Monday, April 2, 2018

Blog trivia

If you are visiting this site for the first time, it is important to read this post. The intention of this blog is to present arguments in a pre-determined sequence. OLDER posts are actually NEWER posts within a month. As I keep adding new posts I change the time stamp to an earlier time so that you can read the posts in sequence. If you notice, all the posts within a month have the same date. Only the time stamp varies. Newer posts have earlier time to help you read in sequence.

If this site interests you and you want to read the earlier months (I would recommend starting from month 1 before reading month 2) start from the earliest month. I have ensured that within a month the posts are sequenced properly.



Tech Notes

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Thanks

Ravi Natarajan

PolyCaRe – Concluding notes

In the past year or so, we enjoyed analyzing the PolyCaRe arrangements of Raja over 24 posts, not counting the introductory posts. This research took about a year looking for such arrangements over an extensive set of songs and background scores. Polyphony is hard and it is not easy to master. 

Many composers have used simple harmony to get through their careers as simple western harmony is rich enough.  While Call and Response is a staple Indian musical technique , very few Indian popular music composers are using this today.  Polyphony is something that very few Indian popular music composers have a solid understanding on.

To not just compose polyphonic music but to go beyond that is not something you get to experience every day. You need to have such a solid grounding on musical techniques, for you to venture into such unsafe territory. Fortunately, the level of complexity of a PolyCaRe composition does not challenge Raja at all. We saw close to 80 such compositions by Raja considering his songs and background scores.  This requires a level of sophistication with orchestration that few composers around the world can match.

The posts on symmetry showcased Raja’s ability to effortlessly compose CaRe based music. The detailed posts on counterpoints, fugue showcased his mastery over polyphony. PolyCaRe is where the former meets the later and they coexist. These 24 posts and about 80 compositions show that he is not just a master of the components but also a very savvy integrator of two sophisticated techniques.


While a number of listeners do celebrate his music due to its emotional connect to their lives, there is also a technical dimension to celebrate his work. While there can be more popular musicians than him in the near future, I have no doubt that there will be none of his level of musical technical sophistication, which goes unnoticed due to the simplicity that overlays  the sophistication.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Voices based PolyCaRe arrangements in 198x – interludes

We will continue the journey on PolyCaRe arrangements of Raja, with his compositions based on voices as the background melody instrument. In this post, we will particularly focus on his interlude compositions in the 198x. As we made it very clear in the definition, the PolyCaRe arrangement not only requires a background voice melody, it also requires two call and response melodies in the foreground played according to our rules of CaRe arrangements.

Let’s analyze the interlude of the famous 1980s song, Oh Priya Priya from Idhayathai Thirudhathe (Tamil 1989) or Geethanjali (Telugu 1989).  This segment, which is part of the second interlude  of the song which uses voices as its background instrument. Here is how the segment is structured:

Song
Film
Year
Background instrument
CaRe - Instrument1
CaRe - Instrument2
Oh priya priya
Geethanjali
1989
Voices
Violins
Synthesizer


  1. The first 2 seconds of the clip has the violins and the synthesizers in CaRe mode and the voices join in the background from 3 seconds onwards
  2. Between 3 and 23 seconds, with the voices going on in the background, the foreground CaRe arrangement between the violins and synthesizer is repeated 7 times
In other words, 14 foreground melodies are riding on the background voice based melody, which also have variations in their phrases

A unique PolyCaRe experiment by Raja.

Let’s hear the unique PolyCaRe arrangement of Oh Priya Priya…

Friday, February 2, 2018

Sax based PolyCaRe arrangements in 198x – background scores

This is one of the unique Raja experiments that deserves a separate post. A very unusual PolyCaRe arrangement for a background score that involves a sax in the background (typically the foreground instrument) with the guitar and the synthesizer doing the Call and Response foreground part.

Let’s analyze a short clip from the background score of the 1989 Tamil film Varusham 16. This is a short clip of slightly over a minute. This segment, which is part of the background score,  which uses sax as its background instrument. Here is how the segment is structured:

BGM Film
Year
Background instrument
CaRe - Instrument1
CaRe - Instrument2
Varusham 16
1989
Sax
Guitar
Synthesizer


  1. The first 10 seconds introduces the listener to the instrument choices of the composer for this clip. The background instrument, sax, is introduced first, followed by the guitar and the synthesizer. They play separately and not in a PolyCaRe arrangement in this segment
  2. Between 11 and 26 second, the sax plays its melody 4 times in the background, with the Guitar and synthesizer doing their CaRe 4 times and the repetition does not bore you as this is not just innovative use of the instruments, but also created to elevate a comic scene in the movie
  3. Between 27 and 34 seconds, the sax plays a different melody 2 times in the background, with the Guitar and synthesizer doing their CaRe 2 times
  4. Between 25 and 42 seconds, the configuration is changed by the composer. He now introduces the CaRe arrangement first followed by the background Sax. This is the opposite of #1
  5. Between 42 and 65 seconds, the sax plays its melody 6 times in the background, with the Guitar and synthesizer doing their CaRe 6 times. The last two plays have a slightly changed melody for the sax

