Thursday, September 27, 2007

An Ode to Art by SiriVennela

I am usually drawn more by music, than by words. Not to demean the beauty of wordplay as such, but for me, lyrics come after the music. But when good music is laced with some exceptionally beautiful poetry, the song is complete by all respects. This is the reason why songs from 1950s, 1960s and to some extent few of the numbers from 1970s appeal to me completely.

This post of mine is aimed at highlighting the lyrics of a song, instead of music, which i usually do. Quite surprisingly, the composition is by my favourite, Ilaiyaraaja. But i wish not to talk about the musicial genius in his song. instead, through this post, i want the readers to pause and take a note of wonderful imageries created by the lyricist, Sirivennela Seetha Rama Sasthry.

The song is from the film - 'Swarna Kamalam'. The song is 'Sivapoojaku chigurinchina siri siri muvva'

If you remember this film 'Swarna Kamalam', the hero is a worshipper of art(dance) and literally coaxes the heroine to take it up more seriously. She, on the otherhand, is fascinated by worldly pleasures. She wants to breakfree from the shackles. She dreams of materialistic pleasures. She says in one scene - "the world is marching ahead at a rapid pace but we are still stuck somewhere else".

This song is like an argument between both of them in a duet. It's a challenge for the writer to potray both the schools of thought, of hero and heroine, and in a way that both have a valid point to make. The writer didn't just manage, but actually came out as a winner in potraying profound thoughts wonderfully.


Siva poojaku chigurinchina (blossomed/sprouted) Siri Siri muvva (anklets used by dancers)

mrudu (soft) manjula (pleasing, beautiful) pada (words) manjari (spring out) poochina (to flower) puvvaa

yatiraajuku (the best of the ascetics) jati swaramula (the musical-swaras used for dancers) parimaLamivva (give the fragrance)

naTanaanjalito (dance offering) bratukunu (life) tarinchaneevaa (fulfill)

The above paragraph means - your anklet-bells have blossomed to offer pooja to lord Shiva (through Dance). These soft-pleasing words springing out are like flowers. Wont you lure the best of ascetics with the fragrances of these dance-swaras(ascetics cannot be lured by anything, ideally…so, here he says even Yatiraj could be lured by dance)…wont you fulfill your life by dance-offering!

It's great imagination to bring the concept of yatiraj in a line..yatiraj is referred to as the best ascetic, who is not lured by any worldly pleasure (typically represented by women, money, things which fragrances)..but here, he says even yatiraj could be lured by one fragrance..called dance..


parugaapaga payaninchave(do travel) talapula(of thoughts) naava(o boat)

keraTaalaku(to waves of sea) tala(head) vanchite(bow down) taragadu trOva (your path wont pass)

edirinchina(against) suDi gaalini (strorm) jayinchi(win) raavaa(come)

madi(mind) kOrina(desired) madhu(sweet) seemalu(land/regions) varinchi(conquer) raavaa(come)

O boat of my thoughts, do travel further, if you bow down to the waves of the sea, you can never cross your paths, come, win over the storms against you…and come, lets conquer the sweet lands desired by your mind.
I just loved the lines - 'madi korina madhuseemalu varinchi raava' ; infact every line is a classic.


paDamara(west) paDagalapai(on the hoods) merisE(shining) taaralakai (for the stars)

raatrini(night) varinchake(don't choose) sandhyaa sundari (o evening beauty)

toorupu(of east) vEdikapai(on the stage) vEkuva nartakivai(becoming a dance of the dawn)

dhaatrini(earth) muripinche(delight) kaantini(light) chindani(let sprinkle)

Nee kadalika(your movements) chaitanyapu(of consciousness) sreekaaram kaani (let them be an initiation for)

nidurinchina (slept) hRudaya (heart) ravaLi (eeshwara) Okaaram kaani (let it be Omkaaram)

For the sake of shining stars on the hoods of the west(heroine wants to go to foreign country in this film), don't embrace the night(darkness) o evening beauty; on the stage of the east, by becoming a dance of the dawn, do delight the earth by sprinkling light; let your movements be an initiation for consciousness; let the sleeping eeshwara (lord of dance) in your heart become an omkaaram (symbol of piousness, god, ultimate)

