhu Nee Allavo Deva Devi
Raathiriyil Poothirukkum Thaamarai Thaan Penno
Oru Kanam Oru Yugam Aaga
Kaalam Kaalam Aaaga Vaazhugindra Kaadhalukku Nangal Arpanam
Vidiya Vidya Nadanam Sandhosham
Arumba Arumba Saram Thodutha
Poovil Vandu Koodum Kangal Moodum Vandhu Odum
Iru Vizhiyin Vazhiye Nee Dhaan Ingu ponadhu
Innum Ennai Enna Seyya Poogirai
Iravum Pagalum Ulagai Rasikka Ninaithathu
Aalapol Velapol
Onnu Rendu Moonu Naalu

I will meet you all in my next post with different patterns that Raaja has used.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Math and Music - Part I

Mathematics and music are so interrelated and homogenous that ordinary ears can hardly see it as two separate entities. In general, the likeability of music or any piece of artwork by an ordinary person firstly depends on how easily he/she can comprehend and predict.

Though may not be true in all the cases, I believe it is true in a majority of cases. Once a person is able to comprehend and predict the piece of artwork, he is able to associate it with other pieces of artwork stored in the form of millions of nuerons. Now, at his will, he is able to retrieve the piece of artwork from his data bank. There stays your piece of artwork in his mind!

If you are still not with me, here is a real life example. You like a person who is compatible to you. (i.e.) who you can understand, comprehend and predict what he/she will do on an occassion.

So, one of the aspect to make an impression of an artwork in the minds of viewer is making it easy to comprehend and add a secret formula of predictability. Before you jump into any conclusion of what I am going to talk about, have a look at the two pictures:

By law of nature, most of us will be able to capture and reproduce the first picture better than the second. The reason is because, the first picture is "Symmetric". Our brain is able to comprehend, process and register the symmetric picture easily over the other. For ages, symmetry played a significant role in the artwork. You can notice in several artwork that symmetry were employed that added aesthetic feel.

Symmetry didn't stay just with painting and artwork, but also plays a major role in music. The role might not be evident to our naked ears, but, it adds that spice of "predictability" to the music.

It is not only "symmetry", but also a predictable pattern/sequence that interests people. For example, recently I got a new Palm Pre and it is simply superb. My only complain is I was not able to retain my old phone number that was very easy to remember - 734-26-26-226! Wow!! It's a nice pattern/sequence!

Music is no different from our real life. If you want to make a piece of music interesting, try employing a pattern sequence or symmetry on a scale and see the results yourself.

Well, coming to Raaja's fortress, he has exploited this aspect to its fullest extent. I will meet you all in the next post with more details.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Random Thoughts

Sivakami Ninapinile (Kili Pechu Kekkava) - Melody Personified.
Kai Veenaiyai Endhum (Vietnam Colony) - Nalladhor Veenai Puzhuthiyil Erivadhundo!
Megam Kottatum - Rocks
Nee Pournami (Oruvar Vaazhum) - You should stop hearing any other song after this.
Oh Paapa Laali - Raaja should have waited for SPB!
Bhavatharini - You lucky ;)
Madhushree - When will you start singing in Tamil?
P.B.Srinivas - I don't think your voice can even cut through the butter?
Krish - Do you get any time to sing after all the jury duty?
Tamil Film BGM - You got a new meaning with Raaja.