Thursday, August 7, 2014

Raga Reeti Gowla - the enchanting entertainer!

Back with another Raga after a fortnight - it is my all time favorite - the enchanting Raga Reeti Gowla, which will instantly capture any listener's heart. You just have to listen to the unaltered version of this Raga for a few seconds, and you will develop a liking for this Raga, even if you are completely new to Carnatic music or hearing this Raga for the first time in life.

Reeti Gowla is such an entertaining Raga, which brims with the joy or happiness element all through and brings in great satisfaction and a sense of completeness for the listener. No doubt that this has got a magical touch - it can instantly catapult a singer or a composer to fame with just one song. Case in point in the Tamil Film Music circles -  the new entrant Music Director James Vasanthan became an overnight success with the song set in Reeti Gowla - "Kangal Irandaal".

Let us get a little of bit of Raga understanding:

Reeti Gowla, also known as Reethi Gowlai or Reeti Gowlai, is not really associated with the other Ragas which are in the Gowla family. Instead, this is more a janya ragam (derivative) of the popular Karaharapriya Ragam.

Aarohanam    S G2 R2 G2 M1 N2 D2 M1 N2 N2 S
Avarohanam S N2 D2 M1 G2 M1 P M1 G2 R2 S

There are quite a few popular classical compositions in this Raga - "Janani Ninuvina" is the outstanding piece of work. "Tattvam ariya taramaa", "Guruvaayur Appanae Appaa", "Enna Punniyam Seytheno" are other beautiful pieces set in this Raga.

The Medley 

Coming to our Medley selections, once again I was faced with a big difficulty as there are quite a few popular numbers and I could not easily decide the ones to be used in the Medley. Especially considering the way Maestro Ilayaraja has used this Raga, it became very tough for me to pick songs from any other Music Director (MD) and string it through in the Medley. Finally, I made the wise choice (I suppose!) of making two medleys - one separately for songs from Ilayaraja (IR), and the other with songs from other MDs.

Here is the first one - compositions of the Maestro IR - we start with the beautiful opening flute and classic vintage Reeti Gowla - "Chinna Kannan Azhaikiraan" sung by none other than the great doyen of Carnatic music - Dr Balamurali Krishna. From this song, we merge effortlessly in to the number "Thalaiyai Kuniyum Thaamaraiyae" where the energetic SPB takes over from BMK and carries the song through in his superb style. At the end of this number comes the lesser known, but wonderfully tweaked version of Reeti Gowla - "Meettaadha Oru Veenai" performed by Hariharan for the movie "Poonthottam". It is just amazing to note the adaptation of this Raga and orchestration around this piece - IR rocks! Finally, I could not afford to miss bringing in at least a small piece of the deadly song "Raaman Kadhai Kelungal" - which is more of a Raga Malika (many ragams put in together) but popular largely with its opening set in Reeti Gowla. So, the last bit of that song features as the final piece in this classic IR medley.

Now getting to the next - a compilation of songs from "Isai Puyal" "Oscar star" A R Rahman (ARR), James Vasanthan and the talented Vidyasagar (VS).

ARR did a fabulous job with this Raga in his "Azhagana Rakshasiyae" for the movie "Mudhalvan" where he blended a bit of modern and folkish orchestration without disturbing the originality of the Raga. Interestingly, the storyline depicts some pots in the background at this point and ARR smartly used the Ghatam instrument through the song which sets well in to the movie as well as complements the classical feature of this Raga. This is our opening piece in the Medley and is followed by the musical interlude of James Vasanthan - the "Kangal Irandaal" song is carved in stone and would never be forgotten in the Tamil Film Music industry. As I mentioned earlier, this took him to overnight fame and success, and hence this song gets the due attention in our Medley too. Close on the heels of this number comes the charanam from "Sudum Nilavu" song composed by the talented Vidyasagar (VS). Such a beautiful and skillful presentation of this song with embedded chorus presentation in between - amazing work by VS. That completes our Medley with Reeti Gowla.

I sincerely hope you will agree with my assessment about Reeti Gowla - as an enchanting entertainer, and the one that leaves you with a sense of joy and happiness. Would be happy to have your comments..

For those interested in the full version of the songs, here are some links. You can use a standard ripper like or to download the MP3 from these videos:

Chinna Kannan Azhaikiraan
Thalaiyai Kuniyum Thaamaraiyae
Meettaadha Oru Veenai
Raaman Kadhai Kelungal
Azhagana Rakshasiyae
Kangal Irandaal
Sudum Nilavu

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Is this Musical or Mystical?

Hi Friends

This post comes within a very short time of my previous one - and was not necessarily planned as part of the Medley Melodies series.

However, as I was juggling with a few interesting tracks to put them together, it suddenly occurred to me that in the process of listening to those old beautiful songs every now and then, we usually miss out on some of the most wonderful pieces of instrumental music that our music directors have left behind for us.

