Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Intricate harmonies in obscure films/songs – part 15/18

Our journey on uncovering intricate harmonies from obscurity continues…

Bharathi Background Score (Tamil 2001)

If I say 'Bharathi' (Tamil 2001) is an obscure film, I run the risk of being shot at. But 'Bharathi' and harmony, you must be kidding! The film had some of Raja's very fine Carnatic work that brought him close to a National award that eluded him.

Yes, Bharathi, harmony and Raja - that's the obscure combination that I will discuss here.

If you listen to the BGM, where Bharathi learns and speaks fluently in English, for the Tamil, audience, Bharathi's words are faded and you can hear Raja's violin harmony take over. Hear from 6:18 to 6:54 in the clip below (courtesy Navin):

If that obscure WCM part was not good enough, you need to hear this masterpiece - Bharatha Samudhayam Vazhgave by Yesudas. The song has only one interlude and Raja hits the ball out of several parks. This is the unappreciated but one of the grandest harmony parts he has written in films.  Between 1:24 and 1:50, hear the harmony that the maestro (I do not use this word lightly) delivers. I missed it initially till one of my friends told me. Has Raja ever spoken about this score? 

That's another walk in the park...

Mugam background score (Tamil 1999)

According to Wikipedia, 'Mugam' is a film released in 1999 in Tamil and Telugu. I have no idea about this film and I am sure many others are in the same boat. Obscure for sure.

Thanks to Kamesh for posting the title score in soundcloud. I was listening to this score today and it is a short one of about 2 minutes laden with harmony.

Between 1:14 and 1:45, harmony does not get any better. The bass is played with cellos and double bases and the the violins play the other parts - this is a 
string quartet. Very few composers can even write something like this.  VSN has been doing great work in this area as part of his MSQ. A solo violin does the S part of the harmony - this is no different from hearing a classical Western concert that goes back to the baroque days. Between 1:46 and 1:55, the composer changes the harmony completely and returns back to the original baroque style harmony back from 1:56 all the way to 2:18. He repeats it again between 3:15 and 3:35.


Here is a comparable video that shows you how a 
string quartet works...

The point of sharing VSNs video along with Raja's obscure movie work of 'Mugam' is that, it comes easy for these artists. Harmony is not something they have to sweat it out like other Indian composers who brag about it. It also proves my pet theory that Raja is first a WC musician and everything else after that. For a useless movie like 'Mugam', if he has to write a title score, he would like to do something where he does not have to sweat it out. Harmony is in his DNA and there is nothing that he needs to do to write a small 3 minute score!