Friday, February 7, 2014

Synthesizer unusual conversations

Raja has done a lot of C&R arrangements with the synthesizer throughout his career. Among the unusual conversations, this is perhaps the most elaborate. We will see several clips with several segments within them. The level of experimentation with this technique is both deep and broad. The list a long one and to keep the interest high, I will only include some examples from each category, though my initial research had too many entries in this category.

Let’s start with analyzing Raja’s unusual synth-flute conversations. This clip has seven segments:

  1. The first segment is from the song ‘Ilancholai Poothatha’ from Unakkaagave Kaathiru (Tamil 1986). The call is from the flute and the response is from the synthesizer. Even the interludes are set to a classical mode with the mirudhangam taking care of the percussion
  2. The second segment is from the song 'Nee Medha Naaku' from the film Rashasudu (Telugu 1986). This is a very unusual arrangement as both the call and the response are exactly the same melody. The call is by the synthesizer and the responding flute plays exactly the same melody. This is very uncommon in Raja’s work. This song is set on a very western arrangement
  3. The third segment is from the famous song ‘Ooru Sanam’ from Mella thirandadhu kadhavu (Tamil 1986). The call is by the flute and the response from the synthesizer is a complex one. This is repeated twice in the interlude
  4. The fourth segment is from the song ‘Ponnaana Meni’ from Meendum Kokila (Tamil 1981). The call is by the synthesizer and the response is a short from the flute
  5. The fifth segment is from the song ‘Thaimaavin Thanalil’ from Oru Yatra Mozhi (Malayalam 1997). The call from the flute is a short one and the response is a beautiful synth roll.
  6. The sixth segment is from the song ‘Unnaiyum Ennaiyum’ from the film Aala Pirandhavan (Tamil 1987). The long call from the flute is responded equally by the synthesizer
  7. The seventh segment is from the prelude of the song ‘Vaa Vennila’ from Mella thirandadhu kadhavu (Tamil 1986). The call from the synthesizer (one can argue this to be bells too) is a single tone for which the flute responds at length

Let’s hear the sample of Raja’s unusual synth-flute conversations




Let’s next move on to analyzing Raja’s unusual synth-guitar conversations.

This clip has five segments:

  1. The first segment is the famous prelude of the song ‘Mounamana Neram’ from Salangai Oli/Sagara Sangamam (Tamil/Telugu 1983). The call is from the synthesizer for which the response from the guitar is a beautiful melody. This is one of Raja’s finest synth guitar arrangements
  2. The second segment is from the song ‘Raathiriyil Poothirukkum’ from Thanga Magan (Tamil 1983). The call is from the guitar for which the response is another melody from the synthesizer.
  3. The third segment is the most unusual among all the segments in this clip. This is from the song ‘Poovadai Kaatru’ from Gopurangal Saivathillai (Tamil 1982). The long call from the guitar (almost simulates a piano roll) is responded beautifully by the synthesizer taking equal time. This is a fantastic arrangement and I have not heard a similar arrangement by Raja
  4. The fourth clip is from the song ‘Raghavane Ramana’ from the film Ilamai Kalangal (Tamil 1983). This is a Raja specialty, as he uses two western instruments in a Carnatic classical composition, effortlessly. The call is by the guitar and the response is short from the synthesizer
  5. The fifth clip is from the famous song ‘Rum Bum Bum’ from Michael Madana Kamarajan (Tamil 1991). The long call from the guitar is responded by the synthesizer

Let’s hear the sample of Raja’s unusual synth-guitar conversations




Let’s hear next, Raja’s unusual synth-synth conversations….

The clip below has 6 segments.


  1. The first segment is from the song ‘Kogile Kooguva’ from Prem Kahani (Kannada 2009). The call is from the synthesizer and the response is from a synthesized flute. The song is centered on flute tones and this part is executed with synthesizers melodiously
  2. The second segment is from the famous song ‘Sindhiya Venmani’ from Poonthota Kavalkaran (Tamil 1988). The call is a detailed one from one synthesizer and the response is an equal one from another. Set to a very rare ragam (Strothiswani) this song has some excellent parts all over the place from an orchestral sense too
  3. The third segment is from the song ‘Vaigai Nadhikarai’ from the film Nilave Mugam Kaatu (Tamil 1999). The call is a short one from a synthesizer and the detailed response is from another
  4. The fourth segment is from the prelude of the song ‘Nannanne Noduvanu’ from the film Bhagyadha Belagara (Kannada 2009). You have to pay a bit more attention to this arrangement as the call and response tones are very close to each other. The call is from one synthesizer and the response is from another (could be played on the same machine in two racks by the same player)
  5. The fifth segment is from the song ‘Siru Ponmani’ from the film Kallukkul Eeram (Tamil 1980). The call and the response have a gap and both the melodies are played at a very relaxed pace. After the initial two bars, the response from the synthesizer is a different one
  6. The sixth segment is from the song ‘Thamara Kili Padunna’ from Moonam Pakkam (Malayalam 1988). There are 4 bars in this clip. All the responses from the second synthesizer is exactly the same. The calls are different between the first and the last two bars

