Mudhan Mudhalai - My first full-fledged song

Here is my first full-fledged song which I composed more than 6 years ago. I am uploading it for public listening only now. Listen to it and share your feedback on the comments section.

All those involved were my colleagues. It was more like a home recording.

Mudhan Mudhalai - v1

This arrangement is the version that was done initially.

Music: Sripathy Ramesh | Lyrics: Kudiyarasan | Vocals: Srivatsan and Vijayalakshmi
Guitar: Sriram E | Drums: Rajesh G

Mudhan Mudhalai - v2

Later, I wanted to try a different arrangement to this song using the same vocals. Here is the result:

Music: Sripathy Ramesh | Lyrics: Kudiyarasan | Vocals: Srivatsan and Vijayalakshmi
Flute: Dilip | Guitar: Sriram E

Do share your feedback on the different version of the songs posted above. Which one did you like better?

Bonus Track - Sad Instrumental

This is a sad instrumental version of the Mudhan Mudhalai humming which you would have heard in the first version.

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My thoughts on Megha and Kalvane analysis

I was eagerly awaiting Ilaiyaraaja's 'Megha' album the moment I saw the recording clips posted on YouTube much before the release of the audio. I had good expectation of the album based on the melodies I heard and also because of the fact that IR was collaborating with the Hungary musicians after Neethane En Ponvasantham. Here are my rough thoughts on the album:

Mugilo Megamo:
I loved this song when I watched the recordings on youtube. The melody was really nice with the typical Ilaiyaraaja touch (esp the pallavi end and charanam end). The start of the charanam is also really good. I loved Ilaiyaraaja's rendering more than Yuvan's as IR gives more soul to the song in his singing. I guess it is always the original composer who can give the right feel to a song as per his original intent.

Chellam Konjam:
This is a very peppy song with some good drumming. As Rajiv mentioned, the bass lines ascending on the first line and descending on the second line is the first thing that caused my attention. And that too the timing of the bass in the 2nd line seemed tough to grasp. The chords backing the lines "vinmeen keten vaanam thanthai" in the pallavi sounds really nice and typical of Raja. And when the song breaks into "megam megathodu konji", you invariably swing your heads, in sync of the song's rhythm. A peppy song.

Enna Vendum:
This song has very good drumming. It sounds a little old style though, probably due to the tune and priyadarshini's voice. Neverthless, enjoyable. The 4 bars of just the beats before the 1st charanam is my favorite portion. It is not a regular pattern I believe.

Jeevane Jeevane:
To me, this didn't appeal me yet. May be it is lengthy and a bit monotonous.

Putham Puthu Kaalai:
This is a re-recorded version of the popular Puthu Puthu Kaalai song sung previously by S Janaki. This version is sung by Anitha. Though it is good overall, I felt Chitra or Shreya Ghosal would have done better justice to the song in today's times. Also I felt the song could have been sung in a more relaxed pace. There was some variation in the manner the 1st interlude ended (bass+epiano) and the 1st charanam started. The timing was a little different than the original one, but still in time, unlike the timing confusion in the prelude strings.

This is a very Jazzy number and I loved the Strings section in it. It sounds so nice, especially the Strings backings in the pallavi and the first interlude. This has something different going on in the charanam. The song seems to change color in the charanam and so I wanted to understand what happens there. Here is my observation:

The song is predominantly set in E minor scale. When the charanam starts, the song is still in E minor in the first few lines. Then you can notice that it totally changes color. That is because, the scale changes from E minor to C minor. That is, the Dhaivatham of E minor becomes the Shadjamam and the scale now is C minor. The melody goes like SS, gRS ,P in C minor.

Then in the last line of the charanam, the song again changes scale to G minor scale I believe. The notes are almost same as that as pallavi (SRg SRg SRg mPmR), but in a different scale, G minor.

