Archive | July, 2009

S.P.B: Legend is an understatement

21 Jul

If we listen to any song in Telugu/Kannada/Tamil, especially songs from late 70’s to the 2000’s the voice we would find for most of these songs would be that of Shri S. P. Balasubramaniam, who ruled the South Indian music industry for over 3 decades (he still sings very well) with his mesmerizing singing.

To list out SPB’s good songs is a pointless exercise as its an ocean by itself. He was extremely talented and lucky to sing with all the best music directors—K.V.Mahadevan, M.S.Vishwanathan, R.D.Burman, Ilaiyaraja (what a team), M.M.Keeravani, A.R.Rahman, Hamsalekha and Vidyasagar, to name a few. The greatest asset of SPB’s singing was the life he gave to a song of ANY genre. According to me Mohd. Rafi and SPB are the two best singers for voice modulation and conveying the exact emotions of a song. If its a fast-paced song SPB would make you dance, if it was a sad song he would literally move you to tears. He would speak thro’ his songs, such was his genius. To cite an example—who can forget the varied emotions he conveyed in a seemingly innocuous song—Hey Ranga Sri Ranga (from Singaaravelan) where he imitates a pan-chewing guy, makes different sounds according to the song’s mood. SPB is the perfect example of a singer who takes a song to a totally different level. Even a simple tune would sound awesome when SPB lent his voice and embellished it with his own unique touches.

SPB’s statistics are akin to Sachin Tendulkar’s in cricket, a staggering 35,000+ songs in almost over 6 languages! If I am right, after Lata Mangeshkar, he is the singer who has sung the most number of songs. Apart from being a singer, SPB is also a good actor, producer, music program host etc. In spite of so many achievements and awards, SPB is a very humble, humorous and down-to-earth person who has endeared himself to millions of fans all over India.


Today’s Music: Some Thoughts

18 Jul

If you look at the music scene today, there are a lot of changes in the way music is produced as compared to how it was done about 2 decades ago. Technology has taken over almost completely and definitely it has improved the quality of the sound production, mixing etc. This is a good trend and as long as it facilitates the production of good music it is welcome. But there is one worrying trend that is related to the quality of music being produced and that is—the importance given to the orchestration over the voice. If you look at any song today, the tune is quite weak but the orchestration kind of camouflages the tune very cleverly. In many cases we can’t even hear the lyrics being sung as the accompanying music is louder than the voice! Hence the shelf-life (sorry for that word!) of many of today’s songs has reduced significantly.

If you notice the songs composed 2 or 3 decades ago, they had very strong tunes and the orchestration was just a support for the tune and it enhanced the overall song quality. That’s the reason we still adore and listen to the songs composed in those days even today. Today 70% of the songs have a very short shelf-life and the rest are good. It’s become like instant music, fit for only short term consumption. Also every film album has around 8-10 tracks, 5 songs and 5 more remixes of the same songs making it very repetitive. Most of the remixes are pathetic and they kill the soul of the original song itself.

In the interest of good music, we must start reviving the trend of the olden days of creating good tunes which can stand on their own even without fancy orchestral support. We must integrate the good practices of those days with the modern technology of today so that the quality of music is never compromised.

Raagas in Films:Vasantha

2 Jul

Vasantha is one of my favourite raagas. It is an evening raaga and probably the most intense raaga alongwith Pantuvarali. Whenever I listen to any composition in this raaga I get goosebumps, such is its effect. Though there are only a handful of songs in this raaga that I know, all of them have their unique magic. That’s the beauty of Indian music.

  1. Andhi Mazhai-Ilaiyaraja-Raaja Paarvai-A classic song, one of the greatest hits of Ilaiyaraja. I feel this song would have sounded great, had the recording quality been better.
  2. Minsaara Kanna-A.R.Rahman-Padaiyappa-My favourite Vasantha of all time, sends me into a trance, sung with gusto by Nithyashree and Sreenivas. A.R.Rahman surprises you every time by treading the path where you think he may not go.
  3. Kandaen Kandaen-Vidyasagar-Pirivom Sandhippom-A very good song, Vidyasagar has used the raaga beautifully especially in the charanam ending.
  4. Guruvayur Unnikannan-Jaison J Nair-Aanachandham-A great attempt by debutant music composer Jaison sung by Madhu Balakrishnan with superb off-beat percussion.