Minnalgal Koothaadum

One of the recent songs I like very much is the "Minnalgal Koothaadum" song from Pollathavan. This is a very simple song with simple tune, simple beat and simple accompaniments but I never get bored of this song, even though I hear it on radio almost dailly. This song is picturized on a hill station and the song conveys the appropriate mood. I observed that when we listened to this song on the bus during a trip to Coorg. I was impressed with the fact that even a simple song can be made into a big hit with the right ingredients. Bombay Jayashree's voice in this song is another big plus. Manjal Veyyil song from Vettaiyadu Vilaiyadu (Harris Jayaraj) is yet another example of a simple song with the right ingredients making it a super hit.

There is some freshness in G V Prakash's song. I especially like his "Idhu Enna Mayam" from Oram Po and the "Vizhiyil" song from Kireedam.

One more recent song that I like is the "Yaarukku Yaarendru" song from Ajantha composed by none other than Ilaiyaraaja.

And this is my last post in the year 2007. I had published the maximum number of posts in this year when compared to the earlier years. Hope I continue to keep my blog active during 2008.

Wish you all a very Happy New Year !

Sennheiser Headphones

I recently purchased a Sennheiser HD 202 headphones. Earlier to that, my colleague had purchased the same model in India and I listened to it and was bowled by its audio quality and clarity. He had bought in a Sennheiser showroom in Chennai for around Rs. 3000/-. He told that it doesn't cause any headache or irritation in the ear, sits comfortably and is better than the models from Sony for the same price. He also suggested to buy in the US, since it would cost only about $25 which is roughly Rs. 1000/-. So I ordered it online and got it delivered to my cousin, who brought it down here when he came to India last month.

I have been using it for the past few weeks. The quality is good. External noises are cancelled. Bass depth is very good. I was told that it is a studio-ware. The website says it is ideal for DJs.

Here are some links for you to learn more about this model:
One thing I found uncomfortable was that it changes the angle of my specs when I wear it and hence my eyes get tired. May be I need to tighten my glasses. If you are wearing glasses, make sure you try it out before purchasing.

BGM piece from Alaigal Oyvathillai

Here is a BGM piece from Alaigal Oyvathillai with music by Ilaiyaraaja. This piece comes when Karthik runs behind Radha on the beach and holds her hand. The piece was so good when watched along with the visuals. This is in Raag Hindolam, conveying the same mood as in "Dharisanam kidaikaadha" song which appears earlier in the film. Towards the end of the piece you will notice a mood change with an emotional male humming. Now listen to the piece and then read further.

As I said earlier, this piece is in Hindolam. But when the male humming starts, it changes to Srothaswani raga (Ni3 counterpart of Sudhdha dhanyasi) in a different shruthi. The madhyamam of hindolam becomes the shadjamam of srothaswani. And that is why the female humming ends at Sa ma ga ma, Sa ma ga ma, Sa ma ga ma, Sa ma ga ma, and the shruthi changes and the male humming starts at the upper Sa which is equivalent to the ma of hindolam. This technique of changing the shruthi is being called as shruthibedam. Lets look at the notes of the scales and see how the transformation was done and why it didn't sound odd when both the ragam and shruthi changes.

Hindolam (in 1/2 kattai)


Srothaswani (in 4 1/2 kattai)

Ni Sa

Western Notes C C# D D# E F F# G G# A A# B C C#

So as you can see above, even though the scale changes, almost all the notes which will be played / sung are the same. It is only with the relative base shruthi that you identify with the swaras and the ragas.

Some of my earlier posts on Shruthibedam in film songs - Kavithai Kelungal and Raa Raa. Infact Raa Raa is also based on Srothaswani.

Swara Harmonies

I was listening to some of the BGMs of Ilaiyaraaja. Here is a short BGM bit from the film Sindhubhairavi. Listen to the harmonies and overlaps in the Shanmugapriya raga. The audio quality is poor, kindly bear with it.

