Monday, January 2, 2012

Female folk choir singing - Orange tulips

This is very common with Raja’s work. He draws heavily out of kummi, esapattu and other folk techniques.

This is a staple Raja toolset and he has used it in several of his compositions. I will provide some samples from his 3 plus decades career. Mostly, it is the use of ‘than thanana’ type of singing, though there are situations where the folk chorus are given full lyrics.

Aasaiya Kaathula from Johny (Tamil 1979). Unusual tribal beats with extensive use of female chorus. The prelude uses the female chorus.  The 1st and 2nd interlude uses very unusual folk female chorus. 

Let's hear the tribal chorus of Aasaiya Kaathula...

Aayiram Thamarai Motukkale from Alaigal Oiyvathillai (Tamil 1981). This is the famous Raja track that uses the kummi tradition extensively. The prelude has the female chorus singing ‘than thanana’. The pallavi has the chorus repeating some lines after the main singer finishes her lines. During the second interlude, the chorus shifts to the subhapanthuvarali carnatic humming!

Kannoda Kannu from Palloti Valartha Kili (Tamil 1976). The song starts off with the female chorus singing traditional folk lines as its prelude. These are used in the pallavi too. 

Kaviyam Paadava from Idhayathai Thirudathe or Aamani Paadave from Geethanjali (Tamil/Telugu 1985). This song has no indication to the listener that a folk chorus will be used anywhere. It is a typical Raja solo melody. The first and the second interlude has the female chorus in full folk form.  The second interlude is executed as a full humming.

Let's hear the female chorus in Aamani Paaduve...

Kelade Nemagaaga from Geetha (Male western choir for parts) (Kannada 1980). This is one of Raja’s earliest choir masterpieces. He throws so many varieties into a single track. This song can qualify to be present in at least 3 categories. For now, we will focus on the female folk chorus parts. The first interlude has some good folk singing alternatively by the male and female chorus singers. Notice when in the final few seconds of the first interlude, when the female chorus sings folk, the male choir is singing western choir in a different register – perfect vocal harmony. We will cover this song in great detail under vocal harmony category.

Kothamalli Poove from Kallukkul Eeram (Tamil 1980). The first interlude has the female chorus in fully folk mode. The second interlude has the traditional ‘than thanana’ added before the charanam takes off. 

Meenkodi theril from Karumbu Vil (Tamil 1980).The prelude is a tribal female chorus. The first and second interlude also continues with the tribal chorus.  

Odai Kuyil Oru Paatu from Paatu Paadava (Tamil 1995) The prelude of the song is a folk style female choir. The interesting part is the shehnai accompanying the chorus parts. Now, does this become North Indian folk? The first interlude has some parts where the female folk choir continues. 

Let's hear the innovative female choir in Odai Kuyil...

Ponnaram Poovaram from Pagalile Oru Iravu (Tamil 1979). This is one of Raja’s early compositions in the film that got masked by the success of Ilamai Ennum track. The first and second interludes have some female folk chorus apart from the regular strings/flute.   
Pudhu Vannagal from Murattu Kaalai (Tamil 1980). The prelude has the female chorus repeating the Janaki humming.  

Raman Aandalum from Mullum Malarum (Tamil 1978). This is a track with some great tribal female  folk chorus work. The prelude starts off with the chorus. The prelude phrases for the chorus is repeated again in the track.

Rasave Unnai Naan from Thanikattu Raja (Tamil 1982). This is a great track with some pretty neat chorus work. The first interlude has some neat female folk chorus work that is is (tham tha tham) arranged as a set of discrete notes. Synchronizing the choir with the rhythm in the background is no ordinary work. I would rate this as very Westernized version of the Raja folk offering. Only, he can think of such phrases. Raja throws in some humming (melody) phrases too in the interlude. The second interlude has some very creative chorus arrangement. 

Let's hear the westernized folk of Rasave Unnai Naan...

I am sure there are others that I may have missed. Readers may comment on their favorite ones...

Male folk choir singing - Purple tulips

This is not very common with Raja’s work.

This is a staple Raja toolset and he has used it in few  of his compositions. I will provide some samples from his 3 plus decades career. With male voices, it is mostly lyrics repeated by the chorus group and not just ‘thana thananaa’ type singing as it happens with female voices.

Chitira Sevvanam from Kaatrinile Varum Geetham (Tamil 1978). This is set as a fishermen song. The ‘thaiyara thaiyara’ was very popular in the 70s. The prelude starts off with the male chorus. The pallavi has the chorus singing between the lines of PJ. The last pallavi has slightly different chorus lines compared to the first and the second.

Let's hear Chithira Chevvanam...

Aatama Therottama from Captain Prabhakaran (Tamil 1991). The choral backing for this track is entirely male. The prelude of this track starts off with a solo male voice singing. The pallavi has a few lines by the male chorus singing some lines. (Rambha Sambha….)

Pudhu Rootula thaan from Meera (Tamil 1992). The prelude starts off with two sets of folk chorus overlapping each other. One group sings ‘Hoyya hoyyarra’ and the other group sings ‘hoy hoyya’ and switches to a humming. Very creative. Throughout the pallavi, the chorus is converted into a single syllable ‘hoyya’ that is nicely arranged with the track. The charanams have the chorus very cleverly arranged, first as a single syllable, then as a double syllable. Listen carefully to the double syllable chorus line carefully – the phrase is exactly the same, but the note is different., the first one being lower and the second higher. The last 4 bars have single syllable chorus backing Yesudas. Outstanding arrangement perfectly synchronizing with the background rhythm. 

Next, let’s analyze the charanam arrangement of chorus backing Yesudas. For the first 4 bars, the chorus goes alternating between ‘hoyya’ and ‘hoyya hoyya’ exactly filling in the interval and also synchronizing with the rhythm. The next 4 bars have no chorus backing Das. The last 4 bars are arranged as though it is a C & R between Yesudas and the chorus. 

Let's hear Pudhu Rootula...

After Raja, no other music composer wants to sweat it out this way; perhaps, to them it is sweat and it is very natural for the genius!