Archive | December, 2006

A Brief Snapshot of the Evolution of Tamil Film Music-Part I

11 Dec
It is my personal opinion that Tamil music is one of the technically better ones in the overall Indian Music Industry. I say this because many geniuses and maestros have left their mark here and have created some astounding melodies ever heard in Indian Cinema. I would like to trace the growth of Tamil Film music in this way:
1. One of the earliest stalwarts were K.V. Mahadevan and M.S. Vishwanathan (who composed for many films individually and along with Ramamoorthy). MSV is till today, the composer who has composed for the maximum number of films in India, over 1000 movies!! In Hindi, I recently read that Laxmikant-Pyarelal held the record with about 450 movies. (Thats a mind-boggling 550 short!!!). This is what I know about these composers, who were the earliest trend setters.
2. Tamil cinema in the mid-70’s was blown over by a phenomenon called Ilaiyaraja. What can I write about him?? From that time till today (he is still going strong with about 4 projects in hand at the age of 63), there is no branch of music where Ilaiyaraja has not shown his class. Last year in Chennai I attended his concert “Andrum Indrum Endrum”, where I was surprised to see his colossal fan following. Morever, what really stunned me was that most of the crowd were people in the age group 20-40. Ilaiyaraja’s music contains almost all the elements that one can think of: Western classical, carnatic raga-based songs, jazzy songs with great beats, folk songs etc etc. The achievement of Ilaiyaraja is very great also because most of his great music came in an era when there was live recording and he has done unimaginable things in spite of the constraints of live recording. Apart from redefining Tamil music, Ilaiyaraja also set a new benchmark in the film background scores. Even today, I feel there is nobody in the Indian music scene who has surpassed that benchmark, though some individual BGM’S of movies are very good. Today, Ilaiyaraja is a legend. His music has become immortal-even today people listen to his songs and feel the same freshness. IR’s biography makes a staggering read-I would just focus on one thing that he is a gold medallist in piano and guitar from Trinity College of music, London.

I leave this post here and will continue about the other geniuses in the next part.

Talented Music Directors not getting their due

8 Dec
There have been a lot of music directors, who I feel have not got the chances they deserved. The first one who comes to my mind is Ismail Darbar who composed great music for Hindi movies like Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam and Devdas. There are not many movies to his name as he did not get many opportunities. His music for both the mentioned films were awesome. He treaded a path which many modern Hindi film composers did not-classical music. His classical numbers like Albela Sajanwa(HDDCS), Silsilsa yeh chahat ka, Bairi piya, Hamesha Tumko Chaha (all from Devdas)were wonderful.

The second composer is the extremely talented Sharath, who has composed for a few malayalam movies and one Tamil movie. His songs were technically brilliant and the orchestration was too good. Still, he has only a handful of movies and a couple of albums to his credit. His tamil song in June R, Mazhaiye Mazhaiye (an amazing rendition by Hariharan) still haunts me. Harish’s blog has a very thoughful post on Sharath.

From the Tamil music industry, Ramesh Vinayagam has not got the respect he deserves. He has composed great melodious numbers (some Hindustani classical ones too like Kasturi Manirame in Azhagiya Theeye). Some of his good songs apart from the former one were Vizhigalil Aruginil (Azhagiya Theeye), Enna idhu (Nala Damayanthi), Nenje Thullipo (University) and En Swasathil (Jery). All these are wonderful songs and Ramesh also has a nice music style (not Rahmanish; I don’t mean Rahman’s style is bad, its just that some composers sound just like him, I too love Rahman). Ramesh’s songs have an Indian sound apart from having good percussion and bass guitars.

In retrospect, what I felt especially in the case of Ismail and Ramesh is that they got lost because of the overemphasis on “dance-based songs.” Directors want popular and peppy numbers which don’t have much melody but only loud music. In Tamil, there is a craze for “gaana” songs, having 1 or 2 gaana songs is fine but almost all the songs fast. The solitary slow song is dull, boring sad number(where the hero cries for his mother or lover).

The trend is slowly changing today. Music directors like the legendary Ilaiyaraja, Rahman and Vidyasagar are putting their foot down saying they would want to compose more melody-based numbers. They have every right to say that because they should be the ultimate decision-makers as they are the creators of the music, though the situations are given by the directors. There are innumerable numbers of these 3 genius music dirs which are very melodious and yet satisfy the situations.

My only wish and prayer is that we get to hear more melodious music than the fast-paced ones.

The power of music

7 Dec
With prayers to Lord Ganesha, I begin my first post. I would like to write in this post what would I be blogging about. I will be discussing about great Indian music directors, many rare songs (songs that get lost becoz other songs were given a lot of publicity). I would be mainly covering Hindi, Tamil and Malayalam music(becoz I listen a lot of these only). My constant focus would be to publicise and write about uncommon aspects of the various facets of music and its people. I welcome additional comments and discussions from all lovers of music. For me, music and its contemplation is life…………..