May 25, 2007

Musing Over Music



I have been listening to a playlist comprised entirely of vintage A.R.Rahman and classic Illayaraja songs for the past couple of weeks. I usually get bored with a song, even an all time favourite, if I get to listen to it for more than a few days.

I had chosen some of ARR’s songs that had come as a fresh lease of life to Tamil film music, long before he got entrapped in the labyrinth of genre-music. I am not too fond of his recent offerings, most of them being extremely experimental, some ending up as fusion- confusions. In addition to this, my playlist also included Illayaraja’s score for the 80’s wizards of tinseldom, viz Mani Ratnam, Mahendran and Balu Mahendra and K.B. (The list also included a few songs of Harris Jeyraj.)

I had done this on a whim, and the result, on shuffle, was a multi-hued thoroughfare.
As I was wondering yesterday about why I hadn’t grown tired of this selection until now, I found myself musing about these two maestros that I had grown up listening to.

Illayaraja, in my opinion, scored music in tune with the storyline. His songs were not sung by the SPB and Chitra nor by Kamal Hassan and Rajnikant, but by the characters on the filmmaker’s canvas. His music brought life to a situation on screen, endearing it to the audience. His instruments spoke a language that percolated deeper than the script.
I simply couldn’t listen to a single song without recalling the situation that song fit into.

(Instances: En Vanile from Johnny, Yenna satham intha neram from Punnagai Mannan, Mayilpola from Bharathi, Unnavida from Virumandi (the use of a truck’s sounds, and bullock cart bells are lovely),Ne Partha Parvaiku oru nandri from Hey Ram)

A.R.Rahman, on the other hand came as a fresh whiff of spring air in the midst of winter, with his Roja. His songs grow on you. There is something new in them each time you listen.They don’t jell with the characters on the silver screen as much as Illiyaraja’s do, but as stand-alone renditions, they shine.
But Rahman isn’t an all -sound- and -no-substance kind of composer. I don’t know if that was his intention, but wherever he is provided with sensible lyrics, Rahman has embellished them with his masterful strokes.
His style can be called mood-music, he tries to capture the general mood of the situation, and sometimes comes up with stellar compositions. His music is difficult to picturise, and very few directors have done justice to it. Even the choreography needs a fillip to match the myriad of sounds that come in one go.

(Instances:
Lyrical Embellishments:
“Kaanathane Kangal, Kaneer sintha illai” from Halla Gulla, Bombay – (Eyes are meant to see, not to shed tears)
“Unnodu naan konda bantham…” from Santhosha Kannere, Uyire (Tried a translation in previous post)
“siru paravai nee aanal, un vaanam naane” – Pudhu Vellai Mazhai Roja (If you are a bird, I am your sky)
Mood Music:
Thenkizhaku seemayile from Kizhaku seemayile
Porale Ponnuthayi,Then merku paruva kaatru from Karuthamma
Vidai Kodu engal naade from Kannathil Mutham Ittal
Minnale from May Madham
Thirakaatha , chinna chinna mazhai thuligal from En Swasa Kaatre
Kala kala megam from Rhythm.
)

As for Harris Jeyraj, he is capable of producing lilting music, and conjuring hits. But his songs can never be ever green. I once ended up humming two different songs together, thinking that they were one. There is something trite and repetitive about his music, but nevertheless, it is pleasant to the ear-drums.
Of Late, there has been a dearth of phenomenal music, that is born to be immortal. Time is ripe for a new wave. Wish that happens before I get bored of this playlist.

5 comments:

catch 22 said...

Agreed :)

~SuCh~ said...

catch :
:)

George said...

Spot on with your inference on Harris. He can compose lilting music but get's stuck to just the western minor scale and uses the 5th note suspended chord too often

F e r r a r i said...

One small request. He is Rahman. Not Rehman :)

~SuCh~ said...

@george: Welcome here :) ...yeah, and its so easy to grow out of Harris's songs...

@ferrari:

Thanks for visiting.. Made the correction.. Started with Rahman.. But ended with Rehman... Maybe its got to do with the way I pronounce his name.