Connection between the decades

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Connection between the decades

Post  ravinat on Fri Nov 11, 2016 7:59 pm

Though most of us would like to think that Raja is a genius to whom, everything comes easy, it is not entirely true. Recently I saw a comment by Kamal, courtesy App, that Raja is one of the most committed sloggers in the music industry. Why would he slog so much, when he is a genius and everything must come easy ?

Most geniuses make it appear easy as they have already labored hard to figure out what they want to present. Raja is no exception. He continues to work like a 20-year old guy even today, having established a name for himself. He still puts in the long hours for a man of 73, as he did in the 80s, 90s and 200s. He does not seem satisfied with what he has delivered already, which is the largest body of work by any film composer on the planet.

At the end of the day, music composing is partly a continuous improvement story. You may come out with a great tune, but the orchestration that goes with it cannot be sounding the way every other song in that year or previous years did. You need to find new ways to orchestrate and improve on what you did 10 years, 20 years ago.

Raja has done a lot of this in the last 5 decades he has delivered music. Though there is a distinct style to his music, there is also a conscious effort to enhance the underlying orchestration. Some of the ideas may be bold and may not fit a situation and may not get accepted; others may be sold to the listening public as great ideas. Doing this continuous improvement while still satisfying a bunch of commercially minded film folks is a tight rope walk.

I plan to write a series of posts on how Raja develops a musical idea and tries out repeatedly over the decades improving sometimes at a glacial pace and other times at lightning pace. These posts will appear when I get some free time as I have a huge writing assignment that takes a lot of my free time. Kiru wanted me to write on this topic some time back and as usual jump in and participate. Most of the posts will focus on WCM and not on CCM as my knowledge is shallow in that area. CCM experts should jump in and add Raja's contribution in that world too.

Warning: If this turns out to be decent enough, it will make its way to my blog

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Re: Connection between the decades

Post  kiru on Fri Nov 11, 2016 10:24 pm

@ravinat - Awesome.. looking forward to your writings. (I never miss any post of yours even though I may not have a written response).

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Re: Connection between the decades

Post  ravinat on Fri Nov 11, 2016 10:53 pm

I am personally of the view that the fundamental wiring of this man has hardly changed over the years. He started off with conventional composition style that was prevalent in the 70s and later on moved into a baroque, Carnatic, folk influenced mix that had his clear signature in the 80s. With the changing times, he brought electronics/software into the already existing mix and tried to experiment constantly in the 90s. Now, in the 21st century his style is refinement of his 90s experiment where melody rides over the underlying layers of instrumentation that is drawn out of various schools of music and genres.  

[ltr]This multi-layered style of his work may strike you as something enormously complex. Fortunately, a master that he is, most of his work simplifies the complexities of all these layers (and rhythms) and still makes you smile and be pleasantly surprised every time he succeeds with something unusual. However, the objective of these posts are not to be surprised, but be assured that there is indeed a connection between various decades of his music.  Something that he does in the 70s can have a 90s connection and something he does in the 80s can have a 21st century connection.  He does throw a melody at times at us, which is a huge departure from his past style (example, Thendral vandhu from Avathaaram)  or an orchestration (example, Niram Pirithu Paarthaen from Time or Edeya Baagilu from Suryakanthi). However, if you start analyzing his body of work a little later, these themes will come back with a slightly more/different style or orchestration. He does leave a few as standalone exceptions, but most of them are truly a family of compositions which have an increasing level of sophistication when you travel forward through the decades.
[/ltr]
[ltr]The low hanging fruit in this analysis is many of his recycled work that he did in films such as ‘Cheeni Kum’, ‘Paain the 21st century. Those connections are obvious and we will not discuss such obvious stuff. [/ltr]

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Re: Connection between the decades

Post  Sakalakala Vallavar on Sat Nov 12, 2016 1:22 pm

highly expecting!!

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Re: Connection between the decades

Post  ravinat on Wed Nov 23, 2016 11:46 pm

In the early 80s, Raja was a young rebel who wanted to try out every Western classical music idea he had learned. He somehow wanted to do an opera or a broadway type of song. The singers he had on hand were limited in this type of music. Anyway he wanted to give it a shot and he chose to compose a song 'Alaigale Vaa' in a film Kavidhai Malar (Tamil 1982) and it just sat in the cans.