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And here is a similar piece in Mayamalavagowlai raga from the film "Alaigal Oyvathillai"

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A book named "Alaap"

Two weeks back, I was at bangalore for a family function. At my relative's home in bangalore, I saw a book named "Alaap". It was an introduction to indian classical music, and I was immediately hooked on to it. I was so engrossed in it and completed about half of the book in about an hour or so (I have never read novels, FYI). But unfortunately we had to leave so I couldn't complete the book.

It is basically a book for beginners to understand indian classical music. The set also comes with 20 CDs with various samples to refer and to understand. I didn't get to see the CDs but it seems there are lot of hindustani tracks, some carnatic songs and some western classical pieces too. I am not sure where this set is available for sale. I haven't yet checked the stores.

Here is a picture of the book cover on the right.

Inside the book cover, it says:
A creation of Sri Aurobindo Society, Pondichery, Bought to you buy Times Music, Mumbai.
This book forms part of the 'Alaap' set. Not to be sold separately.
There is always lots to learn in music. And the more you learn, the more you can appreciate music.

Kumaran Silks Paadum Office

I blogged about the inter-corporate music competition in September. Our band from AdventNet, participated in the competition and we could only reach the quarter finals. Anyway, this year, Star Vijay covered the event and it will be telecast as "Kumaran Silks Paadum Office" starting this Saturday, Nov 24th. It will be shown on every Saturday, 7-8 pm for the next 10 weeks. It is likely to be repeated on Sunday evening 4:30 pm as per Star Vijay's website. The promos for the show are already on air.

We performed in the Light Music Team category. And one of our colleagues participated in the light music solo category too.

The order of episodes is likely to be:

Episode No.  1 - Light Music - Team (Prelims)
Episode No.  2 - Light Music - Solo (Prelims)
Episode No.  3 - Classical   - Solo (Prelims)
Episode No.  4 - Classical   - Solo (Finals)
Episode No.  5 - Light Music - Solo (Quarter)
Episode No.  6 - Light Music - Team (Quarter)
Episode No.  7 - Light Music - Solo (Semi)
Episode No.  8 - Light Music - Team (Semi)
Episode No.  9 - Light Music - Solo (Finals)
Episode No. 10 - Light Music - Team (Finals)

Episode 1 and Episode 6 is where they are likely to show us. We were the first team to perform in the prelims. Look out for "Sangeetha Megam" from AdventNet. I was one of the keyboard players in our band.

The above picture is me playing the keyboard during the prelims round. Click on it to view the photo in the original size. Photo taken by my friend, Shanmugam.

Ennai Thalaatta Varuvaalo

The song "Ennai Thalaatta Varuvaalo" from "Kadhalukku Mariyadhai" is a very popular song by Ilaiyaraaja. Recently there was a song "Oru porkaalam thodangum" from the film "Kasthurimaan" again by Ilaiyaraaja. I could sense a similarity in the opening lines between the two songs. The tune looks somewhat similar. However the similarity ends after the first 2 lines. So I mixed the 2 songs together. Listen to this below. In the middle, you will notice that both the songs are played simultaneously with one song on the left and the other song on the right.

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Speaking of "Ennai Thalaatta Varuvaalo", the other version of this song from the same film is "Idhu Sangeetha Thirunaalo". Both these songs are set in 4/4 adhi thalam. The song is predominantly in the scale of the keeravani ragam, I believe. Now listen to the prelude of the "Idhu Sangeetha Thirunaalo" song below.

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When I listened to the above prelude, it seemed that the timing was in 3/4, but again it was not matching completely in 3/4. Then I heard a few more times and found that the timing goes as follows:

1 2 3 | 1 2 3 | 1 2 3 | 1 2 3 | 1 2 3 4 ||
1 2 3 | 1 2 3 | 1 2 3 | 1 2 3 | 1 2 3 4 ||

tha ki ta | tha ki ta | tha ki ta | tha ki ta | tha ka thi mi ||
tha ki ta | tha ki ta | tha ki ta | tha ki ta | tha ka thi mi ||

Each cycle comes to a total of 16 counts there by effortlessly maintaining or switching to the 4/4 beat after this initial piece. Again the actual beat is predominantly 1 2 3 | 1 2 3 | 1 2 || which is 8 counts.

