Sunday, March 1, 2009

Raja's spectrum of moods with Sax/Trumpet

Raja gets little credit for his usage of Sax/trumpets in various moods as it generally gets overshadowed by his usage of guitar, violins and flutes. In my view, he has used Sax/trumpets on a spectrum of moods that merits exploration.Let’s begin with tracks that invoke happiness mood. The title track of Cheeni Kum (2007) is a fantastic example of this mood. Maha Rajanodu from Sathi Leelavathi (1995) is another example of a track in this mood. Rum Bum Bum from Michael Madana Kamarajan (1991) is another wonderful example of this mood. Vazhavaikum Kadhalukku from Aboorva Sagodargal (1989) is another example for this mood. Please note that none of these tracks are set in a night club like backdrop. Raja just chose the sax and delivered! My top pick for this category is Vazhavaikum Kadhalukku

Let’s move over to the pleasant memories mood. Enna Satham Intha Neram from Punnagai Mannan (1986) uses saxophone beautifully along with guitar to bring out this mood so well! Kanukkum Kanukkum from Ninaika Therindha Maname (1987) is another great track in this mood. The saxophone track in Cheeni Kum (2007) uses saxophone to bring out the mood of mischief – I have not heard any Indian film music that does this. Vaanile Thenila from Kaaki Chattai (1985) brings out this mood very well. Then Mozhi from Solla Thudikudhu Manasu (1988) creates this mood in the second interlude. My top pick is the Cheeni Kum track…

Sax offers excellent scope in a romantic mood when used properly. Though this is not very new in Indian film music, this is not the common mood for which this instrument is used as a norm. Gingila Gingila from Thai Mozhi (1992) uses the saxophone along with guitar in a jazz fashion so beautifully to bring out this mood. Kannan Vandhu Paaduginran from Rettai Vaal Kuruvi (1987) is another great example of a sax track in a romantic situation. Sangeetha Megam from Udhaya Geetham (1985) is a masterpiece with violins/guitar to create a romantic mood. Sorgathin Vasapadi from Unnai Solli Kutramillai (1990) is another great track that evokes this mood. Ennathaan Sugamo from Maapilai (1989) creates this mood along with flutes and violins. Maalaiyil Yaaro from Kshatriyan (1990) creates this mood with violins. My top pick is Maalaiyil Yaaro

The party mood is the most common usage of the sax in Indian film music. Raja has done several in this mood too. Ennodu Paatu Paadungal from Udhaya Geetham (1985) brings out this mood along with electric guitar and chorus very well. How can one forget Sorgam Madhuvile from Sattam En Kaiyil (1978) – this used to be a regular party song. Vaanam Keele Vandhalenna from Thoongathe Thambi Thoongathe (1983) brings out this mood along with violins and electric guitar. Paatu Thalaivan from Idhaya Kovil (1985) is a wonderful track with ably supported by electric guitar, violins to create this mood. My top pick is Sorgam Madhuvile

Saxaphone is rarely used in a pathos situation in Indian film music. Raja successfully used it with Mandram Vandha Thendralukku in Mouna Ragam (1986) – Raja brings out pathos so well with sax and flutes. Diana Diana supported by the synth from Kadhal Kavidhai (1999). Chandirare Sooriyare from Amaran (1992) uses sax in a pathos situation. My top pick is
Mandram Vandha Thendralukku

Another common usage of sax/trumpets is in an aggressive mood in Indian film music. Ennadi Meenachi from Ilamai Oonjaladukirathu (1978) uses saxophone and trumpets to create this mood with electric guitar. Raja has used trumpets/sax in another aggressive mood in Yaar Veetil Roja from Idhaya Kovil (1985). My top pick is Yaar Veetil Roja


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).