This was way ahead of its times and you can see that Balu and Uma try to do their best but it does not really come out that great...



While there are occasions where composers give up as their ideas do not get accepted, this was not the one Raja would give up. Lingering in his mind was to improve on this at the next opportunity.

Though he got a thousand opportunities in the 80s, he never got another situation where he could decide on using this type of music. Most of the 80s was filled with disco and occasional rock and roll. This is not withstanding his WCM and CCM experiments.

In the 90s, with Nasser's Avathaaram, he tried to go back to this format in a half hearted way with the song, 'Sandirarum Sooriyarum', where he presented the song as a perfect western waltz orchestration with simple lyrics meant for a play. It did stick better than 'Alaigale Vaa', but did not get the mileage as it had a giant such as 'Thendral Vandu' from the same album.



He waits till the 21st century and he gets an opportunity to fulfill his journey on the opera and this time, he executes it with finesse as he gets good singers who understand his expectation and execute on it. This track, 'Edeya Baagilu' from Suryakanthi (Kannada 2009) is a silky execution of the broadway format.



This is an example of how Raja keeps slogging to perfect something he has done in the past decade(s) till he gets it right. While most of us remember the last song, his earlier attempts get ignored. It is important to understand the journey to see how artists like Raja meticulously improve their delivery. Knowledge alone is not enough; you need the right circumstance and the perfect  execution. Perfect execution does not come easy, even for a genius the first time.

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Re: Connection between the decades

Post  ravinat on Thu Nov 24, 2016 7:15 pm

Raja and Jazz


While Raja was focused more on disco and a bit of rock in the 80s, Jazz was not his strength. Occasionally, he did some songs such as ‘Day By Day’ from Honest Raj, which did not exactly set the river on fire.  His disco songs in the 80s, which was a rage, got him mileage and he did not focus on Jazz much. Most Raja fans take up (I did that in the past too) some songs that are heavy on saxaphone and call it a Jazz composition. While a number of Jazz compositions do use sax, any composition that uses sax does not become Jazz. It is hard to put a finger and call a composition as Jazz till you hear a lot of Miles Davis or Louis Armstrong and trumpeters such as Wynton. As someone who  made it a point to understand Jazz and its elements such as improvisation, syncopation, relaxed drumming and stuff such as blue notes, it took me a while to dismiss several Raja compositions as Jazz (example, Mandram Vandha is not Jazz).



 



Though he had SPB, the master of syncopation, somehow Raja did not take advantage of his sense of perfect time management in singing.


There are a few songs, I call as Rajazz that did not get discussed as a separate entity. One such song I have always held very high in my Raja rating is the song, ‘Thangakili Tholil Vacha’ from Manam Virumbudhe Unnai. This song will upset any genre crazy zealot. It is folk for a moment, jazz in another and so on. Raja’s such experiments do not get the right attention.






One thing that is very clear with this composition is the improvisation emphasis.

That was the 90s story. Jazz lurked in the background and he needed another setting to unleash it. It wouldn't happen till the 21st century.



It is unclear, why Raja never pushed Jazz, nor why he found any particular opportunity to use a Jazz composition for a very long time.


The songs of Mumbai Xpress (Tamil/Hindi 2005) have everything that goes towards the perfect definition of Jazz – improvisation, blue notes, syncopation. Raja had two great compositons in this film – the smooth variety being Poo Poothadhu and the traditional Jazz being Kurangu Kaiyil Malai. He even went on to record a retake to show how much he understands traditional Jazz. No other Indian film composer has done this.



Here is Poo Poothadhu - perfectly smooth Jazz:









Now, let's go to the perfectly traditional Jazz composition - Kurangu Kaiyil Maalai.






Unfortunately, I am not able to get the two versions of this song in the film's album. Raja has titled the second version of the song as 'Alternate track' - a Jazz tradition for a variation for a composition. That should shut all those folks up who claim that Raja does not know Jazz. Not one film music composer did this to my knowledge. The second alternate track has only KH voice.



