Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Intricate harmonies in obscure films/songs – part 12/18

Our journey on uncovering intricate harmonies from obscurity continues…

Gaana Kuyile (Pooncholai – Tamil -1997)

Pooncholai (Tamil 1997) perfectly qualifies for being obscure as the film never released.

Gaana Kuyile has multiple versions, one sang by Raja and another by Balu and Bhava.

Hear the second interlude of this song between 2:34 and 2:55 - this is a very modern harmony arrangement done with a mix of traditional and non-traditional instruments.

Between 2:34 and  2:46   : the bass guitar is used as the constant melody line and it goes on a repeat mode (the simple of Raja's counter melodies) and the violins get into a dialog with the 
synthesizers finishing the dialog each time. Somewhere after 2:46, the piano joins the fray and now you have the bass guitar, the piano and the violins playing at the same time their parts. Such a fine arrangement, we think is wasted on an obscure movie song that never got released. He would say, that's a small walk in the park.

Let’s hear Gaana Kuyile…

Rasathi Rasathi (Poovarasan – Tamil 1996)
‘Poovarasan’ was a 199x Tamil movie in the twilight years of Karthik as a hero. Needless to say, the film was an obscure one. There are two songs in the movie that are worth discussing from a harmony perspective.

 ‘Indha Poovukkoru Arasan’ is a duet by Balu and Chithra. Nice melody that Balu carries on his broad shoulders. The youtube video is so bad that I decided not to elaborate the harmony arrangements of this song. I searched all the usual sources and could not find a decent sounding version. If someone can point me to a good audio source, I will update this post and point it to that source.

‘Rasathi Rasathi’ is a nice duet by Balu and Chithra again. I could not find a source at all for this song. However, I have used this song to demonstrate how Raja is traditional and modern at the same time in my Techno baroque series and so I decided to point to my blog’s source instead of giving up on this obscure film.

Harmony passage 1 : 0:01 to 0:10 – A synthesized violin starts off only to be joined by real ones playing a nice harmony for the first 10 seconds.

Harmony passage 2 : 0:11 to 0:27 – The violins continue and two more parts get added – piano (played with a synthesizer) and the bass. Pay attention to the singing bass lines. I get so annoyed with some Raja fans who would quote a 80s song with the singing bass and praise it sky high and dismiss this as ‘synth’. It does not matter which voices fill a harmony; it is still a good one technically, and in this case, melodically too. The entire 16 seconds of harmony that you hear has all the 
four parts ('painstakingly' would be a mistake for the guy who considers everything as a walk in the park) written carefully.

Harmony passage 3: 0:56 to 1:01 – The bass lines are intact, and Raja adds three more flavors to it – tremolo violins (yes, you read it correct), synthesized tone and a real flute. BTW, there are several other compositions where Raja throws short tremolo strings as another walk in the park. Example, Kadha Pola Thonum from Veera Thaalaatu, or Kaatula Kamban kaatula from Raajakumaran.  Show me one composer who would take so much care for 5 seconds of harmony – I will sign up today!

There are other passages within these interludes that are repeatedly used, but I do not want to keep repeating. This was a time that Raja was criticized for not getting his experiments with 
synthesizers right. If only folks paid attention to the harmony passages written with the modern synthesizer in mind, they would not make such fleeting comments. Raja went on to use his ideas more successfully in Malayalam as a result. His work in ‘Oru Yathra Mozhi’ was spectacular that was appreciated in Kerala, unlike his Tamil listeners.

Let’s hear Rasathi Rasathi