Maalai Pozhudhil Oru - Our version of a Bharathiar song

Presenting to you, a Bharathiar song set to tune and sung by my colleague, Sai Sundhar. He had tuned it wonderfully in Raag Bageshri and Raag Abheri. Bageshri in itself evokes a sense of yearning / a separation / waiting for reunion. I think this is exactly what this song is about and hence the choice of the raga seems to be apt.

Music was arranged by me (Sripathy Ramesh). I wanted to give emphasis to the melody and the lyrics and so I kept the arrangement/orchestration very simple and subtle. I felt I could have done a better job to keep it more interesting. Anyway, listen to it and share your feedback in the comments.

Maalai Pozhuthil Oru

Lyrics: Subramania Bharatiyar
Tuned & Sung by: Sai Sundhar Padmanabhan
Arrangement: Sripathy Ramesh
Tabla and Tanpura: RiyazStudio

மாலைப் பொழுதிலொரு மேடை மிசையே
வானையும் கடலையும் நோக்கி யிருந்தேன்;
மூலைக் கடலினையவ் வான வளையம்
முத்தமிட் டேதழுவி முகிழ்த்தல் கண்டேன்;
நீல நெருக்கிடையில் நெஞ்சு செலுத்தி,
நேரங் கழிவ திலும் நினைப்பின்றியே
சாலப் பலபல நற் பகற்கனவில்
தன்னை மறந்தலயந் தன்னில் இருந்தேன்

Music in bird calls

I came across this interesting article on 'The Hindu' regarding music in bird calls. It talks about how one can interpret different classical ragas and talas in birdcalls. It also talks about how birdsongs have inspired western classical music composers as well. Here is the link to the article - Avian Super Singers.

Raag Hamsadhwani/Hansdhwani and Raag Hamsanadham literally mean "Sound of Swan"

Was flute the earliest developed musical instrument (melodic)? If so, was it inspired from bird calls?
The film 'Ullasam' shows Vikram's character being inspired from a bird song and then uses the same melody for the "Veesum Kaatrukku" song. View that scene here (starts at 11:55):

Representing the sound of a bird on a musical instrument in film songs:
There are numerous songs in films that use certain instruments in a certain way to depict a bird sound. Most of them invariably use the flute to depict the bird call. Here are some such songs:
  • Idhu Oru Pon Maalai - Nizhalgal - Ilaiyaraaja
    I am not even talking about the opening bird chirp sounds. I am talking about the flute sounds and keyboard sounds in the preludes, interludes and charanams. Listen to the whole song once by clicking on the link above and appreciate the usage of various instruments to depict birds on the evening sky. This song is based on Kedaram ragam which is a janya of Shankarabharanam. Typically the sounds of bird calls belong to the scale of Shankarabharanam and its janya and hence it is so apt here.
  • Kuyil Paatu - En Raasavin Mansile - Ilaiyaraaja
    'Kuyil Paatu' translates to 'Cuckoo Song'. Again, the flute is used as a symbolic representation of a bird call (specifically cuckoo). And the raga used here is Shivaranjani, which is quite atypical for a bird sound, but it really fits well. Though this raga is used for pathos situation, I also heard that this raga is also suitable for situations where one is expecting or longing for someone. Considering that, the situation of this 'Kuyil Paatu' song as well as 'Kaathirundhu Kaathirundhu Kaalangal Pogudhadi' seems to suit well and both are based on Raag Shivaranjani.
  • Thirakkadha Kaattukulle - En Swasa Kaatre - A R Rahman
    This song is set in the midst of nature. Interestingly, there is no flute sound in this song. The bird sounds are brought out in the form of synths sounds in the opening and as staccato notes on the guitar (charanam). And incidentally, most of the charanam is in Raag Hamsadhwani (sound of swan).
  • Ila Nenje Vaa - Vanna Vanna Pookkal - Ilaiyaraaja
    This is another song that celebrates nature. Again we can see the use of flute sounds depicting bird calls. One interesting thing is that there is a flute response to each line of the vocals. I think this song is based on Sudhadhanyasi ragam.
  • Oh Butterfly - Meera - Ilaiyaraaja
    This song is about a butterfly (ok, it is an insect, not bird). Look at how the singing and arrangements are very soft and delicate, similar to how you would want to touch and handle a butterfly. Specifically listen to the 2nd interlude - the harpsichord runs, the staccato notes on the flute all symbolize numerous butterflies flying around, exactly the way the picturization was done.
And there could be numerous other songs similar to the ones mentioned above. Maalayil Yaaro could be one such song. 

And here are some songs from independent albums that represent insects:
  • Poo Eru Konum - Thiruvasakam - Ilaiyaraaja
    This one is related to an honey bee. Observe how the music accurately brings out the representation of a bee flapping its wings and flying between flowers. It uses tremolo, pizzicato, fast phrases and trills in the Strings section and the Flute - all to bring out the effect of a bee flying. This song is predominantly based on Raag Sudhadhanyasi and some parts in Raag Madhukauns.
  • Mosquito - Connections - A R Rahman
    This track from Connections uses the Saarangi instrument effectively to create the effect of a mosquito buzzing around your head (listen on headphones). Of course there are some sound effects (like resonance?) added to the instrument to effectively bring out the effect.

Speaking of birds, flutes and hamsadhwani, here is one of my compositions which is set predominantly in Hamsadhwani raga. I have used the flute instrument in this song. I didn't intend to represent a bird call, but may be because of the raga and how it has been played (by Dilip), I now hear a bird call, especially during the opening of the song.
Mudhan Mudhalai - Sripathy Ramesh

Another related blog post on bird song with respect to Western Classical Music: 

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