Watch the way he maintained the rhyme - 2nd line ending is 'sundari' and 4th line ending is 'chindhani'..its not just endings but even beginnings; 2nd line beginning is 'Raathri' and 4th line beginning is ''Dhaathri' …and he conveyed such profound thought


tana (her) vELLE(roots) sankeLLai (hand-cuffs or chains) kadalalEni (which cant move) mokkalaa (like a plant)

Aamanikai (for the spring season) eduru choostu aagipOdu ekkaDaa (it wont stop anything waiting..)

Avadhi lEni (no barriers) andamundi (there is beauty) avaniki (on earth) nalu dikkulaa (in 4 directions)

aanandapu (of happiness) gaali vaalu (breezes) naDapani ninnilaa (let them drive you along)

prati rOjoka (everyday) nava geetika (a new song) swaagatinchagaa (let it welcome)

vennela (moonlight) kinnera gaanam (song of river kinnera) neeku tODugaa (will be your companion)

A plant chained to the ground by her own roots; wont wait for the spring; there are boundless beauties on earth everywhere; let the breezes of happiness take you there; let a new song welcome you everyday; let the moonlight and songs of kinnera (free flowing rever) be your companion
The words 'avadhi'; 'andamu' ; 'avani' all have phoenetically similar sounds


Lalita (playful) charaNa (feet) janitam (cause) nee sahaja (natural) vilaasam (way of life)

Jwalita (embers) kiraNa (rays) kalitam (filled with) soundarya (beauty) vikaasam (grow, blossom)

nee abhinaya (expression, act) ushOdayam (dawn) tilakinchina (watched) ravi (sun) nayanam (eyes)

Gagana (sky) sarasi (lake) hRudayamlO (in heart) vikaSita (bloom) Sata (100) daLa (leaves) Sobhala (of beauty) suvarNa kamalam (golden lotus)

Let your natural way of life be caused by your playful feet; like the embers which blossom into beautiful rays; even the eyes of the sun watched the dawn of your expressional dance; in the hearts of sky and the lake; a hundred leaves shall bloom on the beautiful golden lotus.

Again, every word in 1st rhymes with everry corresponding word in 2nd line. and It takes a genius to write 'nee abhinaya ushodayam thilakinchina ravi nayanam

He: SwadharmE midhanam shrEyaha para dharmO bhayaavaha (from bhagavadgeetha)

Meaning: It is better to die while following one's own faith rather than adopt other's faith; the latter shall lead one to disaster

In my opinion, this song is perhaps one of the best writings of Sirivennela. Because the song not only captures lyrical splendour, but touches the intellectual depths too, overcoming the challenge of speaking two minds in the same song, without disturbing the flow of language.

Interesting to note that Ilaiyaraaja composed this song in Raaga 'Kalaavathi' (Kala=art, Kalaavathi=a lady who is impeccable in art). Was it intentional? or coincidental?
The thoughts of film-maker (K.Vishwanath), Lyricist (seetha Rama Sasthry) and Composer (Ilaiyaraaja) melding together to create a phenomenal song, stands as an example of what intellectual team work is.

And as the song itself summarizes, Art preceeds (and even supercedes) any mundaneness (work).
I am glad to be a art Lover.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Adnan Sami's Raag Yaman

I have always felt that Adnan Sami is wasting is career, by trying to emulate R.D.Burman's style of composing and Kishore Kumar's style of singing. Instead, he should focus on what he is best at... Playing Piano. Not many have the speed which he has got and his command over the instrument is phenomenal. He can do with his fingers, what Ustad Zakir Hussain does with his fingers on Tabla. His understanding of Indian Classical Music is no less. This video gives a small peek into what he is capable of and the magic of his fingers, when he plays Indian Classical. Interestingly, i have an album featuring both, outdoing each other. I wish Adnan does more of this, so that he can also join the league of Ustads.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Shrutibhedam made easy (hopefully...)

