Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Pallavi-Anupallavi Part-3

No Discussion about Ilaiyaraaja's music is complete without talking about his Bass-work. And there is no composer who can write tricky Bass notes like the way he does. If you follow the bass-work in his songs, it will take you to a different world, as Ravi mentioned in the previous post.And needless to say that Bach keeps popping up now and then.

The third/last song from Pallavi Anupallavi, "Nagu Enthidhey" needs as much discussion as the previous songs did. i can use only one word to describe this song. It is "Stylish", in genre.i mean, its not down-to-earth kind...but has quite sophisticated feel to it, be it the tune of pallavi or that of charanams.somehow, i am led to believe that this is Raag "Nata-Bhairavi"(for it sounds similar and also, IR composed 2-3 Natabhairavi's which sound similarly styish). but experts, plzz clarify.

But, first, take my observation: All the songs(taken for discussion) of this film have lengthy and wonderful Preludes. I may not be wrong to say that they themselves are enough to give a glimpse of what this man is capable of. this song ,"Nagu Enthidhey" does just that.

Prelude: it starts with key-board Santoor-ish sound coupled with Bass on a higher scale. we have, basically 2 lines...which repeated again...making it four, before the rhythm is introduced. and the end of first line & third line here is highlighted by a single note of Flute, which joins the bass. and for that last note, the santoor-ish sound is missing. then, when the rhythm is introduced, only Flute & Bass take over. Do listen to the bass-work carefully, it is more split while the flute flows(Its Bach again). When the flute piece ends, string section takes over..in two sections infact. One which scales from low notes to higher ones and the other which takes the exactly opposite direction. and even when the string section concludes the prelude, the bass work does its part by drawing your attention towards it.This idea has been used many times, in many songs. Now you know why actor Kamal Haasan said, " people call him Isai-Gnani(scholar of music) while i think he should be called "Isai-Vignani(scientist of music)".

Janaki sings the first line. quite alright. Now, she repeats it..and violin counter-melody fills in the background. he doesnt believe in unidimensional compositions i think. and then, as if thats not enough, just as that line ends, the bass-volume rises..as if its saying ,"even i am here.."..which continues as the 2nd line progresses..after which it completes its loop. Observe the bass structure.Amazing & Unconventional. also, when she starts singing, some electronic sound constantly plays in the background..which comes to the forefront (along with bass) only after that 2nd line. How can he write all these things in one-go?

The first interlude: i like the way it starts..two sections...the 2nd following the first one. the bass work, till the string section finishes its part is again captivating ( IR<=>Bach).the oboe kind of sound, having a dialogue with guitar is probably to suit the picturisation. one interesting combination of instruments follow here...Flute has a dialogue with violin section (now this is fusion), while bass and Ek-taara(how weird to use it here) complement in the background. totally diverse instruments..but playing together to create a wonderful effect. thats Raaja.

Charanam: i love the timing where he starts the percussion(exactly after 1st two words). the extra-ordinary guitar work in the background supports main melody very well, (the 1st two lines of charanam have that stylish feel..even in rendition too..). and from the 3rd lines, the same violin counter-melody starts off in the background (salil chaudhary here..). The charanam ends with his usual trade-mark loop-ends..on jazz kit and bass/electronica.

2nd interlude: this has a brief aalaap, which tends to take pathos-feel at the end(raaga change)..after which violins play over to teh scale given by Bell-like sound.. i think this song is more situatonal, which IR must have depicted through these sudden changes.

the 2nd charanam is similar to first one. but the counter-melody of violins which start half-way trhough the 2nd charanam seamlessly continue into the pallavi repetition till the end of the song.

Maniratnam, as i said before, has struck great chord(s) with IR right in the first film, which made him repeat him in all the subsequent films. But i still wonder why the music of all other films have gained much more recognition than Pallavi-Anupallavi, which is equally phenomenal.

