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 -


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Raga Mayamalavagowlai - Special Medley # 2

Continuing my previous post on Mayamalavagowlai based medleys, I found that this raga is an absolute beauty, and Maestro Ilayaraja has presented many treasures based on this simple yet wonderful raga.

You can practically witness songs in almost all emotions coming out from this single raga - love, karuna, pathos, bhakti, education (guru-sishya), soulful music, western style and what not. It is just all encompassing, and I decided to publish this second medley right away without any further delay.

I chose tracks only from Maestro's compositions to showcase how deftly he has blended the western chords and the oriental east, how the jazzy strings meet the classical Carnatic, how this raga evolves into the rustic folkish genre and how it so beautifully transforms into Bhakti rasam as well.

Sure this should have given you some food for thought, and you could potentially have identified what lies in store. But before we get to listen to them, let me add some of the other beauties available in this raga - from old to new film songs - "Kallellaam maanikka kallaaguma", "Azhagaana ponnu thaan, adukkeththa kannu thaan", "Solladi Abhiraami", "Mookkuthi poo maelae kaathu", "Poonkadhavae Thaazh Thiravaai", "Poova eduthu oru maala thoduthu",  "Kaadhal Kavithaigal padithidum naeram".. the list is endless, including Isai Puyal ARR's recent "Sollayo Solaikili" which is a modernized rendition of this raga..Thanks to my FB friends Saradha Seshadri and Bhoomija Vijayaraghavan for identifying a few tracks on this list.

Back to the medley mix, here is what I have put together for you..

Starting with Raja's special composition for "How to Name it" Album - opens with western beats and chords, and smoothly transitions in to the Tyagayya Kriti - "Thulasi dala mulache". Watch out for the background violin orchestration carefully - the lead violinist (believe it is the champ Violinist Dr LS who played that for the album) goes on wonderfully and in the background, you can still hear many more violins playing special chords that continue to maintain a beautiful rhythm and introduce elements of surprise swings all through this kriti as well..

This goes on for the initial minute and more.. and then we transition with a strings based musical interlude of the song "Madurai marikkozhundu vaasam" which is a super folkish presentation of this raga with the quintessential Raja stamp of melody. Impressive composition by bringing in all the key swaras in to this so nicely and presenting it in a Jana-Ranjaka format, which is Raja's special capability.

I tried a different mix in to the third song - basically, the charanam of the second song is dovetailed into the pallavi of the third one - mixing up the pallavi of third song in the place where second one should actually have been. In other words, where the charanam ends and you would expect "Madurai marikozhundu" to come up, you will have "Mariyamma" filling your ears.

Yes, you will understand and enjoy this much better when you listen to the Minute point (02:46) in the medley.

So, that is the third and final piece in this medley - completely earthy, rustic appeal with brimming Bhakti rasa all through to the finish. Amazing energy levels from Malaysia Vasudevan & Chitra keep the tempo up so high, and we have heard in the past that lot of people in village theatres got fully charged up and danced to this song, making that movie Karakaattakaaran a run-away hit.

In effect, this medley brings in the combo of western chords, pure classical, fusion of the two, instrumental music, love duet, folk music all finally ending up in a bhakti rasa - which is how our life also has to finally fold - everything should end up and evolve in devotion to the Almighty. I hope this piece of soulful music helps you in the process of finding inner peace too.

Comments welcome as always..

Links to the full tracks for those want to download the individual songs: 1) How to name it - study for violin 2) Madurai Marikozhundhu Vaasam 3) Maariyamma Maariyamma

Friday, July 11, 2014

Medley in Mayamalavagowla

Here is a wonderful Medley based on the Raga Mayamalavagowla.

A bit of history and introduction to the raga - thanks to Wiki:

Mayamalavagowla (pronounced māyāmāḻavagauḻa), is a raga of Carnatic Music. Originally known as malavagowla, "maya" was prefixed to it after the advent of the scheme of the 72 melakarta ragas.  This is a morning raga.

This auspicious raga evokes śānta(peace) rasa and pathos. It creates a soothing effect. Suitable to sing at all times, particularly, the first yAMam (dawn). It is commonly used for beginners lessons such as Sarali Varisais or Sarali Svaras (Telugu), etc. Since it eschews vivadi swaras (relatively discordant notes), has a uniform distance between svara sthānas (relative position of notes) and has symmetry, they are easier to learn. It is an ancient rāgam and has been around for a long time. It is a Sampurna raga. This rāgam corresponds to Bhairav in Hindustani music. Mayamalavagowla has quite a few janya ragams associated with it, of which Bowli, Jaganmohini, Gowla, Gowlipantu, Lalita, Nadanamakriya, Revagupti, Saveri and Malahari are quite well known.