The 16 beat count above is also used in the song "Siriya paravai siragai virithu" from the film "Antha Oru Nimidam" however in a much faster tempo. You will notice that the tune also fits into this timing. This is however used only for the 1st 2 lines.

Speaking of the Siriya paravai song, refer this article to know how IR has used Shruthibedam in this song, where he changes to Charukesi in the 2nd interlude and the following stanza.

Some of my earlier posts on Shruthibedam in film songs - Kavithai Kelungal and Raa Raa.

Blog on Background Scores by Suresh

Suresh Kumar has created a new blog dedicated to background scores in movies. He posts an audio of a BGM in his blog and asks readers to guess the movie. If you are interested in background scores or re-recording, then you would be definitely interested in his blog. Over a period of time, this will also become a repository of good background scores. Here is the URL of his blog.


Indian Keyboards

More than a month back, I had been to Sapthaswara Musicals in Mylapore to get some voice mics to aid in our practice sessions for the Inter Corporate Music Competition. I saw the demo of a new Yamaha Keyboard there. The model number is PSR I425. This contained certain indian instrument tones in addition to western instruments. The indian instruments included 2 types of sitar (very good), harmonium (single reed, double reed and triple reed - very good), sarod (not impressive), bansuri (OK), Tanpura (good) and indian percussions like tabla, dhol, mridangam, etc (very good). More information is available at psri425.com.

There were also some indian style accompaniments like bollywood mix, bhangra, Qawwali, Bhajan, indian pop and even a tamil folk beat (which was basically a 6/8 beat which lacked punch). There are around 12 such styles. The accompaniments were not impressive.

The western instrument tones such as the piano was not that good. However I did not check the other instruments. The brochure says amazingly realistic sounds. So may be you should check yourselves if you are looking to buy one. It had a pitch bend, which was absolutely necessary to serve the indian classical market. You can plugin your USB drive too to store or transfer songs or recordings.

This Yamaha keyboard was priced at around Rs. 19,000/-. That was quite expensive I felt. The salesman told that this was made exclusively for india and hence it won't be available in other places like Singapore. One had to buy in India only.

There is a new model from Casio too serving the indian market. The model is CTK-810IN. I did not check it out, but I was told that the Yamaha model was better than Casio. In addition to western tones and accompaniments, it has around 15 indian tones and 7 indian rhythm accompaniments. The Casio costs around Rs. 12,000/-. It can store songs and information in an SD card in addition to the USB port available. Technical specifications at: http://www.rajmusicals.com/product_info.php?products_id=1424

I always thought why they couldn't reproduce an indian classical instrument on the keyboard. Even drum pads have such tones in them for long. This is a welcome move and I hope it gets better and more affordable. Ofcourse it can't come close to a live instrument, but something is better than nothing.

Check out the brochures of these 2 models:

Casio Model
Front page: http://viewer.zoho.com/docs/ewdEW
Back page: http://viewer.zoho.com/docs/oxcnbd

Yamaha Model
Front page: http://viewer.zoho.com/docs/myid4
Back page: http://viewer.zoho.com/docs/ryPdF

I basically have a very modest Yamaha PSR 350 at home. It is more than sufficient for self learning or practicing at home. But for stage performances, it is not a good choice.

UPDATE (Feb 7, 2010): Here is a nice comparison between Yamaha PSR i425 and Casio CTK 5000 (another indian focused model) - http://www.rajib.com/2009/09/27/comparison-between-yamaha-psr-i425-and-casio-ctk-5000/

UPDATE (Dec 18 2011): I noticed an advertisement on The Hindu (dated Dec 17 2011) regarding a new model of Casio with Indian Instruments. The models are as below:

CTK 4200 - Rs. 10,000
CTK 3200 - Rs. 8,500
CTK 2200 - Rs. 6,400

And here is the advertisement:

Overlapping talas

The song "Kannalane" from the film "Bombay" is a well known one. I am not a big fan of this song, except for the sufi style singing by ARR in the first interlude. The bass and tabla combination also rocks here. During the interlude before the second stanza, there is a chorus section singing "gubu subu..." and after it is over, there is a small theermaanam in tabla after which the saranam starts. So I was thinking why was this extra bit added after the line / bar has been completed. So I started to look more into the talam of this song.