The foreground melodies can stand on their own feet as simple CaRe arrangement. The background violin melody makes them polyphonic and hence PolyCaRe. There are 12 foreground melodies playing on top of the constant background CaRe melody play between the guitar and the synthesizer  in these 65 seconds.  Just the PolyCaRe arrangement alone in these 65 seconds involves 36 small melodies.

Let’s hear the PolyCaRe  arrangement in the BGM of the film Varusham 16 …

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Violin based PolyCaRe arrangements in 198x – interludes (part 2)

We will continue the 1980s journey on PolyCaRe arrangements of Raja, with his compositions based on violins as the background melody instrument. In this post, we will continue to focus on his interlude compositions in the 198x. As we made it very clear in the definition, the PolyCaRe arrangement not only requires a background violin melody, it also requires at least two call and response melodies in the foreground played according to our rules of CaRe arrangements.

Let’s begin with the song ‘Kanmani Nee Vara’  from Thendrale Ennai Thodu (Tamil 1985). This segment, has violins as its background instrument. Here is how the segment is structured:

Song
Film
Year
Background instrument
CaRe - Instrument1
CaRe - Instrument2
Kanmani Nee Vara
Thendrale Ennai Thodu
1985
Violins
Violins
Guitar


  1. The clip is a 12 second clip from the interlude. To begin with, you will hear the background violins playing a melody that continues throughout the clip. Ignore the synthesizer bit played till about 3 seconds as that has nothing to do with PolyCaRe 
  2. The foreground violins start playing a melody for which the guitar responds with its melody between 3 and 12 seconds. The melody played by the violins is not identical, as there is a bit of improvisation between the first and the second violin as well as the guitar melody

The foreground melodies can stand on their own feet as simple CaRe arrangement. The background violin melody makes them polyphonic and hence PolyCaRe. There are 4 foreground melodies playing on top of the constant background violin melody in these 12 seconds.

Let’s hear the PolyCaRe arrangement in the interlude of Kanmani Nee Vara …


Let’s next analyze the song ‘Manjal Veyyil’  from Nandu  (Tamil 1983). We covered this song’s interludes in detail in the ‘Fine Fuge Fete’ post. Some harmony parts of this song are arranged as a PolyCaRe. This segment, has violins as its background instrument. Here is how the segment is structured:

Song
Film
Year
Background instrument
CaRe - Instrument1
CaRe - Instrument2
Manjal Veyyil
Nandu  
1981
Violins
Violins
Violins

  1. The clip is a 10 second clip from the interlude. The background melody is a simple high pitch set of violins
  2. The foreground violins start playing a melody for which the set of violins respond in the lower register with its melody between thrice. The melody played by the violins is not identical, as there is a bit of improvisation between the first and the second violin part as required for fugue, where a pitch variation is required. Nevertheless, this qualifies as a PolyCaRe as well

The foreground melodies can stand on their own feet as simple CaRe arrangement. The background violin melody makes them polyphonic and hence PolyCaRe. There are 6 foreground melodies 
playing on top of the constant background violin melody in these 10 seconds.

Let’s hear the PolyCaRe arrangement in the interlude of fugue composition Manjal Veyyil …

Let’s next analyze the song ‘Nilavondru kandaen’ from Kairaasi Karaen  (Tamil 1982). Some harmony parts of this song are arranged as a PolyCaRe. This segment, has violins as its background instrument. Here is how the segment is structured:

Song
Film
Year
Background instrument
CaRe - Instrument1
CaRe - Instrument2
Nilavondru kandaen
Kairaasi karaen
1982
Violins
Synthesizer
Violins

  1. The clip is 18 seconds long and has the rapid background violins playing a repetitive melody throughout the 18 seconds. This is Raja’s experiment with illusory notes that appear climbing though in reality they are not
  2. The foreground violins play a melody for which the synthesizer responds with its own melody. This CaRe arrangement happens twice within these 18 seconds, during which time, the background violins continue

The foreground melodies can stand on their own feet as simple CaRe arrangement. The background violin melody makes them polyphonic and hence PolyCaRe. There are 4 foreground melodies playing on top of the constant background violin melody in these 18 seconds.

