Saturday, April 3, 2010

Cookies and cream flavored Cleverfolk

This category has folk lyrics with mixed rhythm arrangement (Indian and Western). As we saw in the rhythm series of posts, this is a Raja specialty and he has ensured that switching Indian and Western rhythms are in every possible genre of composition.

In this section, unfortunately, we will have to repeat some of the tracks from ‘Raja’s rhythm innovation stage 8’ as some of the tracks in that post had folk lyrics.

Balegara Balegara from Bhagyadha Balegaara (2009) – this is the latest from Raja using switching rhythms in his latest Kannada venture.

Unnai Maathi from Uthamarasa (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.

Sandhu Pottu from Devar Magan (1992) is another track where the lyric is folkish and the rhythm arrangement is very sophisticated. The arrangement uses several patterns with the tabla and the dialogs are backed by western drums.

The clip below has two tracks (both charanams) – the first one is Sandhu Pottu followed by the charanam of Unnai Maathi. Notice the alternating rhythm arrangement between Indian and western drums in both tracks.

The cookie is perhaps the Indian rhythm and the cream is the Western or the other way around. While Raja has done several of these as discussed in the Rhythm Section, his folk application of this technique is limited. However, very pioneering and unique.

Rocky road flavored Cleverfolk

This category has folk lyrics with interludes set to rock music style arrangement. Mostly, Raja serves this flavor with the rhythm arrangement. Prior to Raja no one dared to serve this flavor!

Aasai Adigam Vachu from Marupadiyum (1993) is served with rock beats! The prelude of this song starts off with the heavy beats. The guitar usage in this track is very interesting (electric). The second interlude uses the wah wah guitar for the folk song!

Nila Athu Vanathu Mela from Nayakan (1987). The track starts off with a nice guitar strum as though it is another regular song and deflects you with its rock beats. The lyrics are folkish. The first interlude uses nice saxophone with the rock beats making you wonder if this is Jazz or Rock! The second interlude misleads you even more – the saxophone is on a counterpoint with the nice guitar melody!

Yeh aatha from Payanangal Mudivathillai (1982). The guitar work in this song is amazing that you tend to ignore it given the nice tabla rhythm throughout the song. The second interlude of this track is noteworthy – the rock style guitar strumming in counterpoint with the western flute makes you forget for some time that this is supposed to be a folk type track.

The clip below has two tracks. It starts off with Aasai Adhigam and ends with Nila Athu (charanam). Observe the sax and the nice counter melody with the guitar in the 2nd interlude of this otherwise folk song. Vintage Raja…
While most of the present day tracks use the same western rhythm arrangement, they miss out on the rich folk flavor. The difference is in the way Raja orchestrates. The flavor does not suffer in any way because he chooses a Western orchestration method - that's the genius of Raja. Very folky, very Indian, the orchestration happens to be western for those who choose to observe and enjoy.

Cookie dough flavored Cleverfolk

This category is folk lyrics with Jazz style interlude arrangement. Now, that’s probably a first in Indian cinema where someone dares to make such an attempt! Lots of composers have tried to set Indian film songs to a Jazz arrangement, but they never take a folk lyric and experiment!

Kaatile Kamban Kaatile from Rajakumaran (1994) set to a nice Jazz rhythm with folkish lyric. In the first interlude Raja throws the kitchen sink – female choir, with a nice synth play very typical of Jazz. The second interlude confirms any doubts by the wonderful sax and pan flute in typical Jazz style.

Thangakili Tholil Vacha Neethane Meenachi from Manam Virumbudhe Unnai (1999). As described in the section ‘Raja’s rhythm innovation stage 13’ this is a fantastic folk track that is set to the Jazz style arrangement, it becomes hard to say if this is folk or Jazz.

The track below has the beginning of the track Kaatile Kamban Kaatile followed by the second interlude. Let’s first analyze the prelude. It starts off with brilliant violins in tremolo. The synth joins at a relaxed pace. Raja cuts the violins out with a very slow jazz paced folk song! Do not miss the bass playing nicely on the left channel. The interlude has all the elements of a Jazz elements – the Western pan flute is the embellishment which plays for few brief seconds that is not typical of jazz. With that exception, (you got to go looking for it), it’s like any other jazz song. Nice use of sax and synth which is typical of Jazz music.

This is experimentation at its best. Folk meets Jazz so effectively. While Raja has used Jazz techniques in several compositions , his application to folk is limited.