IR has used this technique in many of his songs. The technique is that of ending the charanam with same tune as pallavi, but in a different scale or starting from a different note/octave in the same scale. Example of same technique used in other songs:

  • Kodai Kala Kaatre, 
  • Poova Eduthu Oru, 
  • Satru Munbu, 
  • Vaanaville, 
  • Nee Thoongum Nerathil, 
  • Kalvane,
    ...and there could be many more such songs. 

Coming back to the Kalvane song, after the last line of charanam, the song comes back to the original E minor scale. Same notes (SRg SRg SRg mPmg) but this time in E minor scale. So I think there is atleast 1 scale change and may be even 2 scale changes in this awesome song. And I haven't gone into identifying the time signature of this song yet. I am guessing it could either be 4/4 swing or 6/8.

Here is my rough try just for demonstration and understanding purpose. Please ignore all the imperfections of my playing.

Overall, I liked the album. It uses the same sound palette as that of Neethane En Ponvasantham (because of the same hungary musicians) and it is good to listen to full acoustic music. It doesn't reach the heights of Neethane En Ponvasantham, but neverthless it is a very likeable album.

Enga Pona Raasa vs Vinnai Thandi Varuvaaya

A R Rahman, Shakthisree Gopalan & Keba Jeramiah
jam together before recording ‘Enga Pona Raasa’.
This post is a comparison of sorts between Enga Pona Raasa from Maryan and Vinnai Thandi Varuvaaya from the movie Vinnai Thandi Varuvaaya. It compares these two songs and brings out the similarties of some of the technicalities used by A R Rahman in these songs.

Enga Pona Raasa is a nice song from Maryan. It is not the pick of the album, but it was interesting to me while looking at the technical details. Lets dive into the comparison.

Both the songs are solo songs and have the acoustic guitar (more than 1 acoustic guitar) as the main accompaniment. Vinnai Thandi Varuvaaya has additional backing vocals during the stanza portions. The guitar accompaniment is the first similarity you might notice between these two songs.

Time Signature Changes
Yenga Pona Raasa is interesting. At first listen to some, it might sound as 3/4. Actually it is in 7/8 with the guitar arpeggio pattern as 123 123 1 | 123 123 1 ||. It can also be construed as 123 1234 | 123 1234 ||. Listen to the song from 0:22 to 1:22 to understand the pattern. From the interlude at 1:42, it adds an additional count to the bar and switches to 4/4 with the pattern as 123 123 12 | 123 123 12 || and continues the same in the Saranam. During the last 2 lines of the saranam at 2:26, the melody switches to 7/8 while the guitar rhythm continues in 4/4. And then it is back to pallavi in 7/8.

A similar time signature change can be noted in Vinnai Thandi Varuvaaya as well. This song is set in 4/4 with the pattern as 123 123 12 | 123 123 12 ||. However mid-way at 1:58, the song shifts to 3/4 by removing the last two counts. So the pattern becomes 123 | 123 ||. Then again at 2:35 it changes back to 4/4 during the pallavi.

Start of melody with respect to the taal cycle
In a composition, a melody can start at any count in the taal cycle (bar). It can start exactly at the first count of the beat or somewhere before or after the first count. Read about Graha Niyama here. This is not a big deal as such. But the striking similarity in both these songs is that the melody starts at a particular count of the taal cycle in the first pallavi, but at a different count of the taal cycle in the ending pallavi.

If you take Enga Pona Raasa first pallavi at 0:33, you will notice that the song starts at the 4th count of the 7-beat tala cycle. Example:

    2    3    |    1    2    3    4    ||
                    enga pona raa  saa

But the same lines during the ending pallavi at 2:37, it starts at the first count of the tala cycle as follows. And this fits the tune with the tala cycle better.

1    2    3    |    1    2    3    4    ||
enga pona raa       saa

Now lets look at the other song Vinnai Thaandi Varuvaaya from 0:22.The taal cycle starts at 0:22 and during the 8th count of the cycle, the line 'Vinnai Thaandi' starts.

1 2 3  1 2 3  1 2      | 1     2 3  1 2 3  1 2 ||
                vinnai | thaan di

If you compare that to the ending pallavi at 2:34, you will notice that the 'Vinnai Thaandi' starts at the 7th count instead of the 8th count used earlier. And this fits the tune with the tala cycle better. It goes like the following.

