telugu cinema Ilayaraja Exclusive by RS Balaji
telugu cinema - sirivennela
A Technical Celebration of Music - Part VII
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Song: Keeravani… (Telugu)
Film: Anvaeshana
Scale : Keeravani

Monday, July 28, 2003

This is the seventh 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.

The 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.

This song is yet another perfect example that shows Ilayaraja's technique of blending the east and the west. The composer uses his unusual western orchestration skills to harmonize melodies in Keeravani (21st melakartha) raga.

An interesting point to note about the orchestration of the interludes is that they contain disconnected sets of phrases. Though the dramatic changes in the orchestration may seem to lack musical continuity on one hand, the same changes maintain the attention of the listeners with their rich melodic and harmonic content on the other.

The prelude presents a vocal harmony on a raga based melody. The pallavi has an interesting structure. It momentarily stabilizes on the tonic and then follows a few progressions that lead to the repetition. The intelligence of the composer is hidden in the fact that he uses this tonic junction to conclude the song at the end.

In the two-part vocal counterpoint at the end of the first interlude ,one voice sings the notes and the other hums a melody (both in Keeravani raga) and both the voices harmonize to form a beautiful two-part counterpoint.

Using unstable landing notes (ni), complicated phrases like gm pp Snn n nnS np (in e gaganaalalo...), progressions like RRR G SSS R NNN S DDD N... are found very natural in Ilayaraja's compositions.

Bach's influence on Ilayaraja is clearly heard in the instrumental counterpoint (keyboard and guitar with bass) which begins the second interlude. Ilayaraja stamps his trademark once again in this song, through his outstanding bass patterns throughout the song.

Thanks to Maestro Ilayaraja for giving us yet another song to celebrate.

- RS Balaji

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