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Karthik Raja

Karthik Raja has always been one of my favorite composers no matter how many bad albums he gave in the past. He has the potential to give great music and I still have strong belief that he would make it to the top one day in Tamil film music like his brother. Unfortunately in film music, the fate and success of a composer is based on the mass appeal and the commercial success of the music no matter how bad the quality of music may be. As you can see here, I was really worried that a composer who gave soundtracks like “Ullasam”, “Album”, “Dum Dum Dum”, “Kudaikkul Mazhai”, “Naam Iruvar Namakku Iruvar” didn’t have a single release in 2005.

But I am happy that few albums got released this year. “Solla Varthaigal Illai” from Mercury Pookal is one of the best melodies of the year. When I listen to this song, "Yaaro Nenjukkul Vandhu Oru Laksham Violingalai mella mella ragathodu isaipadhu pol irukkiradhae". And now in two consecutive releases “Naalai” and “Manadhodu Mazhaikaalam” he has given a kind of music that I have been carving for a long time to hear from him. I like all the songs in both the albums. Both are completely satisfying soundtracks. Sometimes when you are so much in love with the composer, even his bad songs may sound good, better songs may sound great. I was asking myself whether me liking the songs of “Naalai” and “Manadhodu Mazhaikaalam(MM)” is also like that. But after more listening, I am convinced that it is actually good, infact too good. To music lovers, whose verdict on the song is based on the main tune of the song, the songs of Karthik Raja may not appeal much but for if you listen deep into orchestrations, rhythm patterns and lot of small experimentations in the songs, Karthik Raja’s composition will just blow you away.

Here are some reasons why I like Karthik Raja’s music

Karthik Raja – Man of Rhythms

Obviously, rhythm patterns that he uses for his melodies or for any kind of songs are truly innovative. He sure knows when to use rhythms that go in synch with the melody, that is, which just echoes the rhythm that is within the melody. More than that, the use of rhythms that is not in synch with the rhythm of the melody makes most of his songs much more interesting. He not just employs the percussions for rhythm; infact a melody played by some other melody-playing instrument can be used as a rhythm for the main melody of the song as you can listen in the few seconds after the second interlude in the song “Pudhidai” from MM. But you just can’t leave without mentioning his brilliant percussion usage, as in songs like “Desingu Raja”, “Oru Kottaikul”, “Meyyanatha”, “Thathi Aduthey” and almost all the songs in “Naalai”. Another high light is no song of his will have same rhythm pattern till the end, the number of variations are many and all will be well glued to the main melody. Especially the way he cuts one of two beats in between or at the end from familiar rhythms makes some of his rhythm patterns familiar and yet unique. He does the mix of e-beats with real percussions really well.

Piano usage along with the melody

Take any best melody of Karthik Raja you can listen a piano playing the same notes as that of the main melody in the background. I don’t know why, but I like this combination very much. When the melody is so good, a piano following it enhances the overall feel of song especially when it is a romantic one. In some songs, he has used instruments like sitar, acoustic guitar for this kind of effect.


Orchestration is another department where Karthik Raja scores. Like his father, he is heavily influenced by Western Classical Music, but unlike his father he doesn’t employ too much of strings in his songs. He uses it at right places in right songs. His is simple and elegant orchestration. Listen to the background score of “Kudaikkul Mazhai”, sheer genius. The “dance with Saree” theme in “Kudaikkul Mazhai” is one of my all time favorite movie themes. Also I liked “Dum Dum Dum” background score. The main love theme of the movie that comes almost at the interval block when Madhavan and Jyothika are split by their parents is a beautiful melody and most of the sequences in second half has different orchestral versions of this theme. I should say all of them are great. Coming to the songs, my favorite orchestrations are in “Veesum Kaatrukku”, “Desingu Raja”, “Intha Siripinai parthaen” and “Kavidhaigal Sollava” song.

Voice Doubling Effect

This is one of the unique techniques that Karthik follows in at least one song in every other soundtrack. Sometimes it turns very annoying when the same voice is heard in two extreme pitches simultaneously. But in most cases, it adds a pleasant feel to the melody. It is something like an inner soul singing along. I think this effect works better in romantic melodies than fast numbers.

Rooted in Classical

The tunes of Karthik Raja have a special flavour in it. It is so melodious and strongly rooted in Indian classical music. When such melodies combine with all above said ingredients, what you get is pleasant, soulful mesmerizing numbers. Not just the main melody, the way the tune progresses and takes surprising twists and turns in the songs is great. Among his semi classical melodies, “Konjum Manjal Pookal” is a masterpiece.

