Topic started by Indian Music Fan (@ 18.104.22.168) on Wed May 9 19:13:19 EDT 2001.
All times in EST +10:30 for IST.
I just wanted to find out all of your opinions on who you think are the best HF music directors ever and who tops your list out of them. I think that the best IMO were LP, SJ, Madan Mohan, Pacham Da, Naushad . I really admire LP and PanchamDa and Madan Mohan. What do you guys think. Also, how do they compare to music directors in Tamil cinema.
- From: netsurfer (@ 22.214.171.124)
on: Mon May 14 08:30:56 EDT 2001
Here is an article from the rmim page. The link has expired and so I copied it and pasted it here.
I dont agree with many things here but the article is pretty good.
Thanks - NetSurfer
RMIM Archive Article "123".
From the RMIM Article Archive maintained by Satish Subramanian--------------------------------------------------------------------------------#
# RMIM Archives..
# Subject: Music Directors -- Technicalities
# Posted by: "S. Narasimhan" (email@example.com)
# Author: S. Narasimhan
There has been some discussion comparing Ilayaraaja with other hindi and tamil music directors. Here is a technical comparison
of their compositions.
Going through the collection of cassettes that I have, the earliest significant music director seems to be Naushad, the so-called melody king of those days. Naushad's music at the best seems to
be semi-classical. Most of his compositions are purely raga based and resembles the light classical tune played after the intermis-
sion in any classical Hindustani concert, for eg., various dhuns(Pahadi dhun). The songs often had a mukhda which was not played to any rhythm -- just slow singing. This is very similar to other
semi-classical song structures such as Khawwali, Ghazals etc.
Shamsad Begum/Lata seem to be his big-time female singer and of course, Mohd. Rafi. I couldn't discern any chord patterns in his
compositions. He used the tabla, dholak and other Indian folk percussions only. However, compared to other music directors of
his time, Naushad's compositions seem to be more exciting (fast paced, interesting melody transitions). If you consider Khawwali,
Ghazals etc. as Urdu music, one can say Naushad's compositions are light classical based with Urdu music influence. He used the
mandolin extensively which added to the Urdu flavor.
In my opinion, the first music director(s) to introduce chords significantly into Indian Film music (all languages included) were Shanker-Jaikishan. Most of the chord patterns and rhythms that they used were from European music (Italian, Spanish, Russian etc.) (I will post a Music Primer later which will tell you
what a chord pattern is). For this discussion, it is sufficient to know that a chord pattern is a given set of chords on which the song is based. Shanker, being from Hyderabad, also introduced South Indian flavor to some of their songs. For eg. Ramaiyya Vastavaiya in Shree 420 which is based on a South Indian folk tune
-- these two words mean "Rama is coming" in Telugu (am not sure about the tense). In fact, ghattam (clay pot percussion) was used
as a major percussion instrument in some of their well-known slow songs (Aaja re ab mera dil pukara, Dam Bharj idhar...). They seem
to have introduced the accordian (Popular East European instrument) along with their Europeanish tunes. They also seem to have
introduced drum based rhythm to their songs. However, they seem to have used only very simple drum beats (Mera joota hai japani,
Awaara hoon etc.). This may have been on Raj Kapoor's insistence on "simple tunes for a simple tramp" image. The most complex
drum beat that they used seems to be the Waltz (Dil ki nazar se).
They introduced very interesting chord changes in their melodies and interludes. They have even tried to introduce scale changes in the song. The rhythm almost always stayed constant in the song eventhough some songs had gathi (the gait of the rhythm) changes (Dil ki nazar se). In many of their songs, however during the vo-
cal singing other instruments (such as strings and sarangi) just played the same melody as the vocal melody i.e., simple accompan-
iment support. So had Naushad for his songs. Since S.D.Burman,Salil Chowdhury and O.P.Nayyar were SJ's contemperories it is
kind of difficult of say with certainty who is responsible for more complex background string melodies. Since SJ often had about 50 or more violins playing during the vocal singing, I would give them the credit. Complex background strings often were seconds melodies with obligatos (i.e., providing a smooth chord transition in the background.). However, this background strings degraded to pure noise in many of their later songs in the
70s(especially the ones with Rafi). Another interesting note here is that you will find strong string accompaniment only for Mukesh
in many of the Mukesh-Lata duets by SJ. Admittedly, Mukesh is technically a bad singer and hence needed strong accompaniments
(SJ did say in an interview that Mukesh needed many takes and that his initial takes were intolerable, often.) SJ also experi-
mented with semiclassical based compositions (Amprapali songs). All in all, Shanker-Jaiskishan were extremely prolific
(for their times) and introduced many varieties in their compositions. If not alone, SJ did contribute to the radical change in
filmi music that happened during that era -- fusion of Western and Indian classical/folk music.
