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Noteworthy Songs of Assorted Composers-I

31 Jul

Apart from the mainstream composers like Ilaiyaraja, ARR, Vidyasagar, there have some fantastic songs from other composers who composed for a fewer number of movies. I will list some songs from these unsung ones as they might not have been noticed owing to the sheer number of albums coming out from the other more-popular composers. Another reason these are not so famous could that the movie might have flopped badly. Read it as Song (s)-Composer-Movie.

  1. Oru Kadhal/Kanne Kanavu: Shankar-Ganesh: Idhaya Thamarai (almost all the songs of this album are good but these two stand out)
  2. Kannukul Nooru/Sandhikka Thudithen: Devendran: Vedham Pudhidhu (the former is a beautiful composition in Shanmukhapriya and the latter is in the Hamsanandi scale)
  3. Kadhal Kavidhai: Devendran: Ganam Courtar Avargale: I found this recently and to my pleasant surprise this is a song in one of the rarely used Bhupalam/Bowli scale, a fantastic composition sung so well by the evergreen SPB-Chitra pair.
  4. Pongiyathey/Idhazhodu: Devendran: Mannukul Vairam: Both these songs are excellent compositions in Hindolam raga and yet they sound pretty refreshing and different. Devendran seems like a good talent, he should have got more opportunities.
  5. Sutti Poove: Dhina: Kai Vandha Kalai: A nice composition in Sree ragam.
  6. Yaaridam: Manu Ramesan: Pidichirukku
  7. Mudhal Murai/Adhu Oru: Premji Amaran: Adhey Neram Adhe Idam: Premji Amaran is another under-rated composer who composes for 1-2 movies a year. These 2 compositions are as good as any!
  8. Ragasiyamanadhu: Sirpy: Kodambakkam: A very soothing composition
  9. Rameshwaram album by Niru: This entire album has very good songs, again the movie vanished soon, so the album was not noticed.
  10. Raga Raga/Kannadi Poopole: Arul Murugan: Anba Azhaga: Arul Murugan made his debut with this movie and he now composes under the pen name Arrol Correli. This debut album was decent and these two songs were very nice with a Hindustani feel.

I think this list a good start and I will get back with another list in this series soon, until then happy listening!

 

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My Discovery of Ilaiyaraja’s music

27 Dec

I am posting after eons and I have made a resolution to blog regularly hereafter!

I will take off exactly from where I left. I was keenly following Tamil music during my Class X, especially after leaving Coimbatore and living at Jamshedpur (Jsr)in East India. I was kind of homesick to listen to Tamil songs as that was the time when I started appreciating the nuances of orchestration, the depth of a tune etc and my music quotient started becoming mature. Since I was in Jsr, there was only one Tamil channel, which was DD Podhigai and all others were Hindi channels. The Hindi songs of those years were just okay compared to the fantastic stuff that ARR was churning out. I remember those were the years when Kadhal Desam released and whenever the trailer was shown alongwith the songs, I was so happy and excited to listen to that refreshing music.

I had a neighbour who lived next door who was also a music lover and he also used to play many Tamil songs and they were not just the Rahman ones but another composer. We became good friends and when we started discussing about music, I was raving about Rahman and his recent albums. He said that there is another composer who has been composing for over 25 years and he was explaining about the genius of Ilaiyaraja and his achievements and I was very impressed. I asked him for the songs of Ilaiyaraja and he gave me many of his audio cassettes. When I started listening to the songs, I was captivated and realised that many of those songs were ones that I too loved and since I was small that time, I did not bother about who the composer was! Some of those songs were Sangeetha Megam, Rasathi Unna, Nilaave Vaa. I started keeping an eye for new Ilaiyaraja songs from that time and I basically started enjoying good Tamil music, irrespective of the composer. That was the time, Kadhalukku Mariyadhai had released and Ilaiyaraja’s music in it was quite different than his usual stuff. To digress a bit, from the 90’s, Raja had changed his orchestration style as many composers were having “techno” music and he too adapted himself to the changing trend though sometimes his synth sounds were terrible.

Kadhalukku Mariyadhai was refreshingly different because Raja skilfully mixed the synth sounds with his trademeark live music (he was using Saarangi after a very long time) and it was a welcome back to form, considering Rahman was ruling the roost with back-to-back hits.Almost all the songs in the album were very good with special mentions for Ennai Thaalatta and Oru Pattamboochi (which had the fantastic Saarangi interludes). My uncle had been to South and knowing my interest in music, he purchased the cassette and gifted it to me. I started listening to the songs and it became like a daily ritual, I was very happy because here was a hit album from Raja in the midst of hits from other composers. During that time, the songs of Poomani too had released but I found the songs pretty bland and this coming after that was a welcome respite.

Once you become a fan of someone and its pretty much a lifetime relationship with them and a maestro like Ilaiyaraja is no exception to this rule. Over the decades, my love and interest for Raja’s music has increased exponentially and being a voracious reader, I have read innumerable blogs, forums discussing Raja’s music and it has made me appreciate his music even more. All this has led me to one of my permanent hobbies of digging, collecting rare Raja songs and to popularize them. Many of these songs are as good, if not better than the known hits.

