Thursday, June 2, 2016

A rapid lesson in polyphony and polyrhythm

Let's first recollect our definition of polyphony...

Let's next recollect our definition of polyrhythms...

The song, Punnai Vanathu Kuyile from Muthu KaaLai (Tamil 1995) has some amazing experimental work by Raja. Hear the clip below...

This is the second interlude in the composition. Here is what's going on, with the experiment:

1. Between 0:00 and 0:08 - The shehnai is used in its native North Indian format and the synthesizer responds to the call twice. Nothing unusual yet.

2. Between 0:09 and 0:18 - The rhythm joins the shehnai which now switches to 'Raja' mode. There are a couple of bars - Again nothing unusual

3.  Between 0:19 and 0:28 - You have 4 things going on suddenly. The tabla joins on a different time while the earlier rhythm is still going on. Polyrhythm 101. You will also notice that the synthesizer plays counter melody to the shehnai.

  That was the aha moment. Segment 1 and Segment 2 were preparing the listener for Segment 3. Those were just appetizers. 

  Polyphony on top of polyrhythm.  

That's one hellua lesson within 28 seconds.  Please use a good pair of headphones to enjoy the experiment and the quick lesson on polyphony on top of polyrhythm!