Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Raja's rhythm innovation stage 14

This requires using only voices as rhythm for an entire track.

It is next to impossible to keep the listener interested with just voices still honoring all the constraints of a film music composition. You do not even have the freedom of an instrumental interlude. In other words, you need to have voices for rhythm, voices for interludes and the main melody obviously uses voices. It voices all over and yet, you need to still keep it interesting. This is the toughest experiment any composer can engage in. Raja comes out with flying colors with his track Naan Poranthu Vandhadhu from Maya Bazaar (1995). The rhythm backing with voices by Mano* is very impressive. Raja has used choruses in most places and the melody is so pleasing.

Notice the pace of the voice based rhythm backing of the charanams – it is not blindly set at the same interval – Raja has carefully thought through the rhythm lines, written it and carefully orchestrated it. This is an orchestration nightmare – you need the right voices, the right pitch, the right intervals and total coordination between the chorus singers. This is not something where you can mask errors under a heavy bass guitar or strings – there is only one option – perfection! Raja has not compromised in any way because of his use of just voices – the song has its interludes and the interludes are different from each other. In the charanam, the voices back the main melody and the song has a nice prelude and a postlude too. Raja uses even laughter as music! In most the tracks that involve vocal harmony, Raja is invariably involved in the singing in some parts at least (he does it even in Nandhalala (2009) tracks), and he does it with this track also.

Some parts of the prelude are violin lines sang between the female and the male voices. The bass lines are beautifully executed using voices. In the first interlude, after Raja sings his phrases, there is about 5 seconds of outstanding simulation of a lead and bass guitar by just voices – that’s a master stroke. This is repeated in the first 5 seconds of the second interlude too. However, this time around, you have female voices too. The female voice is also used to simulate typically a phrase where Raja would use either a trumpet or shehnai.

Please observe the laughter of a group that Raja uses at the end of the track. The pitch of the laughter keeps swinging – goes a notch below and then a notch high and then a notch below. Those who understand conducting will know that getting these three phrases to perfection is a nightmare.

In my view, this one track is enough to demonstrate the grasp that Raja has with Western harmony when it comes to voices. If I ever have to prove the genius of this man with just one track, I will just go for this one! The track proves the composer’s mastery over rhythm, harmony, melody, arrangement and total commitment to perfection. Now, who can set the bar higher than this?

Let's hear the master stroke from the genius. I have the second interlude, charanam and the third pallavi in the below track. You will also be able to appreciate the sweat that has gone into the conducting of the laughter too. I will leave you with this track, as it speaks more than any words can...

Errata: Mr. Napolean Selvaraj (Arunmozhi) clarified that he and Viji Manuel were the main singers behind the song and not Mano as I have stated here.


Ramesh said...

Thanks for posting this. This is the first time I am listening to this song and it is too good.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the wonderful information. Similary in the song "Vandhaal vandhaal rajakumari" from Oru Oorla Oru Rajakumar, no percussion instruments were used; rich rhythm was created using wind instruments. I listened to the song many times but cannot figure out a percussion instrument. Please clarify.

ravinat said...

Hi Anonymous

It's fine to leave comments behind as anonymous. However, please leave your name in the text so that I can address you.

'Vandhaal Vandhaal' is a fantastic song set to waltz but does use percussion. If you hear it with a good headphones, you will see the use of cymbals and occasionally the drums too. Watch for the end of the palavi for use of percussion which is used as a bridge.

Nevertheless, a wonderful composition.


srini said...

Excellent song without any instruments. Raja sir only do kind of variety songs.

Raja Gopalakrishnan said...

Great song indeed ! I would like to point out one more masterstroke in this song. After the "chotanikara" line raja sir uses sounds like "pei pei be pei" . And we all know that pei means ghost and this song is set at a situation where the try to deal with ghosts.!!