Archive | January, 2009

Madhu Balakrishnan: One of my current favourites!

27 Jan

I am sure you must have heard about Madhu Balakrishnan, who I feel is one of the best among the current singers. Madhu is the brother-in-law of Indian pace ace Sreesanth. Madhu nowadays is a frequent singer in almost all the South Indian languages, though he is from Kerala. He has some wonderful songs in Malayalam & Tamil. Most of his Tamil songs have been under Ilaiyaraja & Vidyasagar who have wonderfully tapped his potential of singing melodies/semi-classical songs. Madhu has a stunning base and is excellent at giving appropriate sangathis/variations to a song. Here are some of my favourite Madhu Balakrishnan songs, don’t miss these 🙂 I have written some of these songs in my earlier post on Vidyasagar! Pardon my repetition here!

  1. Edhilum Ingu-Bharathi-Ilaiyaraja-a brilliant song in rare Rasikaranjini raaga.
  2. Kandaen Kandaen-Madhurey-Vidyasagar-a dulcet duet with Sadhna Sargam.
  3. Ding Dong-Ji-Vidyasagar-the same musical team as above and the same magic!
  4. Kanaa Kandaenadi-Parthiban Kanavu-Vidyasagar-a masterpiece in Anandabhairavi raaga.
  5. Pirayae Pirayae-Pithamagan-Ilaiyaraja-haunting song, haunting music, superb lyrics!
  6. Guruvayur Unnikannan-Aanachandham-Jaison J Nair-a wonderful tune in Vasantha raaga.
  7. Pesa Madandhaiye-Mozhi-Vidyasagar-a gem of a song!
  8. Vasantha Nilaavin-Sooryan-Ilaiyaraja-What a song in Sriranjini raaga, only Madhu could have sung this! The modulations he gives in the first charanam is just amazing!
  9. Vizhiyum Vizhiyum-Chathurangam-Vidyasagar-A duet with Harini, splendid song.
  10. Ippavae Ippavae-Raman Thediya Seethai-the Vidyasagar/Madhu combo rarely disappoints.
  11. Raaverayay Poove-Rock n Roll-Vidyasagar-nice song.
  12. Chentharmizhi-Perummazhakalam-M.Jayachandran-A must-listen duet with Chitra set in the soothing Neelambari raaga.
  13. Konja Neram-Chandramukhi-Vidyasagar-A duet with Asha Bhosle set in Bageshri raaga.
  14. Yen Swaasathil-Jerry-Ramesh Vinayakam-An unnoticed brilliant song, a duet with Kalyani. Ramesh Vinayakam (the unsung talent) shows his class here!
  15. Pichaipaathiram-Naan Kadavul-Ilaiyaraja-another great song in the “Pirayae Pirayae” league. I am hooked to this now!

Heights of Insanity

22 Jan

To my utter amazement, I came to know that some secretary of an association related to slums has filed a PIL against A.R.Rahman and another person related to the movie for having the name “Slumdog” signifying slum dwellers are “dogs”. What I find insane about this is-why A.R.Rahman is being accused for this?????? He is the MUSIC COMPOSER of the movie. If they have to accuse someone it must be the producer/director and NOT the composer. It’s like insulting the monumental achievement of Rahman who has made India proud by winning the Golden Globe. Now, there is a great chance that he may win the much-coveted Oscar too as he has won 3 nominations! The judge must dismiss these stupid litigations which seek to tarnish the image of reputed, hardworking, patriotic composers like A.R.Rahman who are taking Indian music to the world!!

Raagas in film music: Amruthavarshini

21 Jan

There is no better way to begin enjoying the usage of different raagas in films, than by starting with the nectarine intense raaga Amruthavarshini. The name itself shows how beautiful the raaga is. This raaga has a wonderful anecdote behind it. [I heard this in a raaga series CD called ISAI PAYANAM, which is a series of discussions on different raagas done by Smt.Charulatha Mani, a Carnatic vocalist. It is a wonderful collection to have as it covers most of the major raagas, dwelling on their unique attributes, the major classical compositions in them and their usage in film music.]
Shri Muthuswamy Dikshithar, one of the greatest classical musicians of India, a member of the Trinity was going for his brother’s marriage from Tiruvaiyar. On the way, he was passing thro’ a village called Ettaiyapuram, which was at that time experiencing severe drought. The land was dry and parched and the people were suffering. Overcome by compassion for the villagers, Shri. Dikshithar started singing the masterpiece krithi and praying, “Aanandamruthakarshini Amruthavarshini” to Goddess to bring rain to the village and lo! it started to rain heavily. It poured so much that he had to ask the Goddess to stop the torrential downpour. What a wonderful demonstration of the power of music!
Coming back to film music, these are the famous songs composed in this raaga:

