Intricate harmonies in obscure films/songs

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Re: Intricate harmonies in obscure films/songs

Post  app_engine on Tue Jan 17, 2017 10:26 pm

Raaga_Suresh wrote:That this song is obscure is a tragedy.

Nice song - heard it for the first time today Embarassed

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Re: Intricate harmonies in obscure films/songs

Post  ravinat on Thu Apr 06, 2017 8:13 pm

Saami Kitta Solli Vachu – Aavaarampoo (Tamil 1992)

Let me first write a few obvious lines about this song. A beautiful flowing melody sang by SPB and Janaki with some parts using the Kaapi ragam. Raja has perhaps done a few hundred such tunes.

Now let’s see how this traditional Indian melody meets western harmony – another walk in the park. There are some parts, I felt Raja has done the impossible in this song, only a genius can think of.







Harmony passage 1 (1:00 to 1:09 ) : This starts off as a full harmony between the violins, flute and the bass guitar. You have to observe the basslines descending when the violins ascend. Within this passage, there is also the flute responding to the initial violin/flute harmony. This is usual Raja harmony.



Harmony passage 2 (1:10 to 1:24 ) : This is one of those crazy harmonies written with a synthesizer, pizzicato violins playing a high note (to take care of the S and A) and the flute to take care of the Tenor. The whole melody is repeated twice.



Between passage 1 and passage 2, you have come a long way away from the traditional Indian melody. I can bet $1000 that any other composer would have withdrawn this great idea and gone back to something that works easily. What he does after is what separates Raja, the genius from the boys.



Harmony passage 3 (1:24 to 1:29 ) : This is the bridge harmony that only he can think of. All done with violins. How on earth can he think of such a connection to the charanam?  Take a bow, Raja!



Harmony passage 4 (2:46 to 3:10 ) : This passage is even more tricky than passage 2. He starts off with pizzicato strings alone and as I have always come to expect, does not leave that to bore the listener. He now adds the solo violin to play counter to it. As though that is not enough adds violins to take care of the third part in the harmony with the cellos and bass talking care of the fourth part. This part can go on forever. 24 seconds of harmony with counter melodies and no bragging about this beautiful arrangement. This is where any composer can get trapped in his own creation. How to get out of this to the Indian melody in the second charanam ?

I consider this akin to your golf ball getting deeper into the sand. It is harder than the first one as it just hit the sand. The skill with which Raja pulls the ball off the sand into the green and lands on the hole is amazing!

Harmony passage 5 (2:46 to 3:10 ) : This is the second bridge harmony and it is different from passage 3. Raja not only knows how to get out of his passage 4 but do it in style. He could have easily repeated harmony passage 3 and no one will notice. He arranges a violin harmony and uses bells (synthesizer) in a call and response mode to the violins to transition into the 2nd charanam smoothly and effortlessly.


We live in times, when simple innovation in music is screamed at you in TV shows as though this is the best thing since slice bread. Here is a composer who silently innovates and does not even talk about it. I have heard this song several times and my mind kept going to the melody and not to the beautiful harmony that he has weaved. I heard this song 8 times today after my mind latched on to his pizzicato strings and that’s when I realized, what a beautiful piece of harmony he has weaved to a song that is not so obscure. So sad, that we  really live in times, where the ‘fine’ aspect in art is missing.


The only 'fine' art in film music lies with this composer in songs that we have just scratched the surface. The harmony arrangement in this song and its transition from and to the Indian melody is worth teaching in music schools.

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Re: Intricate harmonies in obscure films/songs

Post  ravinat on Fri Oct 13, 2017 3:41 am

Mandhira Punnagaiyo - Mandhira punnagai (Tamil 198x)
_____________________________________________

Songs such as Mandhira Punnagaiyo are the ones Raja fans will brag with each other as 'rare' ones. The obscurity of this song is non-controversial. I heard this song only a couple of years ago, 3 decades after the song got created! This is a free flowing melody that is vintage Raja. However, inside this obscure track, as I have come to accept, Raja weaves harmony as though he is writing a piece of music for a prestigious Western orchestra. To him, writing such harmonies, as I have repeatedly said, is a walk in the park. 

While there are several harmonies he has written in this song's instrumental parts, I would like to callout two or three really impressive ones.



Harmony passage 1 (1:21 to 1:45): This starts off as a solo violin part (Alto) and Raja adds Flute, cellos, violins to take care of the other three parts and if you just hear these 24 seconds, it is hard to tell if this is film music. Separate this and you can see how he has found a place for such great WCM work  in a B-grade film.

