Saturday, April 2, 2016

Other complex CaRe arrangements

In this section, we will review a few tracks where Raja has used 5 or more instruments in a C&R mode to create his interlude. As we have seen with the 4 instrument combination, it is hard to go look for symmetry in these arrangements. It is the C&R packing density that one has to look at with these arrangements. Technically, these C&R arrangements do not qualify to be part of symmetry analysis.

One such song is Meenamma Meenamma (Tamil 1989). Let’s analyze the way the 1st interlude of this song is orchestrated by Raja. Though not symmetrical, Raja uses six instruments and creates an interlude purely dotted with C&R arrangements.  It is structured this way:

Gu-Vi x2
Gu-Vi x2
Ve/Fl-Vi x2
Sy-Vi x2

In short form, the arrangement pattern can be said as 1+2+1+2+2+2. 

With the Sax and the Veena thrown into the mix, Raja manages this interlude with aplomb though the intent is not to get symmetrical. All these 10 C&Rs are managed within the usual 20 plus seconds with ease.  The Veena/Flute/Volins part throws the wrench in the works, apart from the last C&R that uses a Synthesizer as well. Had Raja continued the pattern from the first 4 C&R in a progression, this could be technically symmetrical. However, as I have repeatedly said, symmetry does not buy you much when it comes to a melodic arrangement in a fast paced world of film music. This interlude is packed with 10 C&Rs and creates a very melodic interlude keeping the pace of the main song intact. 

Let's hear Meenamma...

Final notes on symmetrical CaRe arrangements

In the last 15 months or so, we explored symmetry in Raja’s work. We focused on arrangement based symmetry than instrument based symmetry. It is hard to write about music symmetry if you consider film music as your analysis subject. Some of the parts in this series of articles may sound a bit critical from a symmetry point of view.  While it is easy to take a critical technical view, one must realize the drivers for a commercial film music composers: 
a) the limits of time to create an interlude (considered a filler by most composers) 
b) the overall melody of the interlude and 
c) the constraints of an interlude, whose rhythm arrangement and pitch cannot significantly vary from the main song. 

Given these constraints, symmetry is definitely not the focus of an average Indian film composer.

Even with all these constraints, we are lucky to have a composer, who navigates these constraints without any difficulty and still delivers near perfect and at times perfectly symmetric C&R based arrangements that have stood the test of time.

The entire series on symmetry must be viewed in this light and not as a mere technical analysis of Raja’s work. As always, his wide body of work repeatedly qualifies for such analysis as it is built on very strong musical fundamentals. We have seen this in several analysis series:

  •        Moods series about the emotions that Raja evokes with his interludes
  •        Rhythm arrangements and the staggering variety
  •       Polyphonic arrangements with his interludes
  •       Polyrhythmic arrangements
  •       Chorus arrangements
  •       Symmetrical arrangements

 We have hardly scratched the tip of the iceberg as all we have covered in the 150 plus posts are one aspect of Raja’s work – instrumental arrangement.