Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Strawberry Flavored Cleverfolk

This category has folk lyrics with a CCM raga based melody. This is a very popular Raja flavor and the CCM raga is mostly ignored due to the rhythm arrangement and folkish lyrics.

There are countless tracks of Raja that have the Carnatic touch to a folk lyric. I will list some top of mind examples. All ragams are courtesy of Vel Ramanan.

  1. Chitira Chevvanam from Kaatrinile Varum Geetham (1978) set to Savithri ragam.
  2. Megam Karukuthu from Ananda ragam (1982) set to Abheri ragam.
  3. Aathadi Paavadai kaathada from Ponvilangu (1984) set to Laavantika ragam.
  4. Paadariyaen Padipariyaen from Sindhu Bhairavi (1986) set to Saramathi ragam.
  5. Arumbagi Mottagi from Enga Ooru Kavalkaran (1988) set to Charukesi ragam.
  6. Thaana Vandha Sandhaname from Ooru Vitu Ooru vandhu (1990) set to karaharapriya ragam
  7. Kottukali kottu nayanam from Chinnavar (1992) set to Mayamalavagowlai ragam
  8. Adukkumalli from Avarampoo (1992) set to Karaharapriya ragam
  9. Vanam Ellam Shenbagapoo from Nadodi Paatukkaran (1992) set to Madhyamavathi ragam.
  10. Aalapol Velappol from Ejaman (1993) set to Shankarabharanam ragam.
  11. Chinna rasavey from Walter Vetrivel (1993) set to Lathangi ragam
  12. Azhagana Manja Pura from Ellame En Raasathaan (1995) set to Madhyamavathi ragam.

All the tracks listed are fantastic melodies but have a folkish lyric. Most of them are runaway hits of Raja and he seems to have used a lot of this technique in the early 90s – nice flavor to folk lyrics. While several composers have attempted to do this strawberry flavoring, no one has succeeded as much as Raja as he has the deep knowledge of both the systems – folk and Carnatic.

The clip below is a folk raagamalika with the following ragas Savithri (Chitira Chevvanam) followed by Charukesi (Arumbagi Mottagi) followed by Karaharapriya (Thaana Vandha Sandhaname) and finally ends with Madhyamavathi (Azhagana Manja Pura).

Neapolitan flavored Cleverfolk

This category has folk lyrics with western rhythm arrangement. This is a flavor that Raja uses rarely, but does have its attraction.

Some top of mind examples…

  • Oru Kolakili from Uzhaipali (1993) – this entire track is set to western drumming and nice strumming guitar work. Interludes use the synthesizer extensively. Nice flavoring for a folk track!
  • Nethu Oruthara Orutharu from Pudhu Paatu (1990) – the track is set to a western rhythm arrangement. Like the previous track, nice use of guitar and synth in this track too.
  • Thenpandi Seemaiyile from Nayakan (1987) – this is one of the most popular Raja tracks in Kamal’s voice. Notice the orchestration in this track – fully western with its bass drum, violins The Raja version of the same song uses tabla for its rhythm arrangement and does have the bass drum and grand violins as it is also included towards the end.
  • Maasi Madham Aalana Ponnu from Dharmadurai (1991) is one of the best Raja compositions in the Western major scale. The beats get everyone’s attention, but not the wonderful compositions. The choir arrangement along with the violins is mesmerizing
    Western composition.

The clip below has three tracks in it. It starts off with Oru Kolakili followed by Nethu Oruthara Orutharu and finally it has the mesmerizing pallavi of Maasi Madham Aalana Ponnu. That’s a sample of Raja’s Neopolitan Flavored Clevrfolk.

The arrangement of these songs are so clever that you either get swayed by the Western rhythm arrangement or the folk lyrics that it escapes the listener's mind how innovative the composer has been in putting such extreme musical elements together. This must be contrasted with the remixes that composers are doing today with old Raja folk tunes. While it goes without saying that this is original work, I call Raja as the microchip maker - he somehow sticks stone and metal together and none of us realize what he does!