The talam of the song looks pretty much straightforward - adi talam or 4/4 in western. This is true for most of the song. When we come to the interlude under discussion, the tabla still plays the 4/4 rhythm. However the chorus melody is composed in 7/8 (misra chaapu). Misra chaapu is generally 3+4 counts. For example, tha ki ta ; tha ka thi mi. However this one seems to be 4+3 counts, which is: tha ka thi mi ; tha ki ta. I read somewhere that this talam is called "vilOma". Please correct me if I am wrong. That was very nicely done - mixing a 4/4 rhythm with a melody set in 7/8.

So I went ahead and tried to add 7/8 beats to the song, and here is the result. Somewhere in the middle, the melody changes to 4/4, but I couldn't find out where. This combination of talas necessiated the extra theermaanam at the end of the interlude. Use headphones to hear the below piece. You will hear the original song on the right speakers and the 7/8 rhythm that I added on the left.

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You can also follow this interlude, by putting the misra chappu talam in half the speed of the rhythm that I had played. That means, 1 "gubu subu" is 1 count.

There are a few instances of other such experiments too. I think the most talked about of them is "aagaya vennilave" from "arangetra velai". People say that the song is in roopakam while the tabla plays in 4/4 adi talam. Some time back my opinion was that the song as a whole was in 12/8, and hence the 4/4 rhythm will also suit this song. I am not sure on this though.

I also heard a mridangam player talking on radio. He was saying how tough it was playing for a song by ilaiyaraaja, where he had to play 4/4 adi talam, while the composition was in 7/8. I don't remember the song. You can imagine how tough it would be to play a completely different tala in a live orchestra. These days, with the help of technology, it is pretty much easy carrying on such experiments.

The song "Chinnan chiru vayadhil" from "Meendum Kokila" is in 3/4 (roopakam). After the 1st stanza, during the pallavi, an extra metal sound is heard in 4 counts overlapping with the 3/4 rhythm. This 4 counts may be perceived as a 4/4 or rather 6/8 meter.

One more often used thing is playing an occasional 6/8 theermanam / drum roll on top of 4/4. This is pretty much easy and hence I am not discussing that here. Do you know of any other similar complex experiments?

Finally, I don't know much about talas. So kindly correct me if there are any mistakes in this post. You can point them in the comments section.

Addictive Rhythm

I was hearing the "Anbe Nee Enna" song from Pandian on the radio. The rhythm pattern was captivating and I enjoyed every bit of the song mainly due to the beats. Ilaiyaraaja often experiments with different rhythm patterns in many of his songs and in some bgms too. Do you like this song too?

Inter-corporate music competition

James Vasanthan's BigDeal media regularly conducts inter-corporate music competitions during the last 3 -4 years, where singers and bands from the corporate world take part. Many software companies and organizations from other sectors take part in this competition. Our band, from AdventNet, has participated 3 times in group music (band) category. I play the keyboard in our band. We got the 1st prize in the first competition and 2nd prize during subsequent competitions. The competition predominantly used to be film music (popular music). However since last year, they included additional categories for classical music and western music. We couldn't participate last year due to lack of time and preparation.

This year, the competition starts on October 13th. And we intend to participate in it. And this time, Star Vijay channel is covering the event as a reality show. For more details on this competition, refer:


If you are an aspiring singer, or if you have a band in your organization, go ahead and register in this competition. You have celebrity singers and musicians, judging and take noticing of you.

Find sounds on the web

I came across 2 sites from where you can download various sounds or drum loops. Do you want a clock ticking sound or an animal sound or a vehicle sound or a dhol beat loop or an african rhythm for use in your compositions? You can get many such sounds in these sites.