The BGM of the film has so many Jazz parts. Raja simply let out his creativity though it did not land properly with his traditional audience. I am glad he did. I rate Mumbai XPress as the finest Jazz album by any film composer in India - period.


Indha Ulagil Naan Irundhalum from Madhu (Tamil 2005 - same year as Mumbai XPress!) is another smooth Jazz that has great use of improvisation and free flowing blue notes.






Though SPB is the king of syncopation, somehow he never got a Jazz composition from Raja to sing. The closest they got was the song ‘Vaangum Panathukkum’ from Dhoni (Tamil 2013) . The focus here is more on improvisation, syncopation and a bit of scat.




Someone should feed Raja with a crime thriller in a city setting that requires a Jazz type of score – both songs as well as background score. In my view, till that happens, this is unfinished business.

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Re: Connection between the decades

Post  crimson king on Sat Nov 26, 2016 4:55 am

I read somewhere that IR has a voracious appetite for listening to music. In that context I see his increasing interest in jazz as a part of his continuing self education of Western music. He started with Western classical music. Then - as per Viji Manuel's claim - he introduced IR to a lot of rock music. This confluence of Indian, Western classical music and rock created the 'trademark' IR sound. But it was always leaning towards prog rock rather than straight up hard rock like Deep Purple - see the fondness for Fender Rhoades keyboards and slap bass. I was watching Nayagan yesterday and the Nasser theme is a classic example of this kind of music, especially the furious slap bass. From there to jazz is a logical progression considering that Miles Davis' Bitches Brew spawned the jazz rock/fusion genre (not to be confused with indo western fusion) which had connections to the prog rock scene of the 70s. IR professed to shedding his anger and becoming a calmer person in the 90s so the attraction to the smoother albeit still complex world of jazz (rather, the kind of jazz IR seems to be interested in) perhaps ties in with his own mellowing down as a person. IR fans feel disappointed that his interludes are no longer packed densely with notes but this is perhaps a reflection of how pure his self expression is. He is literally speaking through his music and his tastes have changed while those of the fans may not have to the same extent.

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Re: Connection between the decades

Post  ravinat on Sat Nov 26, 2016 5:04 pm

crimson king wrote:I read somewhere that IR has a voracious appetite for listening to music. In that context I see his increasing interest in jazz as a part of his continuing self education of Western music. He started with Western classical music. Then - as per Viji Manuel's claim - he introduced IR to a lot of rock music. This confluence of Indian, Western classical music and rock created the 'trademark' IR sound. But it was always leaning towards prog rock rather than straight up hard rock like Deep Purple - see the fondness for Fender Rhoades keyboards and slap bass. I was watching Nayagan yesterday and the Nasser theme is a classic example of this kind of music, especially the furious slap bass. From there to jazz is a logical progression considering that Miles Davis' Bitches Brew spawned the jazz rock/fusion genre (not to be confused with indo western fusion) which had connections to the prog rock scene of the 70s. IR professed to shedding his anger and becoming a calmer person in the 90s so the attraction to the smoother albeit still complex world of jazz (rather, the kind of jazz IR seems to be interested in) perhaps ties in with his own mellowing down as a person. IR fans feel disappointed that his interludes are no longer packed densely with notes but this is perhaps a reflection of how pure his self expression is. He is literally speaking through his music and his tastes have changed while those of the fans may not have to the same extent.
I have heard similar things. However, he is selective about what he wants to deploy in his music. Interludes packing with dense notes that's an interesting observation. Most of Raja's fan base does not think on those lines in my view. As long as he does something unique withwith a CCM based composition, he is all good. In the 80s, most of his WCM based work got mileage when he combined it with something familiar.The moment he deviates from that template, he is supposed to be out of date. His fine 21st century work does not find many fans among his traditional fan base as is own 80s success formula is to be blamed. Fortunately he does not care and continues to grow.

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Re: Connection between the decades

Post  crimson king on Sun Nov 27, 2016 4:53 am

I think the CCM approach necessiates packed note combinations.  Like how in our jugalbandis there are fast and furious trade offs (also a possible reason why IR seemed to feel compelled to use more than one instrument variety in the interludes).  Whereas if we take the second interlude of Mugilo, there is one place where flute weaves in and out but it's mostly an exploration of string music (and more in line with how instrumentation is done in Western music, especially classical music).