As many of us would know, the basics in Carnatic music are usually set in this raga and this happens to be the first raga a student receives from the Guru. This is typically a soothing raga which reflects the sunshine of a pleasant morning, and can produce positive vibes of Peace and Kindness.

This particular medley starts with one such Guru-Sishya learning session - delivered by none other than the greatest of greats - Dr Balamurali Krishna. He starts off with the brilliant notes of the Mayamalavagowla and a wonderful mini-aalapana - these are extracted from a song from the Malayalam film "Bharatham" which has music by the great Ravindran master.

As you hear this song, you will automatically be reminded of yet another similar song in Tamil - but that would follow a little later in the Medley.

The first piece of Dr BMK is all about Devi or Ambaal (Goddess Rajamaathangi), and the medley automatically evolves into the next piece from Maestro Ilayaraja - "Maasaru Ponnae Varuga" from the film "Devar Magan" - which is another song on the same Goddess. This is a short, but scintillating song with amazing accompaniments, bubbling with energy all through. The Maestro brings his efficient orchestration into full display in this wonderful piece.

This song describes Ambaal as the sister of Madhavan (Lord Vishnu), and that provides the link to the next piece in the Medley.

The earlier piece integrates into the brilliant musical interlude again of the Maestro, followed by the mystic, musical voice of Dr K J Yesudas - part of the track "Rama Namamoru Vedhamae" from the popular film Sri Raghavendrar. You would note that this song is all about Madhavan (Lord Vishnu) who got linked up in the previous piece of the Medley.

This divine link throughout this medley was an accidental discovery - much after I compiled the songs through, but appears to be a beautiful and logical connection. And this last piece by Dr Yesudas is the one that you would be reminded of when you heard the first portion by Dr BMK - these two tracks have an amazingly identical beginning, with a Guru-Sishya tradition at the start. You can listen to the individual tracks again to understand the beauty (see links at the end of this post).

There are tons of melodies to choose from Ilayaraja's treasures set in this raga, and I could not really make a satisfactory selection. In all likelihood, you can expect one more medley in the same raga anytime soon - else I would feel guilty of hiding away many other gems.

Hope you would enjoy this collection.. look forward to your views and comments..

Raga Mayamalavagowla Medley | Muziboo

Links to download the individual tracks:
1) Rajamaathangi
2) Maasaru Ponnae Varuga
3) Rama Naamamoru Vedhamae

Friday, July 4, 2014

Abhogi Medley - on demand!!

Based on the request of my FB friend (Hareesh Iyer), I fast tracked my compilation of the Abhogi Raga Medley.

Let us get a brief understanding of the Raga Abhogi, courtesy Wiki:

Abhogi (pronounced ābhōgi) is a raga in Carnatic music and has been adapted to Hindustani music. It is a pentatonic scale, an audava or owdava raga. It is a derived scale (janya raga), as it does not have all the seven swaras (musical notes). Ābhōgi has been borrowed from Carnatic music into Hindustani music and is also quite popular in the latter.

Abhogi is a scale that is used for compositions in a medium to fast tempo. This scale has been used by many composers and there are lots of compositions in classical music.

Ābhōgi's notes when shifted using Graha bhedam, yields another pentatonic rāgam Valaji.

Sriranjani is a rāgam which has kaisiki nishadam in both ascending and descending scales in addition to the notes in Ābhōgi

The best non-filmi, popular song in Abhogi (to me) would forever be "Sabaapathikku Veru Deivam Samaanam Aagumaa" composed by the great Gopalakrishna Bharathi. Though there are hundreds of wonderful compositions in Abhogi, am somehow attracted to this composition on Lord Nataraja of Chidambaram.

It is probably with His blessings that this medley is getting delivered on the day of Aani Thirumanjanam - one of the 6 special occassions in a year when Lord Nataraja gets His sacred Abhishekam.

Coming to the medley, I open the track with a brilliant composition of the Malayalam music legend - Ravindran Master. I accidentally came across this song "Aalila Manjalil"(from a Mohanlal starrer movie "Soorya Gayathri"), and on the first hearing itself, it became a big time favorite for me - just like love at first sight. Sheer supreme feeling of classical Abhogi all the way. As I wanted you all to enjoy the brilliant opening of this grand song, I have set this up as the opening track. Music knows no language boundaries - so would you agree once you hear this piece.

