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Song of the Day # 94

From: bb (@ on: Fri Oct 25 01:42:46 EDT 2002

Song of the Day: EdhO mOgam from kOzhi koovuthu.


- MD: IR. Sung by SJ/Krishnachander. Lyrics: http://www.tfmpage.com/tfsa/english/songs/koazkoov.htm#AedhoaMoagam
- In http://tfmpage.com/forum/25249.13122.14.34.19.html , rjay analyzed this song:
I am tempted to analyse "Aedho moham" first. If some one can create MP3 clips of the sections of the song, it will be helpful. We have also created a rough MIDI interpretation, which you can see track by track. That is on my www.geocities.com/rjaymidi page.

Here is how I see the sections:
1. Pre-intro by String section and a small canon.
2. Intro water sound, guitar ostinato and theme by solo flute
3. Pallavi by girl & group
4. Pallavi with percussion
5. 1st BGM guitar arpeggios & flute solo
6. 1st BGM break and String section transition
7. Guitar solo
8. 1st BGM recap by string section
9. Charanam theme and elobaration (pretty much a single mood and style)
10. Charanam ending (vidiyacholli kozhi koovudhu)
11. Pallavi repeated
12. String section leadin
13. String quartet theme
14. Flute calls - break
15. Flute solo followed by strings
16. Charanam 2
17. Pallavi recap
18. Ending

These sections are just for our convenience in discussion. The composition is so complex and well integrated that if we listen to any of this section, we will feel dissatisfaction. This is a mark of great music which is well balanced. Remove a section or a track and you will see the imbalance!
Let us take one by one each section and try to listen closely.

Here are some principles which I use to understand a composition:
1. The purpose of an intro is to get the listener into the mood and also strongly state the main theme of the music.
2. The texture of the sound, either its pace or layers or volume increases gradually in the intro.

See how masterly Raja does this. The intro begins with a rather slow (quarter note based) string quartet. Flutes (picollo) play a counter theme. Then flutes repeat what the strings say with a nice delay. This is a canon form is WC, because the repetition has to be harmonious to the new theme being played by inst 1. Keyboard like instrument ends the pre-intro with a simple falling 4 note pattern played many times (it is called as an ostinato). A guitar repeats a rising ostinato which has same rhythm as the falling ostinato. There is some water bubbling noise that creates an ambience of being outdoors. Maybe taking bath. Picollo (high pitched flute) plays the theme in short two note themes. Held notes. If you notice it is the pallavi itself: Ae dho ..... Mo ham.... Ae dho.... Dhagam. then it rounds it off. This solo is very soul stirring. The style of playing is very western, the flute does not use any sliding notes or gamakam. In spite of that there is so much emotion there. See how the context of silence is set by the guitar ostinati and enough space is created for the solo to impact the listener. The girl sings the aedho mogam pallavi. She sings it in a longing voice as if a whisper. Chorus girls say a-a-a-a, in a two or three part harmony!
There are many things to learn here itself!
Principle 3: Balance
While the flute sang the notes as sustained notes, the girl sings them abruptly, like played in piano. To counteract that the choir girls sing a smooth harmony as a call-response. Aedho is the call, A-a-a-a is the response. The call response is one of the most favorite features of Raja.
Balance is acheived in many many ways. Aedho is a rising note pattern. First A-a-a-a is a falling melody. Dhagam - is a single note melody. The second a-a-a-a is a holding pattern. (neither rising nor falling) Final dhagam is a falling pattern and the corresponding a-a-a-a is a rising pattern!
So melody wise, rising and falling patterns are interwoven. A composer does not calculate them as an algorithm, but when is mind is filled with the musical sensibilities whatever he hums or plays is balanced by natural instinct.
See the difference between neththuvarai section which is very low and soft and the sudden 'Devi' rise which dramatically increases the musical tension and the recapture of 'vanakkiliyae'
Principle 4: Repetition with a variation
When the girl sings the pallavi, we already have heard it in the flute solo, so we recognize it. It increases its impact.
But see how different this pallavi used as prelude is from some-other MDs style who play the entire pallavi without a variation. I am sure Ilayaraja wrote the prelude much after composing the pallavi, but he gives only the core of the pallavi in the flute solo, not the entire pallavi and anupallavi and he even adds a variation to it. Finally, the pallavi has been sung by the girls, but I think it is still part of the intro, the texture has thickened from flute solo, to voices, but only at vanakiliyae the rythm, bass everything jumps in and we see the pallavi sungs with full force. Already our intro/pallavi distinction is breaking up.
Talking of balance, a good composition balances short notes with long notes, soft sections with bright sections, slow sections with fast sections, low pitch with high pitch, bass with treble and so on. In this composition, try to listen for the silent sections vs louder sections, slow sections with fast sections and so on. You will begin to see the compositional genius. This dramatic use of dynamics and the use of silence as a concentrating device is a key style of Raja. Let us look at the basic groove of the song during pallavi. It is quite simple but is a pacy groove. It is built from a simple congo drum rhythm. (is also used in "chengamalam chirikkudu") There is a strong bass line and a acoustic guitar which pretty much reinforces the congo rhythm. (This is my listening, could be wrong). Check with my arrangement of it in the midi file. Once the pallavi finishes, the guitar or a bell plays an arpeggio movement that ends in a repetitive loop echoing itself. The flute plays a solo again, this time little more gamakams are used. And the congo/guitar loop/flute provide a flowing feel, which is abruptly broken by the flute's single note calls. It is as if, someone running smooth got caught into this feeling and is stunned! The flute calls are now responded by the string quartet. In style this is very similar to the girl/choral call response in pallavi. Here it is flute/string call response.
But look at the way the chords change. I invite Srikanth to decipher the chords, because I just play by the ear without much theory of harmony. But there is a key change, the chords seem to move more and more out of context until the long note is played in a key very different from the main mood of the song! It is an amazing disruption of balance. A very similar device is used by Mozart in his Night music. Silence. Solo acoustic guitar picks up the key and elobarates. Again series of chord change. This kind of harmonic progression is another key style marker of Raja. Due to the key and also due to the guitar solo nature, this solo is really an expression of a painful mindstate often brought about by adolescent love! Strings try to lighten the mood, by playing a relaxing and more baroque (crisp) ending to the BGM. Notice how the BGM itself is a song with a distinct beginning middle and end. In fact if you look further, each of these sections themselves have a beginning, middle and end. This is the fractal structure of music (parts reveal further structure).
Again test for our balance principle. Soft voice (flute) juxtaposed with majestic (string section) and pulse like rhythms (initial ostinati and later String stabs during flute calls) along with longer note themes (string ending piece).
Wow! This man is magic!
And what happens to the percussion section? It starts off the BGM briskly and is abruptly switched off to allow for the flute solo, then comes up during last section to lead into the charanam.


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