In his post on Vaidehi Raman, PRC wrote in one of his comments---

I realized there is a way of communicating sruthi bhedam to engineers.
Assume sa = 1, ri=2, ga = 3, ma=4, pa=5, dha=6, ni=7 (assuming all swaras are in kalyani)

If f(1)=Kalyani then
f(2) = hari kambhoji
f(3) = nata bhairavi
f(4) = is a null set
f(5) = shankaraabharanam
f(6) = kharaharapriya
f(7) = hanumathodi

if it is of any help!

This post elaborates more on the procedure and hopefully makes it simpler.

To me, this seems like a three step procedure to find out which ragas can be obtained by applying shrutibhedam on a given raga:

Consider Kalyani as above (since we already knowthe final answers... so no doubts there!)

Kalyani: S R2 G3 M2 P D2 N3 S

Drawing the swara line, analogous to the number line of the Mathematics, we can get the distances between two successive swaras:

So Kalyani can be represented as 2 2 2 1 2 2 1.

Now, keep applying left shift to this sequence to make each successive note as the base note (Shadjamam). We get the following series of sequences:
In the above series, sequence no. II represents the scale when Rishabham of Kalyani is made as the base note, i.e., Shadjamam; III represents the scale when GAndhAram of Kalyani is made Shadjamam, etc.

Now let us see what raga each of the above sequences turns out to be—
The last column lists the name of the scale hence obtained as a result of transformation.

So there we are!

Similarly, shruti-bhedam can be performed on janya ragas as well:

Consider Mohanam: S R2 G3 P D2 S. It can be encoded as 2 2 3 2 3 from the swara line in step- I. Now, we can apply the same procedure as above to Mohanam and see what ragas we can get out of it!

There are similar methods given on various websites related to Carnatic and this post is based on what I have learned from those websites.

So it turns out that this shrutibhedam concept is not too difficult atleast to understand... to sing or to play using Shrutibhedam is another matter though...


Thursday, June 28, 2007

De-composing IR: Discoveries through Saara yeh aalam - revisited

The following post uses snippets of music through streaming audio. Please be patient after clicking the play button and give the player some time.

Our master reviewer Aakarsh had, a couple of posts ago, reviewed Shiva (2006) album by Maestro IlaiyaRaaja, where he mentioned that the song Saara Yeh Aalam requires a separate post (inspite of his very enthusiastic review of the song/album). This is that post. I think the rest of the songs don't merit such an analysis.

This post will require you to wear your "selective hearing" cap at multiple sections. This will have pieces of music strewn all over and is for people who don't just love music - it is for those who would rather figure out the mind of the composer and revel in that knowledge (because IR is equally a layman's as well as a connoisseur's delight) - like mavericks. Therefore, let's the end... because the beginning cannot be really appreciated until some things are really elucidated at the end. Confusing? Think parity operation (you'll understand!). After that you may judge the level of IR.

So the end:
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The clip above was cut and meddled with so as to make it easy to notice the bass line in juxtaposition with the main tune. To make it even more easier to narrow down, I played the tune and the bass line only on piano and bass. Here is that clip (you may have to reduce the volume a bit - and yes I know it is not perfect):
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If you noticed the bass line, it is:
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Now let us begin here... and ponder. Why does this sound so familar? You dont think so? Listen to this:
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The above piece is the song "Ivvu Ivvu" from Prema (1980s).
But still what's the big deal? Let us just look at this structure. The bass line of Saara Yeh Aalam and the main tune for Ivvu Ivvu are very similar in tune and structure. Only a small parity operation was called for. Also, Ivvu Ivvu is in a different pitch in the original song. I played it in the pitch of Sara Yeh Alam for simplicity. Ok, so they share a structural and tonal simlarity so what? Still don't get it? Are you ready?

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It is the mighty famous Beethoven's 5th. But the connection wont be clear very easily. Just concentrate on the first three notes. And you'll see what I mean.. the pitch of the 5th is different from the pitch of the song. And you might think that they are not similar at all... but they are changed in pitch and changed in time.

