Basslines of Raja

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Basslines of Raja

Post  plum on Sun May 04, 2014 7:01 am

* General discussion on Basslines - styles of bass; illustrations etc
* What is different and special about Raja bass - theory with illustrations.
B(K) Jaiganes ravinat et al - idhellAm unga kadama. pliss pliss to start

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Re: Basslines of Raja

Post  Drunkenmunk on Sun May 04, 2014 9:48 am

Super!

Kadamai karudhi, idha inga share seiren. Old link. Violin Vicky on Raaja's bass:

http://solvanam.com/?p=23134 Bass Guitar Thillaana. He has also described Raaja's pyrotechniques with the bass on a number of songs. idha paduchuttu andha pAttellAm kEttA appreciation of the songs doubles and trebles. Of course, oru article'la adakka koodaiyadhu illa Raaja oda bass. I remember Fring and I discussing almost a year back that his bass deserves a separate thread of its own. A pity none of us thus far started this. Good that this has started rolling. Waiting for B(K), Ravinat and Fring to shed insights. I will add my understanding every now and then too Smile

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Re: Basslines of Raja

Post  jaiganesh on Mon May 05, 2014 12:56 am

good thread.
I will post primarily from 'My' perspective. I am not a student of bass guitar.
Most things I am about to say is second hand info or things that I deduced out of 
observation. Mistakes will be there. Point out, I will learn and correct.

Sometime back (probably 4 to 5 years back) I met a bass guitar player in Raleigh NC.
He belonged to a rock band and played for a lady named Sarah Haze.
He was telling how bass guitar plays the role of stringing together the non-percussion 
instruments  and how bass guitar is the basis to go by if the lead instruments/singers want
to do scale shifting, particularly in songs where the lead percussion player is having a real GO.
In some other cases, he said, bass guitar notes mimic the base guitar (the big guitar standing upside down
 like a cello) in a classic jazz band setting the rhythm (helpful in a particularly zanny free for all jazz piece) 
for percussions to follow.

From this and from the program itsdifferent done in stanford 90.1 radio show, i learnt that bass guitar is a
polymorphic insrument - it can play rhythms as well as melody. There is another angle to the bass section 
in WCM - Bach wrote in an instrument (special one like the harpsichord) some intricate bass lines.
What does Raja do with this?
HE puts every aspect of bass guitar to use in almost every song from 76 to mid 90s. 
If you listen to "vaanengum thanga vinmeengaL" from Moondram pirai, you can observe how the 
bass guitar notes help the drum player /brush player in setting the pace. The notes are distinct and 
punctuate the speed of the song. It is almost as if the bass player is sending out control instructions
 to other instruments on what is their cue and when it is coming.

Contrast is seen in "Chinna chinna vannakuyil" from mouna ragam or from ninaivellaam nithya's 
"nee dhaane en pon" - here bass notes are amplified and they literally play like they are the lead instruments.
I have a feeling that Raaja decides to use this mode when he wants to weild two streams like carnatic (veenai
 violin etc.,) and rock or WCM into one fused whole. Bass almost acts like a bridge. 
Then there is the sliding bass in "ponvaanam panner butter masala" son or in "En veettu jannal etti" from raaman abdullah.
there the bass almost destroys the time space continuum. It transcends and adds zang to the song.
In his devotional albums - Bass guitar becomes a second thambura - creates a meditative trance inducer. Its hum blends
so well with his voice adding to the vibration that is spiritual and elevates our listening plane.

Synth bass on the other hand was used with a lot more restraint early on - Listening to "Vegam vgam" from Anjali,
the bass play hide and seek and shadow the lead guitar and percussions.

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Re: Basslines of Raja

Post  fring151 on Mon May 05, 2014 5:36 am

A small note here, perhaps obvious to most - bassline does not necessarily imply bass guitar line. Some of the other typical bass instruments (or instruments capable of sounding notes in the lower registers) employed by Raja are cello, double bass and piano. IR's string section passages typically sound more orchestral than those of other Indian music directors because of the cellos and double basses which lend an extra weight and fullness to the sound. In fact I consider this aspect of his bass work just as interesting and worthy of attention as the bass guitar pyrotechnics. Take Edho moham. Here, the cellos are an integral part of the soundscape and sans the ostinato and staccato lines in the interludes, it will just not sound as "complete". Onaayum aatukuttiyum BGMs are a great way to begin appreciating how he keeps the entire string section in mind while composing and not just the violins. So, if you must stereotype him, you might want to call him violin-viola-cello-double bass-tabla man and not just violin-tabla man...


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Re: Basslines of Raja

Post  jaiganesh on Mon May 05, 2014 8:41 am

good point..
The original discussion in twitter started with Bala karthik's lament
that raasa has gone fully synth/computer in his bass line construction for contemporary
 subjects. That is when the discussion veered into bass guitar lines specifically.
Because if we speak generic bass lines, it will be non starter for the father of bass is Bach and 
Raasa is a devotee of Bach. So for the sake of this thread we will stick to electric bass guitar 
or to the synth bass lines.

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Re: Basslines of Raja

Post  fring151 on Mon May 05, 2014 9:03 am

Cool, but it could be a bit misleading to focus only on bass guitar in a general bassline discussion. Western harmony and counterpoint developed incrementally over a period of time through a continuous process of experimentation, trial and error and I am not sure any one person can be credited with inventing something as generic as a bassline.

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Re: Basslines of Raja

Post  jaiganesh on Mon May 05, 2014 9:22 am

fring151 wrote:Cool, but it could be a bit misleading to focus only on bass guitar in a general bassline discussion. Western harmony and counterpoint developed incrementally over a period of time through a continuous process of experimentation, trial and error and I am not sure any one person can be credited with inventing something as generic as a bassline.
dont hold on to that assumption. bajaarla ujaara illainna nijaaraye...

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