Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Music and Lyrics

Listening to Music is one of my big-time "passions"! Of this, TFM (Tamil Film Music) takes a big chunk of time. For quite a few years, my listening was music-centric. Then the lyrics for the song gained importance as well. A couple of years ago, during an IR interview, he gave an eye (ear?)-opening explanation about how the lyrics need to fit with the mood of the song (I guess this is a no-brainer), but also to the nuances of how the music moves. For example, if the music is rising in pitch, the lyrics need to fit with this rise by moving upwards as well. Otherwise, they will strike a discordant note. He sang with examples to illustrate the point. It left me wondering, how many lyricists are even aware of this requirement, because it made perfect sense. That point onwards, this aspect would come to my awareness whenever I listened to songs. To further diversify this requirement,

TFM songs can either have lyrics written down for music (load is on the lyricist)
Can have music composed for lyrics (music director's onus to fit both)

Often, it is also the case (again IR illustrated this with an example) where lyrics need to take a back seat to accentuate music. The need is contextual and the lyricist needs to understand when to do this. The example IR used was "sunthari kannAl oru sEthi" from thaLapathi, where he explained Vaali used very simple words so that the lyrics *do not* stand out compared to the music.

I still do not understand this fully, and will probably take a few more years to grasp fully. But even as I listen now-a-days, I come across examples of all kinds - awesome fits, neither-good-nor-bad types and outright bad fits (I wrote an example sometime back).

Awesome fits:
vizhiyum vizhiyum... (sathurangam by vidyasagar - music composed for lyrics)
nallathor vinai seithen... (bharathi by ilaiyaraja - music composed for lyrics)
thathhom thalangu... (vettri vizha by ilaiyaraja - lyrics for music)
masaru ponne varuga... (devar magan by ilaiyaraja - not sure)
kaadu pottal kaadu... (karuthamma by ARR - not sure)

Bad fits:
yakkai thiri (ayutha ezhuthu by ARR - music composed for lyrics). The tune for the song is too dramatic to fit with the lyrics, even though the tune by itself is quite good.

There should be several more :)

On a different topic, some time back I wrote about anjAthE and it's BGM. I recently got the audio CD and noticed that several songs were excellently composed by Sundar C Babu. He looks like a great find to TFM and should definitely be on the watch-list for future projects. Also seems that he and Mysskin are striking up a good chemistry - similar to ARR/MR, IR-Balu Mahendra, Bharadwaj-Saran. The other point that I made about the movie's BGM - on second thought, take it with a dose of skepticism. It may be quite good, considering how solid the songs are composed. I saw the movie only once, and I probably may/will not see the movie again in the same detail. Keep in mind that so much of the movie runs silently, it will take an 
extraordinary effort for the MD to come out with flying colors and this
 is only his second (?) movie. 

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