Let’s hear the PolyCaRe arrangement in the interlude of Nilavondru kandaen …

Let’s next analyze the song ‘Paatu thalaivan’ from Idhaya Kovil (Tamil 1985). Some harmony parts of this song are arranged as a PolyCaRe. This segment, has violins as its background instrument. Here is how the segment is structured:

Song
Film
Year
Background instrument
CaRe - Instrument1
CaRe - Instrument2
Paatu thalaivan
Idhaya Kovil
1985
Violins
Violins
Synthesizer

  1. The clip is 10 seconds long and has the rapid background violins playing a repetitive melody throughout the 10 seconds 
  2. The foreground violins play a melody from 2 seconds onwards, for which the synthesizer responds with its own melody. This CaRe arrangement happens thrice within these 10 seconds, during which time, the background violins continue

The foreground melodies can stand on their own feet as simple CaRe arrangement. The background violin melody makes them polyphonic and hence PolyCaRe. There are 6 foreground melodies playing on top of the constant background violin melody in these 10 seconds.

Let’s hear the PolyCaRe arrangement in the interlude of Paatu thalaivan …

Raja’s 80s harmonies were very rich and he weaved many variations into it. While most listeners relate to the song’s main melody, the interludes were way ahead of its time and clearly demonstrate the hand of the master.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Violin based PolyCaRe arrangements in 198x – interludes (part 1)

We will continue the journey on PolyCaRe arrangements of Raja, with his compositions based on violins as the background melody instrument. In this post, we will particularly focus on his interlude compositions in the 198x. As we made it very clear in the definition, the PolyCaRe arrangement not only requires a background violin melody, it also requires at least two call and response melodies in the foreground played according to our rules of CaRe arrangements.

Let’s begin with the song ‘Aracha Sandanam’  from Chinnathambhi (Tamil 1988). This segment, has violins as its background instrument. Here is how the segment is structured:

Song
Film
Year
Background instrument
CaRe - Instrument1
CaRe - Instrument2
Aracha Sandanam
Chinnathambhi
1988
Violins
Violins
Flute


  1. This is a short 4 second clip demonstrating the PolyCaRe idea in such a short time. The gushing violins provide the background instrumentation playing for the duration
  2. There are two CaRe parts within this four seconds. The call is made by the foreground violins for which the flute responds. Simple but technically perfect

The foreground melodies can stand on their own feet as simple CaRe arrangement. The background violin melody makes them polyphonic and hence PolyCaRe. There are 4 foreground melodies playing on top of the constant background violin melody in these 4 seconds.

Let’s hear the PolyCaRe  arrangement in the interlude of Aracha Sandanam …

Let’s next analyze the song ‘Darling Darling’  from Priya (Tamil 1980). This segment, has violins as its background instrument. Here is how the segment is structured:

Song
Film
Year
Background instrument
CaRe - Instrument1
CaRe - Instrument2
Darling Darling
Priya
1980
Violins
Trumpet
Guitar

  1. This is a 15 second clip that has a constant background melody with violins. You will notice that though there are several foreground melodies, with the electric guitar, synthesizer and trumpet, the background violins continue their melody throughout the 15 seconds. Though the first 7 seconds is not really PolyCaRe, I have included it as you can clearly hear the background melody of the violins
  2. Between 8 and 14 seconds, there are three CaRe parts between the electric guitar and the trumpet. This happens when the background violin melody continues making it a PolyCaRe arrangement
The foreground melodies can stand on their own feet as simple CaRe arrangement. The background violin melody makes them polyphonic and hence PolyCaRe. There are 6 foreground melodies playing on top of the constant background violin melody in these 6 seconds.

Let’s hear the PolyCaRe  arrangement in the interlude of Darling Darling …

Let’s next analyze the song ‘Enade Edho’  from Prema (Telugu 1989). This segment, has violins as its background instrument. Here is how the segment is structured:

Song
Film
Year
Background instrument
CaRe - Instrument1
CaRe - Instrument2
Enade Edho
Prema
1989
Violins
Solo Volin
Synthesizer

  1. The clip is 11 seconds long and the background violins remain constant with one melody being repeated throughout There are two sets of CaRe pairs within the first 10 seconds. Now, this arrangement beats another Raja composition within this category – which was the first one (Aracha Sandanam) which demonstrated that a PolyCaRe arrangement is possible in 4 seconds. This one does two such within 10 seconds! As usual, only a Raja composition can beat another!
  2. Listen to the first 4 seconds. There are two calls by the Solo violin and two quick responses by the synthesizer with the background violins continuing to play their melody
  3. Between 5 and 9 seconds, the solo violin plays another melody while the background violins continue twice. The synthesizer responds with a different melody than what we say in the first 4 seconds twice
  4. The final seconds in this clip are the bridge to the charanam of the song

The foreground melodies can stand on their own feet as simple CaRe arrangement. The background violin melody makes them polyphonic and hence PolyCaRe. There are 8 foreground melodies playing on top of the constant background violin melody in these 9 seconds.