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Re: Connection between the decades

Post  crimson king on Wed Nov 30, 2016 6:46 pm

How about this for an example of revisiting old styles or approaches -  O Butterfly giving birth  much later to Kanulu Kalanu Piliche.  There are also slight elements of Ennaku Piditha Paadal in Kanulu, but the main inspiration seems to be O Butterfly; both waltzes and romantic duets with a lot of flute.

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Re: Connection between the decades

Post  ravinat on Thu Dec 01, 2016 5:09 am

Raja, piano and the decades

Raja's initial thinking on piano usage was very much on the lines of MSV and in the 70s and 80s, he did use the piano extensively, but gave it never the status it sometimes deserved. He never did a song till the 21st century where everything is based on piano notes. Whatever be the reason (only Raja knows), he used the native piano sound in several of his older compositions.

In the 70s, one of Raja's popular piano numbers was Chinna Pura Ondru (Anbe Sangeetha Tamil 1979). It starts off with piano but the rest of the song is orchestrated with other instruments. I do not know of any song that is a pure piano play in the 70s.



In the 80s, things got more sophisticated, but the piano never got its full share in any Raja song that I know of. One of the best piano based song is Bhoopaalam Isaikum from Thooral Ninu Pochu (Tamil 1981). When I hear the initial piano parts in this song, I get disappointed when Raja does not give the piano more play in this song. The first 72 seconds is pure piano play. Not many songs are in this format. Definitely more space for the piano than the 70s.



There are a few other songs in this format, but for the most part, it is of a similar format in my view.

In the 90s, Raja started giving the piano a little bit more space than the earlier decades. Still not ready for a full play.

Diana Diana from Kadhal Kavidhai (Tamil 1998) did get more space than his 80s composition, but still there was guitar, sax and other instrument competing.



Another piano based song where the instrument was prominent in the 90s was the song Malai En Vedhanai from Sethu (Tamil 1996). 



Another 90s song that had a good space for piano was Engiruntho Ilanguyilin from Brahma (Tamil 199x).



Another 1990s piano dominant composition was Niram pirithu paarthaen from Time (Tamil 1999)



You can see that Raja was giving piano more space than his previous decades, but a full piano composition had to wait for the 21st century.

The earliest piano prominent composition of the 21st century was Nee Paartha Paarvaikku from Hey Ram (Tamil 2000)


Perhaps, this is top of mind example for most Raja fans for a piano based composition. From a piano PoV, I would still not give it top credits as violins take away part of the glory.

There are several noteworthy compositions in the early 21st century, where the piano component was steadily increasing...
 
Indha Ulagil from Madhu (Tamil 2005)

Be aware that the youtube version sound sucks. Get hold of the original track or the soundcloud clip of the interludes alone here:

https://soundcloud.com/ravinat14/90-seconds-of-ilayaraja-continuum

There were other tracks such as Oli Tharum Sooriyanum from Vaalmiki (Tamil 2009):



In the 200s, the song Mauni Naanu from Sooryakanthi (Kannada 2009) takes the credit for the most space for piano by Raja. He was slowing giving the instrument a run in his composition. I call this song as one of those Karthik unplugged songs for Raja...



Even the latest Kanulu Kalanu Piliche from Rudramadevi (Telugu 2015) did give enough space for the piano. 

However, in my view, the top composition of Raja for the piano is the song Vanathil Vanna Malargal from Oru Oorla (Tamil 2013). Brilliantly sang by Rita, Raja finally gives the instrument almost 75% space in this composition. Raja should create more such songs in this decade. The first interlude has some continuous tones for a few seconds - otherwise a fantastic composition.  



It's a long way from the 70s Chinna Pura Ondru to Vanathil Vanna Malargal in 2013. He has progressively increased the space for this instrument as he changes with the times.

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Re: Connection between the decades

Post  Drunkenmunk on Thu Dec 01, 2016 9:47 am

You can consider this an anomaly. But a piano prominent song from the 80s:



Unni Menon's debt, if I may add, from 1982. Good tune. But the piano chords throughout are out of the world/insane. And it's a waltz with piano and he combines it with the violins and tabla in the interlude. That run with piano+tabla in interlude 2 is genius stuff.

