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Illayaraaja's musical mission Illayaraaja's musical mission

Topic started by Evolution Vii (@ on Sun Jan 5 23:26:21 EST 2003.
All times in EST +10:30 for IST.

read this interesting article & wanted to share wif u guys..enjoy reading.......


Musical Mission

Presenting the phenomenon of Ilaiyaraaja : one of the best pro-
fessional composers the Indian film world has produced. The
country's most prolific composer, he is extraordinarily versatile
and has an unorthodox approach to music. A musician working in
the cinematic medium much ahead of his time, with unusual gifts.
Insights into the man and his music, with an interview by

"It is a treat to watch him working. I must say that he is the
only complete music director in the film industry. He does
everything - composing, orchestration, arrangement of instru-
ments, writing notations, conducting and, in a few instances,
even sound recording and balancing of tracks. He is a master
composer and a brilliant orchestrator. His non- filmi album 'How
to name it ' stands as a testimony for my observations."

---- Flute maestro Hari Prasad Chaurasia

"This young man has achieved a hundred times more than any one
else in the profession. Only time can tell the quantum of his
achievements and his contributions. To be frank, I have a lot to
learn from this genius."

---- Composer Naushad

"He is as good as any top ranking composer in any part of the
world. His prolificity is something phenomenal. He richly
deserves both the national awards he has bagged so far."

---- Violinist L.Subramaniam

The praise showered is on the phenomenon of Ilaiyaraaja. And
for those who had the opportunity to move with him closely, the
admiration for the person runs ahead of that for his music.

In just over a decade, Ilaiyaraaja has scored music for more than
400 films in five languages-Tamil,Telugu, Malayalam,Kannada and
Hindi. He has been commissioned to score music for the next En-
glish venture of the Metro Film Corporation. Acknowledged as one
of the best professional composers India has produced, he is rat-
ed as a musician much ahead of his time. It might take some time
to understand the changes he brought in tonal quality and sound
quality. Says his former guru G.K.Venkatesh : "He is so modern
and simultaneously ahead of his time. He is not one who loves
his own creation or is spellbound by it. That is the secret of
his success. An Ilaiyaraaja number is overshadowed only by
another Ilaiyaraaja number"

The Ilaiyaraaja story is a story of hard and dedicated work by a
man of unusual gifts. Born in the little hamlet of Pannaipuram
in Madurai district, Ilaiyaraaja went to school in the nearby
Kombai village. When he was in the eight standard, two astro-
logers, Palaniswamy and Santhanam, predicted that he would not
study beyond that. In 1958, he enrolled himself in Thevaram High
School for the ninth standard and felt that he had disproved the
prediction. But owing to certain unforeseen circumstances,
Ilaiyaraaja was forced to accompany his elder brother, Paavalar
Varadarajan, a propaganda musician for the undivided Communist
Party of India, to give concerts.

This musical mission proved the predictions right. " Between
1958 and 1968 ", he recalls in his book 'Sangeetha
Kanavugal'(Musical Dreams) ," we travelled all over Tamil Nadu.
There is not a single town or village in this State which hasn't
listened to our music."

In 1968, he moved to Madras along with his other elder brother
Bhaskar and younger brother Gangai Amaran ( who is also now a
lyricist, composer and director). Despite the nagging poverty
and starvation, he pursued his musical mission. He enrolled him-
self as a student of Western Classical music under "Master" Dhan-
raj. 'Master" was able immediately to spot Ilaiyaraaja's ex-
traordinary gift and did not accept any fee from him. It was in
his master's room in Luz, Madras, that he was initiated to the
various nuances of classical music. "Bach, Beethoven, Mozart ,
Schubert,Haydn and Brahms used to visit our lodge everyday, you
know," says Ilaiyaraaja smilingly. This training made him take
up an examination of the Trinity College of Music, London, in
which he emerged a gold medallist in classical guitar.

Then Ilaiyaraaja joined G.K.Venkatesh as his assistant. His
role as an assistant was so significant that the
lyricist_cum_producer Panchu Arunachalam decided to have him as
the music director for "Annakkili". Ilaiyaraaja recorded six
songs for that film in folk style. And the rest is cinema histo-

Ilaiyaraaja's modus operandi is unique in more than one sense.
He writes down the tune in the form of notations ; he doesn't hum
it or play it on his harmonium.The tune seems to flow spontane-
ously from his head. One has not at any time seen him worked up
to produce a tune. It comes so naturally and effortlessly to him
that an onlooker feels that composing might be the easiest pro-
fession in the world. As he writes the tune, he writes down the
orchestration to the last detail. He does not miss even a single
obbligato. When he goes recording, he embellishes his work by
taking on the spot decisions which are " precise and flawless. "

Ilaiyaraaja approaches music in a most unorthodox manner. He is
not cowed down by the dogmatic rules prescribed by self-styled
guardians of "pure music ". He declares : " Music is nothing but
sound and there is no place for value judgement among various
sounds. " He adds : " I am not a musician. For a musician, raga
is a hurdle ;tala is a hurdle; his musical training is a hurdle.
Since I am not a musician, I have no parameters to restrict my-
self. Whatever comes to my mind, I have no hesitation in doing
it. I am able to compose a song in aarohanam alone, while the
whole spectrum of music vidwans believed for centuries that a
song should essentially comprise aarohanam and avarohanam. This
is because I have no bonds. "

He is india's most prolific composer, yet there is no question of
his music sounding stale or repetitive. This is a function of
his extraordinary versatility. Most people in the field would
acknowledge that film music has become richer after his entry.
Ilaiyaraaja, who has firm roots in the soil in which he was born,
has made folk music popular. The respectability he brought to
the simple soul-stirring folk and tribal music is much more, in
terms of both quality and quantity, than the results of several
festivals put together.

Despite two ( three, now ) national awards for the best music
direction and a highly acclaimed non-verbal instrumental compact
disc titled " How to name it, " released internationally by
Oriental Label, U.S ( the first such for an Indian film composer
) to his credit, little has been written about him and his music.
The reason for this is Ilaiyaraaja's self-imposed exile from the
media glare.


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