  1. Sivakami Aadavandhaal-Paatum Bhaarathamum-MSV
  2. Thoongaatha Vizhigal-Agni Nakshathram-Ilaiyaraja-The most famous film song in this raaga, a masterpiece traversing the entire swaras in this raaga.
  3. Kaathirundha Malli-Malluvetti Minor-Ilaiyaraja-a fantastic song.
  4. Naandhana-Ninaithaale-Vijay Antony

One thing to note here, is that in some cases, the composers may not be within the raaga throughout the song, there may be minor deviations from the raaga. This is fine as in films, composers can take liberties to make the song sound better.

Shubhaniyogamalle: Flashes of brilliance from Ilaiyaraja

19 Jan

Many Ilaiyaraja fans feel that he is not the same composer who used to churn out hit after hit, when he was at his peak. I agree with this point, but I would also like to say that he has achieved so much that he need not do anything now to prove himself. Nowadays a song that elicits a “wow” is quite hard to come by from Ilaiyaraja but sometimes he does display his genius thro’ individual songs. One such song that made me say a big “WOW!!!” is a Malayalam song from a nondescript movie called SMS. If I am right this song is set in Keeravani raaga. It is supposed to be a devotional song but Ilaiyaraja does not make it sound too simple. It has a very melodious, addictive tune with splendid variations (which we have got used to from the maestro). The orchestration is very simple with strings & wonderful flute pieces creating a very soothing effect. Don’t miss this song! Listen to it here.

Hats off to A.R.Rahman!!!

15 Jan

Read this amazing article in the “The Hindu” after A..R.Rahman’s return from the Golden Globe awards. He got a much-deserved hero’s welcome on his return home. This man is a bundle of remarkable talent and HUMILITY. He is so grounded (touchwood!) in spite of so many achievements. I quote this amazingly mature thought of his and you can read the entire article from this link.

“Of course, this is a kind of recognition, but there are larger issues in life. But the foundation to all this or my vision is to eradicate poverty. This is a helping point for that.”

Raagas—the treasure chest of Indian Music

10 Jan

The purpose of this post is not to analyze the raaga concept technically (though it is fun to do so, as the concept is very scientific) but to see how it enriches our music. Raagas are the epitome of the astounding variety in music that we see today. Just imagine, with just 7 swaras/notes, we are able to have so many zillions of tunes! There are about 300 or more known raagas though it is believed that there were about 800 of them originally but many have been lost. The credit for preserving, propagating raagas should go to the classical music stalwarts of India, especially the trinity. The utility of the raaga concept is manifold:

  1. It serves as a starting point for composing. It is NOT necessary that a tune must be in the same raaga throughout, so we have raagamaalikas (compositions comprising of many raagas). But a tune in a raaga has a unique charm as it showcases the essence of that raaga fully.
  2. It is a guide to compose in many situations, for e.g. if its a sad situation, raagas like Shubhapantuvarali could be used. If its an auspicious moment, then Anandabhairavi could be used. This is why we find in marriages, the compositions played would consist of these raagas. Raagas personify the situation and create a grandeur in that situation. Imagine a marriage without any live music!
  3. Each raaga is a world by itself, a world of melody. As discussed here before, raagas do have medicinal benefits and they heal us, if we have faith. Hence we say music HEALS. They are being extensively used in promoting well-being and as a curative for many diseases.

I will be taking up individual raagas and their usage in film music in the ensuing posts. Whatever I know is purely because of my interest/passion in this concept. I am learning to even appreciate the technical nuances so as to have a holistic view. Its going to be a wonderful journey to examine specific raagas, because for me they are pure bliss! This is what makes Indian music special!

We Ilaiyaraja fans……………

10 Jan

Baradwaj Rangan in this post has captured the exact feeling of being an Ilaiyaraja fan beautifully. This is writing at its BEST! Even if you are not an Ilaiyaraja fan, you will enjoy reading this. Thanks Baradwaj!