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Re: Connection between the decades

Post  crimson king on Thu Dec 01, 2016 5:09 pm

^^^^  Another one is En Vaaniley which has lovely chords.  

I haven't heard some of the recent compositions Ravi has listed but of the ones I am familiar with, Nee Partha Paarvai is the only true all piano song in the way it would be in Western music,i.e, just the singer and piano, not even percussion. IR eliminated percussion in Enulle but it was guitar/violin driven rather than piano.

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Re: Connection between the decades

Post  app_engine on Thu Dec 01, 2016 6:20 pm

Couple of hypothesis w.r.t. "IR & less piano" (these can be extended to any traditional instrument, including percussion ones or "IR and less jazz" etc).

1. In his own admission, one of his basic principles of doing music includes "challenging himself to 'sound different'  i.e. to his own prior compositions & by extension, to those of his predecessors and peers". 

This could have been the driving factor in his "different" way of using many of the traditional instruments, even flute and shehnai. (IR's flute sounds were different / fresh / unique to my untrained ears - especially in 70's - way different from its use by all previous MDs).

The corollary to this is, whenever he is not sparked with such ability to show difference, he chose not to do much with those toys. 
(That way, even though he gave some "generic sounding" piano songs such as then madhurai vaigai nadhi / kalyANam vaibOgam enRenRun vAzhga - with possible filmy situations where piano is present in the scene & director wanted the sound - he was perhaps not getting his own "signature / brand" sounds with that instrument. To me, the usage of piano in such situational film songs wasn't much different from MSV or V Kumar or Hindi MDs. He possibly didn't want to do too many of such songs where he sounded like others.)

2. Minor variant of the above theory - IR gets easily bored and wants continuous change Embarassed  This is usually bonus for the listeners (because of many variations within a four minute song, flashes of brilliance too often, maintaining the expectation factor thru out etc, unlike most later day composers. For e.g. ARR whose many songs have catchy prelude / pallavi but immediately lose steam with sappai interludes and dull saraNams). 

OTOH (or occasionally), the same could also be a pain for lovers of a specific instrument or genre  (piano / jazz etc) - because he switches quickly to another instrument or changes genre too fast - denying such focused listeners a "full meal" Embarassed

3. This is a non-musical theory, don't take it seriously Laughing - he probably had a personal complex that even though he was a great pianist, he found many others playing better than him Embarassed   

Or had some initial days' insult from some famous pianist of that time (much like the LRE insult for annakkiLi) and wanted to push it to a lower status in his kingdom Embarassed

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Re: Connection between the decades

Post  crimson king on Thu Dec 01, 2016 6:33 pm

I think the reason for infrequent piano usage in early years as well as increased usage nowadays ties in with his gradual drift towards jazz starting out as a baroque-influenced composer.  In a purely classical context, just piano alone is not very interesting.  Usually classical music works best in a symphonic arrangement with lots of instruments.  I say this from personal experience because I have watched a performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony and also a recital given by a soprano with a pianist accompanying her and the latter got boring as it dragged on, too predictable after a while.  Piano needs the looseness of jazz to light it up.  Hence, it wasn't particularly compatible with IR's philosophy until he began to veer towards jazz.  You are right that in the 80s his treatment of piano could be a bit generic at times, reminding one of HFM or MSV rather than having an IR signature.  

I actually think the move from classical to jazz (or even a kind of amalgam of the two) is quite stunning though on the surface it may sound like nothing much has changed because as said above the latter revels in spontaneity and imprecision whereas classical is precise and calculated down to the last note. For a composer to start in the former paradigm and eventually embrace the latter and still retain his unique signature is phenomenal. IR has no right to sound like IR in Day by Day but he does and how!  I think he maintains the connection by retaining a staccato element which is normally avoided in jazz.   Even in Kannulu, the singing is not legato at all.  Even where there is scope for legato in the charanam, they sing everything pirichu pirichu, which is typical IR>

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Re: Connection between the decades

Post  ravinat on Thu Dec 01, 2016 8:36 pm

App

   Your theories are quite interesting and entertaining, for sure. I started this series of posts with not a view of reading his mind - I realized that it is futile, long time ago.