Following this track closely is the brilliant composition of Maestro Ilayaraja - "Indraikku yaen indha aanandhamae" from the movie "Vaidheki Kaaththirunthaal". You will certainly experience the "Aanandham" (supreme happiness, in the absence of any other apt word) when you listen to this track that is brimming with life and joy all through.

To complete the medley, I chose another melodious track of the Maestro himself - "Kaalai Naera Poonguyil" (from the movie "Amman Kovil Kizhakkaalae") - pure and rich Abhogi. I have tried to blend this in with the nice interlude BGM of Ilayaraja at both the charanams, as that is something to be never missed.

I have always felt that Ilayaraja gives us glimpses of his mastery over music more in the BGM/interlude and music fillers than through anything else. You will eventually concur with my thought when you listen to all of his soulful BGM/interludes.

Note: Some other interesting tamil film songs in this Raga are: Thangaradham Vandadhu (sung by the great Dr Bala Murali Krishna) and Vanakkam Pala Murai Sonnaen.

Hope you would enjoy this medley … comments welcome, as ever…

Raga Abhogi Medley | Muziboo

For the benefit of those who are inclined to download all these three songs in full and listen to them later, here are some links:

Aalila Manjalil
Indraikku Yaen Indha Aanandamae
Kaalai Naera Poonguyil


Thursday, July 3, 2014

Yet another Raga based Medley - Darbari Kaanada

Back from a break.. into the exciting world of music again.

Darbari Kaanada is one of the ragas that I just love so much - mainly due to its soft and soothing nature. You can enjoy peace and bliss while listening to this, and this raga is completely away from the monstrous sound (or should i say Noise) effects which lot of our composers produce today.

Before we head there, a bit of history and knowledge - from Wiki:

Darbari Kanada, or simply Darbari, (pronounced darbāri kānada), is a raga in the Kanada family, which is thought to have originated in Carnatic music and brought into North Indian music by Miyan Tansen, the legendary 16th-century composer in emperor Akbar's court.

This tradition is reflected in the name itself; Darbar is the Persian derived word in Hindi meaning "court." As the most familiar raga in the Kanada family, it may sometimes also be called Shuddha Kanada or pure Kanada. It belongs to the Asavari thaat. It is also sometimes written as Durbari and Durbarikanada.

Darbari is a grave raga, played deep into the night, considered to be one of the more difficult to master, and with the potential for profound emotional impact

Luckily for us, we have wonderful compositions based on this raga (and some from the associated Kaanada family) within the realm of Tamil Film music. I have tried to piece together some of my favorites into this medley.

Consciously the opening piece of this medley is set in a high pace - drawing from the evergreen song "Malarae Mownamaa" composed by Vidyasagar (VS). I just could not leave out that song when making a medley of this very raga.

However, the initial pace dies down very quickly as the medley sets into a classical mood with the wizard A R Rahman providing the lullaby type "Kaatrae En vaasal Vandhaai" from the movie Rhythm. Am sure this is a popular number which everyone can relate to.

From here, the medley travels into my favorite VS's composition - "Nee Kaatru, Naan Maram" from the movie "Nilaavae Vaa". Note that he used the same ragam for "Malarae Mownamaa" in Karnaa movie, and brought it again here - shows his love for such soft, nice melodies. The BGM interlude that comes after A R Rahman's lovely piece could be familiar even to Malayalee friends as VS has used the same interlude elsewhere in a popular Malayalam song.

To wrap up the medley in soothing style and leave you with the blissful feeling of this raga, I take you into the world of the Maestro Ilayaraja. After all, who else can leave us spell bound and blissful with every single note of music that's embedded in to a song or the BGM - just the Maestro, none else.

Just shut your eyes and listen right from the musical interlude that follows VS's composition, and you will really feel the beauty and magic of the Maestro's hand. So, we get into the song "Kalyaana Thaen Nilaa" from the movie "Mownam Sammadham" as the last leg of the medley.

Hope you like this combination which I have consciously put together from the works of different composers. Comments welcome as always..

Raga Darbari Kaanada Medley | Muziboo

For those who are inclined to download the full songs and listen later, here are some links:
Malarae Mownamaa
Kaatrae Yen Vaasal Vandhaai
Nee Kaatru Naan Maram
Kalyaana Thenilaa