Sunday, March 1, 2009

Raja's spectrum of moods with Shehnai

Shehnai is a North Indian instrument, rarely used in South Indian films. Though Shehnai plays the role of creating an auspicious ambiance for North Indians, it was used only for creating a pathos mood in South Indian film music. Raja’s use of shehnai is very unusual as he broke all conventions that were in practice in the South Indian film music world. He used an otherwise pathos mood creation instrument for all other moods – celebration, happy duets and everything else he chose to, very successfully. Most of his folk tunes use shehnai generously.Let’s begin with tracks that invoke happiness mood. Kasturi Maane Kalyana Thene from Pudhumai Penn (1983) uses shehnai throughout the song and is pretty fast paced as well. Pothuvaaga En Manasu from Murattu Kaalai (1980) is another example. Chinnamani Kuyile from Amman Kovil Kizhakkale (1986) uses shehnai in a happy situation. His very first popular track Machanai Paartheengala from Annakili (1976) uses Shehnai in this mood. My top pick is Kasturi Maane Kalyana Thene

Let’s move over to the pleasant memories mood. Aalippazham perukkan from My dear kuttichattan (Malayalam - 1984) is a great example of how Raja uses shehnai in a happy situation.

Romantic mood using shehnai – you must be nuts! Not in Raja’s hands. Kanmaniye Pesu from Kaaki Chattai (1985) uses shehnai in a romantic situation extremely well along with flutes and violins. Aalapol Velapol from Ejamaan (1993) uses shehnai along with violins and flute similarly. Adhisaya Nadamidum from Sirayil Pootha Chinna Malar (1990) creates this mood with shehnai aided by flutes, guitar and violins. My top pick is Aalapol Velapol

Party mood with shehnai – you must be joking, aren’t you? Raja casually uses an otherwise out of bounds instrument for this unusual mood and succeeds! Kadhoram lolakku from Chinna Maapile (1993) uses an unusually fast rhythm for shehnai interludes. Madurai Marikkozhunthu Vaasam from Enga Ooru Paatukaran (1987) uses shehnai interludes with a fast rhythm. Sivagami Ninapinile from Kili Petchu Ketkava (1993) is another example. Mama Ponna kodu from Rajathi Raja (1989) is another example. My top pick is Madurai Marikkozhunthu Vaasam

Raja has used shehnai in the conventional South Indian way too - Vaanuyarntha Solaiyile from Idhaya Kovil (1985) uses the shehnai in a mood of pathos in the second interlude. The shehnai first plays behind the violins to present the undertone of pathos. The violins then retreat back and the play behind the shehnai – a masterstroke! Both are counterpoints, by the way!

Devotion/meditation – that’s the original use of shehnai in North Indian music. Raja has used it in its suggested North Indian mood too. Kaalai Nera Poonguyil from Amman Kovil Kizhakkale (1986) uses the shehnai and veena to create the magical meditational mood!

Aggressiveness with shehnai – don’t you use sax or trumpets for that? Anyway, by now you must have given up, given the fact that Raja keeps redefining moods possible with instruments. When in the master’s hands, the orchestration takes care of the delivery with unusual selection of instruments. A good example is Enkitta Modhade from Rajathi Raja (1989).



Anupama said...

Hello Mr.Ravi, Amazing! Your description about the use of Shehnai
by Raaja is really nice. I was raised up with hindi music and i know how this wonderful instrument was used there, and it's great to know how wonderfully this instrument is used by Raaja.

Ramesh said...

Hey Ravi,

I really liked the way you researched Raaja's tunes and BGM's .Infact like hou you have created some ringtones I do have some.fomr both Telugu and Tamil.

Harish said...

Thanks for the nice collection of shehnai music. The rajathi raja tune sounded like Nathaswaram to me more than shehnai. Did I miss it ?

ravinat said...


I heard it again after your comment and I am sure it is Shehnai in Rajathi Raja song. Nadaswaram has a different tone and is easily recognizable.

For example, Malargale Nadaswarangal from Kizhakke Pogum Rayil uses Nadaswaram extensively. Another popular Raja example, is Sangeethame from Kovil Pura.


Veng@ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Veng@ said...

Most of the Shehnai pieces of IR were played by Pandit Ballesh. Had a wonderful opportunity to meet him when they came to Toronto for IR concert in 2013. Not to mention he is an excellent Hindustani Singer too. He used to do Navarathiri concert in IR's house. Once he has also appeared in a show by SPB - here is the video: