Unusual observations on Raja's orchestration

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Re: Unusual observations on Raja's orchestration

Post  Drunkenmunk on Fri Nov 15, 2013 8:58 pm

Yeah. Not exactly getting the hang of it Embarassed will keep trying I guess using the forum as a bouncing pad till I get its hang.

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Re: Unusual observations on Raja's orchestration

Post  kiru on Fri Nov 15, 2013 9:10 pm

Drunkenmunk wrote:Yeah. Not exactly getting the hang of it Embarassed will keep trying I guess using the forum as a bouncing pad till I get its hang.
Please do .. I am also trying to do some 'passive learning' based on exchanges like this in this forum, even though it is an uphill task for me with my 'sangeetha gnana soonya' brain..

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Re: Unusual observations on Raja's orchestration

Post  ravinat on Fri Nov 15, 2013 10:34 pm

This song was introduced by Vicky some years ago to me. I simply did not like the song though I got it on my iPod, I never heard it.

Recently, my iPod in shuffle mode started playing this song and I could not skip to the next song for some reason. When I heard the interludes and the charanam of this song, I realized why Vicky asked me to listen to this song. Raja in his usual அக்கிரம  mode.  Telugu speakers can tell us about the lyrics as I do not understand a word.

The song is 'Manaku Dosti' from the telugu film 'Mantri Gari Viyyankudu'. Please do not focus on those childish steps but on the guitar - both bass and lead. This is a Raja-Balu only possible song. I will shortly open a thread on Raja -Balu to show case some of the densely worded songs of Raja that only Balu can execute.

Observe the first interlude - the electric guitar playing in Carnatic mode - experts - what ragam is that?

Observe the last 12 bars of the charanam being sung by Balu in one breath - this is what you can call as breathtaking Very Happy 

The way the lines are arranged are exactly like the way an electric guitar would play. Balu's voice simply replaces it. You neither get such singers nor such composers today to innovate like this!

The second interlude - between 2:21 and 2:25 - that's a mind blowing CP with two guitars that only Raja can think of.

A total guitar treat!


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Re: Unusual observations on Raja's orchestration

Post  kamalaakarsh on Mon Nov 18, 2013 11:24 am

ravinat wrote:This song was introduced by Vicky some years ago to me. I simply did not like the song though I got it on my iPod, I never heard it.

Recently, my iPod in shuffle mode started playing this song and I could not skip to the next song for some reason. When I heard the interludes and the charanam of this song, I realized why Vicky asked me to listen to this song. Raja in his usual அக்கிரம  mode.  Telugu speakers can tell us about the lyrics as I do not understand a word.

The song is 'Manaku Dosti' from the telugu film 'Mantri Gari Viyyankudu'. Please do not focus on those childish steps but on the guitar - both bass and lead. This is a Raja-Balu only possible song. I will shortly open a thread on Raja -Balu to show case some of the densely worded songs of Raja that only Balu can execute.

Observe the first interlude - the electric guitar playing in Carnatic mode - experts - what ragam is that?

Observe the last 12 bars of the charanam being sung by Balu in one breath - this is what you can call as breathtaking Very Happy 

The way the lines are arranged are exactly like the way an electric guitar would play. Balu's voice simply replaces it. You neither get such singers nor such composers today to innovate like this!

The second interlude - between 2:21 and 2:25 - that's a mind blowing CP with two guitars that only Raja can think of.

A total guitar treat!

This is a mind boggling song.

This is a Hero introduction song (a rare case of 80s films where Hero comes almost after 30mins into the film) and hence the lyrics are all preachy about how friendship, human values etc are important to him and all.

This is an unusual film by Bapu. Normally he doesn't incorporate these kind of silly steps etc but i guess he wanted to go commercial (and hence the choice of Chiranjeevi and hence those dance steps). Otherwise, Bapu's classy style is totally different. This was the first film in Bapu - raaja combination (usually Bapu preferred KVM). They again collaborated on Sri Rama Rajyam 2 years ago.

I rate this as one of the best classical fusion songs... because there is extensive guitar work, in western mode while melody has strong carnatic base to it. This is one of those rare songs by Raaja where he used the Sree raagam. And both Raaja and SPB freaked out. This song is ideal for rock musician bands actually.

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Re: Unusual observations on Raja's orchestration

Post  Drunkenmunk on Mon Nov 18, 2013 11:34 am

ravinat wrote:This song was introduced by Vicky some years ago to me. I simply did not like the song though I got it on my iPod, I never heard it.

Recently, my iPod in shuffle mode started playing this song and I could not skip to the next song for some reason. When I heard the interludes and the charanam of this song, I realized why Vicky asked me to listen to this song. Raja in his usual அக்கிரம  mode.  Telugu speakers can tell us about the lyrics as I do not understand a word.

The song is 'Manaku Dosti' from the telugu film 'Mantri Gari Viyyankudu'. Please do not focus on those childish steps but on the guitar - both bass and lead. This is a Raja-Balu only possible song. I will shortly open a thread on Raja -Balu to show case some of the densely worded songs of Raja that only Balu can execute.

Observe the first interlude - the electric guitar playing in Carnatic mode - experts - what ragam is that?

Observe the last 12 bars of the charanam being sung by Balu in one breath - this is what you can call as breathtaking Very Happy 

The way the lines are arranged are exactly like the way an electric guitar would play. Balu's voice simply replaces it. You neither get such singers nor such composers today to innovate like this!

The second interlude - between 2:21 and 2:25 - that's a mind blowing CP with two guitars that only Raja can think of.

A total guitar treat!

Mindblowing! Like Aakarsh mentions, ragam is Sree, a derivative of Kharaharapriya. Even in the end of the first charanam, the lyrics give the raga. Veturi wrote this? Listening first time. Thanks a lot for sharing Smile

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Re: Unusual observations on Raja's orchestration

Post  kamalaakarsh on Tue Nov 19, 2013 12:40 pm

Drunkenmunk wrote:
ravinat wrote:

The song is 'Manaku Dosti' from the telugu film 'Mantri Gari Viyyankudu'. 
Mindblowing! Like Aakarsh mentions, ragam is Sree, a derivative of Kharaharapriya. Even in the end of the first charanam, the lyrics give the raga. Veturi wrote this? Listening first time. Thanks a lot for sharing Smile
Yes, lyrics are by Veturi.

Actually, the lyrics too could be categorized under neofusion, if I can call that. There are newer words such as Zabardasthi (hindi word).. and yet, there is this undercurrent of preachy, art of living philosophy..

Premakai neevu puttu (take birth for the cause of love)
Premakai neevu brathuku (live for the cause of love)
premakai neevu chacchi (die for the cause of love..)
Premavai thirigi puttu (and be born again in the form of love..) - fantastic wordplay
Maraname lenidhi manasu raa (there is no such thing as death..for soul)

Kshanikame yavvanammu (this age of youth will last for just a moment..)
kalpane jeevanammu (life is but an imaginary creation - maaya)
Nammuko dhikkugaa premane (have faith only in love)
ee jananamarana valayamulanika (these cycles of life and death)
chedhinchi mamathane mathamanukuni (break away from these shackles through the new religion of affections)
jeevinche moksha maargamu..(this is the way of life to attain moksham...)
srirasthu ani deevenegaa dorikina... dosti.. okate.. aasthi raa (which you are blessed with... friendship.. is the only treasure)...

Veturi was really not just a poet. He was something else...

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Re: Unusual observations on Raja's orchestration

Post  ravinat on Wed Dec 04, 2013 5:19 pm

I heard this song 'Vaa Vaa Kanmani' from Injnisai Mazhai (1992 Tamil) this morning again. Its is a shame that this does not figure in my list of interludes.

The prelude has 93 seconds of drumming - not sure if there is another Raja song like this.



I have included a link that does not have silly imagery. Outstanding drumming!

Listen to interlude 2 - here is a lesson for all young, newbie composers. What is the great scope for a music composer on a stage song? Perhaps a few crazy drumming minutes and guitar notes where the actor sweeps the space around him! Raja teaches a fantastic lesson with interlude 2 - It starts off as an electric guitar play which was simple and I knew something was coming. The trumpet plays a counter melody to the electric guitar elevating this song to the (4:58 to 5:12) next level. If composers set their mind to it, there is indeed plenty of scope for innovation.

I can also hear a crazy synthpad plug in at the end of both the interludes. Not sure why Raja brought this into play.

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Re: Unusual observations on Raja's orchestration

Post  ravinat on Fri May 30, 2014 6:06 pm

I have been researching Raja's work on Call and Response type arrangement and did promise that I will share my analysis results in this forum. I will do this next week. In the meanwhile, here are some blog posts that will prepare you for the final analysis that I did with this topic:

http://geniusraja.blogspot.ca/2013/08/unusual-conversations-introduction.html

The above post is an introduction to the idea of C&R.

http://geniusraja.blogspot.ca/2013/08/unusual-conversations-rules-of-analysis.html

The above post looks at what is considered a C&R for the purposes of the analysis I undertook. I eliminated a number of C&Rs that are considered routine by Raja detractors to prove that he has done a lot of work in this area even if you take into account the pughbacks fromt he detractors.

http://geniusraja.blogspot.ca/2013/08/unusual-conversations-analysis.html

The above post speaks to the methodology that I used in this analysis. There was a year of research on 1600 tracks or so to uncover this type of arrangement and it is important to understand the methodology as this will be presented to understand the trends in Raja's work.

I have used very elementary data analysis on these data points to try and uncover some trend. What I uncover is something I will share next week...

All other posts in this series, are clips of Raja's 'unusual conversations'...

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Re: Unusual observations on Raja's orchestration

Post  crimson king on Fri May 30, 2014 7:34 pm

Thank you for your tireless efforts.  You are this close now to truly pinning down Raja's genius in conceptual terms, which I don't think anybody has ever quite managed before (not anybody's fault but Raja's for composing so many, many tracks  Razz ).  Can hardly wait to read the results of your analysis.  By the by, don't you think he also tends to favour staccato notes more?  Day by Day is a good example of this. It is a setting where legato would be expected (due to the heavy jazz influence) but he uses staccato notes even there.  Arguably that is the aspect that identifies that song as an IR composition rather than just any jazz musician.  He seems to also arrange these notes almost in mathematical combinations/patterns.  It is amazing that somebody who composes music so spontaneously makes the final product sound so precise and calculated.

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Re: Unusual observations on Raja's orchestration

Post  ravinat on Fri May 30, 2014 7:59 pm

crimson king wrote:Thank you for your tireless efforts.  You are this close now to truly pinning down Raja's genius in conceptual terms, which I don't think anybody has ever quite managed before (not anybody's fault but Raja's for composing so many, many tracks  Razz ).  Can hardly wait to read the results of your analysis.  By the by, don't you think he also tends to favour staccato notes more?  Day by Day is a good example of this. It is a setting where legato would be expected (due to the heavy jazz influence) but he uses staccato notes even there.  Arguably that is the aspect that identifies that song as an IR composition rather than just any jazz musician.  He seems to also arrange these notes almost in mathematical combinations/patterns.  It is amazing that somebody who composes music so spontaneously makes the final product sound so precise and calculated.

CK

   Good observations on Raja's favor towards staccato notes. I have stumbled upon several of his compositions and classified them as Jazz only to find that it is not. Example, Niram Pirithu Paarthein - the staccato notes stand out on an otherwise Jazz like song. I also had a hard time classifying the song 'Puthiya Vilangu' from Meera. I ended up calling it a rock influenced composition, as the staccato notes pushed me to think that way. At the end, no one is sure, and I gave up assigning genres to Raja's work. I used to call his Jazz work (example, Thangakili tholil from Manam Virumbudhe Unnai) as Rajazz. However, I realized that there is Rajarock and so on.. There is simply no point. He would throw in a folk style humming into a disco (Poomalai oru paavai). Genres are inputs, not outputs of Raja's work.

  Coming to this issue on precise calculations, we need to discuss more on this as these discussions tend to get awfully technical beyond a point. However, the genius of a composer lies in the precision and the unassuming simplicity that hides the precision.

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Re: Unusual observations on Raja's orchestration

Post  crimson king on Fri May 30, 2014 8:13 pm

I am afraid I don't have the wherewithal to further break down what I 'feel' as a mathematical quality.  The best I can manage is: say in an interlude, he will start a dialogue in the C&R pattern as you refer to it between two instruments.  And then 'add' or 'subtract' notes in a step-like progression, culminating into either a different direction or simply leading back to the vocal melody.  Chinnamani second interlude, both interludes of Raja Raja Cholan are examples I can immediately think of but there are many more.  And these follow the pattern I described almost to a T while others may have variations.  It's not that other composers, whether in IFM or abroad, have never used such techniques but with IR you pretty much expect him to follow this pattern.  It seems to be indispensable to his music.  Say HFM composers would often arrange interludes such that they would enhance the mood and emotions of the song and the necessity to establish a pattern was not found to be so great apparently for them.  But in IR's case, every interlude is an exploration of melodic and/or harmonic ideas that seem to follow an elucidation-like approach, sort of like a Carnatic or Hindustani musician exploring a raagam (but he will usually end up introducing some unforeseen or unforeseeable twists in the interlude which is not necessary in the way Carnatic or Hindustani develops).  This is probably also why IR's interludes are anticipated with much excitement by listeners.  There is a certain predictability about the way his music is organised overall but within this established structure is a fertile playground of seemingly endless possibilities.

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Re: Unusual observations on Raja's orchestration

Post  app_engine on Fri May 30, 2014 8:40 pm

ravinat wrote: Genres are inputs, not outputs of Raja's work.

the clap

கல்வெட்டுல பொறிக்கோணும்!

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Re: Unusual observations on Raja's orchestration

Post  fring151 on Sat May 31, 2014 9:56 am

Dustin Hoffman (Oscar acceptance speech) wrote:I remember being in a hotel room in 1967 in San Franciso one night and I'm flipping the dials after doing all this promoting all day long. There's this little old jewish guy with a bald head sitting at a piano and he's being interviewed. And I suddenly realize I'm looking at Igor Stravinski the great Russian-American composer. The interviewer is saying to him...
"So Mr. Stravinski, what is the greatest moment for you? Is it when you finally write the symphony?
And he says..."No, No, No...". He sounds like a New York cab driver.
"Is it when you've heard it played the first time by a symphony?"
And he says...."No, no, no...".
"What about opening night when they premier it and herald it as being one of the greatest works of the 20th century?" And he says...."No, no no...".
"So what IS the greatest moment for you?"
He was sitting at the piano with music on the thing there and he says: "I'm sitting here at the piano and for 3, 4 hours I'm trying to find a note. I can't find the note and I'm going 'bum, bum'....'bum, bum'....'bum, bum' for three hours. Finally after 3 hours I FIND the note. That's the moment. There is nothing like it. That's everything".

Just that IR finds those notes always. And in seconds, presumably.

P.S: Also, without a piano.

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Re: Unusual observations on Raja's orchestration

Post  fring151 on Sat May 31, 2014 10:25 am

Oftentimes with lesser composers, when the first few notes of a measure are played, the seasoned listener can often guess the direction the music is going to take. If it is a carnatic based melody, one can make an educated guess on the note(s) that are to follow, and in a sense, predict the rough shape the tune is going to assume. Indeed, there is sometimes a certain sense of inevitability about what note or chord must  come next. IR's specialty is that he teases these expectations and comes up with a note or chord or phrase that you couldn't conjure up in your wildest dreams. I recall watching SPB mentioning in a TV show how the second variation of the line 'Idhazhil mounangal" in "Mounamaana neram" could only be conceived by IR, but unfortunately I don't remember which show it was and so can't provide the link. That is rather mathematical - an elegant idea or pattern hidden from common view which the perceptive musician is able to 'uncover' in a sense.

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Re: Unusual observations on Raja's orchestration

Post  ravinat on Thu Jun 05, 2014 7:24 pm

Deeper Analysis of Unusual conversations



We did a detailed review of Raja’s unusual conversations, which are basically, C&R arrangements outside his usual instrument combinations.  In summary, we reviewed 35 clips consisting of 129 segments of his unusual conversations. What does this review of his orchestration technique tell us? In my view, there are several things that can be surfaced if we start deeply analyzing the data that led to those several posts on unusual conversations.  This technique has a strong correlation to his popularitytall claim, huh?



Let’s try and look at this data, layer by layer, to drive home some observations. I did not use the term conclusions, as no one technique can lead to any strong conclusion of a composer’s work that is so broad and so deep.



To begin with, let’s go back to restate some of the assumptions in this analysis:

 

  1. Usual conversations are C&R arrangements between violins, flute, guitar. Unusual conversations are C&R arrangements that can involve one of the usual instruments, but the other instrument cannot come from this grouping. For example, a violin-flute or guitar-violin conversation is considered usual, but for analysis purposes, a guitar-veena, trumpet-flute conversation is considered unusual

  2. The unusual conversations have a close relevance with usual conversations. In fact, the volume of these two types of C&R arrangements vary, but the overall trends that they indicate are equivalent

  3. The list created for this analysis purpose, used about 1,600 tracks of Raja’s work. Though he has about 4,500 tracks, the assumption is that these 1,600 tracks are sufficient to uncover any trends

  4. There are few tracks in the unusual conversations database that have more than one entry. Most of them are single entry per track


Now let’s try and understand the unusual conversations data that was used in the past 20 posts or so in creating tracks that you enjoyed.





Unusual Instrument

Tracks with Occurrences
Bass Guitar
2
Bells
24
Chorus
5
Dilruba
1
Harmonium
1
Jathi
4
Mirudhangam
4
Persussion
12
Sax
2
Shehnai
7
Sitar
4
Solo Violin
1
Synth
57
Tabla
5
Trumpet
7
Veena
43
Voice
30
Water
1
Grand Total
210
There were 210 tracks where unusual conversations were observed in an overall population of 1,600 tracks. The above table shows the unusual instrument and the number of observations involving such an instrument. For example, the veena line shows a number of 43. The way to read this is as follows: there were 43 observations of Raja’s interludes where he has used veena in conversation with another musical instrument. All the observations must comply with the rules of a C&R arrangement.



Let’s take a slightly different view of these 210 observations and link them to the decade of their occurrence:





Decade

Unusual conversation occurrences

Percent
1970
6
3%
1980
151
72%
1990
47
22%
2000
6
3%
Grand Total
210
 
More on this analysis in the next post...

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Re: Unusual observations on Raja's orchestration

Post  ravinat on Thu Jun 05, 2014 11:30 pm

Deeper Analysis of Unusual conversations - Part 2
 
Let’s next take a closer look at the number of films scored by Raja over the past 37 years. Instead of looking at the movies by years, let’s summarize it by years. The number of movies scored by Raja by year is very debatable as there is no accurate record available that is authoritative. I have used databases information available on the internet and I have filled the gaps where I am aware of. The database covers all language films set to music by Raja. While this database may not be very accurate, I find that the best way to use it is to summarize the number of films set to music by Raja over a decade. This helps in:


  1. Reducing compensating film count errors over the years
  2. Takes out the language aspect of films he has worked on
  3. For trend analysis, it is best done on a summary data set instead of the detailed one, as the atomic level data is not deemed very accurate


Decade

#Films composed

Percent

1970

72

8%

1980

421

46%

1990

314

35%

2000

102

11%

Grand Total

909
 

Something interesting happens when we now try to correlate both these data sets. In other words, we do this:


Decade

Unusual conversation occurrences

#Films composed

1970

6

72

1980

151

421

1990

47

314

2000

6

102

Grand Total

210

909
 

When we use a statistical correlation function between Column 2 and Column 3, the correlation coefficient works out to be .91642341.  Any correlation coefficient greater than .7 is considered strong positive correlation between the data sets being compared. Data does not lie!

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Re: Unusual observations on Raja's orchestration

Post  ravinat on Thu Jun 05, 2014 11:32 pm

Let’s try and interpret this at a more granular level – at the year level.


Year

Unusual conversation occurrences

#Films composed

1978

1

25

1979

5

30

1980

7

34

1981

15

33

1982

12

33

1983

20

47

1984

17

54

1985

18

51

1986

21

50

1987

13

32

1988

15

44

1989

13

43

1990

9

46

1991

9

41

1992

7

55

1993

3

42

1994

4

27

1995

7

25

1996

2

12

1997

4

20

1999

2

24

2003

1

11

2007

2

4

2008

1

5

2009

2

18

 

In the data table above, you will find a few years missing. Those are the years, where we did not have any unusual C&R observations. The total of column 2 in this table is the same as before. However, the total of the number of films composed will be lesser as we have excluded a few years where there were no unusual C&R observations. When we use a statistical correlation function between Column 2 and Column 3, the correlation coefficient works out to be .7576654Any correlation coefficient greater than .7 is considered strong positive correlation between the data sets being compared.

How do we interpret this?



  1. The C&R technique has a very strong correlation to the number of films composed by Raja in a decade. The unusual conversations are used as a proxy for the whole C&R technique. The correlation stays strongly positive, even if the comparison is done at the year level

  2. Raja’s highest number of films and the most use of this technique was in the 1980s

  3. His number of films composed have fallen significantly in the 2000s and his use of this technique has also fallen, compared the other decades

  4. As most average Indian listeners can relate to a C&R technique, especially when it is set to the Carnatic format, they enjoyed it the most during Raja’s 1980s

  5. Raja’s increased use of synthesized instruments have either resulted in less use of this technique, or his use has not surfaced as distinctly as it did in the 1980s and 1990s


 

Obviously, there are many caveats to any analysis:

 



  1. No one technique ever contributes to a composer’s success in Indian film music

  2. As most hit songs in the Indian film context have little to do with orchestration (they mainly depend on the melody of the main tune), these results have to be viewed in that broader context


However, Raja is the best orchestrator ever from India. It is worthwhile analyzing his orchestration techniques and their impact. Though the data sets are summarized ones, they show strong correlation to the number of films he has scored in a decade/year. In other words, one can take an extreme view that this technique has a directly correlation to his popularity.  It may be worthwhile redeploying this technique in his future work as it has appeared to have served him well in the past.

 

One can even argue that when Raja introduced harmony and counterpoints to the Indian audience in the 80s, he always provided it along with something known – C & R. It was easy for the listener to enjoy something unknown, when it was served along with something known. It may be perhaps worthwhile for Raja to consider reintroducing C & R as he continues to experiment with newer techniques in the 21st century. If past is any indicator, of future behavior, why not use something that has worked very well in the past?

While this analysis work was the hardest of all the areas I have explored of Raja’s orchestration, it was definitely enjoyable. The data based interpretation of Raja’s work is worthwhile in my view. Hope the readers enjoyed it as much.

 

Correlation and causation are different. However, correlation in this case, does have a message - highly popular Raja years have a strong positive relationship with the use of this technique. This analysis needs to be done for other techniques over the years to get to a full understanding of the other factors influencing popularity. However, in isolation, with the data gathered in this project, it appears that there is indeed a strong positive relationship between his popularity and the use of this technique.

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Re: Unusual observations on Raja's orchestration

Post  kiru on Sun Jun 08, 2014 2:14 am

Ravi, this is awesome ... you need to release this as a paper/book and I am ready to pay for it ...
This is very convincing !!! Maybe an audiobook is not a bad idea or a book accompanied by audio.

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Re: Unusual observations on Raja's orchestration

Post  crimson king on Sun Jun 08, 2014 7:00 am

What I find very interesting is there is a steep drop in the recurrence of unusual conversations right from 1990.  Even as IR peaked in terms of no. of films per year in the period from 90-92, the no. of unusual conversations dropped.  This means there was a change in his approach to orchestration happening even before ARR came on the scene. Either he wanted to experiment with a different approach altogether or he began to feel the technique of relying on unusual use of C&R had run its course.  Could be a combination of both.

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Re: Unusual observations on Raja's orchestration

Post  ravinat on Sun Jun 08, 2014 3:33 pm

kiru wrote:Ravi, this is awesome ... you need to release this as a paper/book and I am ready to pay for it ...
This is very convincing !!! Maybe an audiobook is not a bad idea or a book accompanied by audio.

Kiru

   Thanks for your kind words. This is not a complete analysis as I mentioned in the post. This merely looks at one orchestration technique. My objective with this research project was to try and uncover the forest from the trees. Raja's work is a lot of data points. I thought that he deserves a data based treatment and this is my humble attempt at it. While I have the best data analysis tools at my disposal, the issue is with the data. Most data analysts spend more than 80% of their time in data acquisition and that is the most frustrating part. With Raja's data points, the experience was no different. I was not so sure if my blog readers would be able to follow my analytical thought process and just resorted to simple correlation. Even now, I think, I would have lost most of them.


Last edited by ravinat on Sun Jun 08, 2014 3:52 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Unusual observations on Raja's orchestration

Post  ravinat on Sun Jun 08, 2014 3:51 pm

crimson king wrote:What I find very interesting is there is a steep drop in the recurrence of unusual conversations right from 1990.  Even as IR peaked in terms of no. of films per year in the period from 90-92, the no. of unusual conversations dropped.  This means there was a change in his approach to orchestration happening even before ARR came on the scene. Either he wanted to experiment with a different approach altogether or he began to feel the technique of relying on unusual use of C&R had run its course.  Could be a combination of both.

CK

   Let me quote a good joke from Thomas Friedman's book - From Beirut to Jerusalem.

   A Lebanese guy goes to the police station and complains, "Sir, my Syrian watch has been stolen by a Swiss guy"

   The cop says, " Are you nuts? Was your Swiss watch stolen by a Syrian guy?"

   The Lebanese guy says, "Officer, you said that, not me!"

  Jokes aside, you said what I wanted to say in the first place. C&R (usual or unusual) is the true data proxy of the 80s. In my view, when Raja's 80s fans say, "Raja was great in the 80s and then he lost it. New guys like AR, VS, HJ took off after that". When they say that, they have zero data to support their argument. In my view, the Carnatic C&R format is what got them glued to Raja in the 80s.  Not his harmony, not his CPs. While Raja may have thought, that it was time to change course, he lost a big chunk of his followers in the new road. That fork appears to have happened in 1990.

  Folks like us can get very excited about OAK, but that has few takers compared to his Carnatic based C&Rs. Honestly, I support what Raja did as everything has a shelf life. Another observation I have for his early 90s work (90-94), is the over-dependence on Carnatic chorus and replacement of strings with continuous tones from the synthesizer. In my view, he should have gradually decommissioned his C&R usage. Raja used a lot of bells in the 80s which were synthesizer based. However, he also stopped usage of bells at this time (more research required). Most of Raja's use of bells in the 80s were as a component of C&R or CP or as what I call as orchestration bridges.

  I have never figured an easy way of showcasing C&R with continuous synth tones. That was one of my caveats. He may have used and we may have missed that. I find it hard to figure a C&R with two continuous synth tones unless they are from different octaves.

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Mugilo Megamo - part 1

Post  ravinat on Fri Jul 04, 2014 6:36 pm

I did not react to ‘Megha’ songs, when it was released. I did dismiss them as another set of songs by Raja on the NEPV mold. Particularly, the song ‘ Mugilo Megamo’ was a turn off for me, as I felt that this is a rehash of the song ‘Eduta Neeve’ from Abhinandhana. I like the emotive singing by Balu so much that I thought, all other rehashes must be written off.

I was so wrong.

I have now heard ‘Mugilo Megamo’, at least 100 times in the last few months. I have not heard any song of NEPV so many times.  With YSR singing, how could I ever write about a song? What changed? Over the years, I have trained my ears to listen to Raja’s orchestration even if there is so much bad singing. When I heard the orchestration of this song (due credit to YSR, who said he is blown away by his dad’s orchestration!), everything changed! I am on a loop and I will detail everything that I can! Even any SS hopeful cannot spoil this song!

In short, this song is among the top 3 orchestral wonders of Raja in the last 25 years: 1) Oh Butterfly 2) Nee Paartha Paarvai and 3) Mugilo Megamo.

There are hundreds of lessons for all new composers embedded in this song, that they can quit school, listen to this song, apply a few of the techniques and get famous!

Prelude

00: 03 secs – It starts off with a piano trill accompanied by a high violin note
03:10 secs – Background violins join the piano and the violins in the high note keeping sliding in the background. Observe the background violins – the notes are arranged to undulate – sort of a feeling of a wave.
10:18 secs – There is another group of violins in tremolo that join the other two violin groups and it is pure ecstasy! It is so easy to miss the tremolo as the background violins now start gliding with the melody
18 -25 secs – the jazz drumming begins with the electric guitar now take on the show with beautiful bass lines.
25 – 53 secs – Ramya’s humming in the background accompanied by the jazz drumming, electric guitar, synthesizer and the bass guitar – nice flow of melody here

Pallavi
 mugilo megamo sol veru veru
irandum irando porul onru thaane
udalal thegathaal irandaana pothilum
uyiraal unarvinaal athu onruthaane
neeyo naano iru jeevan onre

mugilo megamo sol veru veru
irandum irando..

This is orchestrally a very interesting pallavi. In a normal Raja pallavi, the strings play harmony when the singers mouth their lines. Else, there are short instrument ludes that play between musical syllables. This arrangement achieves both with one beautiful harmony. For example, when Yuvan sings “mugilo”, the violins play harmony as though they are responding to his singing. However, those violins and bass was all there when he sang that line too. You need to observe the subtle variation in the arrangement when Yuvan sings “megamo” as this syllable is at a slightly lower note than ‘mugilo’.The violins glide down a note and also respond to his singing. It is easier to decipher this when you see some joint syllables such as ‘veru veru’. Finally, when Yuvan sings ‘iru jeevan onre’, you will see a subtle variation with the bass lines accentuating the end of the pallavi.

Raja has used melody based rhythm in hundreds of his songs. This is perhaps the first melody driven harmony. Lesson 1 for new composers!