   These posts will present some of his music in a chronological way to show if he continues to

1. Challenge himself (which is always the case)
2. Perfect something that did not turn out to be great, but had to get it out due to commercial pressures
3. Adopt with the times and slowly change his output


 When I covered his Opera quest, it was #2.
 When I covered piano based tunes, it is #3.


  His comfort zone is WCM and particularly continuous tones. In his early days of synthesizer use (I will do a separate post on this instrument use), it was a small addition to his orchestra. In the 90s, he tried to use the synthesizer more as a continuous tone replacement technology and at times, it turned out to be a dud. I can write a separate post on Raja's experimental failures in this area. Most of us agree with the argument that he has used synthesizers when he gets a lot of low budget films to keep his cost under control. Flip the coin and see what he does with those film compositions - he writes for synthesizers as though it was a replacement for his violins. Some turn out great and others not.


  All this shows that the man's wiring is intact. He merely changes a few parameters. I will never cover a case where Raja started doing something from the 90s onwards. There must be a clear connection between his work in all the 4 or 5 decades he has worked. This is the reason, I started this thinking several years ago and kept dismissing many of my own theories as  they lacked the connection with the past.


  Long and short - is he comfortable with the piano,  opera  and Jazz - absolutely. Does his signature accommodate these musical types - yes. However, these are a few things he runs after and his yardsticks of when to use which varies.


By no means, this research is complete. I just wanted to respond to App and CK.

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Re: Connection between the decades

Post  Usha on Fri Dec 02, 2016 12:06 pm

[quote="ravinat"]Raja, piano and the decades

Even the latest Kanulu Kalanu Piliche from Rudramadevi (Telugu 2015) did give enough space for the piano. 

kanulu kalanu piliche .. Abbayitho Ammayi
padathil dhanae..







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Re: Connection between the decades

Post  ravinat on Fri Dec 02, 2016 5:44 pm

Usha wrote:
ravinat wrote:Raja, piano and the decades

Even the latest Kanulu Kalanu Piliche from Rudramadevi (Telugu 2015) did give enough space for the piano. 

kanulu kalanu piliche .. Abbayitho Ammayi
padathil dhanae..







Yes, you are correct. I stand corrected.

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Re: Connection between the decades

Post  crimson king on Fri Dec 02, 2016 6:49 pm

Oli Tharum is just outstanding.  Raja makes me overuse that word until it loses its meaning but what can I do.  @ 3:15 the piano chords evoked Keith Emerson for me, brilliant stuff!

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Re: Connection between the decades

Post  soco_sri on Sat Dec 03, 2016 6:06 am

ravinat wrote:Raja and Jazz





The songs of Mumbai Xpress (Tamil/Hindi 2005) have everything that goes towards the perfect definition of Jazz – improvisation, blue notes, syncopation. Raja had two great compositons in this film – the smooth variety being Poo Poothadhu and the traditional Jazz being Kurangu Kaiyil Malai. He even went on to record a retake to show how much he understands traditional Jazz. No other Indian film composer has done this.




Now, let's go to the perfectly traditional Jazz composition - Kurangu Kaiyil Maalai.






Unfortunately, I am not able to get the two versions of this song in the film's album. Raja has titled the second version of the song as 'Alternate track' - a Jazz tradition for a variation for a composition. That should shut all those folks up who claim that Raja does not know Jazz. Not one film music composer did this to my knowledge. The second alternate track has only KH voice.


Thank you Ravi for pointing this out!  Does anyone know where we can get the "alternate version" by KH only to do a listening compare?

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Re: Connection between the decades

Post  ravinat on Sun Dec 04, 2016 5:55 pm

soco_sri wrote:
ravinat wrote:Raja and Jazz





The songs of Mumbai Xpress (Tamil/Hindi 2005) have everything that goes towards the perfect definition of Jazz – improvisation, blue notes, syncopation. Raja had two great compositons in this film – the smooth variety being Poo Poothadhu and the traditional Jazz being Kurangu Kaiyil Malai. He even went on to record a retake to show how much he understands traditional Jazz. No other Indian film composer has done this.




