Monday, April 7, 2014

Voice(s) unusual conversations

We have covered the topic of Raja’s choir/chorus work in detail. We will be careful not to repeat any choir based C&R in this section. The work we will try and analyze deeper will be humming, that is very common with Indian film music and the way a humming itself is used as an instrument in a C&R arrangement. In his long career, Raja has used humming to be part of a C&R arrangement, much similar to the way he would use an instrument.

We will investigate the way he has used voice and guitar in a C&R mode; voice and flute in a C&R mode,; voice and violins in a C&R mode; voice and synthesizer in a C&R mode; even voice and voice in a C&R mode. No Indian composer has exploited the human voice as an instrument, the way Raja has.

Let’s first explore how Raja has used the flute in a C&R mode with voice(s). As you can expect, the clip in this illustration is a sample of the variety and imagination of the composer. Even within this narrow set of constraints, Raja shows how he can demonstrate his mastery in this technique.

  1. The first segment is from the song ‘Atho Megha Oorvalam’ from 'Eeramana Rojave' (Tamil 1991). The call is from the female voice and the response is from the flute.  Set to the Carnatic ragam Vasanthi  (courtesy: Vel Ramanan), the melody of the arrangement is a treat for the ears
  2. The second segment is from the prelude of the song ‘Poongatre Theendathe’ from 'Kunguma Chimizh' (Tamil 1985). The call is from the female chorus and the response is a short one from the flute. Set to Brindavana saranga ragam (courtesy: Vel Ramanan), the Carnatic arrangement of such C&R is a staple weapon in Raja’s arsenal
  3. The third segment is from the song ‘Maniye Manikuyile’ from ‘Nadodi Thendral’ (Tamil 1992). The call is a long one from the female voice and the response from the flute is a lead to the next phrase. The second time around, Raja arranges the flute response as an imitation of the human voice. This is a light arrangement, where he casually transports this arrangement to a fantastic handoff to the violins, where he gets the voices and flute to play together. It takes a lot to have such an arrangement conceived and executed!
  4. The last segment is from the song ‘Thendral Vandhu Ennai Thodum’ from ‘Thendrale Ennai Thodu’ (Tamil 1985). This time, Raja uses the flute to lead the conversation and uses a male/female combo to respond using scat

On the surface it looks as though such arrangements would be repetitive, till you take them apart and hear them. Two in Carnatic, one in light and the last one in scat – all in a narrow topic of flute and voice C&R arrangement! 

Let’s hear the sample of Raja’s unusual Flute-voice conversations

 


Let’s next explore how Raja has used voices with guitar in a C&R arrangement. The clip has 5 segments from various songs composed by Raja. As usual, you can expect variety even with this narrow selection.

  1. The first segment is from the song ‘Isai Medaiyil’ from ‘Ilamai Kalangal’ (Tamil 1983). Raja uses a female voice to begin the call for which the electric guitar responds imitating the voice. This is followed by a small variation of this melody by the male voice which again is imitated by the electric guitar
  2. The second segment is from the song ‘Kaadhal Mayakkam’ from ‘Pudhumai Penn' (Tamil 1983). This song is one of the examples where Raja has used C&R on many occasions throughout the interludes. This is another variation to the first segment. The call is from the guitar and the response is divided between the female chorus voices and a lone male voice
  3. The third segment is from the song ‘Kodai Kala Kaatre’ from 'Panneer Pushpangal' (Tamil 1981). The call is from the female chorus and the response is from the electric guitar. This is a staple Raja technique in this area and he has used this in several other songs
  4. The fourth segment is from the song ‘Poomalai Oru Paavai’ from 'Thanga Magan' (Tamil 1983). A quintessential disco song, Raja manages to introduce an Indian part into it with a C&R arrangement and finally switches back to disco arrangement. The call is by the female voice for which the response is an exact imitation by the electric guitar. There are three phrases, each of which varies from the previous phrase
  5. The fifth segment is from the song ‘Vaa Vennila’ from ‘Mella Thirandhadhu Kadhavu’ (Tamil 1986). The call is by the female voice for which the response is an exact imitation by the electric guitar. This is another example of segment 4’s technique

Let’s hear the sample of Raja’s unusual Guitar-voice conversations




Let’s next explore how Raja has used voices with synthesizer in a C&R arrangement. The clip has 3 segments from various songs composed by Raja. Some of the arrangements with a synthesizer are of the highest level of sophistication by an Indian composer.