S.D.Burman was widely known for his exacting and disciplined approach. Almost all singers revered him (Kishore, Lata, Asha et.al.). That much is also evident from the fact that he hardly had Mukesh singing for him. All singers, in my opinion, reached their technical bests in his songs. Burmanda's main contribution
seems to be the introduction of folk tunes especially the Bengali fishermen folk tunes (e.g., all majhi songs). His songs are both
chord-based and raga-based. He seems to have excercised great care and restraint in compositions and accompanying instruments.
SDB should take the cake for clarity in the music (No general background noise) and technique. He also seems to have introduced
the congos and bongo based rhythm in his compositions. He used Roopak tal with great effect (Tere mere mila ki raina, piya tose
naina lage re). He also used Santoor and Sax extensively in his orchestra. In my opinion, he also made the fusion of Western and Indian complete. The basic set of notes in most of his compositions are raga-based but the sequence of notes selected in the melody are chord based. Unlike Burmanda, SJ used the chord pat-
terns directly -- i.e., the notes used and the sequence of notes were both determined by the chord patterns. SDB should be considered as the real GURU for Hindi Film music.
Salil Chowdhury's compositions exhibit a level of complexity that no other music director (except Hridayanath Mangeshkar) have achieved. His compositions are not only complex (in an anlaytical sense) but also are very pleasing and attractive to the mass.This is no mean achievement. Jaidev, the other music director who
attempted at classical complexity in his songs, failed to get as much appreciation. Consider, for instance, the song: O sajna,barkha bahar aayi sung by Lata. This is a completely chord based song but conveys *only* a classical effect. Unexpected notes & chords often appear in his melodies and so do unexpected inter-
lude lines (Eg. Suhana Safar, Anand songs).
Personally, I find O.P.Nayyar extremely disappointing. Almost all his songs are based on a single rhythm type: a kind of horse gal-
loping beat. But, I guess one should give him credit for being able to generate so many songs in that rhythm. I haven't found
anything special in the orchestration also. Most of his songs are chord-based.
Similarly, Laxmikant-Pyarelal have limited composition types. They introduced the dholak rhythm prominently in their compositions. There is nothing too interesting in their orchestration either. But, I guess, they would get the credit for introducing folk tunes from U.P. and other parts of the Hindi heartland.
Among their movies, I think, Bobby definitely stands out in which they brought in a refreshing change. They have composed music for
South Indian movies too. May be that's why Sanj Dale Gagn tale (Suresh Wadkar) is little bit based on Bhupalam raga of Carnatic music. I wonder whether this song won any awards, for it is *quite* different since it mixes various ragas together (may be Ilayaraaja's influence?).
Chhote Nawab R.D.Burman was the Hindi music nawab in 70s,80s and 90s, I think. RDBs intial compositions have a very characteristic
style -- Completely chord-based compositions (may be because he likes the guitar) set to mostly congo-based rhythms. He also used Santoor often. But this is only half the story. His raga-based
compositions are noteworthy too (Rim Jhim Gire Sawan is based on Malhar). He has played around with the structure of the songs too Eg., Ijaazat, Ek Ladki Ko Dekha etc. which don't have the usual mukhda-antara structure. He has employed various kinds of orchestration (his signature in most songs is the high pitched "na"
sound of the tabla). RDB-Gulzar pair, I think, has been the high-point of Hindi film music, in the last four decades. RDBs compo-sitions emphasize the chord patterns in the song. Infact, they have set the general trend for hindi filmi music that even Ilayaraaja found difficult to break into.
A look at the Tamil Film music....
Two music directors before Ilayaraaja are worthy of mention -- Viswanathan-Ramamurthy and K.V.Mahadevan. V-R's approach basical-
ly followed Shanker-Jaikishan (acknowledged by V-R). Now and V-R introduced some Tamil folk tunes (Ennadi Rakkamma types). Like S-J they used accordian heavily, which often sounds harsh. If S-Jused Hindustani ragas, V-R used carnatic ragas. T.M.Soundararajan and P.Susheela were their prominent singers. In my opinion, both
of them were bad singers and often hit wrong notes (esp. TMS). Interludes were short and often abrupt. However, they did produce some really sweet songs that were chord-based. One common technique that they employed is the introduction of an unexpected note or chord (like Salil Chowdhury) to make the song more interesting (and it did make it more interesting).
K.V.Mahadevan's music is simple semi-classical carnatic. No surprises.
Surprisingly, Ilayaraaja's music has a very simple formula. Take a carnatic or hindustani raga, take a western or tabla bol, do a
permutation of the notes and lo! you have about 5000 songs and a millionaire! Obviously his genius is in the kind of permutation
he employs (Infact, he admits himself that the music that he generates is simple permutation-combination.). The surprise in his music is that, after the permutation, one can sense only a slight
flavor of the original raga. I don't think any Hindi music directors (including Hridayanath) have achieved this. For instance,
the folk type song Senthazham Poovil (sung by Yesudas) is based on Mayamalava Gowla raga (a melakartha raga in Carnatic music),so is Poongadhave Thazh thiravai and chinna mani kuyile. Panivizhum Malarvanam is based on Gambira Nattai. Vava Anbe Anbe is based on Sivaranjani (This song is so different sounding from all those Sivaranjani-based songs out there...). Raaja's interludes are the best ever, I think. Most of them can be a song by them-
selves. No song has repeated interludes. In some songs, he has mixed ragas and in others he has mixed talas (roopakam and adhi).