Remember the quality and tremulous nature of Beethoven's fifth? Now with that in mind listen to the beginning of Sara Yeh Alam:
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In this little snippet from the beginning of Sara Yeh Alam one thing is clear, the tension is created right at the word go not unlike the famous Fifth. The quality of the tension is maintained the same... so... beginning at the end is a valuable way to understand this song. But is it all we can learn from the beginnning... oops end? The way the bass lines are constructed, many would argue, it is typical IR. But, IR is an ekalavya disciple of a gentleman named Bach. J.S. Bach. Bach's bourree has inspired IR so much that in "How to name it" he used Bourree as a background piece for which he overlayed a tune. But what is so scintillating about the harmony of Bourree and how does it apply to our discussion here? Bourree's first three notes have lines in bass that are inverted. That is, the tune in E starts as E F# G where as the bass lines go G F# E in the lower octave. Bach is a genius in such wondrous symmetrical constructions (for the brave hearted - read Douglas Hofstadter's "Godel, Escher, Bach - the eternal golden braid" for more details). And IR learned well. Here is a small snippet of Bourree - pay particular attention to the bass notes and the main line:
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In Sara Yeh Alam as well the main tune's beginning notes and the bass lines are mirror images with slightly different time values. So we have Bach here. We had Beethoven before (and don't worry he loves Mozart too - remember "Mozart I love you" from Nothing but Wind?). Of course that is not a fair inclusion or comparison. IR is nowhere near the masters but he applies these concepts in a delightfully unconventional style in a pathetic run-of-the-mill movie like Shiva. That's the point. IR has always been about giving great musical ideas in not so good movies. AR Rahman on the other hand judiciously applies them for the right director's movie. Even then, I always wonder, why does the sound of IR fill my senses where as in some pieces ARR's music seems a little empty? It is because IR weaves a fabric of exquisite fineness with equal finesse, because he weaves those innumerable patterns in different instruments around tunes that the whole piece has a seamless quality. It isn't tailored, it is created.

I urge you to listen to the song many more times, each time paying attention to a different instrument behind the main tune. I have grown so used to listening to the bass lines or "color" lines in music that sometimes (read most of the times) I don't pay any attention to the lyrics. And I don't think this song has great lyrics anyway. So why not concentrate on the music?

Aakarsh had already described many of the key ideas for this song in his review in a "feelscape" way (compared to soundscape way). I'm not going to give you a second by second analysis of the song... instead I want you to direct your attention to the following questions - and when you find out the answers (if you haven't already) see how you feel. These are not complete.. but only to point in the direction of selective hearing.

- Where and how do the percussions start in the song?
- between time frame 0.22 to 0.29 behind the violins what high pitched instrument is adding an extra dimension?
- When Shreya Ghoshal starts singing, other than the bass and the percussions what other instrument is playing? How is its construction different from the tune's? Notice how the volume of this instrument is raised and lowered to fill in the gaps of the tune's first lines? and in the whole pallavi? Its role is just unbelievable.
- Notice how layers of violins are added sequentially in non-linear fashion slowly with melodies other than the main tune? Can you think of the number of such layers?

- in the first charanam when the male singer is singing notice how the violins are backing up
- what is the key difference between the first interlude and the second interlude of the song?

- when the male singer is singing "pyasi pyasi" 's beginning what is the bell like instrument doing?
- how are the brass instruments and violins interspersed all through the second charanam? How are they sprayed in the time scale of the song?

If you have patience notice all the above (and more!) and may be apply this kind of listening to other IR songs... and suddenly all those songs with ridiculous lyrics turn into lessons for more musical ponderings.

Happy listening!
The song:
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Monday, May 28, 2007

Cheeni Kum - Music Review

Disclaimer: It is a well-known fact that the songs of Cheeni Kum are new versions of original compositions of Ilaiyaraaja. The original songs are classic compositions and i purposefully do not wish to talk about original compositions here because one is likely to compare the new versions with the originals. When compared, the originals stand on a higher pedestal for sure. This album is listened to/analyzed/reviewed purely on the merits of its own and not by comparing it with originals.

