Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Raja’s rhythm innovation stage 8

This requires creating a charanam or pallavi with parts of it in Indian and the remaining in Western rhythm.

This stuff is tough as you have the additional constraint of not screwing up the melody which drives the vocals. This requires top talent in vocals as any novice singer will be thrown away by the changing rhythm pattern – this is true even if you are singing tracks. This also requires an expert orchestra where the bass guitar, the violins backing the melody and the rhythm players must play in total harmony to the composer’s creation. In short, unless you are Raja, you would stay away from it!

The final pallavi of Poo Malarnthida from Tik Tik Tik (1981) alternates beautifully between the mirudangam and the drums. The track was a great innovation during its time, where Raja demonstrated how he can switch between a traditional Karaharapriya and western orchestration. Also, the transition between the interludes and the charanam is handled beautifully by Raja. For the transition between charanam 1 (western) and pallavi 1 (western) Raja uses mirudhangam. For the transition between charanam 2 (western) and pallavi 2 (western), the same Raja uses a beautiful violin swaram. As I do not have good audio quality clip, I am not unfortunately including the audio for you to hear this wonderful composition.

Thom Thom Thom Ena from Oorellam Un Paatu (1991) – the charanam 1 and 2 of this track is set with both mirudhangam and drums. This is a very well orchestrated charanam for a semi-classical track, where the western drum does not interfere with the Indian classical melody.

Idhazh Inikka from Agnippaarvai (1992) has an interesting pallavi where Raja switches between Indian and western rhythm arrangement. Raja loves competition songs as this gives him the opportunity to showcase his talent. This track’s prelude gives you a flavor of things to come as Raja starts off with a mixed Western and Indian rhythm arrangement even for the short prelude. The Pallavi also follows the mixed arrangement and interlude 1 also shows a mixed arrangement but different from the prelude and the pallavi!

Let's hear Raja's work with Idhazh Inikka... Observe the prelude that has a mixed arrangement, followed by the pallavi and interlude 1...





The arrangement is not the exact opposite of the Uthamaraasa track. Each charanam is divided into 7 phrases. In charanam 1, phrases 1, 3, 7 are set to Indian (tabla), phrases 2,4,5,6 are set to Western! In charanam 2, the composer decides to change order - phrases 1, 3, 5, 6 are set to Western phrases 2,4,7 are set to Indian (tabla)! This is an extremely difficult undertaking to orchestrate and Raja shows the way! This is another track that shows the experimental mindset of this gifted composer.

Let's next hear charanam 1 - starts and ends with the Indian rhythm. However, pay attention to the switching rhythm as described...




Let's next hear charanam 2 - starts with the Western rhythm and ends with the Indian rhythm. However, pay attention to the switching rhythm as described...




Oh Prema from Aswamedham (1992 - Telugu) is another track of Raja. Both the pallavi and charanam are partly orchestrated with Indian and Western rhythm in turns.


Unnai Maathi
from Uthamaraasa (1993) is a typical Raja song that appears very folk from lyrical and arrangement. The pallavi is backed by both drums and tabla in alternate phrases. The female voice is backed by western drums and the male voice by tabla. The charanams are also set the same way – male voice backed by the tabla and the female voice by western drums.

Let's hear the pallavi of Unnai Maathi with switching rhythm arrangement...





Let's next hear its first charanam. The second charanam is arranged very similar to the first...




Vaa Veliye from Paatu Paadava (1995) – this is a competition song that has an unusual rhythm structure. The pallavi 1 is set to western rhythm. The interlude 1 and charanam 1 are set to western. The pallavi 2 in Indian/Western format, interlude 2 is set to western. The charanam 2 is very interesting – it has first 4 phrases set to Indian followed by 4 phrases set to Western. The entire swaram following is backed by western. The pallavi 3 set to Western.

Let's hear the Pallavi 1 (W) , interlude 1 (W) and charanam 1 (W) of Vaa Veliye...




Let's next hear the Pallavi 2 (I/W) and interlude 2 (W) of Vaa Veliye...




Let's follow this up with charanam 2 (I/W) of Vaa Veliye...




This track is unusual in structure and includes a swaram at the end that is fully supported by Western rhythm - this is followed by the pallavi 3 (W) - let's hear that...




Shiva kara damaruka from Kochu Kochu Sandhoshangal (2001 Malayalam) is an amazing track from both melody and rhythm viewpoints. Both charanam 1 and charanam 2 have 7 phrases, the first two are set to Indian, the next two with Western and the last three in Indian without affecting the melody in any way. I am yet to see an Indian film music composer who has done this. The melody flow in this song, set to a Hindustani style is truly an achievement by itself. I am not sure, what was the expectation of Sathyan (the director) from Raja for the dance songs of this film. Raja resets his own bar, having done all the innovations I have described so far.

Let's hear the smooth melody with switching rhythms of Charanam 1 of Shiva kara damaruka ...





Let's next hear the master composer repeat his performance in Charanam 2 of Shiva kara damaruka ...




Raja takes this technique to Kannada as well. In the 2009 film Bhagyadha Balegaara, the folk track Balegaara Balegaara, the charanams are structured in Indian and Western format alternating in this otherwise folk track. In this track, Raja tries to be a little different in his arrangement compared to his earlier attempts – he gives two phrases to the male voice (Kunal), the first phrase backed by Indian and the second by Western, he gives the phrase 3 backed by Indian and phrase 4 backed by Western for Shreya, followed by 4 phrases of Indian rhythm arrangement. He tries to play around the phrasing in a duet with rhythms.

Let's hear the charanam 1 and pallavi 2 of Balegaara Balegaara with switching rhythms as described...



The experimentation mindset of Raja tries to apply any technique to semi classical, light or folk. He does not rest on his laurels and wants to keep experimenting till he gets to a point of total satisfaction. He tries to use every opportunity in every mood setting to try out his orchestration experiments. We are truly blessed to have a composer of his caliber in our times.

2 comments:

Unknown said...

There are 100s of examples and i understand that you cannot cover them all. I would however like to draw your attention to one song "Vaanam Paadi" from a film called "Sir I Love You". What amazed me in the orchestration,apart from usual guitars, bassline and all raaja ingredients, was that there is one Tabla knock in between western rhythm. Spectacular.
Or if we look at the song "Ada Machaa" from "Chinna Veedu", we understand how freaky he was.At times i feel like asking him "Were you on dope?" (pun intended,coz i know he led a pious life)

Ilaiyaraaja is spectacular.

Unknown said...

sorry, forgot to mention the most obvious thing - Brilliant post! :)