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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Raining Music

I'm not a big fan of the Chennai rains. It is nothing but flooding roads, more humidity, mosquitoes and the thickest of anxiety-attacked traffic. Back in Coimbatore, I can't keep count of the number of days I have reached home drenched. Never have I parked and waited for the rain to subside. I even remember playing cricket in the rains. The waiting habit started only in Chennai. Until today.

Like any other day the sudden outburst of shower ceased in a matter of seconds. As I turned towards the Kathipara flyover near Olympia, I pushed away the droplets off my helmet visor and moved it up letting a gush of rain-cold air gently touch my face. Phenomenal! I looked up at the sky which looked back at me, untouched as a boulder. Like an atheist who prayed once, I wished that it rained.

And, It did. Not just an outburst, not gently, not slowly. It rained like it would never ever rain again. And I was in the middle of Kathipara, nowhere to go, nowhere to hide.

My hands loosened its grip on the accelerator, feet pushed gently at the brakes and as the bike slowed down, my body eased into a relaxed posture. One after the other, vehicles overtook me on both sides, leaving me on my own. I felt like I had all the time in the world, like how I feel when I'm travelling, or when I'm sitting online on a Saturday night - chatting with my favorite people. Either way, the best company I keep is music.

I have heard about how Tansen used to sing the Megh Malhar raagam in Akbar's court, to bring rain showers. Myth or not, belief is that the raagam Amritavarshini also brings down rains, especially, the song Dhyaname Tharume Paer Inbame. In the 21st century, with the Ozone layer hole and all, music and rain still co-exists, only there is a change in the order of occurring as in - it rains and you sing. So, I began to sing. Loudly. One by one, all my favorite rain songs.

I'm listing down five songs below and their specialty.

5) Ennai Konja Vaa Mazhaiyae - By Vidhyasagar (Movie - Aadhi)
Flute, I believe can notate rain (rather nature) best and the highlight of this song is the background flute (the second interlude) accompanied by the fine strokes of tabla and keyboard. I have a ringtone of that bit. The captivating genius is the duet of the base and shrill notes seamlessly following one another. The keyboard backing (and chiming) of the song brings out the feel of rain. A jugalbandhi of folk and classical. Hari's brigaas run a chill up your spine. I wish I get a chance to perform this one, someday.

4) Ghanan Ghanan - By Rahman (Movie - Lagaan)
An invitation to a thunderstorm. Though it ends in a disappointing note (of no rain) in the movie, the song is full of rain. A very emotional depiction of the yearning for a heavy shower, this will stand out in the genius' compositions forever. Excellent backing vocals.

3) Oho Megam Vandhadho - By Ilayaraja (Movie - Mouna Raagam)
When keyboards started replacing the harmonium and many other instruments in the industry, Raja sir came up with some of the best pieces ever composed. As the prelude BG starts, you can just feel droplets of rain falling. P.C. Sreeram's camera has left no magic unveiled in capturing this one. Raining freedom and happiness is written all over the song. Again, the BG flute, blending with keyboard and violin forms the backbone of the orchestration.

2) Chinna Chinna Mazhai Thuligal - By Rahman (Movie - En Swasa Kaatre)
This track is living proof of how much the composer relies on percussion. Try humming the song without the backing orchestration and you'll know how much life of a song is from the BG music. How it clicked to get M.G.Sreekumar to sing this song, I'll never know. The chorus effect on the same voice works the trick like the reverberations of the drops that hits the ground. The following lines from the song convey it all.

Siru poovinile vizhundhal oru thaen thuliyai varuvai,
Siru sippiyile vizhundhal oru muthu-enave mudhirvai,
Payir veriinile vizhundhal navadhaniyamai vilaivaai,
En kanvizhikkul vizhundhadhanal kavidhayaga malarndhai.

(Roughly translated to)
Falling on a flower, you come as a honey drop.
Falling on an oyster shell, you blossom as a pearl.
Falling on crops, you grow as the nine special grains.
Since you fell into my eyes, you were born as a poem.

And the last, but best of all.

1) Indian Rain - By Colonial Cousins
With their first contemporary album, they announced themselves very loudly, yet in a soothing manner. The low volume but effective droplet effect along with the chimes makes this one special. The 'Dheem tha dhirana' and the chitta swaram rendering by Hari is the touch. Swaying elegance between the blues and classical genre is one of its kind and depicts the amount of passion that has driven the composer duo. Man! Was I lucky to see them perform this one live last year! Love for this tracks is never ending.

Want to share your rain favorites too? I'd love to make a compilation of it all. Language, Genre, Composer bar - drop your picks in the comments section. Thanks.

4 Expressions:

vk said...

Great post!! :)

Indian Rain, amazing!!

I'd like to add Thenmerku paruvakaatru (ARR, Karuthamma) and Barso re (ARR, Guru) :)

Chiju said...

Thanks Karthik.

Lovely pics. Noted! :)

Swathi Vaidyanathan said...

As I have mentioned many a time, your favourites eventually become mine too. I am listing few other numbers, which flashed through my mind when you said rain.

1. Vaan megham (Ilayaraja, Punnagai mannan). I always mix this one with oho megam vandhatho...

2. Chinna chinna thooral enna (Ilayaraja, Senthamizh paatu)

3. Mazhai varudhu mazhai varadhu Kodai kondu vaa...(Ilayaraja, u tell me the movie)

4. Adada mazhai da (Yuvan, Paiyaa) I like the picturization and choreography somehow.

Chiju said...

@Swathi
Brilliant choices. How did I miss Chinna chinna thooral enna? :)

Adada Mazhai has its own charm. But, somehow Tamanah's face makes me give it the back seat! :)

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