Technical Celebration of Music - Part IV
Scale : Keeravani
January 17, 2003
is the fourth in the series of articles celebrating the music
of Maestro Ilayaraja, from a technical standpoint. The article
treats the Maestro's music as a textbook on music composition
and presents certain technical and non-technical nuances in his
music that may be of interest to students of music composition
and orchestration as well as to listeners with a technical background
in carnatic and western classical music.
content presented in this article is just an observation made
by the author. Please feel free to indicate any analytical errors
that you may find.
a pathos song based on a very common situation in Indian films
(love failure).It has been handled in the musically innovative
way through the unique orchestration that spells out the trademark
is yet another song from Ilayaraja in the scale, Keeravani (C
harmonic minor), one of the parent scales in carnatic music. This
article assumes that the tonic of the song is on the word "Prema"
in the first line "Premalaedhani". Taking this
as the note Sa, the rest of the song fits into the structure of
the scale, Keeravani. Mapping this carnatic scale to the western
scales fits the song into C harmonic minor.
composer's ability to create an expectation (for the next phrase
or next part of this phrase) in the listener through the use of
unstable notes at the end of the phrases (or end of parts of the
phrases) is dominant in this song. The use of the unstable leading
note of the scale (B/Ni) at the end of the pallavi (joharu'lu'...)
and charanam (laekunti'ni'...) (and also in the first phrase
of the charanam) are examples that present this feature.
use of an accidental (natural E) in the charanam (mugabhoyi nee'vunti'vee...),
to support the mood of the song sounds natural in many of Ilayaraja's
range of the vocals in the song is between the lower G and middle
A flat (i.e roughly alto ). Ilayaraja's command in writing polyphonic
music is clearly evident in this song. The prelude that begins
with the trumpet (or brass?) is followed by a small 3-part arrangement
with guitar spelling out the 3/4 meter. The vocals in the pallavi
are backed up by the guitar and bass lines (i'm not sure if the
bass is on keyboard or bass guitar), once again harmonizing three
voices (including the vocals). The repetition of the pallavi introduces
the percussion, which sounds a peculiar rhythm pattern, given
that this is a pathos song. Thus the song presents a typical "Ilayaraja"
kind of exposition.
first interlude starts off with the winds and leads to the strings
(violins) constantly supported by chord progressions. The use
of counterpoint while the percussion is in rest, towards the end
of the interlude, is a stereotyped pattern that Ilayaraja follows
in many of his compositions. This is found in both the interludes
of this song (note the imitative nature of the string arrangement
at the end of the second interlude). The vocals in the charanam
have excellent background support, not only with the bass lines
but also with strings and keyboard. The solo violin typically
found in pathos situations, finds a place in the second interlude.
Thanks to Maestro Ilayaraja for giving us yet another song to
here to go to Maestro Ilayaraja's mainpage