Friday, November 2, 2018

Intricate harmonies in obscure films/songs – part 7/18

Our journey on uncovering intricate harmonies from obscurity continues…

Jiske Sahare (Kamagni – Hindi - 1989)

Kamagni (Hindi 1989) should have been a disaster of a movie for sure. However, it had some great songs and fantastic arrangements. Not sure how HFM world did not latch on to such great harmonies of Raja, after hearing some of his work in this movie.  Let’s explore the song Jiske Sahare, in this post.

Harmony passage 1: 0:01 to 0:08 Starts off like a WCM concert with violins in counterpoint. Why only 8 seconds?

Harmony passage 2 : 0:09 to 0:20 - The clarinet, the double bases and the violins provide a full treat - something special here that is reserved for my next research topic.

Harmony passage 3 : 0:21 to 0:25 - this is a canon. All the violins play the exact same note with the pitch constantly going up. Raja has used canons in many of his compositions.

The backup strings throughout this song is something all composers of today must learn how to arrange. One word - brilliant!

Let’s hear Jiske Sahare

Marangal Tharum Malargal  (Dhruva Natchathiram  - Tamil - 1990)

This is a true work of a maestro that deserves the highest accolades. Whenever I hear this track, I always recollect the description of John Williams's score of Raiders of the Lost Ark by Steven Spielberg. Unfortunately, there is no Spielberg to describe Raja's work and hence we need to do that :-)

There are only two harmony passages in this composition. The second passage is long and perhaps between 25 and 30 bars. However, to highlight the score, I will split the second passage into multiple passages, as it is convenient to explain the work of Raja.

Harmony passage 01: 0:58 to 1:10 secs: The first few seconds is just a synthesizer tone playing a bass part.1:03 to 1:07 is a thunder of violins playing all the 4 parts when the children continue to sing. You have to hear this patiently, as you can hear a wave of violins gushing and playing the A and the other bank of violins support it with the T part. The horns now join briefly for 2 seconds between 1:08 and 1:09 giving you a precursor to what will happen later on.

Harmony passage 02 (1) : 1:41 to 1:54 secs: For the first 6 seconds, it is violins in full cry playing harmony in all parts. You simply do not get to hear anything like this in Indian films. At 1:48, the horns join the full cry of the violins playing their harmony part till 1:54. You can hear the harmony divided clearly into two parts - the ones with the violins in high pitch playing their part throughout this 6 seconds and the horns playing with another bank of violins intermittently. This gives the heightened tension to the viewer of events that are unfolding on the screen. This is film music at its finest.

Harmony passage 02 (2) :1:55 to 2:02 secs: This passage is organized as two sets of harmonies playing a Call and Response with the horns being part of the response.

Harmony passage 02 (3) : 2:03 to 2:10 secs: This passage is also organized as two sets of harmonies playing a Call and Response with horns doing their 'response' part - however, this is done on a different time and the focus is on the sustained notes to drive home some 'result' or 'decision' type of scenario. This is very common in lengthy action sequences in Western movies, where after a bunch of rapid sequences, when one of the characters gets an upper hand, the slowing of time is used as a technique.

Harmony passage 02 (4) :2:15 to 2:25 secs: This is a repeat of the passages 02(1) and 02(2), where the pace is picked up again.

Harmony passage 02 (5) : 2:26 to 2:35 secs: This is a repeat of 02(3) where the horns return

This is the fitting work of a maestro and you can never get to hear such music in any Indian language film music. The film situation is about blind children about to get poisoned and the hero learns about the situation and has to react quickly. I rate this as one of the finest harmony by Raja in the last 40 years. Salute the maestro.

Let’s hear Marangal Tharum Malagal…