Monday, February 1, 2010

Chocolate Flavored Cleverfolk

This category has folk lyrics presented with camouflaged WCM interlude arrangement. It takes a while to figure this one, but is very popular flavor among listeners. The flavor is hidden by tabla arrangement to an otherwise Western string section.

Poovarasambu Poothathu from Kizhakke Pogum Rayil (1978) – Observe the second interlude in this track – the flute parts followed by the accordion. This track has three charamans – if you observe the 3rd interlude, it freely uses bells and a sliding violin scale. Now, this is supposed to be a folk track. Nice flavoring by the master ice cream maker!

Samakozhi Koovuthamma from Ponnu Oorukku Pudhusu (1979). This song is another classic with violins, synthesizer, guitar and flute all set to a typical western arrangement but cleverly hidden with congas and tabla based rhythm arrangement. The second interlude is a beautiful call and response arrangement between flute and bells. The third interlude has an amazing counterpoint between the synthesizer and the violins.

Pothi Vacha Malligai Mottu from Man Vasanai (1983) – this is another classic Raja song that has some outstanding Western orchestration, but cleverly disguised with a tabla and folkish lyric.

Rasanthi Unnai from Vaidehi Kaathirunthaal (1984) – this is a classic Raja song that I have described in the section called ‘Revisiting folk’. Suffice to say that this is wonderful western orchestration camouflaged with tabla rhythm arrangement.

Muthu Mani Maalai from Chinna Kounder (1991) – the comments that apply to the previous track applies here too.

Pacha Malai Poovu from Kizhakku Vasal (1990) – this song is a classic Raja track that uses folk lyric but completely western orchestration arrangement nicely hidden behind the tabla rhythm. As I have mentioned in the section – ‘counterpoint with flute’, Raja has done some outstanding flute and guitar counterpoints in the track. Also, the violin work in the first interlude uses another western orchestration technique of call and response with a long passage with flute answered by violins followed by the synth and bells.

Onnavida from Virumandi (2004) is another track with a folk lyric but the interludes are set to a WCM style arrangement. If you observe the second interlude, the arrangement is quite stunning. If you keep your mind off the lyrics, the interludes are part of the vanilla flavor of Raja.

These are some top of mind examples of folk songs where Raja delivers one of his most successful flavors. This type of flavoring shows the creativity employed by Raja where he takes his strong WCM foundation and applies it to folk lyrics making it very palatable (pun intended).

The clip below has Poovarasambu Poothathu followed by Samakozhi Koovuthamma and Pothi Vacha Malligai Mottu. You can also hear Onnavida at the end. You can notice how cleverly Raja hides a Western interlude within his folk melody.

Chocolate Chip Flavored Cleverfolk

This category has folk lyrics WCM interlude arrangement (not camouflaged). Raja takes the smoke and mirrors and lets you enjoy almost a WCM concert in the interludes while you listen to folk lyrics throughout the track. Perhaps the WCM arrangement sticks out like a c
hoco chip and that has its own nice taste as well!

Poovarasan was a 1996 Tamil film that disappeared without a trace. Raja has two duets in this film completely set to

folk lyrics. Itha Poovukoru Arasan and Rasathi Rasathi – both sang by SPB and Chitra. If you hear the prelude, interludes of these Intha Poovukoru Arasan, they are very modern sounding and amazing WCM work. Raja uses very pleasant synth sound with flute, with beautiful violins and solo (violins) as well. The last few lines of the charanams are beautifully backed by synthesized violins. The second interlude starts off with a beautiful flute and synth counterpoint followed by synth work. This is one of his fine WCM work hidden by a folk lyric. Rasathi Rasathi

also starts with synthesized violins as part of its prelude. The first interlude uses a nice chorus arrangement with flute and synth parts – towards the end of the interlude switches to a tremolo violin arrangement which is typical of Raja’s WCM work. The second interlude starts off with another counterpoint between plucked violin strings and synthesizer followed by extensive violin work. He makes no attempt to hide any of these flavors – no tabla, no duffle – pure WCM work.

Kadhaipola Thonum from Veera Thaalatu (1998) is another interesting track where Raja provides a choco chip and vanilla flavor to the track. The prelude and first interlude are like several songs of Raja. However, the second interlude is just stunning. There is a brief silence followed by synthesizer to simulate wind followed by some very fine tremolo string work. This is supposed to be a folk track – Raja uses a nice WCM technique to bring additional flavor to the song.

Sandhirarum Sooriyarum from Avatharam (1995) is a track that fully does away with any percussion and uses western style violins throughout the song that is very folkish in its lyrics. More of it in the section – Raja’s rhythm innovation stage 12.

The clip below starts off with the interlude of Intha Poovukoru Arasan – this is like hearing a western classical concert than a folkish melody. This is followed by an astounding interlude (2nd) from Kadhaipola Thonum fully using western ideas such as tremolo strings. Finally, I included Rasathi from Poovarasan. When you hear this whole collage, you never get an impression of hearing any folk melody. Raja’s interludes live in a different world. He somehow stitches his interludes to his main pallavis and charanams. There is nobody who is better than him in this. I almost forgot that I was providing you examples with his folk work. Enjoy the hidden Western classical music interludes in the folk melody – except, Raja does not make any attempt to hide it.

Butter Pecan Flavored Cleverfolk

This category has folk lyrics backed by South Indian folk instruments for the rhythm arrangement (not tabla).

Unfortunately, this category will find ourselves repeating some of what we saw with the section –
Raja’s rhythm innovation stage 10. I will provide some additional examples that are not covered in that section.

This flavor instantly gets you the feel of a folk type song. However, this is just due to our getting used to Raja’s flavors – it has all his usual guitar, synth, violins which are non-folk instruments.

Nitham Nitham Nellu Choru from Mullum Malarum (1979) set fully on the ghatam.

Maankuyile Poonkuyile from Karakaatakaran (1989) using thavil and shehnai extensively.

Potri Padadi Penne from Devar Magan (1993) – uses duffle and ghatam

Amman Kovil from Aranmanai Kili (1993) uses urimi and thavil for this folk composition.

The track Nenjukkule Innarennu from Ponnumani (1993) uses ghatam and claves (sticks that create a sharp sound) in its prelude and pallavi. Observe that there is a sad version of the same song in the film, where Raja avoids the prelude and uses a 6/8 tabla arrangement.

Azhagana manjapura from Ellame En Rasathaan (1995) use a combination of a duffle and thavil as rhythm support

Kuruvi Kodaincha from Azhagi (2000) fully uses urimi and udukku throughout the track.
Manu Tholu Onnu from Kaasi (2002) using Udukku and country drums

The track Marakudaiyal from Manasanikkare (Malayalam 2003) is another amazing track where Raja uses thimila and thavil throughout the pallavi of the song. Thimila is a type of percussion instrument that is popular in Kerala. I am not sure, if the lyric of this song is folk type as I do not understand the language.

Chendakoru Kolundu from Manasinakkare (Malayalam 2003) using Chenda

Ghatam, thavil, udukku, urimi, chenda, thimila, duffle – a sample of folk instruments that Raja uses to create some of his folk compositions. Both the tracks of Manasinakkare use synthesizers and violins extensively.

The clip below starts off with Maanu Tholu Onnu and is followed by Kuruvi Kodaincha and finally has the famous Potri Padadi Penne. I leave it to you to figure the number of folk instruments thrown in by Raja in just these three sample parts…