While there are a bunch of talented instrumentalists today amidst us that create magic with the instrument in their hand - be it Rajhesh Vaidhya on the Veena, Srinivas on the Mandolin, Super String specialists (Violin) like Karthick Iyer or Bala Bhaskar or Abhijith, Panditji (Hari Prasad Chaurasia) on the Flute, Stephen Devassey on the Keyboard, Ustad Zakeer Hussain on the Tabla, Padmashri Vikku Vinayakram on the Ghatam, Kalaimamani T H Subhash Chandran on the Konnakol (one of the very few to do this so amazingly), Sri Ganeshji on Ganjira, Sivamani on the Drums ... and the list is so huge and endless.

Violin and Flute always occupy a special position in my heart - simply because of the way they can touch the heart and soul with real good performances. Rajhesh has added Veena in to the list without any grain of doubt - he is just amazingly gifted and proves it in every program he gets on to.

Getting back to the Tamil / South Film Music as we have usually been dealing with, I have this time just put together three instrumental music bits from three different music directors. There could be many other such long instrumental pieces that I have missed this time - please feel free to add in by way of comments, so we can add to the database some other time. Here is how the stream goes...

We start with the skillfully composed piece of AR Rahman from the "Duet" movie title clip - classical Saxophone played by Sri Kadri Gopalnath in the Ragam Kalyana Vasantham which catapulted him to overnight fame. That is such a tremendous piece of sax, starting ever so mildly in a nice morning breezy setting, breaking into a high energy rendering in between and settling down with the beat of waves again..

As soon as the waves settle down (approx. point - 02:53 in the clip), we get caught in to a different wave - of the strings - the beautiful theme music in Violin composed by the Maestro Ilayaraja largely set in the Raga Pantuvarali. With a delectable orchestration to tune in and sink yourself completely, this is just an amazing piece of instrumental beauty - stand out classic, and should never be forgotten with time. Keep listening to this every now and then, and you will be reminded of the sheer brilliance this musician possesses.. the composition is a class apart riding through the streets of disciplined classical and careless western, all at the same time.. going through an up beat point to mellow down to soft closure again.

This string set merges into a soft string opening at the approx. point 06:40 in the clip - likely a Viola or Cello (or an equivalent Keyboard orchestration) that opens with simple chords and slowly picks up pace in a steady fashion.. this is an outstanding ingenuity on the part of the composer Vidyasagar, who has done a tremendous fusion here - starting out with a classical western orchestration, joining the chorus group in between with the traditional Pancha Ratna Keerthana "Entharo Mahanubhavulu" set in Sree Ragam. He takes the Pallavi and first charanam through the same lanes of fusion in a real smart way, blending it seamlessly. I decided to keep this as the last piece of the medley as I believe such medleys or outstanding compositions are our submissions of pranams in a very small way to the Musical Trinity - Saint Tyagaraja, Muthuswami Dikshitar and Syama Sastri - who lived amidst us and left such a huge musical treasure for us to plug in to.

I sincerely hope this instrumental wave of music lashes out on you in full strength and encourage you to take a full dip & enjoy the beauty and bliss arising therefrom. Pass on the links to all your friends too as no specific language is required to really enjoy this treasure of medleys. Comments welcome as always!


Presumably, you can download the entire track as it is and enjoy since I have not cut any pieces out of the original full tracks. Just use a standard ripper like or to download the MP3 from this clip:

Monday, July 21, 2014

Raga Sivaranjani - the all-pervasive beauty!

Once again, thanks to my FB friend Hareesh Iyer who pushed me to get to Raga Sivaranjani ahead of few others. But once I got ready to do the mix, I was faced with a stiff challenge - of having to pick not just the best songs, but also the right genre to stick to. Reason being that Sivaranjani has been adopted by various musicians and adapted to suit almost every genre you can think of .

Before we get to the mix details, here is the usual text - a bit of raga understanding, thanks to Wiki:

Sivaranjani is a musical scale used in Indian classical music. There are two scales, one each in Hindustani music and Carnatic music. The Hindustani rāga is a pentatonic scale, while the Carnatic scale is a sampoorna scale (has all seven notes). Sivaranjani rāgam brings out karuna rasa (pathos) and lends itself for elaboration and exploration. It has many compositions in classical music and in film songs. In Carnatic music, a very popular ragamalikas (songs which have different stanzas in different ragas) start with a refrain in Shivaranjani - the popular "Kurai onrum illai" by Dr M S Subbulakshmi begins with this scale. Kurai onrum illai literally means "there is no defect" or "there is nothing left wanting", alluding to "we are satisfied and thankful" in prayer to "Kannan" (Lord Krishna).

Sivaranjani's notes when shifted using Graha bhedam, yields 2 other pentatonic rāgams, namely, Sunadavinodini and Revati. Graha bhedam is the step taken in keeping the relative note frequencies same, while shifting the shadjam to the next note in the rāgam.

