A Technical Celebration of Music - Part 1
Tarali Radha Thanae Vasantham
Film: Rudra Veena
Scale : Hamsadwani
November 29, 2002
the first 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.
presented in this article is just an observation made by the author.
Please feel free to indicate any analytical errors that you may
is based on the symmetric pentatonic scale Hamsadwani (sa ri ga
pa ni / C D E G B). In the film, the song plays the role of an
entertainer for laborers who are cutting down the woods. Hence
the song maintains a lively mood, in general. Note the composer's
choice of the scale to evoke this mood. This scale does not have
any note pairs with semitonal intervals between them.
The song presents
a perfect usage of the Hamsadhwani raga in film music. The pallavi
features certain important slides (gamakas) in this raga. The
oscillation of the lower ni at the end of the first melody and
the slides between ri and ga (in the words gaganaala dhaka
reflect the image of the raga.
In the charanam
of this song, the composer shows the scope of a simple scale like
Hamsadhwani. He explores a variety of interesting phrase combinations
in this scale. The phrases in general, alternate between ascent
and descent i.e. a phrase in the descent is followed by an ascent
and vice versa. The first portion of the charanam features a straightforward
flow of notes in sequence. This followed by the line "prati
." which connects two different phrases
in a interesting manner. The first one (Ri Ri Sa ni Sa Ri Ri)
lands on the higher Ri and the second one (ri ri ga pa ga ri)
takes off on the middle ri. The sudden shift in the octave is
The next line
that follows (aedhi sontham kosam
.) sounds a surprisingly
long interval between notes: lower ni to the higher Ri. The last
portion of the charanam (idhi theliyani
the dhatu prayogam (phrase with alternate notes in a sequence)
thus bringing out the true image of Hamsadhwani. (Once again note
the unusual interval between the previous melody and this one!)
for using these interesting phrases which sway over three different
octaves, could be linked to the underlying situation of the song
in the film which demands a active mood.
in this song follow a certain pattern (vaguely analogous to the
concept of forms in western classical music). They comprise of
a long flute piece followed by a short counterpoint. The percussions
do not sound in the first and last few bars of both the interludes.
The guitar and bass lines back up the rhythm pattern throughout
the interlude (a typical Ilayaraja!). The three-voice counterpoint
at the end of the second interlude is lead by a melody on the
flute (from a keyboard). The first part of this melody contains
a phrase and its variation (towards the end). It goes as follows:
B C B- G B- C B B C B- G E -B C D B. Notice that the first four
notes are similar in both the phrases. This pattern is typically
found in many of Ilayaraja's melodies. The first two tunes in
the charanam also follow a more or less similar pattern.
Maestro Ilayaraja, for this wonderful musical lesson!.