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.

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