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Re: Unusual observations on Raja's orchestration

Post  ravinat on Fri Jul 04, 2014 7:40 pm

Interlude 1

1:44 to 1:51 secs – The synthesizer melody plays a simple melody that has notes going up and down. You can observe the background harmony violins responding exactly to that synthesizer melody. A simple 6 sec demo of a melody driven harmony again for those who missed it in the pallavi

1:51 to 2:06 secs – This is a nice call and response arrangement between a guitar and a synthesizer accompanied by the jazz drumming. C&R after a long time from Raja. That too for a solid 15 seconds! Nice harmony violins in the background.

2:07 to 2:21 secs -  The C&R continues initially between the flute and the piano and gets replaced between the guitar and the piano. The harmony violins continue

Transition to charanam – bass and a piano roll take care of it.

Charanam 1

idhayathin araigalil pudhiya vaasam

manam enum vanangalil malarntha poovin nesam

ninaivenum alaigalil valaiyai veesum

viralgalai idhayame virumbiye serum

kaadhalin settaigal kaaranam neeyadi

paarvaiyin vettaigal thaithathe villadi

inimaigal ethu ethu athu namakku naduvile

 

The charanam has a slightly different orchestral arrangement. When the lines

idhayathin araigalil pudhiya vaasam

manam enum vanangalil malarntha poovin nesam


 are sung, there are no harmony violins, but the piano and the bass guitar do the background harmony. The violins are now used to respond to each line only. This is a traditional Raja arrangement of violins. The next two lines have a similar arrangement:

ninaivenum alaigalil valaiyai veesum

viralgalai idhayame virumbiye serum

 

The next two lines have a typical arrangement that are in most Raja songs throughout his career.

kaadhalin settaigal kaaranam neeyadi

paarvaiyin vettaigal thaithathe villadi

Every syllable has a high note violin lude responding to the singer. The last line has the same arrangement of the last line of the pallavi

Interlude 2

3:30 to 3:37 – Brilliant staccato on a solo violin with the piano playing harmony

3:38 to 3:46 – the piano is replaced by Ramya’s voice with a humming and the piano harmony continues in the background

3:47 to 3:59 – Beautiful harmony arrangement with a C&R between the electric guitar and the flute in the foreground. Observe the violins playing harmony in the background – the melody is completely different and still fits the overall arrangement. This is a counterpoint of C&R arrangement on top of a violin melody. Who else but Raja can do this?

4:00 to 4:15 – This is another beautiful harmony arrangement with flutes in the foreground and harmony violins doing the background, Another counter melody arrangement

4:16 to 4:21 - Transition to charanam – bass and a piano roll take care of it.

 2nd charaman’s arrangement is similar to 1st  charanam

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Re: Unusual observations on Raja's orchestration

Post  ravinat on Fri Jul 04, 2014 7:52 pm

In final analysis, what's so great about this song for me to write three posts about it?

This is a typical light film song. However, the orchestral arrangement is just out of the world.

Baroque meets jazz drumming meets modern keys meets traditional arrangement. It is like 17th to 21st century in one song!

The melodic arrangement of harmony, the complex C&R counterpoint that is so easy on the ears - Raja just sets the bar higher for any light song. Young composers can either go to school and learn step by step and try out ideas for years, or just take this from the master and go ahead steal parts and use them - at least TFM will sound better.

When should staccato be used, when should C&R be used, when should counterpoint be used in music? One answer for all such questions. More importantly, this is one those rare songs where Raja unleashes his orchestral arsenal not just for our enjoyment, but for generations in the future to learn how to compose good music that has its firm roots over centuries. I love such compositions, as there is no one else who can navigate this breadth and depth anywhere in sight!

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Re: Unusual observations on Raja's orchestration

Post  crimson king on Sat Jul 05, 2014 7:53 am

In this song, I actually liked the instrumental accompaniment to the vocal portions even more than the interludes.  I was probably comparing the interludes to Kalvane (whose interludes I like more) but anyhow, the Mugilo accompaniment is incredibly Westernised even by Raja standards. It's interesting that you mentioned Oh Butterfly because the violin harmony on Mugilo Megamo phrase is kind of reminiscent of Oh Butterfly.  In a sense, he knitted together some old ideas with some new ones like the extremely contemporary guitar parts in the charanam and why not when he has composed so much music.  Good ideas are worth revisiting.

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