Harmony passage 2 (3:07 to 3:23): The initial parts are written as simple C&R between the flute and the violins. Do not get fooled by it as that is just a precursor. There are 6 C&R arrangements between 3:07 and 3:19. Now there is a part that he does between 3:19 and 3:23 (part 2) and this has the flute playing in harmony with the violin. Now, you may think that this is business as usual for Raja. There are a thousand songs that he has done this. If you look at this part in isolation, the argument is true.  Step back and listen to the song between 3:11 and 3:15 (part 1) . The flute melody he plays is exactly the same as the one 3:19 and 3:23. The second part is however contrapuntal. That is a fugue part cleverly hidden inside several simple C&R parts. The part 2 is an imitation of part 1 but it is contrapuntal.  

It is hard to find a composer who would write such fugue parts casually for such B-grade films, unless writing such harmonies is trivia for a genius such as him.

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Re: Intricate harmonies in obscure films/songs

Post  nanjilaan on Fri Oct 13, 2017 3:29 pm

Great thread!  I need to spend some time to go into the details definitely. Ravinat - Kudos bro!

One request - could you please comment on the bassline of this song - Ilampani thuli vizhum neram? The bass notes do not match one on one with the melody espcially on the pallavi/chorus and they seem to be one note lower than the chord being played. Basslines of the maestro are very good by default , but I see this sounded very different. Please comment.

For your convenience I have a good version of the song below

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=18K6F4ZgKeA

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Re: Intricate harmonies in obscure films/songs

Post  nanjilaan on Fri Oct 13, 2017 3:34 pm

Our Maestro is a man true to his heart and I have heard him say "I don't like to comment on what I did on my songs. It is my job to get the work done and you, the listeners need to listen to it and tell me whether it is good or not". Very rarely in shows does he go and talk about arrangements in detail.

And on the other hand we have other folks who just link a few loops to create music and at the drop of the hat they go and tom tom that they did x and y. 

After all of this they have the gall to come and say that our man is a "garvi", "thala kanam" , "thaan dhaan" and what not...Kodumada saami!

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Re: Intricate harmonies in obscure films/songs

Post  ravinat on Mon Oct 16, 2017 3:05 am

nanjilaan wrote:Great thread!  I need to spend some time to go into the details definitely. Ravinat - Kudos bro!

One request - could you please comment on the bassline of this song - Ilampani thuli vizhum neram? The bass notes do not match one on one with the melody espcially on the pallavi/chorus and they seem to be one note lower than the chord being played. Basslines of the maestro are very good by default , but I see this sounded very different. Please comment.

For your convenience I have a good version of the song below

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=18K6F4ZgKeA
Nanjilan

    This is not the thread to answer this question. Besides, I am not an expert on basslines of Raja.

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Re: Intricate harmonies in obscure films/songs

Post  app_engine on Mon Oct 16, 2017 3:35 am

BTW, these complex orchestral scores were typically done daily, within a matter of 30 minutes on a regular basis - IR himself says this :
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3wulE_GjNfY


nanRi SKV, for sharing this rare video!

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Re: Intricate harmonies in obscure films/songs

Post  ravinat on Thu Oct 26, 2017 3:11 am

Nandri Solla Vendum - Chithiraiyil Nila Choru (Tamil 2013)

Only Raja fans know about this film and its tracks. The film stands out as among the top 10 most boring films with Raja's music :-) I could not even stand this film in fast forward!

Let's discuss this song and some fantastic harmony parts that Raja has written for this undeserving film track.



The quality of sound is average in this youtube video. Play the song at a high volume to enjoy some of the specific parts, which appears straight out of any Western classical concert.

Harmony passage 1 (2:42 to 2:50): It starts off with the flute and the violins sharing two of the parts (A and T). Three seconds into the part, Raja throws in the cello in the B part.  The master stroke is not that. Following this, he gets the Cello to play a melody that is very pronounced. Not many composers do this. The bass part is just an enhancer for others. 

Harmony passage 2 (2:50 to 2:57): From 2:50 onward, it is another harmony arranged back to back, between the piano and the guitar now taking the flute and violin parts (A and T). Like the previous harmony passage, Raja throws in the cello melody on the B part. 

You need to play these two back to back melodies a few times to get a sense of what Raja is doing to these two harmonies. Only the cello is the constant connection between the two.

Harmony passage 3 (2:57 to 3:08): This is a completely different arrangement. The melody lines are identical between the violins and solo violin and the piano playing three parts and the melody is repeated 4 times - sort of simple cannon 

Another walk in the park for another obscure film and song.

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Re: Intricate harmonies in obscure films/songs

Post  panniapurathar on Thu Oct 26, 2017 3:35 am

CNC is one of my favorite albums.  Thank you for explaining the nuances in Nandri solla song Ravi sir!