1 2 3  1 2 3  1      2     | 1     2 3  1 2 3  1 2 ||
              vinnai thaan | di

As you can see above, there are a lot of similarities in the techniques used in these 2 songs. I am glad to see Rahman experimenting with different talas and I am glad with the increasing usage of acoustic guitar in his recent songs as well.

UPDATE (July 14, 2013):
It looks like the song started as a 4/4 song and then later morphed into a 7/8 song. Don't miss the making video of this song:

Maryan - My thoughts and observations

For the past few days, I have been listening to Maryan on and off. Some random thoughts and observations (in random order) on the album. I am not reviewing this album as such, but just registering my observations from a technical point of view.

  • Rahman has been using acoustic guitar and accordion more and more now-a-days. May be he wants to feature more acoustic instruments in his songs. I think Guitarist Keba is working with him now-a-days.
  • Innum Konja Neram is quite good. The way AR has made the singers to sing softly is interesting. One cannot judge that the singer is Vijay Prakash from the soft singing. There is some Kadal hangover though, may be it has a slight resemblance to the template of Nenjukkulle (the guitars, the accordion, the flutes, the scale chosen, etc).
  • Rahman has been experimenting with songs in different time signature of late. Previously, most of the songs will be in 4/4. But if you look at the Kadal album, the number of songs in 4/4 is lesser than the rest. There were songs in 6/8 and 3/4.

    With respect to Maryan:

    Innum Konja Neram is in 6/8,

    Netru Aval is in 3/4. I can sense a little resemblance to Sahana from Sivaji in the higher ranges - may be the chord change.

    Yenga Pona Raasa is interesting. It is in 7/8 with the pattern as 123 123 1 | 123 123 1 ||. The serene guitar backing is really nice. From the interlude, it switches to 4/4 with the pattern as 123 123 12 | 123 123 12 || and continues the same in the Saranam. During the last 2 lines of the saranam, the melody switches to 7/8 while the guitar rhythm continues in 4/4. And then back to pallavi in 7/8. The music totally stops and Yenga Pona Raasa line in this pallavi has absolutely no backing which creates a good impact. The chord (maj 7th?) at the next line 'Sayngalam aachu' actually conveys the feeling of saayngalam (dusk). Wonder how that came about. This song also reminds me of Vinnaithandi Varuvaaya from Vinnaithandi Varuvaaya sung by Karthik. That one is also predominantly with guitar backings. And there is also a play in the time signature in that song as well. It is 4/4 with pattern as 123 123 12 | 123 123 12 and then it between changes to 3/4 with the pattern as 123 123 | 123 123.
  • I like Nenje Ezhu. The song has that motivational feel to it.
    Sonapareeya was interesting during the first listen itself.
    Kadal Raasa Naan - still not hooked to it. But good to know that he has used IR's son Yuvan in this song. 

On the whole, I like the album. It has a mix of fast and slow songs, with the slow ones being the ones that stand out. It also has a lot of dynamics with soft passages and loud passages. And one needs to listen in a calm environment to appreciate the slow songs better. Related post:

East West Symphonic Orchestra VST Deal

If you are into music production / composing, then you might be interested in this. East West Symphonic Orchestra from Sounds Online is one of the best orchestral VSTs around I believe.

They are currently having a 50% off deal for all their products on account of their 25th anniversary. This is there for around 6 months I think. Now since yesterday up till May 31st, they offer an additional $50 off (coupon code: MEMORIAL2013) for purchases above $200. I just ordered a Symphonic Orchestra Gold Edition. You might want to make use of this deal if you already had plans of purchasing one of those Orchestral VSTs.

Other notable orchestral VSTs:

1) Miroslav Philharmonik from IK Multimedia - starts at 24 euros with the full version at 120 euros.

2) Garritan Personal Orchestra 4 - $150, Garritan Instant Orchestra - $180