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A Technical Celebration of Music - Part VI
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Song: Lalitha Priya Kamalam Virisinadhi.. (Telugu)
Film: Rudra Veena
Scale : Lalitha

Monday, March 17, 2003

This is the sixth 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 a masterpiece in Lalitha raga, a raga that has been used rarely in film music. Though it is a duet song it has been painted with semi-classical colors probably because the story of the film has a backdrop of classical music and dance.

One can easily grasp the structure of the raga after listening to this song. Throughout the song, the composer has made the sa as his home (most of the cases higher sa) and has visited the other locations in the raga, returning back to this home. This is a common practice in carnatic music where in the performer rotates round a single note. Ilayaraja has attempted to use a similar technique in film music, through this song.

The song is loaded with a number of soothing phrases in Lalitha raga. The composer touches the higher dha during the end of the charanam. This is a unique feature in this song since it is a rare event in south Indian classical music to reach as high as the dha in the higher octave. The song does not go lower than the ni in the lower octave. One of the reasons for this could be to maintain the pleasant and romantic mood of the song situation and to avoid the feeling of pathos that the lower notes are known to evoke.

The song starts off with the chiming of temple bells symbolizing the sanctity and divinity of the relationship between the characters in the song (who happen to be a brahmin boy and a harijan girl). This is followed by string arrangement and short dialogues between guitar, flute and piano. A typical "Ilayaraja" kind of orchestration for a short thirty two second prelude!!

A unique rhythm pattern in the first interlude, the piano and strings harmony in the beginning of the second interlude, the haunting melodies on the flute in both the interludes are some of the aspects that come up to Ilayaraja very casually, and that make a strong impact on the listeners with their creative and unique sound palette.

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

- RS Balaji

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