Mini Flute Sonatas

Currently I am listening to the the Flute Sonatas of the Bach. Only one word to describe it.. Hypnotizing... I do not understand WCM completely. But one need not know it in detail to appreciate this aesthetic arrangement of just a single Flute accompanied by a single Harpsichord. (Since Harpsichord is not widely used in today's context, Guitar is seen a worthy substitute. Almost all Western classical Duet performances now a days involving Flute, employs Guitar as the counterpart. This combination of Flute + Guitar is actually heavenly. )

As "All roads lead to Raaja", this experience also led me to him. I could immediately recognize this kind of arrangement with his songs too. While there are many things that are unique to Raaja, its such seamless application of classical techniques on a Indian 'gramiya' (Folk) song for instance, which defines Raaja to me. Listen to the following tracks all of which lasting only about 20 seconds. If I am given the liberty to categorize them with a nice name, I would call them as 'mini flute sonatas' !

(Note: The Sonata in Western Classical paradigm is a musical form that religiously follow certain movements (such as Exposition, Development, Recapitulation and Coda) in a certain order; The clips provided below are by no means a 'Sonata' as in a classical paradigm; As a matter of fact each of these lasts only 20 seconds or so.. :-) Therefore its just a musical name that I am attaching to these clips since they share a common quality in arrangement that could be also noted in a traditional Western Classical Sonata)

1. Prelude of Poove Sempoove (You missed it all these days to take a note of this devine combination .. didn't you..?)

2. 2nd BGM of Pacha Mala Poovu (This is the sonata in Folk song I was referring to..)

3. 2nd BGM of "Oru Jeevan.. Azhaithadhu" (full of overlaps.. multiple flute tracks and with a running Guitar in the background while a second guitar track evoking a Veena effect...)

4. Prelude of Poovile Medai (Alright. This is not Guitar.. But the background is instead a synthetic Piano/ Harpsichord like instrument. The concept is the same)

5. Prelude Edho Mogam (Its not surprising that he chose this song to show to Mr. Paul Maurrits. The strings section in this song puts Raaja in his own league.. but returning to the point of this blog, the prelude's Flute + Guitar combo is short but the most powerful part of the whole song!)

The piece in 2nd BGM is an ode of Raaja's prowess of blending east and west. The starting Guitar + Flute part is Western Arrangement. The 'Gramiya' flute that follows with Keyboard/ Santoor type of mode is uniquely Indian and Rustic thus forming an Indianized version of the same arrangement. (If you have a keen ear, you can make out that the towards the end of this clip, the keyboard/ Santoor player gasps for breadth. He can't catch up with the speed of the flute consistently and clearly falls out of sync towards the fag end. But in my opinion, These are the areas which exhibits the superior skills of human talent. Because this is a tough phrase for any keyboardist to play constantly for so long at that speed.. Though technically this is a mistake, it exhibits fighting grace of the player on the contrary. At least He has played it manually, alongside the flute player communicating with him while playing in the studio... Live... A far cry from today's programmed loops where notes and beats can be played with micro second precision.. But of no grace...)
2nd interlude of Edho Mogam

6. 2nd BGM of Singara Cheemayile (Soothing... very very soothing....)

7. 2nd BGM of Vaayakkatti (The flute melody is truly a tribute to WCM in TFM. 2 songs from the same movie [solla thudikudhu manasu] in this arrangement is what you call magnanimous)

8. Prelude of Yelamala Kaatukkulla (I am going to be a little lavish here. This piece is my single most favorite short piece of Raaja. The way Guitar strumming progresses along with the melody brings you the question, was the guitar composed for the flute or viceversa. And the flute is such an anti-climax for a rugged Indian nomadic main song. Its very easy to imagine a Philharmonic orchestra flutist playing this track in some Concert hall in Vienna. )

The pattern of Raaja's application here is very interesting. These mini sonatas (I prefer to call it this way, even if it may be outrageous for some !!) are always in the prelude of the song or in the second BGMs. The simplicity is stunning. Their arrangement is very similar to the one employed in Bach's flute Sonatas.. A dominant yet soothing melody in flute very ably supported by Guitar, who most of the times caresses the flute with its chord progressions and sometimes lending a strong contrapuntal support. Always the dialog is started by the Guitar which has its 15 seconds of fame while the Flute silently enters without much ado and assumes the center stage.

There is a complete absence of any Rhythm instruments whatsoever during these phrases. No Bass guitar... (How on earth can a portion of Raaja's song be devoid of Bass guitar..?), No ornamentation by extra keyboard chords.. May be an occasional Gopichand for the folk songs to evoke the Village feel.. thats it.. But 99% of the time, its just the combination of Flute + Guitar. Again only one word comes to my mind... Mesmerizing...

With Love

PS: If you are interested in listening to Bach's original, be my guest.. (well, actually Laurel Zucker's!! Thank you Laurel!)

CD2 Complete JS Bach Flute Sonatas by Laurel Zucker