One point I would like to stress here is that though I am a Raja fanatic, I am not blind to other’s music and I enjoy listening to music from all composers and some of them are really good and in terms of talent, they can even be compared to Raja. There are no barriers with respect to composers/languages/genres in music and any music that gives us happiness and bliss is always welcome.

On a parting note and at the risk of sounding parochial, I must admit that I consider myself very fortunate to be born a Tamilian as I got introduced to Raja’s music and it has almost been like the centre of my life. Even those who know Raja’s music in other languages are lucky (basically all South Indians) because they have been introduced to the highest standards of music. I will write more about Raja’s music in the ensuing posts and will share more insights and details of his unknown gems.

 

My Journey with Ilaiyaraja and A.R.Rahman-I

6 Jun

Tamil music (especially) and Indian music is extremely blessed that these two genius composers have been the pillars of their music. Both these maestros have diametrically opposite styles of working/composing but they have been equally effective. They do not have a fan following but only fanatics! People swear by their music and consider it as a part of their everyday life.

In my teens, quite strangely, I was first introduced to ARR rather than IR though I used to listen and enjoy IR songs much before on radio without bothering about the composer. Just as all music-loving Indians, I was instantly fascinated by the new sound that ARR created for Roja. I remember seeing Roja in a theatre in Coimbatore and I strongly believe the movie was a success also because of its path-breaking music. After that Pudhiya Mugam audio cassette was released and it was definitely as good as Roja, ARR was clearly the pioneer in introducing a refreshing, melodious, techno sound in Indian music.

I had to move to Jamshedpur and I lost touch with Tamil music for a few years. In those days, the only way to listen to music was to buy the original cassette or to get a cassette recorded from the original (which was done only by cassette shops having Tamil music). The advent of ARR popularized Tamil music so much that one or two shops in JSR started stocking pirated cassettes of new Tamil music! The recording quality was tolerable and as a fan I was desperate to listen to the songs irrespective of the mediocre quality.

Just about the same time, we started getting a few Tamil channels in our cable television and it was as if the skies opened up after years of drought. I was so ecstatic and used to wait for all Tamil movie trailers to see who the composer was and if it was ARR, I used to rush to the town centre to get the pirated cassette as I could not afford the original cassette (which was around Rs 45-50, while the pirated one was just Rs 25-30). One more relief was if someone used to come to my place from South, I used to ask them to get all the latest songs recorded and enjoyed listening to them in original quality. I listened to the songs of Thiruda Thiruda, Gentleman, Aasai (Deva) etc. I remember vividly when my sister came from Chennai, she was having the original AVM audio Minsara Kanavu cassette and I loved the songs so much that I asked her to leave it for me. I listened to the songs so many times that the cassette became blank.

Finally, I had a reunion with all songs on a real-time basis when I moved back to South for my college studies. So, my relationship with ARR’s music strangely preceded that of my relationship with IR’s music though I was not new to IR’s music. The most-listened song by me from ARR’s list is Ennavale, I must have listened to it at least 500 times, it was like daily medicine. This was the story of my initiation into ARR’s music and I also admire ARR as a person for his remarkable humility and for starting the KM Conservatory so that many others get the privilege of learning music.

 

To Dear A.R.Rahman

5 Aug

Dear Rahman,

First things first, I am one of yours & Ilaiyaraja sir’s biggest fans’! My childhood was spent in listening to your awesome music when I used to rush to buy your new film cassettes (Tamil & Hindi) in an obscure city in North India. I have literally grown with yours & Raja Sir’s music, which has shaped my musical tastes strongly and forever.

I was elated and over-the-moon watching you get the Oscar award, when a zillion fans in India waited with bated breath to know whether their demi-God would bring back the coveted trophy and you made us proud Indians and put India in the global music map. I am aware that you have come up in life and music after so many sacrifices, trials and tribulations and you deserve every bit of this global popularity and more. Your life story is awe-inspiring, musical, melancholic and yet magical. I cannot forget how you gratefully thanked your Mother, while accepting the Oscars.

But, at the same time, I have mixed thoughts now as I am delighted that you have become a global phenomenon but I also feel (strictly personal opinion) that your music is missing its magic off late. This is with reference to songs in Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya & the recent Endhiran. In Puli, I did see the flashes of brilliance in songs like Amma Thale/Power Star/Namakame. This is because:

  1. The music is overpowering the human voice e.g. Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya songs
  2. The tunes don’t seem to stand on their own legs but the orchestration seems to prop-up the tune e.g. Most Endhiran songs
  3. To put it simply, I am not able to simply “hum” your tunes as they are increasingly sounding over-experimental and complex to me
  4. Your music is not appealing to me in the first/second instance but maybe after multiple listenings only

I am afraid that I will lose my Rahman to the West. But, amidst all these thoughts I am also aware that every composer/artist goes through these peaks & troughs where even the greats are not spared. So I hope and pray that this is only a passing phase for you and you will be the same Rahman whose songs were like medicine to me.