Here are 2 sites that I came across:

1. soundsnap.com seems to be free from copyright issues. From their site:
Soundsnap is the best platform to find and share free sound effects and loops- legally. It is a collection of original sounds made or recorded by its users, and not songs or sound FX found on commercial libraries or sample CD's. It was originally started by a small group of sound people from all over the world. Our common belief is that sounds and samples should be free for everyone to use in their projects, commercial or not.
So basically if you have some unique sounds or loops, you can contribute in the above site too. I created a couple of loops in the FL Studio demo version software. I am planning to share them in the above site. By the way, the FL Studio software is awesome.

2. findsounds.com on the other hand searches for audio files hosted by Web sites throughout the world. So there are bound to be copyright issues. From their site:
When you perform a search using FindSounds.com or the WebPalette feature of FindSounds Palette, you obtain links to audio files hosted by Web sites throughout the world. The sounds in these audio files may be copyrighted and their use governed by national and international copyright laws. We do not offer advice on the fair use of these files. In compliance with the United States Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, we will remove links to copyrighted sounds from FindSounds.com and FindSounds Palette at the request of the copyright holder. Such requests must be made in writing and identify the specific links to be removed.
Let me know if you find more such sites.

Here is another site that I came across:
3. freesound.org is a collaborative database of Creative Commons licensed sounds. Here is the license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/sampling+/1.0/.

Poongathave - Remastered?

I heard the wonderful "Poongathave Thaazh Thiravai" song (based on the mayamalavagowlai scale) from Nizhalgal twice over the last week on FM. It seems someone has digitally remastered the song. I have heard the original song on my computer, but this one sounded different. The prelude strings are slightly different, the chords are very much audible through out the song, the thavil sound at the end of the prelude changed. Please note that the notes / orchestration hasn't changed, just that it sounds different. The voices and most of the instruments seems to be the same.

And again in the second interlude, when the solo violin is played, a guitar arpeggio is heard. And this one completely drowns the wonderful counter melody in flute which can be heard in the original song. Does anyone know what notes are played in the flute melody along with the solo violin. I am not able to match the ending notes with any particular note / key. It seems to be deliberately off key, but doesn't sound so.

Have you heard this new version of the song?

Remix of New York Nagaram

Of late, I don't get much time to blog. So I am just posting some of my earlier works to keep this blog active. I did a small remix of the New York Nagaram song for the background of a particular video. I just added some beats and adjusted the levels. You can listen to the remix below. Let me know your views.

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Callback tune

I composed a simple piece using the telephone ring and I wanted to keep it as my callback tune or hello tunes (Meaning the caller will hear this tune instead of the normal tring tring). Unfortunately Airtel doesn't allow custom tunes in Song catcher. It just matches the recorded tune with its database and then if there is a suitable match, it will set it as hello tune. So I then tried setting it as my ringtone on my mobile - Motorazr v3i. But unfortunately it changes the audio levels and only the ring sound is louder. Here is the composition. Let me know your views on this composition.

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Thottal poo malarum Remix

Here is my remix of the old thottal poo malarum and the "new" thottal poo malarum song. Since both the songs were in the same scale and shruthi, it was easy. The tempo of the old song alone was changed to match the new one.

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Recent songs that caught my attention

Here are couple of recent songs that caught my attention (apart from the chartbusters like Sivaji / Cheeni Kum):

  1. "Engivalai Naan Perave" from Ninaithu Ninaithu Parthen (Music: Joshua Sridhar)
    This is a very nice song that I have been recently listening on radio. The thing that caught my attachment is the pallavi where the tune in plain notes has nice overlaps in the upper octave in carnatic style. I thought this is based on Raag Hansdhwani (or Hamsadhwani) but I have my doubts on it. Infact in the second interlude, when the singer sings swaras he includes the Ma note. So it seems to have the notes Sa Ri Ga Ma Pa Ni and Sa in the Shankarabharanam scale. But I don't think it is Kedaram or Nalinakanthi. Or may be I am wrong. Please correct if I am wrong. And by the way, this song is sung by Gowtham who I think was one of the finalists of Airtel Super Singer.