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Re: Intricate harmonies in obscure films/songs

Post  ravinat on Tue Nov 21, 2017 4:24 am

Neethana Neethana  Nenje Neethana (Thaalaatu Paadava - Tamil 1990)


Despite being very careful , Raja's volume does throw an occasional challenge where a song that I have escapes analysis. My current area of research is an idea called PolyCaRe which is a marriage between Polyphony and Call and Response.  I realized that this song features it and it did escape my scrutiny thanks to Raja's volume of work with any technique. This song does qualify as an obscure one sang by Arunmozhi and Janaki in 1990 and deserves a mention in this category.



Though this song has a few harmonies, I will touch on only two harmony parts that got my attention.

Harmony passage 1 (0:19 to 0:30 secs) : This is a very unusual arrangement with two synthesizer tones closely arranged as a A and T with the bass taking care of the B. Simple harmony but the choice of instruments deserves special mention. Again, given Raja's track record, no special kudos for him for this.

Harmony passage 2 (2:48 to 3:00) : You will hear the violins in the beginning that move from the foreground to the background and they keep playing the same melody for the entire 12 seconds. The idea is to take up A within the four part harmony and bring the melodies in counter as the S and T (above and below) . You will next notice that Raja uses another set of violins that take up the S part.  Now the synthesizer takes up the T part. When all of them play together, you get harmony. When one of the part plays one melody and the other part plays another melody, you get polyphony. The technique Raja employs is polyphony, but he uses a staple Indian technique on top of Western polyphony. The violins that play the S part and the synthesizer that plays the T  part now are arranged as call and response. You can hear the synthesizer responding to the call from the violins. This is perfect PolyCaRe, as I have decided to call such orchestral sophistication.


Another walk in the park for an obscure film song...

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Re: Intricate harmonies in obscure films/songs

Post  ravinat on Tue Dec 12, 2017 10:49 pm

Rokkam Irukkura - Kaasi (Tamil 2001)

A number of songs in Kaasi were hits and it will be unfair to call it obscure. However, this movie musically is known for two things - folk and a full Hari album for Raja.

Percussion and singing take the top spots in this film's songs and not harmony.

However, Raja cannot keep harmony away even under these circumstances.

Hear the segment between 3:16 and 3:42



This is a clean 4 part harmony with violins(S  and A)  and flute (T) and thhe double basses and cellos take care of the B part. If you listen to only this segment, you cannot tell it is a song from Kasi. 

Another walk in the park...

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Re: Intricate harmonies in obscure films/songs

Post  ravinat on Tue Dec 19, 2017 8:37 pm

Ore murai un dharisanam - En Jeevan Paaduthu (Tamil 1988)

This song is one of the fine soothing melodies of Janaki for Raja. Most of the commentary I have seen about this song is about the melody and Janaki's rendering. Nothing to take that away. However, if you observe closely, the orchestration is subtle and absolutely dense.  The greatest victory of orchestration is it should disappear within the fabric of the song and not stand out as a separate entity. Even Raja does not succeed often in this aspect. This is one such gem that needs to be described as the voice and the melody camouflage orchestration so well.

Thanks to Kadar Majee for a quality upload.




Prelude: 0:00 to 0:24 seconds - Starts off with a beautiful harmony of violins arranged in two parts and synthesizer playing the third part (till 7 secs).Two sets of voices are arranged in harmony between 8 and 18 seconds for the final play by the synthesizer to the pallavi. These are back to back harmonies with instrument and voices.

Interlude 1
1:03 to 1:09 - this is a beautiful C&R between the flute and the synthesizer
1:10 to 1:19 - this is another C&R between Janaki's humming and the flute
That's two back to back C&R arrangements.
1:20 to 1:32 - This is such a sweet but complex arrangement that only Raja can do. It is a unique PolyCare arrangement. The constant background part is that of the cellos. The foreground call melody is from the sitar. The response is from the flute.  In between these two C&R phrases, Raja stops the background cellos and introduces the guitar as well. Put simply, it is something like this: PolyCaRe +guitar+PolyCare+guitar. These 10 seconds are worth in gold!

Interlude 2
2:37 to 2:42 - this is a simple C&R between the sitar and the flute
2:56 to 3:04 - harmony passage with, synthesizer and flute
3:05 to 3:13 - harmony arranged with voices and violins

Such beautiful arrangements with sitar have become a thing of the past. There is no reason for overuse of the synthesizer and electronic instruments as it is hard to arrange them in a camouflaged manner.  Another great walk int he part that will remain in memory for a while.

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