Illayaraja - The Music Messiah

‘Music Messiah’ is a another experimental effort from Illayaraja. It is the album which was to be released as ‘Moods of IR’ with popular background score pieces from Illayaraja’s movies. When you expect a compilation of some of best themes of IR, ‘Music Messiah’ shockingly treads a different path to a different world, through and where no Indian composer has taken us before. The album follows a story of its own and IR has scored for that and he has predominantly used his background pieces from the Malayalam movie ‘Guru’.

In WCM, there is one form of music called ‘Programme Music’ which I think is one of the great grandfathers for background scores in movies. The term ‘Programme Music’ was coined by a composer called Listz to describe the kind of work that was informed by a literary or narrative idea, as opposed to ‘abstract’ or ‘absolute’ music, which relies on a formal system of repeated and contrasted themes to balance and unify its structure. This kind of music doesn’t have a fast-slow-fast movement structure of a symphony. It blindly follows a narrative. Audience would be given a description of the narrative of the music piece which they can read and interpret the music in a way the composer has programmed it to be. Illayaraja does exactly the same ‘Programme Music’ with his album ‘Music Messiah’. It is similar to scoring background scores for movies with an exception that the visuals are not captured with a camera. We don’t have the visuals to support the music but just a plain narrative in text. In background scores, the story dictates the music but in this case, the music dictates the story. He kindles our imagination through his highly mood based musical cues in this album.

This album is packaged with everything an IR fan has been longing for. The good sound quality, better CD inlay details, the high quality cover, name of Purushothaman in credits as conductor of music etc.,. It is yet another experiment by IR like the title track from ‘Nothing but Wind’. It is more of music for various moods with scattered themes. Ofcourse, in its entirety the album sounds like a soundtrack for a movie. The music creates an aura, builds a new world with its sounds (of course with some help from natural sounds in addition to the sound of musical notes). As I read the story given in the booklet before listening to the album, I couldn’t interpret the music beyond it. I thought the given story had lot of connection to the music. I don’t know whether IR had this story before-hand to write the score. It would definitely be great if the story and the visual inspirations of IR are revealed so that we can appreciate the music better. I understand why there are no reviews on this album yet? It definitely will take a lot of listening to understand the entire score which runs for almost an hour. It is pure orchestral bliss. Nothing new, we have heard every style that IR showcases here is his 100’s of movies, but I would say, it is a nice compilation of all that. IR’s orchestral pieces are never tiring.

What are you waiting for? If you are an ardent fan of Illayaraja, get it now.

More about the music later…


Bala (Karthik) said...

Eagerly waiting to get my hands on this CD...
Heard that some pieces are rather heavy on synth (Karthik Raaja?).. what's ur take on that?

Shankar said...

Nice intro to the work. It isn't avbl in Blr yet. I have one comment on "programme music" now that you've mentioned it.

Though the term was coined by Liszt, you can find the form in the Baroque era itself (Many of the concertos written by Vivaldi/Bach have some "events" associated with it. Bach's cappricio for his brother qualifies under this category)

Shankar said...

Strictly speaking, film music should come under 'incidental music' (Mendelssohn's A midsummer night's dream and many works of Wagner come to my mind immediately). However, from what you've described, MM seems to fall under the programme music category.

Suresh Kumar said...


Don't arrive at a conclusion before listening to the music. I think the synth usage is very much justified, if you consider the narrative. I think synth usage is deliberate to make a point.

Suresh Kumar said...

Shankar - I just quoted what i read in a book on western classical music. May be you are right but aren't every music, inspired from some event. I think 'Programme Music' is a more explicit form where listeners would be given a pamplet with the narrative to read while the concert is going on. Correct me if i am wrong, and throw more light on this if possible....

Tara said...

looks like it would be a good set of songs.. apart from this cd.. if u want to listen to it legally .. then chk out ..www.hummaa.com .. the first ever legal music streaming site..

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