Sunday, December 2, 2018

Intricate harmonies in obscure films/songs – part 8/18

Our journey on uncovering intricate harmonies from obscurity continues…

Neethana Neethana  Nenje Neethana (Thaalaatu Paadava - Tamil - 1990)

Despite being very careful , Raja's volume does throw an occasional challenge where a song that I have escapes analysis. I realized that this song features it and it did escape my PolyCaRe scrutiny thanks to Raja's volume of work with any technique. This song does qualify as an obscure one sang by Arunmozhi and Janaki in 1990 and deserves a mention in this category.

Though this song has a few harmonies, I will touch on only two harmony parts that got my attention.

Harmony passage 1 (0:19 to 0:30 secs) : This is a very unusual arrangement with two synthesizer tones closely arranged as a A and T with the bass taking care of the B. Simple harmony but the choice of instruments deserves special mention. Again, given Raja's track record, no special kudos for him for this.

Harmony passage 2 (2:48 to 3:00) : You will hear the violins in the beginning that move from the foreground to the background and they keep playing the same melody for the entire 12 seconds. The idea is to take up A within the four part harmony and bring the melodies in counter as the S and T (above and below) . You will next notice that Raja uses another set of violins that take up the 
S part.  Now the synthesizer takes up the T part. When all of them play together, you get harmony. When one of the part plays one melody and the other part plays another melody, you get polyphony. The technique Raja employs is polyphony, but he uses a staple Indian technique on top of Western polyphony. The violins that play the S part and the synthesizer that plays the T  part now are arranged as call and response. You can hear the synthesizer responding to the call from the violins. This is perfect PolyCaRe, as I have decided to call such orchestral sophistication.

Another walk in the park for an obscure film song...

Let’s hear Neethaana Neethaana…

Mandhiram Idhu, (Avarampoo - Tamil - 1992)

When Raja does his highly acclaimed Carnatic compositions, he throws in some western harmonies into it and I latch on to such songs as it sort of proves my pet theory that he is first a WC musician. You can hear that in Poo Maalai vaangi vandhaan in Sindhu Bhairavi (Tamil 1986).

Here is another song that was not so known film Avarampoo (Tamil 1992), Mandhiram Idhu - this film's BGM is a fine one as well as its several songs.

Hear this 
Carnatic raga driven song  and focus on a few minutes of beautiful harmonies with just strings - my guess is at least there are 3 parts to this harmony. Focus on 3:48 to 4:23 and see the harmonies arranged in a dialog with tabla. Raja ensures that the lead violin plays carnatic even in this harmony so that it does not screw up the overall composition. This is a special walk in the park that only he is capable of.  CCM and WCM coexist in total peace and an average listener will never notice!

Let’s hear Mandhiram Idhu