Cheeni Kum is the directorial debut of Ad-maverick Balakrishnan, who is famously known as 'Balki'. He confesses that he is a very great fan of ilaiyaraaja, which is why most of the advertisements designed by him have ilaiyaraaja tunes, the most famous being the signature tune of Idea Cellular, which is "Naguva Nayana" from "Pallavi Anupallavi". Its no surprise that Balki chose Ilaiyaraaja to compose the music for his film. While Ilaiyaraaja was ready to compose fresh tunes, Balki insisted that he wanted some of his favourites to be re-composed so that they would cater to a wider audience. Everything is fine till there. The only mistake Balki made was chosing the highly commercial Sameer as lyricist. In my opinion, Sameer to lyrics is same as what anu malik is, to hindi film music. Especially when the movie's story had a sensitive theme around the romance of a 64 year old man with a 34 year old lady, couldnt Balki chose a lyricist with better sensibilities, such as a Javed Akhtar or a Gulzar!

The compositions of Cheeni Kum are adapted from the originals which were handpicked by Balki. And Ilaiyaraaja chose his (and my) current favourite Shreya Goshal to render them. The entire album has a wonderful blend of electronic(synthesizer) music and acoustic music, something which made ilaiyaraaja what he is today!

Cheeni Kum: Shreya Goshal

The song starts off with Shreya Goshal's vocals and lively synthesizer back-up with playful sounds. Right in the beginning the keyboard chord(his favourite) movement surprised 0:14 to 0:17 mins. The actual Pallavi(mukhda) has the same funky yet melodious feel and before you conclude that this is a techno song, ilaiyaraaja introduces his first string section passage..when Shreya finishes "Dil ki Sadaa Bhi..".Reassuringly, the 1st interlude has 80s feel to it, with his violins and saxophone laced with keyboard chords. The charanam/anthara has interesting elements too.Whats striking to me are the bass-lines..very short and abrupt but continuously stretching along the charanam. Ilaiyaraaja's bass lines have always been very distinct from the actual song and its the same here too. the lagging saxophone gives that Salil chaudhary-ish touch. the cascading of strings (with cellos too) when she sings "Dekhle..dekhle..aazmaake" simply infuses more vigour at that moment. the chords change upon when the charanam is drawing to a close and just when you expect that she would take a high pitch, ilaiyaraaja makes her mellow down at a lower octave. The 2nd interlude sounds little serious..with string section and keyboards, all following the chord structure. The 2nd charanam/anthara has the same ideas as the 1st one. Shreya Goshal does decent job with this song while the the key strength's of the song are the tune and the funkyness given to the melody. The song is predominantly set in Raag Keeravani although ilaiyaraaja changes the notes in the charanams/antharas.
Baathein Hawa: Shreya Goshal

This song appears twice in the album. One version is interspersed with some as-a-matter-of-fact oneliners by Amitabh Bacchan. Right the word go, ilaiyaraaja gets on with his unique bass notes which extend above the keyboard chords used. the rhythm is pretty straight and simple. the string section used in this song reminds of symphonies, because of the sound texture maintained. Quite interesting, Bacchan quotes about Royal Albert Hall music when ilaiyaraaja plays around with his violins ensemble ending with flute to which the cellos suffix every musical brief phrase. For me, the likeable pat of the song comes in charanams/antharas. When Shreya Goshal sings the 1st line of the charanam/anthara, the violins mildly takeover and make her connect to 2nd line. the combination of keyboards and violins is interesting, so much that when the octave changes the sound simply evolves and transforms..slowly into flute. and the grandeur of violins is very much intact as countermelody when the charanam/anthara approaches to its end. The 2nd interlude has a rocky guitar phrase dissolving into african rhythms and saxophone and suddenly the piano lights up. this song has many finer elements, such as bass-work, which engages a listener when it is heard in earphones.

