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Unusual observations on Raja's orchestration

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Post  ravinat Thu Feb 17, 2022 8:56 pm

A clear musical line on the sand


‘Kannil Theriyum Kathaigal’ is a film released in 1980 and there are several composers who scored for the film. KV Mahadevan, GK Venkatesh, Shankar Ganesh and a new composer called Ilayaraja. Most Raja fans showcase the song, ‘Naan Oru Ponoviyam Kandaen’ as one of the rare gems of Raja. Nothing unusual about it. There are so many such rare melodies of Raja in that decade.


Let’s step back and review some of Raja’s comments about the first 5 years of his career. He mentioned that he was trying to adapt to the industry and struggled initially as he had to comply with the MSV/KVM/GKV/SG styles that were prevalent at that time. He even went on to say how he reluctantly composed background scores in those days, till he got a foothold.




This song (‘Naan Oru Ponoviyam Kandaen’) is sang by SPB, Janaki and Susheela. Set to Mohanam, Raja does something very boldly that nobody has done before. While being in the company of KVM, GKV and SG, he composes a song, where he adheres to the old format as well as introduces his elements into the orchestration. It is sort of announcing to the world, how the old gives way to the new. He immensely respects his seniors but wants to embrace and change the listener. This song has chorus elements that dates back to ‘Pasamalar’ days where MSV-TKR composed ‘Vaaraayo thozhi’, traditional Mohanam elements in the song.
However, listen to the second interlude between 2:41 and 3:18 (smack in the middle of the track!) and observe what happens:


  • ·    Between 2:41 and 2:50, it is a simple call and response between the violins and the sitar. The violins are in arpeggio and this format is traditionally used in film music before his time. This is stage ‘compliance’
  • ·     Between 2:51 and 3:18, Raja shows why he is a maestro. The violin arpeggio continues in the background and Raja embellishes it with the chorus in the foreground. His message: Mohanam is fine, but look at the counterpoint of the Western violins in arpeggio with the Mohanam in the foreground. That’s my new dimension! This is stage ‘defiance’!




I am sure, there are a few more songs during this time, where he clearly established his signature backed by his strong music theory background and Western musical training.  I liked this song in particular, as he worked with his seniors in this film, and was bold enough to demonstrate that he is different.  I will write about another such attempt at this time, ‘Alaigale Vaa Avarudan’ later. Very few composers embrace their predecessors so well, while they pave a new path. Most composers today don’t have a solid understanding of Raja, let alone demonstrating how they can deviate from his world with authority.

ravinat

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Post  ravinat Mon Mar 07, 2022 6:23 pm

Megam Karukkaiyile - Vaidehi KaathirundhaaL (1984 Tamil)

We have heard this song of Raja and Uma a thousand times. So did I. However, I observed something this morning that I overlooked all these years. 



This is in all the pallavis:

Male : Megam karukayilae  (ascending male choir)


Pulla dhegam kulirudhadi (descending male choir)


Aaththa kadanthidalaam (ascending male choir)


Pulla aasaiyai enna seiven (descending male choir)

Female : Akkara senthapinnae (ascending female choir)

Un aasaiya sollu machan (ascending female choir)


Neivilakkethi vachi  (ascending female choir)


Un nesathai sollu machan (ascending female choir)

This is one of those oversights or rush to get the song out in a 7-1 schedule. The female choir parts are all ascending. 

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