After 5 posts in this Blog,the time has come for me to say why I love ILaiyaraaja and why I consider him as a genius par excellence.
1.KNOWLEDGE:His knowledge of music is amazing.He is adept in Carnatic, Hindustani, Western classical and folk music.Not many people can match his repertoire.
2.USE OF KNOWLEDGE/APPLICATION:People may have knowledge but what matters is how it is applied and put to proper use.Raaja blends Indian and Western music with consummate ease to make listening a pleasure.People without any basic knowledge on music enjoy his music as much as Pandits and Connoisseurs.
3.ORCHESTRATION:He writes all the notes himself and decides on the instruments to be used.And what a revolution he created in his orchestration.His usage of each and every instrument is amazing.
He has used traditional instruments like Flute, Violin, Veena,Shehnai,Sitar,Sarod, Santoor, Guitar, Piano etc., and many unconventional instruments the names of which are very difficult to list out because of my limited knowledge.
A little known fact is that he was the first one to use technology and computers in Indian Film Music.He is also the first one and as far as I know the only one to use different BGM bits in between the stanzas-called as interludes for a song with three or more stanzas(and the opening BGM called as prelude)
4.BGM (or Re-Recording as it is called in Tamizh cinema parlance):One of the reasons for the grand success of earlier Bharathiraja 's/Mahendran's (many more directors)movies was his background score.He created a new dimension to background scores in Indian Films.
He sets different Theme Music-Leit Motifs- for important characters in the film and this will be played whenever the character/s appear/s on the screen.
Though there are lot of movies,one recalls the score for the movie Sindhu Bhairavi which touched all dimensions of the Ragam Sindhu Bhairavi itself.
5.DISCIPLINE:His music and orchestration are so disciplined that it is the reflection of the man himself.He is the owner of whatever is written/played/rendered.
6.CLASSICAL MUSIC:His usage of carnatic and Hindusthani ragas deserves a special mention.Though one can talk about rare ragas like VarNaroopiNi,Sallapam, Mallika Vasantam(this list is rather long) where he stands apart is in his usage of Melakartha ragas.
I do not want to get too technical but the fact is that he has used 34 out of 72 Melakarthas-a feat not attained by any film music composer.The ragas include Kanakangi,Mayamalavagowla, NataBhairavi, Keeravani, Chalanattai, Pavani,Chitrambari,Rasikapriya etc.,
Even carnatic musicians sing some of these ragas very rarely.
One also recalls the violin concert in Raja Paarvai where the Raga Pantuvarali starts in carnatic style, changes to Hindusthani, Western classical, Jazz,Rock and finally Pop without any deviation from the essence(of the raga).
7.APPRECIATION :His music has been appreciated widely by senior carnatic vidwans like Semmangudi, Maharajapuram, Balamuralikrishna(again the list is endless),one of the legends of Hindi cinema music Naushad(who said that Raja has achieved 100 times what we all have achieved), Hindustani musicians like Chaurasia, Ajay Chakraborthy.His Western music has also been widely appreciated by musicians in the West.
Some may say that he has only won 3 National Awards and has not even been conferred with any of the Padma titles.What matters more is the appreciation by learned musicians who know a lot about music and who also know and mean what they say.
Raja started his career at a time when there was only one FM channel,one TV Channel and one Vividh Bharathi.Still his songs became a rage right from the moment he entered.
Finally, let me reiterate that geniuses are born once in a while and it is for the people to realise how great the person is.
All music directors have talent and have come up with sheer hardwork and dedication.
But our Raaja is a class apart!