Friday, January 27, 2006

Pagal Nilavu: Rounding up

Pagal Nilavu (1985)

A couple of mentions remain in this album. Poovilae Medai. and Vaarayo Vanmathi..

Poovilae is a small song with running time less than 3 mins. The beginning is sure to remind one of a duet from one of the WCM masters. Simple yet very delightful. The song itself has a very simple tune. I believe one of the keys to unlocking IR's genius is to also view his compositions as if they were purely WCM orchestrations. This kind of imagination takes a while to grow to a level where you can appreciate some of Guru's compositions. At first hearing a song like this would sound probably unattractive. But if you imagine a solo violin and orchestra with the exact same tune and support... it creates an entirely different effect. IR does give hints of the orchestral parallel universes. The interlude folowing the Pallavi may remind one of parallel tunes to Endhan Nenjil (by KJY). However IR quickly comes back to the song. Unusually enough this song has just one charanam. The beat pattern might kill the beauty of the song... I wonder why he used any perceptible rhythm instrument at all. Atleast it doesn't appeal much to my sensibilities in these kinds of compositions.

Vaarayo is a totally different song. One cannot exactly place what it is with this song... for example the singers are not upto the mark or it sounds very much like one of the hindi songs of that era (if you imagine a drum kit playing instead of a tabla)... the song still somehow manages to be mentioned here. May be it is the resemblance to other pearls Ennadhaa sugamo or En vaaniley . But it remains an imitation. It is upto you to decide if it is cheap. The only salient feature of this song is the interlude magic. If you can survive the most cliche'd tabla rhythm (IR has used it in some N number of songs --N being almost all of the near-trash songs he ever gave--which is huge! -- fortunately he also gave us a huuuge number of songs of a very high order) then make a note of the first interlude's second half that leads to the charanam 1. There is a pocket of a semblance of good instrumentation there. The second interlude is also decent forming the other cool part of the song. Music India Online recording somehow stopped the song abruptly as if what we have heard is enough.

Actually the other song Maina Maina from the album (sang by guru himself) is the trashiest number... but...(there is always a 'but' associated with his songs.. one cannot dismiss them as not having any knowledge) in one of the interludes he uses ideas from 'bluegrass' and 'country' styles very effectively with simple guitars. If you have nothing better to do -- do check it out.

Aakarsh has remained particularly patient (and silent) with my promises to finish writing this section (i.e., ... he's been conveniently missing action these days). We'll try to combo-up a draft for Idhaya Kovil or Mouna Ragam as soon as I find out if he's alive.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Of Raj Kalyan

I was listening to the song "Katril varum geethame" again and I found that more than sometimes, the panchamam is skipped while sliding through the avarohana, which gives the raga a slight haunting feeling, eg: -- n3-d2-m2-g3. This is esp. noticed first in the short alapana in the first interlude and then in the notes sung in the second interlude (s- n3-d2-m2-g3-r2-s).

There is a raga by Vasant Rao Deshpande called Raj Kalyan which is basically Kalyan without the panchamam:

That same effect is obtained in Tukaram's Abhang "Sundar te dhyaan" sung by Lata. Though the pallavi seems to be rooted in Maru Bihag (the background music for Raincoat), the second and third charanams register a spike near this "Raj Kalyan" frequency.

Great tool this can be for people like Ilayaraja who specialise in haunting tunes.