Let’s hear the beautiful PolyCaRe arrangement in the interlude of Enade Edho …

Let’s next analyze the song ‘Ennathil Edho’  from Kalukkul Eeram  (Telugu 1980). This segment, has violins as its background instrument. Here is how the segment is structured:

Song
Film
Year
Background instrument
CaRe - Instrument1
CaRe - Instrument2
Ennathil Edho
Kalukkul Eeram
1980
Violins
Flute
Synthesizer

  1. The clip is 17 seconds long and not all of it is PolyCaRe. However, for the entire duration of the clip, the background violin melody is constant
  2. The first 3 seconds is just the background violin melody that takes the foreground as there is nothing else in the foreground
  3. Between 4 and 10 seconds, for two calls made by the flute the synthesizer responds. While this goes on, the background violins continue
  4. Finally, between 11 and 17 seconds, it is a flute melody that plays in counter to the background violins. Simple polyphony here and no PolyCaRe

The foreground melodies can stand on their own feet as simple CaRe arrangement. The background violin melody makes them polyphonic and hence PolyCaRe. There are 4 foreground melodies playing on top of the constant background violin melody in these 10 seconds.

Let’s hear the beautiful PolyCaRe arrangement in the interlude of Ennathil Edho …

Let’s next analyze the song ‘Jiske Sahare’  from Kamagni  (Hindi 1989). This segment, has violins as its background instrument. Here is how the segment is structured:

Song
Film
Year
Background instrument
CaRe - Instrument1
CaRe - Instrument2
Jiske Sahare
Kamagni
1989
Violins
Violins
Clarinet

  1. This is a grand and complex orchestral arrangement that has many elements to it. Part of the clip is where you can clearly see a PolyCaRe arrangement buried
  2. The first 7 seconds is a blissful harmony between the solo violin the foreground and the violins in the background. In my view, Raja has thrown quite a bit of harmonic variety in the prelude of this song (which went unnoticed)
  3. Between 8 and 16 seconds, there is lots going on. One set of violins (you can hear that clearly in the left channel) continues to play its melody in repetition. There are another set of violins arranged in the foreground which plays three sets of melodies twice for which there is  a short response from the clarinet making it a PolyCaRe arrangement
  4. The rest of the clip between 17 and 29 seconds is a violin and guitar treat in harmony, but nothing to do with PolyCaRe

The foreground melodies can stand on their own feet as simple CaRe arrangement. The background violin melody makes them polyphonic and hence PolyCaRe. There are 12 foreground melodies playing on top of the constant background violin melody in these 8 seconds.

Let’s hear the grand PolyCaRe and harmony arrangement in the interlude of Jiske Sahare …

Let’s next analyze the song ‘Kanavu Ondru’  from Oru Odai Nadhiyagiradhu  (Tamil 1983). This segment, has violins as its background instrument. Here is how the segment is structured:

Song
Film
Year
Background instrument
CaRe - Instrument1
CaRe - Instrument2
Kanavu Ondru 
Oru Odai Nadhiyagiradhu  
1983
Violins
Violins
Violins

  1. Though all the instruments involved in this clip are violins, it is easy to call out  the melody played by the high pitched rapid background violins which is constant for the entire 12 seconds
  2. There are 2 sets of two calls by the foreground violins for which the violins (could be cellos) respond. Both these set of melodies are distinct and the response violins also respond differently
  3. Overall, a brilliant violin based PolyCaRe with just one instrument set

The foreground melodies can stand on their own feet as simple CaRe arrangement. The background violin melody makes them polyphonic and hence PolyCaRe. There are 8 foreground melodies playing on top of the constant background violin melody in these 12 seconds.

Let’s hear the brilliant PolyCaRe arrangement in the interlude of Kanavu Ondru …

Let’s next analyze the song ‘Nilavondru kandaen’  from Kairaasi Kaaran  (Tamil 1983). This segment, has violins as its background instrument. Here is how the segment is structured:

Song
Film
Year
Background instrument
CaRe - Instrument1
CaRe - Instrument2
Nilavondru kandaen
Kairaasi Kaaran  
1983
Violins
Flute
Synthesizer

  1. For the entire duration of 14 seconds, there is a background melody played by the violins 
  2. There are 4 calls by the flute for which there are four responses from the synthesizer while the background violins continue to play their melody
The foreground melodies can stand on their own feet as simple CaRe arrangement. The background violin melody makes them polyphonic and hence PolyCaRe. There are 8 foreground melodies playing on top of the constant background violin melody in these 14 seconds.

Let’s hear the PolyCaRe arrangement in the interlude of Nilavondru kandaen …

We will continue the 1980s PolyCaRe violins journey in our next post too.