Art Of Composing

Music Directors in some sense, supersede the Directors of the movie. The reason being, (at least in the context of Indian Cinema) Songs are first recorded and then the scenes are shot. So where the scenes need to convey something visually, it often needs a base.

So the Art of Composing for Movies, often require enormous amount of visualization..
Its not about just a melody/ rhythm arrangement that flows to a composer (which I suspect is how music is made now a days).. But its about conveying a scene, an emotion or even a message through the abstract medium of Music, even without the visuals..

Consider this:
A Bunch of highly energetic jobless guys whiling away their time by jamming around:
Potta Padiyudhu
Now en route their 'vetti' voyage, their voices are interrupted by noises.. Noises from Flights and Trains.. So do they stop singing..? No.. They simply shift the scale of their song to the new dynamic shruthi provided by the noise and go on from there.. Now the director would have explained the rough feel of this song to Raaja.. but how (the hell) was it possible for Raaja to visualize such seemingly impossible screenplay and come up with this blinder..?
Potta (Modified Shruti)
(Actually the Sadjam is shifted to 'Madhyamam' here and thanks to Kamal's capability of singing high pitches the transpose is seamless);

Now, How about an Ornithologist researching about the musical elements hidden in nature and in the bird's chirping and koo-kooing..
Edalo Laya
(Note the bird's sound is always repetitive here much like how a bird would usually do when it has to respond to a call and Janaki just builds up with that as the base)

Same goes for a hero who is always lost in thoughts celebrating an enchanting evening..
Pon Maalai Pozhudhu

If you set about solving the riddle, Thankfully we are also offered a small window in to Raaja's mind while composing.. through the recording sessions made available in the cassettes of Guna, Oru Naal Oru Kanavu etc.. I would like to share with you a particular case in point.. In Guna composing discussions, the Director (Santhana Bharathi) explains that the song is by the hero's friend who is a mystic godly philosopher kind of a person ("Sithar" is the term used); The very next second Raaja presses a chord in his Harmonium - in the "Maya Malava Gowlai" scale. The Notes are Sa+Ri+Pa and then he addess ma to these 3 notes and later replaces Ma with Ga. It exactly evokes that mystic, devotional, serious feel crystallizing the situation.. Its like a memory map in his mind that "sithar" feeling == Sa + Ri + Ma +Pa of Maya Malava Gowlai !! (I later looked up what chord it was anyways.. it came out as: D#M7(b5).. i.e., D sharp major 7th added flat 5th)
Guna Composing Session

Now for some crazy situations that only Cinema can offer...

Picture this:
Q: How can you express the scene through music, where the shots fired by a (pretty pathetic) sniper miss the hero.. ?

A: By a single stroke of strings at the end of the bar...
Vanitha Mani

Now picture this.. Heroine is dreaming about, how her wedding should be and is coming up with all crazy ideas such as - "I want the wedding done on a running train.. I want to have the Pandiths rendering the Mantra in a new foriegn style..!!!!!!!" etc..

To me, composing music to this situation sounds like Goundamani in 'Indian' asking the righteous citizens to put "pathinonnu" (eleven) in order to get a license without bribing.. But Raaja does manage the 'pathinonnu' .. see how..
Kalyanam Ennai

The mild train sound becomes the background Rhythm and "Mangalyam Thanthunane" verse is set to a western 4 part harmony.. much like a church choir...

This is raw imagination... an imagination that could convert the blank, plain textual ideas of the director into something he could picturize upon.. Think about the level at which Raaja visions this song and delivers the music.

In my view, this is what "Composing" is all about..

With Love

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