Jaane Do na: Shreya Goshal

This is my most favourite song in the album. i have a feeling that this song is set in Kapi. I may be wrong though. The song starts with a slow prelude by shreya Goshal and Piano. Ilaiyaraaja adds a cello and a rhythm to it and the song actually starts. ilaiayaraaja seemed to have embedded a synth-guitar to the rhythm of this song. and when shreya sing "naa aise zid na karo" hands automatically reach for the chords on the invisible keyboard infront of me. probably i have studied his music so much that i could atleast know when he would gives those chord-changes.The 1st interlude starts with a very leisure string piece which gets into background while keyboards come on the forefront. typical ilaiyaraaja. Then 2 sections of violins play a phrase together and then diverge away into lead-tune and the base. this reminded me of his ideas used in his album How to name It?. The charanam/anthara starts with some electronic music and synth bass playing on fast movements. intricate bass notes there again. For me the melody in this song is sweetest(other than the 'naa..aise zid na karo' part in pallavi/mukhda)when she sings "tehro tehro abhi..karo thoda yakeen..aisi bethaabiaan..acchi hothee nahii". thats because ilaiyaraaja again uses keyboard at right places in the background and not stopping there, he fills the sounscape with a violins countermelody.thats vintage raaja. and the bass climbs its way to the the peak between the lines "roko zaraa jazbaat ko..samjha karo haalaath ko". The charanam/athara ends with strings completing the crescendo and cymbals concluding the grand sounscape, coming back to the pallavi/mukhda of the song. The 2nd interlude is more violins-ly charged up in the beginning and reaches a upper scale where you feel the entire violin orchestra was made to play and fill a beautiful painting. Shreya Goshal is at her best in this song, tantalizingly mischevious tone and emoting to the lyrics (listen to her during the charanams/antharas) With this song ilaiyaraaja proves that a beautiful melody can still be packaged with these electronic gadgetry, without losing the essence of the acoustic instruments. thats fusion of another kind!

Sooni Sooni: Vijay Prakash

My only complaint to ilaiyaraaja is this song. The tune is same as "Cheeni Kum". This song, by characteristic, sticks to the actual original tamil song ie. it is a ballad. But the singer's voice is quite pale. Also, since it is a sad ballad, like the original tamil one, ilaiyaraaja could have and should have used the same interludes/orchestration as in the original. This version does have some beautiful string sections in the interludes. But when the accompanying saxophone during the charanams/antharas and that extraordinary basswork is missing, the flavour of the song turns pale.

Theme Melody

This theme track is not composed exclusively as a theme composition. It is a piece which appears manytimes in the background score of the film. A very soft instrumental kind, this piece starts off with piano which slowly changes colours as the strings join them and the mood changes to little tense & serious, when the electronic instruments play a shorter-cut-piece of "cheeni kum". Why?? no idea, but the summer-morning freshness feel associated to this track suddenly changes colour with that and i couldn't quite like it there.

Melody Saxophone

Even this piece is taken from the background score of the film. This more electronic in sound with lot of bass-ups and funky sounds. However, the saxophone plays a nice tune which actually could be made into a song too. lot of synthsizer stuff has been used in this track, with the rhythms mostly on loops. the funky sounds bubble up in between the saxophone phrases, adding a little groovy feel.

In all, the album is definitely one of the best we have seen in recent times. Some people complain that old tunes have been rehashed or remixed. But a friend of mine recently said that it is better to use the word "Rebirth" instead of Remix, given the fact that Remixes do not contain any melody. Ilaiyaraaja's strengths spanning what is called as orchestrational excellence, are very much evident in this album. The album's sound texture is good and the songs are unlike what we get to hear in Hindi film music these days. The lead singer, Shreya Goshal, again delivers her best to Ilaiyaraaja, not just in rendering them perfectly but also emoting them, according to both tune & lyrics, Particularly in 'Jaane Do' and 'Cheeni Kum' . Sameer's lyrics are average and ilaiyaraaja's music simply overpowers the pretty ordinary lyrics.
Barring Sadma, Ilaiyaraaja has somehow failed to make an impression in Hindi film music. This cheeni-se-bhara album however, cuts-across such hindrances and could draw an applause from hindi audience. I wish Ilaiyaraaja does more Hindi films, even if he retunes his old compositions. Cheeni Kum left me asking for more. I heard that Balki is now scripting another movie. i wish, he goes to ilaiyaraaja again and i wish ilaiyaraaja does his act again....that of being a Maestro. He indeed is.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Shiva 2006 - A music review


