Wednesday, June 15, 2022

SJ – Orchestral vocal instrument orchestration types

 Let’s get into the methods Raja has employed in using SJ as an orchestral instrument in his compositions. Most of the techniques must be familiar to this blog’s readers as these are staple Raja techniques. What is unique is the use of the female voice within that orchestral structure. My research revealed at least 40 compositions where there is a conscious deployment of the female voice into an orchestral structure. However, I could have missed a few and readers are welcome to bring them up as they see fit.

Call and Response

As we saw in the ‘Unusual conversations’ set of posts, this technique was used a lot by Raja in the 80s and the 90s. SJ was his dominant female voice and Raja used her voice while deploying this technique as an orchestral instrument, the most, among all techniques.


During the entire career span of 23 years, Raja successfully used SJ’s voice as part of his harmony compositions. It is still puzzling how SJ adopts her voice to a Western technique when she had no formal training in that school of music.  One can only wonder about her ability to hear and grasp what a composer wants out of her voice


Throughout his career, Raja made use of counterpoints in his music and during SJ’s years of singing for him, he turned her into one of the orchestral element in his counterpoint composition, at times. This is an interesting use of the female voice that few have attempted


While Raja’s use of the PolyCaRe technique (Polyphony + Call and Response) is legendary, he has used SJ’s voice as part of  PolyCare compositions as well. While the technique itself represents one of the highest sophistication levels of orchestration, it is equally amazing that SJ adapted so easily to even this technique.


Strumming is staple technique of any guitarist. However, Raja uses SJ’s voice instead of a guitar strum beautifully in his interludes!


The category ‘various’ does not mean a catch all bucket. More than one technique has been used by Raja throughout a song when he used SJ’s voice as part of his orchestration. There are a few songs just dedicated for this. It will be unfair to keep them under the other categories and repeating the song. This is perhaps the category, where he fully exploits her voice having written a detailed score and decides to replace instrument parts in several areas with her voice.

A word of caution.  Some of the songs discussed in these series of posts may have been discussed before. Some have parallels in the topic of ‘Nearest Neighbor’ posts.

We will analyze these posts by decades, where applicable.