Raaja the minimalist

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Raaja the minimalist

Post  jaiganesh on Mon Jun 04, 2018 9:33 pm

I am not using the art dictionary meaning of minimalism here. In art circles minimalism refers to art forms that dont have too many intricate patterns or textures.
Just one or two key patterns repeating to create a signature. Raaja has done several such creations, yet Raaja being Raaja - redefines everything he touches. Even concepts like minimalism undergo a "raaja change" when he wields them. Classic case being ghazal - one of the most minimalist conversational musical forms with bare minimum orchestra backing. One expects automatically that it is not Raaja's field as it is not vast and doesnt hold space for his imaginations. Yet Raaja stamps his signature even in this art form by purely playing with the rhythm - tabla to give a distinct Raaja touch.. Classic example is 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FXlh8dXZXVw

Moving on he does a haunting piece in idhayakkovil - "naan padum mouna ragam" - though arranged with ghazal like backing - it is fully ornate with raaja signature, yet it is extremely understated and rooted in essence of minimalism.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T-gvA2DknRA


Lets continue to discuss..

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Re: Raaja the minimalist

Post  ravinat on Mon Jun 04, 2018 10:23 pm

Raja's minimalism has special meaning. This is not the Philip Glass kind of music. He is the master of orchestration. However, he decides when to use a big or small orchestra or for that matter a very small orchestra.

Some of Raja's minimalism has been misrepresented. There are three songs that come to my mind when it comes to misrepresentation:

1. Pottu Vaitha Oru Vatta Nila from Idhayam - starts off with minimal orchestration as this is supposed to be a song sang by Murali with his friend on the percussion. However, the interludes are quite complex and the orchestration is elaborate that the overall song loses its minimalist claim.

2. Konji Konji Alaigal Aada from Veera - this song is supposed to be a simple one sang by the hero with his friend on the percussion. Beyond the initial pallavi, it goes into synthesizer and all associated paraphernalia, thus losing its minimalist claim. 

3. Om Namaha from Idhayathai Thirudathe - this song is supposed to work with a simple heart beat as its percussion. Beyond the pallavi, the point gets missed on minimalism

Don't get me wrong - I am all for Raja's minimalism and will cover some songs where he has stayed true to the claim. These are songs where the claim is made and the song does not carry the claim fully.

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Re: Raaja the minimalist

Post  ravinat on Mon Jun 04, 2018 10:38 pm

Carnatic minimalist - Raja
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It is hard not to discuss the Carnatic Raja, who stays true to the classical tradition in several of his compositions and keeps the orchestra to the bare minimum. Here are some top of mind examples:

1) Aadal Kalaiye from Raagavendra

2) Azhaikiraan Madhavan from Raagavendra

3) Ennai Yenna from Ivann

4) Guru Charanam from Guru

5) Innarul Tharum Annapoorani from Aathma

6) Kaatrodu Kuzhalin Naadhame from Kodai Mazhai

7) Kai Veenaiyai from Vietnam Colony

Cool Kannan Nee Yen from Ivann

9) Maanida Sevai Dhrogama from Unnal Mudiyum Thambi

10) Mogum Ennum from Sindhu Bhairavi

11) Rama Naamam Oru Vedhame from Raagavendra

12) Sangeetha Gnanamu from Moga Mull

13) Saranam Bhava from Sethu

14) Unnai Thedum Raagamidhu from Ponmegalai

15) Veena Vaani from Ponmegalai

All these songs have the minimalist orchestration of a Carnatic concert and yet they stand out due to the brilliant mind that composed them.

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Re: Raaja the minimalist

Post  jaiganesh on Tue Jun 05, 2018 11:35 pm

As it is regularly the case with Raaja, the essential driver of his choices are the narrative dramatic context.
More recent songs where the songs are not having any pull for serious drama, he conjures up a rather simplistic
contour for tune and orchestration. However in some cases he goes against the grain and infuses "space" and lodes of it 
to accentuate a specific emotion. Songs that straight away jump to my mind are
1. Uchchi vagundheduththu - minimal - but tastefully done orchestration with enough ambience that tells its own story
2. Kaaththirundhu kaaththirundhu from vaidhegi kaathirundhaal - with the spooky kodaangi chants.
3. kaattu valhi pora ponnae - from malayoor mambattiyaan
4. kaattu vazhi thunbamille - from thaandavakkoane
5. neeraal udal kazhuvi - thaandavakkoane..
6. ennadaa baandi - vaalmeeki..

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