Anyways, we now give in for some other posts, after which , the next film "pagal Nilavu" would be discussed. Ideally, the next film should be "Onaru" but the soundtrack of this film is rare and unavailable. I heard that it has only 2 songs which are extremely good but...could never get them.So, shall skip it and write about "Pagal Nilavu" sometime soon.Meanwhile Digest this one.

If one (fantastic)song of IR can take so much to write, then what would it take to cover all his fantastic compositions, given the fact that his work is highly prolific.


Sketchy Self said...

is it just me, or does this song have the same flavour as "navodayam naadam" from the movie kokila (i haven't seen either movie)?

Aakarsh said...

WOW!!! chandhu...U r on the track(and i am glad!!)...It has the same flavour..probably same raaga has been used..and u can find many similarities right!! the feel of the song..and the overall tone is congruent,though not equal, to Kokila Song.

Ramesh said...

It was nice reading this post and listening to the song. I too am in awe of the bass work in IR's songs. Looking forward to more analysis from you guys.


Random Walker said...

Chandu bhai: U can call it anything (including coincidence) but the first thing i said to Aakarsh when i heard the song was "isn't it similar to that kokila song?". Imagine! However, it should not be surprising that IR re-used some of his tunes , albeit in a different way each time, given that he composed for a large number of films. If you can overlay navodayam tune with nagu endide (in your mind or a mixing software) u will see that the notes linger longer in navodayam. And the style is more continuous in navodayam. May be a clue to budding composers - if you have to have richness in a song the syllables have to be longer...and therefore that gives scope for embellishments. For snappy numbers use shorter (time-wise) notes and faster syllables. This idea might be a beginning thread of thought for people interested in classical music... where notes typically are caressed and embellished to give maximum satisfaction.

Gandaragolaka said...

I have very less idea about whats going on in here, but the enthusiasm nd determination is really capitvating.

"if you have to have richness in a song the syllables have to be longer..."

How true! The vilambit kala singing gained prominence in the 20th century hindustani music just because of that. Before this, it was full of those super-fast taans not unlike GNB.

Gandaragolaka said...

and by the way, abt natabhairavi... I cant comment much on the carnatic part, because the only 2 songs that www.raajangahm.com lists are "Andhi Mazhai Megam" from nayakan, and "Oru Naal" from devadai and I couldnt make head or tail out of either one.

But, on the hindustani front, natabhairvi goes by the name Asavari. Very few film compositions exist... As far as I know, the initial movements of the song "pal pal hai bhaari" of swades are based on asavari scale.

Jaunpuri is considered very close to Asavari (some consider both to be same)-- some beautiful compositions exist:
1) jaaye to jaaye kahan-- taxi driver (lakshanas become clear in charanam)

2) meri yaad mein tum na -- madhosh

-> coincidentally, both sung by talat!

more on asavari and jaunpuri at:

my 2 paise.

SVR said...

Hey guys, awesome reviews! Still trying to figure them out. :)

I hadn't even heard of this movie until this (lame, I know, but you'd be surprised at what gets exposure...) I'm amazed at how well you hear the background music, e.g. I didn't even hear the violins against Janaki's singing... And until right now, I just didn't see how well the bass work complements her singing...

And a couple of quick questions -- what language is this Kokila movie in? :) And -- having never heard an Ek-taara, I'm not quite sure... could you point out the time in the song that it appears first? :)

Aakarsh said...


Kokila is a telugu film.

the ek-taara sound appears at 1:26 to 1:38 mins of the song..aptly backed by violins and intricate basswork..listen carefully.

SVR said...

Awesome, thanks!

(Oh, and by the way, I think I'm young enough that I don't deserve the suffix 'ji'... ;) Just plain Shobha is good enough :)

Gandaragolaka said...

info alert!!

I came to know Pallavi Anupallavi was composed together by L.Vaidyanathan and Ilayaraja... then working under G.K.Venkatesh

Can experts dig into this matter?

Aakarsh said...


Pallavi Anupallavi came in 1983 and by then , Ilaiyaraaja was already on his own(composing films like saagara sangamam in the same year..)
Yes, Ilaiyaraaja worked under G.K.Venkatesh..but thats prior to 1976.