Now, let's go to the perfectly traditional Jazz composition - Kurangu Kaiyil Maalai.






Unfortunately, I am not able to get the two versions of this song in the film's album. Raja has titled the second version of the song as 'Alternate track' - a Jazz tradition for a variation for a composition. That should shut all those folks up who claim that Raja does not know Jazz. Not one film music composer did this to my knowledge. The second alternate track has only KH voice.


Thank you Ravi for pointing this out!  Does anyone know where we can get the "alternate version" by KH only to do a listening compare?
Both versions are sang by Sonu, Kamal and Tippu. The orchestration is however different. I searched for the album art on the internet and I could not find it anywhere. There is the first version which starts off with the prelude and the alternate is complete with 1) drumming improvisation at the beginning of the track and 2) saxaphone parts that let the player a lot of freedom compared to version 1. While the song follows the Indian film song format, the orchestration is pure Jazz and is typical of a live players playbook.

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Re: Connection between the decades

Post  ravinat on Mon Dec 05, 2016 12:17 am

Pure photons from the fiber


Raja’s comfort zone is WCM. Having said that, he gets very few real opportunities to use it in its purest form.  In order to bring out his signature, he does a whole bunch of things on top of this form:



  • -      Bass guitar lines
  • Percussion
  • Synthesizers used either as bells, continuous tones
  • CCM overlays
  • Indian chorus




This exploration is about the man, who manages to slide WCM in its purest form throughout his career. The good news is that he has started doing it more from the 90s than before. His relationship with BSO has given us some wonderful pure WCM passages. You will see a slight bias towards his BSO work in this post.


The activity is like looking for specific group of photons in a fiber transmission. Most times, its commercial television signals. Occasionally, there is some classical bits which do get transmitted through the fiber.


Most Raja fans would jump at many of his popular numbers such as:
1.    Ilamai Ennum Poongaatru
2.    Oru Naal Unnodu Oru NaaL
3.    Nilavondru Kandaen
4.    Manchu Kurise
5.    Kannil Enna Kaarkaalam
6.    Oh Vasantha Raaja
7.    Poonkadhave Thaazh Thiravaai
8.    Pothi Vaccha Maligai Mottu
9.    Sundari KannaL oru Seidhi
10. Nee Paartha Paarvai


The trouble with all these tracks is that they will always fail in pure WCM play if you consider the factors that I have indicated. Most times, it is a synthesizer, percussion, bass lines or some chorus which spoils the party and turns it into commercial stuff.


Albums such as HTNI/NBW and the BGM of Onaiyum Aatukkutiyum (Tamil 2013) have several pure WCM parts with the later being complete pure play. I will leave them out here as the clip will get unduly large. Similarly, I am also leaving out some of the BGMs of the 1990s and 21st century to keep this short.


I will try and present a set of tracks from the 70s to now, where Raja has managed to introduced some pure WCM passages without any of the usual commercial compromises. All of them are violin, cello, double bass passages – some of them have support from Western flute and occasionally from a piano. No synthesizer, no percussion.


Unlike the other posts, I will not present this with youtube videos as it may be hard for you to separate the pure WCM parts. I have strung all of these pure WCM parts together for your listening pleasure. I will provide a 1 sec gap between two individual clips so that you can recognize the songs.


The song Oru Iniya Manadhu from Johny (Tamil 1979) has some pure violin parts that are straight from a typical WCM concert. In the clip, there is a small part where bass lines do show up when the flute plays, but that was the Raja of the 70s, who perhaps felt that bass lines must be included.


Though there are so many songs in the 80s, my search for pure WCM play did result only in a handful.


Ullasa Paravaigal BGM (Tamil 1980) had some great pure WCM passages. I am calling this one out, as there are many others Raja did later on, but this was one of his early ones. Not as pure as his later ones, as he is still enamored by the bass guitar even in this arrangement (there is nothing wrong with that – but deviates from traditional WCM).


The second interlude of Chitukku Chella Chitukku from Nalavanukku Nallavan (Tamil 1983) somehow escaped the clueless commercial folks of Tamil cinema and this is one of the fine pure WCM passages.