I also feel, maybe it is me who is feeling this but I have heard it from many of my friends’ too and I believe we as fans have that possessive right to express our frank opinion about our Idols’ because only those who love will chide/criticise.

As a fan, my expectations are very simple, I don’t expect a Roja in every album but I just want your music to touch my heart and lose myself to it!

Blogs on Ilaiyaraja

5 Dec

Indian music has been blessed with MANY talented music composers. To name a few that I know—Naushad, S.D.Burman, Shankar-Jaikishan, R.D.Burman, M.S.Vishwanathan, Raveendran etc.

But there are two more composers who are not part of this illustrious list but they literally have a Demi-God status, you definitely would have guessed it, they are Ilaiyaraja and A.R.Rahman. Two absolute geniuses who have completely different styles of composing yet they are acknowledged as Legends of our time. Both these have many blogs and websites dedicated to them by their raving fans.

I would like to focus more on the Ilaiyaraja aspect because there are a few blogs that have dissected the works of the Maestro beautifully. These blogs are not only a goldmine for any Ilaiyaraja fan but for any lover of music in the world. They discuss in detail and in simple language, many musical concepts, so that we can appreciate not only Ilaiyaraja’s music but ANY music. They list out and show (backed by perfect examples) how the genius has made innumerable innovations in his monumental 30 year career. It is an astounding read which clearly show that music is indeed a great art, where there are no limits to one’s creativity. These blogs have been written by very knowledgeable people (who have learnt music) who have taken the pains to illustrate how Ilaiyaraja has continuously redefined his music and set new benchmarks. The word “Maestro” is no small word and it is attributed only to a select few like R.D.Burman, Ilaiyaraja and A.R.Rahman. The following are the FANTASTIC, MUST-READ blogs on Ilaiyaraja which any music lover will enjoy. they deserve all the credit for their hard work.

  1. Violin Vicky’s blog
  2. Ravi Natarajan’s blog
  3. As we feel Raja
  4. Ragaranjani
  5. Apoorva Ragam

Lessons from A.R.Rahman

28 Feb

If you pick up any newspaper or see the web or watch the news, chances are that you will find an interview of  A.R.Rahman. He is all over the place after his Oscar achievement and very deservedly so! I have been seeing videos of his arrival back to India and his press conferences and what strikes me is that apart from being a path-breaking musician, Rahman is handling the Oscar accolades in the most amazing manner. Here is what makes me adore him:

  1. His Divine Connection -If you saw the Academy award and the Oscar award speeches of Rahman, you would see that Rahman thanks and praises God, conveying his gratitude to the Almighty! As Baradwaj Rangan said, its not just a superficial expression from Rahman but its a connection he has tuned into ever since his Roja days when he was establishing himself as a composer. His adversities during his younger days made him turn towards God and from that time, there was no looking back for this genius! He is a strong believer in the power of prayer and it HAS worked miracles for him indeed!
  2. His Patriotism-Though Rahman acknowledges his accomplishment, he quickly points out that this is a COLLECTIVE INDIAN VICTORY. He says, he is more happy because this is the first Oscar for an Indian work and the whole country was waiting for this with bated breath and hence he wanted to get it. He says now, all Indian artists will be looked upon with more respect as we have shown what we are capable of.
  3. His Remarkable Humility-I call it remarkable because Rahman has handled this with such maturity and selflessness that he attributes his success to others like his mother, his Indian musicians etc. He lovingly in a child-like manner acknowledges the role these people have played in his success.
  4. His Respect for his Peers-I have always seen Rahman praising his fellow composers generously. In an interview after his return, he said (answering a question), even Ilaiyaraja sir can definitely get an Oscar easily if the music is promoted well as it was done by Fox Pictures for Slumdog Millionaire. He also said, Raja sir’s music is of an international standard from the earlier days as Raja sir has composed symphonies.
  5. His Equanimity and Patience-Rahman has kept his feet firmly in the ground as he has not been swayed by his euphoric success. Also, I do not know how many interviews he has been giving after his arrival-I pity him, as he must be a tired man. But he has patiently answered the sometimes repetitive questions asked to him.
  6. His Social Interests-Rahman is a UN ambassador for the campaign fighting against poverty and he has associated himself with many social causes. Just read his thoughts here while answering this question-Are you surprised by what all you have achieved? When you look back as a nine-year-old child, and look at what you have done today?
    A R Rahman: Well, I have not achieved anything. I have not ended poverty level. I have not stopped wars happening. These are achievement. And in my opinion, I am just a very small musician who has got an award that is it.
  7. His Service to Music-Last but not the least, Rahman has done what no other music director has done for the cause of music-starting a music school, the KM MUSIC CONSERVATORY. His objective for starting this school is to make Indian musicians have a global orchestra of their own. This is such an innovative idea and Rahman is spending a lot of time, money and energy towards realizing this noble musical mission!

These are just my thoughts after seeing Rahman in the limelight for the past one week. My love and respect for him has increased manifold and I pray that he lives a long, healthy life to serve Indian music and he continues to transport us to another blissful, musical world!

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.”