Let’s hear the sample of Raja’s unusual synth-synth conversations




Let’s next hear something very special to Raja – conversations between a synthesizer and a veena. This is a Raja specialty and you do not get to hear as much from other composers…


  1. The first segment is from the song ‘Oru Ragam Padalodu’ from ‘Ananda Ragam (Tamil 1982).  The call is from the veena and the response is from the synthesizer. It is delightful to hear such combinations as the tonal variance adds to the beauty of the melody
  2. The second segment is from the song ‘Mouna Ragam’ from the film Kolangal (Tamil 1995).  The call is a detailed one from synthesizer and the response is from the veena. Note that the response from the veena varies between bar1 and bar 2. Typical Raja!

Let’s hear the sample of Raja’s unusual synth-veena conversations

 


Let’s next move on to some of Raja’s unusual conversations between the synthesizer and the violins. This does not include any solo violin.

The clip below has 6 segments.

  1. The first segment is from the song ‘Halli Lavaniyalli’ from the film Namoora Mandara Hoove (Kannada 1997). The call is from the rapid violins (also called as staccato) and the response from the synthesizer is not just equally rapid, but also of an equal matching tone. Brilliant arrangement
  2. The second segment is from the famous song ‘Kaalai Nera’ from Amman Kovil Kizhakale (Tamil 1986). The call is a long one from the violins and the response is a short one from the synthesizers
  3. The third segment is from the song ‘Unnai Naan Sernthirukka’ from the film Ilaya Ragam (Tamil 1995) and the C&R here is very unusual. The call is from the synthesizers and there is a bar where the synthesizer and the rhythm arrangement continues and the violins responds back to the call at equally relaxed pace
  4. The fourth segment is from the prelude of a rare song ‘Naan Kadhalil’ from the film Mandhira Punnagai (Tamil 1986). The call is from the synthesizer (can be argued as bells too) and the response is a bit lengthy one from the violins.
  5. The fifth segment is from the song ‘Padoo Sakhi Padoo’ from the film Chaitram (Malayalam 1989) . This is a brilliant arrangement where the notes descend in both the call (synthesizer)  and the response (violins). This is a flute centered song and this is a pivotal transition part of the lead over to the charanam
  6. The sixth segment is  from the song ‘Ponana Meni’ from the film Meendum Kokila (Tamil 1979). The call is from the rapid synthesizers and the response is from violins arranged in staccato fashion. Though the segment is short, this is another example similar to segment 1, with a different melody

Let’s hear the sample of Raja’s unusual synth-violins conversations...





The synthesizer based C&R arrangements of Raja are too many to list. Readers can add their favorite pieces to the list that is hard to contain.

2 comments:

Kamal Aakarsh Vishnubhotla said...

There is a lot of material here. I am yet to explore synthesizer-guitar and other combos but I'd like to highlight Synth-flute combination.

I have noticed in many songs that Raaja tends to break a melody phrase into two parts where one half is on flute and another half is on synthesizer. Now these two parts could be identical, or they could be one leading to another, to complete the melody (which means the last note of 1st portion and 1st note of 2nd portion meld together, but are played on different instruments).

A case in point is the 2nd interlude of Ninnukori from Agni Nakshatram. The fluttering flute phrase, if you listen carefully, is actually flute + synthesizer.

Another example is in the opening of Lalitha Priya Kamalam. There is a phrase which is played on flute and immediately on synth but joined so cleverly.

I have noticed this in many other songs. Will add here when I recall (the pain of following up a huge repertoire).

ravinat said...

Aakarsh

You are bang on with your observations on how Raja does some of his C and R work. Sometimes, the phrase is so quick, that you start wondering why the composer kept it so short.

One of the reasons, why I constrained myself in this research was to be 100% sure that it was indeed a C and R arrangement. The constraint was to ensure that the call is repeated twice (in some cases, with minor variations) and the response also happens twice. If I take this constraint out, it opens a flood gate of arrangements between two instruments that can be interpreted in a myriad of ways. I am glad you raised this point, as I did not clarify, why I threw these constraints in this analysis, when I first mentioned about the rules.

Your observations are not just limited to instruments, but also to voices. There are several songs where the instrument and the voice meld so quickly, that it is hard to tell if it was intended to be a C and R. Example, is the song Halli Lavaniyalli - this is a staggering composition where there are tens of instances throughout the song, where Raja uses synthesizers, flutes, main and chorus voices to construct the song that is hard to separate each instance and analyze it as 'one' technique.