Sunday, 7 September 2008

ILaiyaraaja-The Majestic Musician!

‘’Veni, Vidi, Vici’’.

These words were spoken by Julius Caesar after his victory over Pharnaces II of Pontus.The English Translation of this Latin phrase, ’I Came, I Saw, I Conquered’ is one of the most famous quotes of all times and one is left wondering as to how words could sound so Majestic!

Tamizh Poet Kamban –who is called as the Master of Words-has composed lot of verses that abound with such subtle and majestic expressions.

There is an instance in Ramayana where Rama breaks the Bow of Shiva to marry Sita.To indicate how quick and dexterous Rama is Kamban says,

‘All efforts not to blink and see Rama in action are in vain.
Nobody sees him walk;
Nobody sees him lift the Bow;
All they see is the Bow in Rama's hand ..and...hear the sound of the Bow!!

தடுத்திமை யாமல் இருந்தவர்,தாளில்
மடுத்ததும், நாண்நுதி வைத்ததும் நோக்கார்
கடுப்பினில் யாரும் அறிந்திலர்;கையால்
எடுத்தது கண்டனர்,இற்றது கேட்டார்!

The expression ‘Eduthathu Kandanar, Ittrathu Kettaar’(Saw him lift and heard it Break!) is similar to ‘Came, Saw , and Conquered’!

I am also reminded of Raaja’s Music while reading these Expressions.

There are three reasons.

The first reason is because he also Came, Composed Music and Conquered millions of hearts.

Secondly, the speed with which he composes Music is incredible and nobody can match it-like the Rama in Kamba Ramayanam.

Thirdly, he also composes songs that are as majestic as these great expressions.

Today, we are going to see a composition of his that is based on a Raga which is literally Majestic.The Raga is Gambheera Nattai(Gambheera-Majestic).

The composition is ‘Innum Ennai Enna Seiya Pogirai’ from ‘Singaravelan’.

As usual, the Raga is handled with dexterity but there is one more beauty in this composition that makes it stand apart majestically!

We shall see that soon!

Gambheera Nattai is a pentatonic raga and is derived from the 36th Melakartha Chalanattai.

The Arohana/Avarohana pattern is sa ga3 ma1 pa Ni3 Sa/Sa ni3 pa ma1 ga3 Sa.

The Hindustani Raga Jog is very close to this Raga in structure.While Gambhira Nattai uses only one variant of ‘Ga’, Jog uses both the variants. Of course, the Ragas differ in the way they are sung/played.

Gambhira Nattai is also part of the Indonesian Music where this scale is used quite often!

Let us look at the composition now.

The opening itself is sparkling.The Strings follow a colourful pattern and it is an electric blend of melody and rhythm.It is amazing to see the way it has been chiseled .

The Pallavi is infused with energy with the voice of SPB.

The entire composition is adorned with the enticing Flute.

One feels the breezy and the effervescent air as the orchestra alternates between subtlety and sprightliness.

The Charanams are gorgeous, not just because of the melody, not just because of the mellifluous voices of the two legends, not just because of the Flute in between the lines.

It is because of

Raja, the Virtuoso;

Raja, the Magician;

Raja, the Majestic Musician!

The composition follows the 8 beat- tala cycle.

As SPB finishes the line ‘Moga Pari Pooraniye’, Janaki starts singing ‘Poovodu Naan Sera’in the 5 beat Khandam -ta ka ta ki ta- while the percussion continues-somewhat nonchalantly- in the different pattern.

It is sheer magic as one gets to hear both Chatusram and Khandam.Rhythmic equivalent of Counterpoints?

Well, let me tell you that this is not uncommon in a Carnatic Music Concerts where what is called as the ‘Nadai’ is changed. However, I cannot think of any other Composer who has done this in Films.

Let me try and explain more..

SPB-‘Paadi varum Vaanmathiye……… moga paripooraniye…’
The vocals follow the same pattern as that of the percussions.

The magic starts from ‘Poovodu..’.

Janaki sings in the 5-beat khandam-ta ka ta ki ta- while the percussion moves in its original pattern of 5, 3.Now, the obvious question- percussion also has 5 beats in the first part.So, will both not match?
Yes..it will match..but only in the first phrase.After that the vocals move in 5-beats while the percussion moves in 5,3.So, is there a mismatch?Well..for sometime..yes.But they do meet.