In 1990, RamGopal Varma made his debut as film-maker with "Shiva", which went on become one of the cult films.The music of that film was by Ilaiyaraaja, who was the most sought composer in those days.The music was a superhit although i feel the Background score of that film was much better than the songs composed. Yet, RamGopal Varma never worked with Ilaiyaraaja again. So, after a full 16 years,when he announced that Ilaiyaraaja would compose music for his new film "Shiva(2006),", it surprised many. So, what the does new album offer?
The album has 6 songs, each having a different mood.A small review of each song:-
1. Dheeme Dheeme: Shyeya Goshal
Shreya Goshal might credit Ismail Darbar for dicovering her, but i feel that no composer has extracted her best and showcased her talent better than Ilaiyaraaja. Right from 'Julie Ganapathy', she is the only female singer who is seen in all ilaiyaraaja's albums till date. Coming to this song, she shines as usual. Ilaiyaraaja uses his typical violin layers and keyboard chords. Any ilaiyaraaja fan would like this song for two reasons:(a) it is set in 'Suddha Dhanyasi' and (b)ilaiyaraaja's trademark embellishments.
this is probably the first distinctly sounding 'suddha dhanyasi' hindi song i have come across. the song is soft-mellow, mainly because of Shreya Goshal.
2. Kaise Kahen: Sadhana Sargam, Roop Kumar Rathod
the prelude of this song are borrowed from the opening lines of "Edhalo tholi valape" from 'Erra Gulaabeelu", a late 70s film of Ilaiyaraaja.Lookslike thats Varma's favourite song.The main tune of Kaise Kahen is "emani nee cheli" from "Manthri gaari viyyankudu", an 80s film of chiranjeevi directed by Bapu.The music was by Ilaiyaraaja himself.The old version is one of the very good and less remembered songs of ilaiyaraaja and this is probably his attempt to revive it. The keyboard chords, with which he backs up the mukhda of the song remind the early 90s ilaiyaraaja.If there is anything that is misfit in this song, its only the "I Love You" part. The 1st interlude has complete ilaiyaraaja character. it sounds little irish in execution but then, the violins have his stamp.
I like the background synth guitar sound which glides over the 1st two lines of anthara and ofcourse the tune of the lines "kya kya hum kehthe hain...khwaabon mein rehthe hai"(this is something which i like in the original version too..sounds melodious). The bass lines pick up towards the closing lines of anthara.and its ilaiyaraaja's signature to bring the end of anthara to standstill silence. So, he is very much in touch with his ideas.
The 2nd interlude is a very innovative starts with simple harmonium sound (on keyboards) and builds a replays and does one more. The last time, a solo-violin and bassguitar join the loop. brilliant sound there.
Overall, the song is impressive anough, except for the 'I Love You' part. and though Sadhana Sargam seems perforct choice, Roop Kumar Rathod fails to strike a chord. or proably i am biased, because i never liked his pale voice.
3. Josh Mein: Yesudas and Chorus
I am seeing ilaiyaraaja working with Yesudas after a very longtime. This song is built from the main tune of "Jagada Jagada" from "Geetanjali".well, definitely you would like to hear the original itself, even after ilaiyaraaja makes an attempt to improvise it on new sound. this song fails to replace the original.However, this song execution has few plus-points. Firstly, some amazing keyboard work has been done on this song. that ofcourse, could be credited to technology. And the song ventures into the same mood as "Ram Ram! hey Ram" from the film "Hey! Ram". Its not the chorus alone, but the execution, the soundscape and the overall feel potrayed.
I dont know why Yesudas was given such a high-pitch in the antharas.the basslines take a different plane while the singer tries his best to maintain the sur right, inspite of the high-pitch.the 2nd interlude evokes the early 90s ilaiyaraaja because of the he gives the same treatment to the chords. Despite his best attempts to maintain the fire in the song, somehow the song fails to register.
4. Police Police: Shweta Pandit & Minad Kamat
