I thought of sharing some of my views on what makes Ilayaraja the true musical genius that he is. Some of us simply want to listen to his music and not worry about how he makes it happen - it's like enjoying the ride of a car without worrying about learning thermodynamics. I do not intend to discuss anything boigraphical as that is all over the place. My knowledge of music is limited but I have learned quite a bit listening to his music. For the first time, I am part of an internet fan club of Raja! I have never been a fan of anyone in that sense. It is very common in the movie business to call every little guy as a genius - in my view, this is the only living Indian musical person who deserves the term 'genius'. The content will be dumbed down to only showcase his genius and not get too deeply into becoming a musicology text.
Most of the information that I have learned in the last several months is as a result of some selfless work of some of his die hard fans. He is one of two villagers who have left a deep impact on India - the other one was Dhirubhai Ambani.
I would like to specially thank the efforts of the following ilayaraja fans who have helped me appreciate his music better:
1) Dasarathy, through his broadcasts in the Bay Area Stanford Radio - archives are available at http://itsdiff.com/Tamil.html.
2) CS Ramasami through his great set of educational pages at his website on WCM - the Raja style - http://csr-wcmlessons-2.blogspot.com/
3) Vicky's blog - http://raagadevan.blogspot.com/
4) Suresh's blog - http://sureshs65music.blogspot.com/ and last but not the least
5) the Raja fan club - http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/ilaiyaraaja/ , which has been a great site of learning about Raja's music.
Finally, this is more of a Raja for dummies and not an expert commentary. If you want to enjoy and learn about how Raja does his magic (with the view of enjoying the music), you are in the right place. If you want to build expertise on musical techniques, there are other sites that provide you with more precise information.