Above all – Originality

Originality is a rare thing to find in the compositions of most of the contemporary composers. He may have got inspired but mostly his songs have trademark Karthik Raja style in it.

This is what little I could get out of Karthik Raja’s music. Please add more if you have found something else. Listen to “Naalai” and “Manadhodu Mazhaikaalam” songs; you can find all the above said elements in all the songs of these two soundtracks.


Maniratnam's Guru

Another Fake One

A.R.Rahman and Background Score

A.R.Rahman has come a long away from just using the songs from his music library as background music in films like “Roja” and “Bombay”. “Roja” also had some brilliant background music in chasing scenes. The Yannishque piano love theme is one of my favorites among his background scores. And who can forget the Bombay theme. But I feel “Lagaan” had the best of A.R.Rahman when it comes to background score. Though the soundtrack of “Warriors of Heaven and Earth” was great, I haven’t seen the film yet, so I can’t comment on it. Also “Rang De Basanti” had one of the most innovative scores in recent times. Anyway I just wanted to post the links to the samples from background score of the movie “Provoked”. Theme2 seems to be the main theme of the movie. Very good one and it is heavily rooted in Indian Classical music. Can’t say how great the music is until we hear it along with the visuals.

Themes 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 .



Blogswara - The music album by Indian Bloggers is releasing on May 25.

Here is a conversation with Jo about Blogswara that i posted a few months back.


Video Ipod made me Deaf and Dumb

Apple I-pod made me deaf and dumb. Yes, I feel how Beethoven felt when he gone deaf. Even after he has gone deaf, he heard nothing but music. He wrote the most popular Symphony No.9 when he was deaf. I wonder what sound that his mind and ears could have heard when he became deaf, may be his mind got trained to function without the help of his ears to hear music. I always dreamt of such a moment, how it would be if I were alone in this world with just music around me. Listening to an I-pod gives me that kind of experience. When I listen to my kind of music in I-pod I completely go deaf of outer world around me. Being madly passionate about music, often at my home, I use to speak with my roommates in sign language as I have this on my ears all the time. And that is why I said, I-pod made me deaf and dumb.

Sound quality can’t get any better. With the I-pod, I am having blissful nights by listening to new sounds in even old songs that I have heard 1000 times before in ordinary speakers. I am still in the process of digging out beautiful Bass guitar pieces running in the background in old Illayaraja hits. Most stunning finding as of now is the bass guitar in “Thalatta Varuvala” song. And of course, I have to listen to all A.R.Rahman songs again in I-pod, which has got beautiful layers. The layers in “Enthan Vaanin Kathal Nilavae” song from Kadhal Virus have blown me away, which I haven’t noticed before. Thanks to I-pod, I realize that I haven’t listened to music properly so far. There is a lot more to dig in deep from the music of geniuses. From now on, I would be able to understand music much clearly than before and will have a much better listening experience.

If you are a fan of western classical music, devices of this kind is a must buy. Western classical symphonies, concertos, operas have got lot of layers with 100’s of instruments playing in parallel. The true beauty of such compositions can be understood only when we pay attention to all these layers in detail and how they create a divine sound in harmony. Usually when I listen to such music on my CD player with big speakers, I have to keep up the volume high so that all these layers are audible. Even one of my friends left our home because of me hearing this kind of music with high volume level, which he couldn’t bear beyond a point. I think I won’t have such problems now. In weekends, I use to take my I-pod and go to the nearby beach in the early morning and play my favorite music and sit and relax in front of the shore. Trust me, it is such a blissful moment watching the dancing waves along with your favorite music.

This Video I-pod came to me as a gift. I didn’t put money out of my own pocket to buy it, so I can’t really say how much worth it is for your money. The worthiness of an I-pod depends on for what you are buying it. If you are crazy music and movies fan like me, then it is worth every penny of yours. It will be a priced possession of yours. If you buy it for just watching movies wait for better gadgets to come. You can use the I-pod as a handy hard disk for your computer as it comes up with 30 GB storage space. You can store even photos. Haven’t really used this feature. The display and interactive menus are simple and easy to navigate. But it also has got its drawbacks. But look for that information somewhere else. I just want to say I love it for that it has increased the time I spend with music.