Monday, July 7, 2014

Will there ever be another Ilayaraja? Part 1

The idea here, is not to discuss the answer, but why such an event is improbable in the next few decades.

The digital music revolution that is underway has changed the rules of the game significantly that music directors/composers have to now play to a different set of rules. I plan to go into detail with some of my thinking on the reasons contributing to this improbability. At a high level, here are some topics I plan to explore:

1. Music apprenticeship and preparation
2. Learning and understanding different musical systems
3. Commitment of promoters of a music composer
4. Ability to risk and experiment
5. Playing by the rules that suit one's best musical beliefs
6. Ability to span multiple languages
7. Ability to hone and develop instrument and singing talent
8. Ability to compose music to fit the emotional requirements of the medium

In short, the environment has changed significantly, that none of the above is entirely possible. Even if we have musical talent that is better than Raja (in theory), there is no way the musician can shine, given the environmental factors. All the above factors have contributed to Raja's towering personality and the environment allowed him to shine over the past 5 decades.  There is no composer who can score on all the above factors today and in the immediate future, no matter what their commercial success is.

In a way, we have been lucky to listen to the 'last' (in a way, first) composer who could span five decades and excel in a number of creative areas. Our future generations (at least a few) do not have a shot at this.

I will explore each of these topics with some examples from Raja's long 5 decades of work and methods. Feel free to comment and perhaps add anything I may have missed.

You will notice that I have not included the usual attributes such as speed of composing, number of films composed, or any such obvious items. The environment simply does not lend itself to such things, even if there is such talent.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think the most important facet to Ilaiyaraaja's genius is his epistemology. Much like how a zen master observes 'conscience' and a vedantic scholar tries to understand the observation or a scientist trying hard to prove a theory beyond doubt, Raaja constantly tries to comprehend music as it emerges from within. I have heard no other composer pay this much attention to the inner process of music within a human as Raaja does. That sets him apart from others. There will definitely be another composer who strives to master all forms and frameworks of music (including the ones that Raaja leaves behind), but I doubt if such a person also will be able to do further research on the epistemology of music.
- V.P.Jaiganesh