  1. The first segment is from the song ‘Enna Varam Vendum’ from ‘Nandavana Theru’ (Tamil 1995). The arrangement in this song is very sophisticated. The synthesizer is used like an organ and plays beautifully along with the voices. Pay attention to the entire 20 seconds of this arrangement. The chorus first sing their part for which the organ responds. This arrangement is carried out with variations in imitation by the instrument for 3 times. Following this, the chorus voice morphs into a counter melody with the synthesized violins and a solo violin taking over. The instrument parts are alternated between synthesized violins and solo violins, with the voices continuing their melody. Brilliant!
  2. The second segment is from the song ‘Sangeetha megam’ from ‘Udhaya Geetham’ (Tamil 1985). The call is from a female voice for which the synthesizer responds in an organ mode
  3. The third segment is from the song ‘Thamarakkili Padunna’ from ‘Moonam Pakkam’ (Malayalam 1988). This time around, the genre is folk. The call is by a male voice in folk mode and the response is from a synthesized flute

Let’s hear the sample of Raja’s unusual Synthesizer-voice conversations

 



Let’s next explore how Raja has used voices with violins in a C&R arrangement. The clip has 4 segments from various songs composed by Raja.

  1. The first segment is from the song ‘Naadham Ezhundhathadi’ from ‘Gopura Vasalile’ (Tamil 1990). The song is set to the Sriranjani ragam (courtesy: Vel Ramanan) and the call is from a female chorus for which the violins respond
  2. The second segment is from the song ‘Putham Pudhu Kaalai’ from 'Alaigal Oiyvathillai' (Tamil 1981). This is the prelude of the song , where the call is from the female voice for which the violins respond
  3. The third segment is from the song ‘Ponmaane Kovam Eno’ from 'Oru Kaidhiyin Diary' (Tamil 1984). This time the arrangement is a Western one where the call is from the female voices and the response is from the violins
  4. The fourth segment is from the song ‘Poo Mudithu’ from ‘En Purushan Thaan Enakku Mattum Thaan’ (Tamil 1989). Set to Hamsadhwani (courtesy: Vel Ramanan), the call is from a female chorus for which the violins respond

Let’s hear the sample of Raja’s unusual Violins-voice conversations

 



 Let’s next explore how Raja has used voices with voices in a C&R arrangement. The clip has 3 segments from various songs composed by Raja.


  1. The first segment is from the song “Halli Lavaniyalli” from “Namoora Mandara Hoove” (Kannada 1997). As we already analyzed this song, this is one of Raja’s masterpieces with voices. The segment has two sets of female voices arranged along with flutes in a call & response mode. Initially, the call and the response are both in Indian style, followed by one of the voices sticking to the Indian format when the second set of voices switches to scat mode. The flute supports the whole exchange beautifully. Master work!
  2. The second segment is from the song ‘Oru Kili Urugudhu’ from ‘Ananda Kummi’ (Tamil 1982). The call and response are both female voices which eventually merge giving way to the flute to take the interlude to the charanam
  3. The last segment is from the song ‘Pon Oviyam’ from the film ‘Kazhugu’ (Tamil 1981). While there are several harmony parts to this composition, the segment focuses on the C&R arrangement. Raja plays with the call, the first call from the male and the second one being a mixed call from the male and female voice. The response is a discrete one from the chorus for both the calls. Nice arrangement.

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

 


There are no composers who have explored human voice like Raja in Indian films. He has not only used them in harmony, but also very extensively as an instrument in his call and response arrangements. Before him, very few composers ever had the imagination of using the human voice as an instrument in such arrangements.

2 comments:

ஆம்பூர் எட்வின் / பிரபஞ்சப்ரியன் said...

அருமையான ஆராய்ச்சி... பகிர்ந்தமைக்கு நன்றி.

Sridhar said...

Excellent. Its divine analyzing another divine.