Monday, July 2, 2018

Intricate harmonies in obscure films/songs – part 3/18

Our journey on uncovering intricate harmonies from obscurity continues…

Raajapaarvai  Background score (Tamil - 1981)

It is famous and obscure at the same time. Raajapaarvai (Tamil 1981), had its great songs and also its famous violin concerto in the Carnatic ragam Panthuvarali.

However, the solo violin play with harmonies intricately weaved with the piano, stands out as part of the background score, which continues to stay obscure even till this date.

It is natural to get carried away by VSN's play of the solo violin - it deserves all kudos. Hear it again, ignoring VSN and you will see the clear harmony weaved with a piano. I will demonstrate in this series, that genius is still intact in 2018.

Let’s hear the background score clip of Rajapaarvai, which is a solo violin/piano harmony treat…

Kanavil Midhakkum (Eera Vizhi Kaaviyangal - Tamil  - 1982)

Unless, you are a die hard Raja fan, there is little chance of knowing 'Kanavil Midhakkum' song from Eera Vizhi Kaaviyangal (Tamil 1982) from the 80s.

This film had great songs, but this song sang by Yesudas has special significance from a harmony and WCM perspective. Personally, this song's second interlude helped me understand modulation of scales that Raja did in his usual 'walk in the park'. Raja's use of Yesudas as a Carnatic singer is nothing great in my view - it is like somebody using Hariharan as a ghazal singer. These singers are trained to perform that well. It is so hard to get Yesudas sing Western phrases and this was the time Raja succeeded in taking the 'Apoorva Ragam' singer and turning him into a Western singing powerhouse. Starting from Uravugal Thodargathai to En Iniya Pon Nilave to Kanavil Midhakkum, it was total transformation for Yesudas under Raja. Little is documented about Raja's role in helping Yesudas navigate through these strange paths - listen to the song Kalkandam chundil and see him glide with Janaki - the training was complete!

Back to Kanavil midhakkum, it is almost a complete lesson on harmony and you can cover all your western harmony lessons with just this song. I will touch on the interludes without running too deep as it can get boring as you get deeper with harmony.

Passage 1 : 1:07 to 1:48: A pretty long passage (21 seconds - around 12 bars) with just violins playing harmony in all 
four parts. The first use of flute is at 1:28 and it lasts only till 1:36 (4 bars). The violins play another harmony between 1:36 and 1:48 (another 6 bars). Marathon effort that nobody can dismiss as a walk int he park. Yet he does,

Passage 2 : From 2:42 to 3:03, it is all piano and violins based harmony passages nicely arranged.

From 3:03 to 3:14, is where the modulation of the scales take place. We already saw the definition of what this is.

We can keep describing these harmony passages in greater detail technically, but can get theoretical. 

Let’s listen to Kanavil Midhakkum