As seen above, Sivaranjani is originally a raga intended to bring out the Pathos or Karunaa rasa but in our land of innovative composers, we have the privilege of seeing this raga in various other emotions too. There are hundreds of wonderful film songs in this raga, and it was a stiff challenge for me to settle on a few that I have finally picked for this medley.

However, I could not stop with just three songs as I usually do for a medley. There are just too many wonderful collections and I hence decided to do a medley of two categories - one each for Duet & Pathos. So we have two medleys - six songs in total from this raga. And finally, to top it all, a superb, genius adaptation of this raga to the western notes - by none other than the Oscar winner from India - Isai Puyal A R Rahman.

First - the Duet Medley:

We start this Medley with a brilliant opening note from Maestro Ilayaraja - a superb, fast-paced melody from the movie "Oru Kaithiyin Dairy". A very little known fact about this song is that Unni Menon made his debut in to Tamil Films with this song, under the pseudo name "Vijay" but he finally made his mark under ARR in the movie "Roja". You can hear his soft vocals in this opening piece, which also has a innovative chorus starter leading into a nice Sivaranjani feel with the flute touch as well.

At the end of this Pallavi, the medley continues with a musical interlude from yet another Kamalhasan starrer - "Kaaki Chattai" which had a bunch of all time hits. Ilayaraja again did his magic with Sivaranjani to bring it to the duet world - especially with the charm of SPB & S Janaki in this superb song - "Kanmaniyae Paesu". Though this is a duet song, you will realize at the end of the first Pallavi line that it still has a tinge of the Karunaa rasa with the hum that sets it distinctly in Sivaranjani.

The Medley transitions at the next juncture with a soft, melodius interlude from the evergreen song "Adi Aathaadi" from "Kadalora Kavithaigal" - once again by the Maestro. You can make out the beautiful way in which Ilayaraja has adapted Sivaranjani with the distinct folk beats to make it sound like a folkish raga, and brilliantly suited it to the film script. As a fitting tribute to the Maestro's handling of this raga, this final piece in the Duets Medley ends with his vocals on the song.

Second - the Pathos Medley:

Turning now to the other side of the coin, the Pathos genre is best brought out with this raga, and I had to struggle to pick the best songs as there are a bunch of them out there. I started out with a simple opener - in the voice of Maestro - "Kuyil Paattu", a popular song from "En Raasavin Manasula", that is sparkling Sivaranjani and is a soulful rendition by the Maestro.

We continue with the musical interlude from this opening number and merge into another vocal interlude from Gangai Amaran (you can easily mistake it to be Ilayaraja, who composed this) and P Susheela - this song titled "Solai Pushpangalae" is a blend of pathos and duet, with the Pathos underlined in a very subtle way.

At the end of this Charanam, we join another wonderful song where the King of Singers - Dr SPB reigns all supreme. This is a brilliant song, composed by Laxmikant-Pyarelal for the Kamalhasan starrer Hindi movie "Ek Duje Ke Liye". It is no wonder that SPB won a National Award for this song, and the lyricist Anand Bakshi also won Filmfare Awards for the lyrics. K Balachander, the director of this film also won the Filmfare Award for best screenplay, and this song is the ultimate highlight of the film itself. Interestingly, this same raga has been used twice in the movie - the same song comes in as a Duet first, and then as a Solo Pathos song by Dr SPB - just the beats and tempo are different, but the key difference for this song's success is the beautiful delivery by SPB. This film naturally met with resounding success - SPB captured the pathos emotion so well in this song and captivated the hearts of billions of people. You will certainly love this song and surely will be humming this for the next few days!

Finally - the westernized Sivaranjani

Who else can give us such a superb western adaptation of our own Sivaranjani? None other than ARR - who is always known for his ingenious usage of chords and sound effects to bring about a mix of modern and classy compositions. In this song from one of his early days, Rahman has used the best innovative thoughts to westernize Sivaranjani and gave us this wonderful song from the movie "Thiruda Thiruda". Though this film was not a great commercial success, it is still spoken of so highly only for ARR's songs - every piece was a mega hit and is worth listening to with headphones to capture the brilliant sound effects embedded into every passing second. Magnasound took the opportunity of releasing this movie's audio, and was rewarded in big terms with the success.

I knew I would not do any justice to Rahman's genius if I cut this song and merge it with any others, as it is a pioneering effort by him to give us this masterpiece. So, the full version of "Kannum Kannum" is presented here, with a special Kudos to ARR!

That completes my Sivaranjani Medley - hope you guys like it. As always, welcome your comments and thoughts.

Here are links to the original full tracks for those interested to download the same (use to rip off the MP3 tracks if you want to download only the audio):

1) Pon maanae -
2) Kanmaniyae Paesu -
3) Adi Aathaadi -
4) Kuyil Paattu -
5) Solai Pushpangalae -
6) Tere Mere Beech Mein -
7) Kannum Kannum -