  2. "Uppu Kallu" from Karuppusamy Kuthagaitharar (2007) (Music: Dhina)
    This is again a nice melody that I keep listening to often in radio or on TV. Though some phrases in the song sounds familiar, it is a nice melody overall. Bombay Jayashree's vocals makes it even more enjoyable.
What do you think on these songs?

Voices in Harris Jayaraj's music

I have observed that some of the voices in Harris Jayaraj's music sound better and sophisticated than the same voices under other music directors. Examples:

  1. Karthik - Oru Maalai, Oru Ooril
  2. Haricharan - Vaigasi Nilave
  3. Krish - Manjal Veyil (humming of vennilave)

What do you think?

Raag Revathi in Films

Revathi is the first raagam that I learnt on my small keyboard 10 years ago. Here is the arohanam and avarohanam:

a: S R1 M1 P N2 S
A: S N2 P M1 R1 S

Western notations: C C# F G A# C

This is not used much in films may be due to the classical / devotional flavor. The first film song I knew in Revathi is the "Ye Mera India" from the film "Pardes". It is a very good composition in Revathi. It suits the patriotic flavor too very well.

Other songs in Revathi include:

- Sangeetha Jaathi Mullai (1st half)
- Mandhira Punnagai from Manal Kayiru
- Some portions of Vizhigal Medaiyaam... Julie I love you from a Mohan film, Kilinjalgal
- And the more recent title song from "Naan Avan Illai"

I was listening to the Naan Avan Illai song, kaakha kaakha, today morning on Radio and hence this blog post. It was interesting how the composer, Vijay Antony, had used Revathi for a peppy song.

Ooh La La La Forms available

The registration forms for the much awaited Ooh La La La contest for music bands is available on the official website http://oohlalala.in/

It is basically a contest for music bands in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. The bands in Tamil Nadu have to basically compose tunes for Lyricist Vaali's lyrics on the topic Nambikkai. Judges would be Vasundhra Das along with other celebrities. The judge for the finals is none other than A R Rahman.

For more information on the contest, you can also refer to the website http://ooh-lalala.com/ which is maintained by a Rahman fan. This is an unofficial site on the event.

Guess this song

Can you guess this song? I have set a different orchestration to this tamil song.

Please click on the play button to listen to the song.


Song I hate - Dhol Bhaje from Deepavali

One of the recent songs that I hate, is the song "Dhol Bhaje" from the Tamil film "Deepavali". I really don't know whether it is the tune or the lyrics. But I HATE it a lot. The picturisation would also be funny with the villain dancing along.

Guess the interludes

Ajitha Watal posted a link to the following blog:


In the above blog, Sonata posts interludes of songs and quizzes the bloggers daily on tamil songs. It is really a nice one. I used to be fascinated by certain interludes or portions of interludes (esp. Ilaiyaraaja's) and it is a good way to share those with the world.

I have also changed the embedded player from odeo to esnips in my previous blog post. Now it plays the song properly. Let me know your views about it.

Ilaiyaraaja's interludes

We all know Ilaiyaraaja is a master in orchestration. I noticed a few songs of IR where the interludes begin with a specific phrase (tune), goes on to explore and then return back to the same phrase before starting the charanam. This is really very interesting. I have compiled a list of such songs that I know. Do add any other similar songs that I might have missed out.
  1. Idhazhil Kadhai Ezhudhum - Unnal Mudiyum Thambi
    Notice the first BGM
  2. Ellorum Sollum Paatu - Marubadiyum
    Again notice the first BGM
  3. Oh Butterfly - Meera
    The strings section in the first BGM
  4. Enavendru Solvadhama - Rajakumaaran
    The guitar+flute dual piece in the first BGM
  5. Kuyil Paatu (happy) - En Raasavin Manasile
    Both the first and the second interludes
Here is an audio with all the above interludes. Click on the play button to start playing.


Hope you liked it. If you remember more such numbers do add them in the comments.

UPDATE: Refer a new version of this clip at http://rameshonmusic.blogspot.in/2012/04/ilaiyaraajas-cyclic-interludes.html.