His orchestration is as clear-sounding as SDBs.
There are three downsides in Raaja's music. I think, Raaja is very weak on the strings section (in spite of the attempt at
West-East fusion in string in the intro of Pungadhave Thazh thiravai). Some may say that this is deliberate. I think it is
little more than that. Strings are the most emotionally expressive section of the orchestra (And hence most orchestral works in the West give prominence to strings) and every composer cannot help but have them. Otherwise, the music often lacks body (like that of A.R.Rehman's). I cannot recollect any song in which Raaja has indulged with the string section. With 5000 songs to his credit, it is hard for me to believe he was not tempted even
once. Ofcourse, this is not the only reason. I listened to "How to name it" and "Nothing But Wind" -- supposedly orchestral
works. Well, I was disappointed again. Strings have very minimal role and lacks the use of polyphony (multiple melody lines play-
ing at the same time). The other downside is the lack of chord-based compositions. If RDB was king of chords, I think Raaja would be the king of raga-based compositions. This is the main reason why Raaja could not break into the Hindi Filmi music, the trend of which was set by RDB. Raaja's only well-known chord-
based song is: Ilaya nila pozhigiradhe in Tamil. This song, not surprisingly, became a hit in Hindi also (Neele neele ambar pe chand jab aaye) although the interludes in the Hindi version
turned out to be very bad (there were perceptible mistakes in tala). However, chord patterns do occur here and there in many of
Raaja's compositions (Enna saththam inda neram) but they lean more towards the raga than chords (Brownie point for preserving
The third downside in Raaja's music is the lack of care in the vocal section. Except for S.P.Balasubramaniam (who is a perfec-
tionist himself) and Chitra none of his other singers were exceptional. Yesudoss sang off-key often in his songs, but not as much as TMS used to. I cannot imagine anyone letting S.Janaki to sing. She goes off key most of the time and has a screechy voice suited for a tramp (she is great for those kind of songs). Simi-
larly, Raaja goes off-key while singing in many of his songs. Mano, in the beginning, was pretty bad and basically, was imitating SPB -- might as well get the original to sing (Reportedly, Mano got a chance to sing when SPB was in the U.S. for a throat surgery). Similarly, Vani Jayaram has such a high pitch voice that window glasses could shatter (poor ears...:-). The more erious problem in her singing was that she sang in falsetto
(false voice which has no pitch limitations). Malaysia Vasudevan sang more off key than in key. Apart from his rural sounding
voice, he has no other musical qualifications.
Prolificity and variety in Raaja's music are his crowning achievements and has to be revered for that. A musical career spanning three decades and about 1000 movies (true?) cannot be
As much as people might say A.R.Rehman has brought in a fresh air, I beg to differ. If you notice carefully, most of his hit songs sound like Raaja's (except Ek hogaye hum). The orchestration is extremely weak and monotonous. His melody lines seem straight cut and paste from similar sounding songs... Many of the newer songs do a overkill on the percussion side with barely discernible melody. The only crown that Rehman can wear is that the
Roja movie song "Chinna chinna asai" ("Chhoti chhoti asha?" in Hindi) has Reggae beat (which is new) and the orchestration for the song did smell of some fresh air. Also, the back ground
string pieces in "Netru Illada Mattram" (Pudiya Mugam) were quite innovative.
Most long lasting music directors, settle down on a particular style of compositions. Lack of a clear style yet (of innovative compositions), makes me doubt whether Rehman can last (already people are complaining of the monotony in his orchestration).
A word on Hridayanath Mangeshkar....
I think Hridayanath has an extremely unique and indigeneous style of composing. Eventhough, the compositions are almost entirely raga-based, the melody lines are mind boggingly innovative. There is a marathi song (Tee Geli Theva Rhim jhim) in which he sings the same line in five different ways with a difference of half a
note each time. His compositions are so complex that only Lata can do justice to them. Among the pop male singers only Suresh
Wadkar (who has a strong classical training) can sing his songs and provide the effect that he envisioned. I think this is the
main reason why Hridayanth often sings himself (He learnt classical music from his father). He has introduced many folk-type
beats in Marathi songs (Mi Dolkara) often with interesting beat changes in the interludes and recently in Hindi also (Lekin). The reason he was not such a hit in Hindi music (may be self-imposed) could be the lack of chord-based RDB type music.....
From the RMIM Article Archive maintained by Satish Subramanian--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
- From: Common Friend (@ 126.96.36.199)
on: Mon May 14 08:43:45 EDT 2001
Please, let me know when this article was published.
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