The first interlude of the song Kavanu Ondru thondruthe from Oru Odai Nadhiyagiradhu (Tamil 1983) is another song where Raja got back to his routes and has some good pure WCM passages.


I like the second interlude of Kanna Unai Thedugiraen from Unakkaagave Vaazhgiraen (Tamil 1986) where there is a very good violin treat that is pure WCM.


The prelude of Kalyana Maalai from Pudhu Pudhu ArthangaL (Tamil 1989) is another violin treat that got more appreciated for the lyrics and the tune than its pure WCM violins.


The 90s had some fantastic pure WCM play both from his own orchestra as well as from BSO. Raja managed to slip a number of brilliant violin passages in this decade (more than his previous decades) unnoticed by his commercial investors.


Kottum Kuzhalvizhi from Kaalapaani (Malayalam 1996) was Raja’s first collaboration with BSO and you can see a complete shift to silky finishes with Raja’s WCM violins in the interludes.


The 1997 movie Guru (Malayalam) has two such tracks performed by BSO, where WCM was demonstrated in full cry. One of the outstanding 90s work by Raja. Aruna Kirana and Devasangeetham. Again, only parts of these compositions are true to native WCM – the synthesizers come in the way of pure play in the rest of these compositions.


In the same year, 1997, Thai Maavin Thanalil from Oru Yaatra Mozhi (Malayalam), had some beautiful parts played by his own orchestra where Raja went back to pure WCM violins again.


Lastly in 1999, Alai Meedhu from Kadhal Kavidhai (Tamil) had some beautiful WCM work by Raja that he managed to slip it in.
The execution of pure WCM did go up several notches in the 90s compared to his previous decades. In my view, he has kept that standard from then on. It took him a solid 24 years to get to this point.


The 21st century execution was a further refinement with the violins being always turning into multi-layered ones that we have seen in his recent execution. He continues to slip pure WCM passages into his work, similar to what he did in the previous decades. When you hear the audio clip that I have included, you can realize the violins now not just playing in unison as it did before, but very carefully arranged in multiple layers. This should not be confused with any tremolo type of arrangement, but you can clearly hear the tonal layers in his arrangement better than before.


Mugilo Megamo and Kalvane from Megha (Tamil 2013) had some very pure WCM passages worked well with the BSO.
Auna Nuveena and Punnami Puvvai from Rudramadevi (Telugu 2015) also had a similar arrangement with pure WCM passages, thanks to WSO.


I love this Raja, who for a moment forgets that he is a commercial composer and gets back to his root and slips these passages into popular music. He has not changed from the day he started composing, and these are the select photons that slip into the fiber optic cable that I love from his work.



Hope you have a WCM blast for 6 minutes with this clip. The order of the tracks is the order of the description of this post.


https://soundcloud.com/ravinat14/pure-strings-raja-5-decades

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Re: Connection between the decades

Post  Usha on Wed Dec 07, 2016 12:46 pm

Ravi nat,
 
      enna oru analysis...... IR songs.. ellam list aga than  solla mudiyum... apadithan idhu varai parthu iruken... Ungalin Analysis.. Limit seidhu
irukiradhu.......
  indha  Lesson..... purindhal.. innum sila padalgalai thedalam....... Really Great One..........

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Re: Connection between the decades

Post  kiru Yesterday at 2:21 am

I second Usha, Ravi's WCM analysis/roadmap is awesome. I think even when not "totally pure" WCM quality/quantity has increased many fold in IR's music. IR's WCM reactor went "critical" in my opinion with NEPV. I now call IR as IR 2.0. The string section these days is almost always multi-part. IR's music is so very distinct from the work of many of these new/current MDs mainly from the WCM/contrapuntal arrangements.

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Re: Connection between the decades

Post  ravinat Yesterday at 4:48 pm

Thanks Kiru and Usha for your views. The pure WCM play was created after 3 levels of filtering as I have been doing this over time.

One of the biggest misses by me was Bharadha Samudhayam Vaazhgave from Bharathi (Tamil 2000). The lone interlude in this song is another pure WCM play.

I am sure there are a few others.

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