The least we talk about this song, the better.its revival of "Botany Class" from original Shiva and lets admit, the original was better.
5. Shapath: Ilaiyaraaja
This is probably the 1st hindi song by ilaiyaraaja. it tries to take the anthemic way but the tune doesnt linger even after you switch it off. nothing great can be written about this song and you can conveniently skip it.
6. Saara Yeh Aalam: Shreya Goshal & Roop Kumar Rathod
This song probably requires a separate post.This song stands as an example for his mastery over orchestration and compells you to call him "Maestro Ilaiyaraaja".right from the 1st second, ilaiyaraaja proves what he is capable of, even today, in this technology-computer-gadgetry driven music world.although he uses synthesizers, he plays more on his strengths - Acoustic music.Brilliance is the only word that is apt to describe this song.
The song is a rehash of "Aanandha Raagam" from an 80s tamil film "Paneer Pushpangal".ilaiyaraaja retained some portions and improvised a lot.and mind you, this song is really a fantastic improvisation. Try to listen to original and you will know the difference.
The song prelude will be one of my textbooks, if ever i want to compose starts off with 4 different sections of violins, each starting in a cascade and they are joined by the wind-section. By the time, the wind-section emerges, you are convinced that it is a philharmonic orchestra.i just love the mathematics he shows in the structure of wind sections and string sections. the wind-section overtakes strings and plays the perfectly structured loops(symmetry here) and then gives the baton back to strings, which play the main melody of the song in short and then violently complete the elaborate loop.Shreya Goshal is right choice again. the synthesizer sounds backing her vocals are typical ilaiyaraaja, and so are the counter-melodies on strings.Its all there, the vintage raaja.
the 1st interlude has an impressive array of instruments. Starting from synthesizer and bass notes(these deviate from the tune, and thats what he is famous for). The string sections play. I cant review this piece. all i can write is that 2-3 sections(violins and cellos) play different tunes, overlapping with each other. they sound together but when u listen keenly, there are 3 tunes. One is on cellos giving the base, the 2nd section is the 2nd layer potraying violent emotions and a solo-violin passing through them all and joining with a flute. whoa! ideas! the flute again ends and the violins take an extenstive (no short-cuts with ilaiyaraaja) crescendo, violently.
The anthara has counter-melodies, which the listen by now can predict because the song is already filled with lot of violins and thats natural.ilaiyaraaja raises the colour with the tune "Milne lage hai yeh dono jism-o-jaan" (see the violin play in the background) and then gives a completely unexpected/new twist to the tune bringing down the flight to join the main tune. this is an exquisite piece.
Ilaiyaraaja gives a small peek into western classical music with his 2nd interlude. String sections again, backed by keyboards. the same tune with different scales is something westerners identify a lot and everything gets back to indian violins, his trademark stuff.the 2nd anthara replicates the 1st one, in all ideas.
With this song, ilaiyaraaja proves that even a rehash of an old song can be done with new better ideas without boring the listener who has heard the original one. Infact, i wish he reworks on many such old songs of his, if he can really polish them with such immaculate orchestration. every piece of music in this song, be it the magical prelude or the astounding interludes and even the counter-melodies - every piece is a polished diamond. and thats ilaiyaraaja!
Overall, the album could be termed as 'average' but then, one 'saara yeh aalam' is enough to raise the worth of the album. the other two good numbers "dheeme dheeme" and "kaise kahen" also sound musically good, with interesting ideas. Ilaiyaraaja once again shows what orchestration really is and we listeners must admit it that he is the best in orchestration. Who says ilaiyaraaja's talent has fizzed out.his capabilities are very much on high notes and this album is just a sneak-peek into that.Waiting for more!!!!