Sunday, August 2, 2009

Raja's rhythm innovation stage 7

This requires using the main melody to guide the rhythm pattern, thus creating a melody based rhythm.

There are hundreds of tracks where Raja has used this technique – rhythm follows melody. On most occasions, he has chosen tabla for rhythm. Some examples from the long list:

Ada Uchanthalai from Chinna Thambi (1990) uses a melody based rhythm where the pace of the rhythm is adjusted to the melody.

Adi Gomatha from Senthamizh Paatu (1992) uses a melody based rhythm as well.

Let;s hear the 1st charanam and 2nd pallavi of Adi Gomatha. Please note the change of the timing (nadai) as rhythm follows melody...

Vandhadhu Vandhadhu from Kili Petchu Ketkavaa (1993), Hey Chithira from En Bommukutty Ammuvukku (1988), Poongatre Theendathe from Kunguma Chimizh (1985), Siru Kootila from Paandi Naatu Thangam (1989), all use this technique of rhythm following melody.

Let's hear the 1st charanam and 2nd pallavi of Vandhadhu Vandhadhu...

Let's next hear the 1st charanam and 2nd Pallavi of Hey Chitthira...

Another interesting melody based rhythm is used by Raja in the track Adi Vanmathi from Siva (1989). Let's hear the 1st charanam and 2nd pallavi. In all these tracks, Raja makes it interesting by adding his signature bass guitar and the moroccos for emphasis..

To quote an interesting view point in the TFMPage website on melody based rhythm:

Raja used the tabla for two reasons. One, it does give a local flavor to the songs. Secondly, the table gives a good steady background for the vocalist to take on more complex compositions. For example, in many songs, you will clearly hear the tabla giving a constant beat of say a tisram, like ta-ki-ta while the singer may be singing in a different rhythm, say the standard 4x4 or chatusram. This gives some tension to the song. This also helps the song's pallavi or charanam to have different takeoff points. Too much of rhythmic complication would have made it a nightmare for the singer.

The mixing of two nadais or gaits (one of the singer and one of the rhythm) and the different take off points are two important aspects of Raja that you don't tired of his songs. Same happens in the case of many modern songs. While the loops may be attractive at first, after a few listens, due to lack of any tension, you get very bored.

Raja also introduces a lot of asymmetry in his compositions. In the sense that two lines would go for the whole eight beat cycle while one line may go for only 7 beats and so on. Again, a source of musical tension and breaks the monotony.


curios_onlooker said...

Hi Ravi,
Nice blog. What a extensive analysis !!. I love music and hear it to relax. never cared about the intricacies. Now I appreciate more than ever. Keep up the good work.

Suresh S said...


Nice you mentioned 'Chella Tatte'. An underrated song I would say and I must confess I did not much care for it when I heard it first. Now I enjoy the same second interlude you pointed out. It is clear that the composer is enjoying himself there. What a mix of rhythms.