Where and how?

The khandam part is sung 6 times.
6x5=30.
The percussions complete 4 cycles by then.
4x8=32.
This happens twice in the charanam.
30x2=60.
32x2=64

Where is the meeting point?
Do you notice the small extension of ‘pothu’ and ‘podu’ followed by small gaps?
The ‘podi sangatis’ there are to accommodate one ‘ta ka ta ki ta’ and the gaps are to accommodate these 4 beats(2x2).

Let me try and explain by breaking each phrase:




First line is the vocals. Second is the tala representation, third the beats, fourth the percussion pattern and the fifth percussion beats.


Intelligence, Innovation and Improvisation=ILaiyaraaja.
Let us also appreciate the brilliance of Poet Vaali. A complete laya piece is called as ‘Theermanam’.He says ‘It will not end without meeting(each other).Put the ‘Theermanam’ in the right place'.

Maybe , even the Pallavi is also addressed to Raaja-Innum Ennai Enna Seiyya pogiRai(what else are you going to me)- after hearing this tune while composing.


I shall explain the concept of Talas in my future posts as well so that people can understand and appreciate.

The Second Interlude with Strings, Trumpets, and Flute is Meaty, Moving, Tender, Soporific, Vibrant, and Resonant.

This is a Composition that is opulent and gleams like Gold.

This is a Composition that has unexceptionable Musical Values.

This is a Composition that has both Majesty and Evocativeness.

What else can we ask for?

இன்னும் என்ன வேண்டும் நமக்கு?

13 comments:

Aakarsh said...

Brilliant analysis. However, I could not understand one thing till date. Infact thats a problem. Sometimes, with enough grasp, we can hum a rhythm cycle.In this song the rhythm goes like thak dha-dak--thak - tik, where the final tik is a tap on another instrument, different from the thak dhadak thak.And we have the percussion "Resso Resso" i think, which is continuously going on.I can catch the rhythm cycle of the song,but what is Ilaiyaraaja doing at the end of charanam? How is he completing that whole structure?the bringing the rhythm cycle to completion! how is that happening? I cant hum that piece. I could not get it till now.

But brilliant article!

Raj said...

Hi Kamal,
Thanks for your comments.

The pattern is this from 'Poovodu':
(ta ka ta ki ta x 6)+2=32(twice)that is 64 which is divisible by 8.

I have slightly modified my post now for a better understanding.Request you to go through it once again.

I still wonder as to how somebody could conceive such an idea in film music.

Pl. see my 'Laya Raja' and 'Laya Raja-11' also.

இசைஞானி பக்தன் said...

Hello Anna, I read this 5 & 8 Beat counterpoint observation somewhere and I was about to ask you to explain this 5 & 8 Beats Counterpoint technique and how they are woven..! and your pictorial explanation is just exxxxcccellent .. I would say.. that even a ‘Makku’ like me can simply understand..! Thank you so much Anna..! :-)

Raj said...

Thank you Alexander!

But you are surely not a 'makku'.I know you sing and that you do have knowledge in western classical music.

Aravindh K said...

Hey Raj, excellent analysis. I have qualitatively enjoyed Raja's music and this song in particular and knew there was something intriguing that made it so. You have provided us a quantitative one, further satiating our penchant for the song! Kudos! I am a fan of music theory (Carnatic/Western) and would certainly appreciate such stuff! Thankees

Raj said...

Thanks Aravindh!

ராம்ஜி_யாஹூ said...

awesome analysis, many thanks for your post.

Raj said...

Thanks Ramji!

Raj said...

Thanks Ramji!

Narayan Krishnan said...

Brilliant! Looking forward to more interesting analysis like this one.

Raj said...

Thank you Narayan! Pl. go through my other posts in the blog too..

csirkochi said...

My good god!raj u r brilllliiant..... man.....so impressive u r way of explaining music....wish i had learned music from u

Raj said...

Thank you csirkochi!

I am a learner too and therefore am not qualified enough to be a teacher. In any case, really nice of you to have said that.Please try and go through the other posts in the blog as well whenever you find time.

Raj