Tamilnadu Places Wild life Hill Station Temples Sports Accomodation Cuisine Fine Arts Tourist Info Tamil Cinema News
Bharatanatyam Yoga
Karagattam Tappatam

Tamil Nadu - Fine arts - Legends of Tamilnadu - Ilaiyaraaja - Ilaiyaraaja Fame

Session musician and film orchestrator

In the 1970s in Chennai, Ilaiyaraaja played guitar in a band-for-hire, and worked as a session guitarist, keyboardist, organist for film music composers and directors such as Salil Chowdhury from West Bengal. After his hiring as the musical assistant to Kannada film composer G. K. Venkatesh, he worked on 200 film projects, mostly in the Kannada language. As G. K. Venkatesh's assistant, Ilaiyaraaja would orchestrate the melodic outlines developed by Venkatesh. During this period, Ilaiyaraaja also began writing his own scores. To hear his compositions, he would persuade Venkatesh's session musicians to play excerpts from his scores during their break times. Ilaiyaraaja would hire instruments from composer R.K. Shekhar, father of composer A. R. Rahman who would later join Ilaiyaraaja's orchestra as a keyboardist.

Film composer

In 1976, film producer Panchu Arunachalam commissioned him to compose the songs and film score for a Tamil-language film called Annakkili The Parrot' . For the soundtrack, Ilaiyaraaja applied the techniques of modern popular film music orchestration to Tamil folk poetry and folk song melodies, which created a fusion of Western ancoposer and music director in the South Indian film industry. Besides Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada films, he hasr, Kannadasan, Vairamuthu and T.S. Rangarajan and film directors such as K. Balachander K.Vishwanath, Singeetham Srinivasa Rao, Balu Mahendra and Mani Ratnam. Since the late 2000s, Ilayaraja had not scored for a top banner project. As of 2009, he is scoring for the Rs 32-crore Budget Malayalam movie, Pazhassiraja and a Tamil movie Jagan Mohini of Rs 30 Crore Budget.


Ilaiyaraaja was one of the early Indian film composers to use Western classical music harmonies and string arrangements in Indian film music. This allowed him to craft a rich tapestry of sounds for films, and his themes and background score gained notice and appreciation amongst Indian film audiences. The range of expressive possibilities in Indian film music was broadened by Ilaiyaraaja's methodical approach to arranging, recording technique, and his drawing of ideas from a diversity of musical styles.

According to musicologist P. Greene, Ilaiyaraaja's "deep understanding of so many different styles of music allowed him to create syncretic pieces of music combining very different musical idioms in unified, coherent musical statements".Ilaiyaraaja has composed Indian film songs that amalgamated elements of genres such as pop, acoustic guitar-propelled Western folk,[28] jazz,[29] rock and roll, dance music e.g., disco , psychedelia, funk, doo-wop, march, bossa nova, flamenco, pathos, Indian folk/traditional, Afro-tribal, and Indian classical.

By virtue of this variety and his interfusion of Western, Indian folk and Carnatic elements, Ilaiyaraaja's compositions appeal to the Indian rural dweller for its rhythmic folk qualities, the Indian classical music enthusiastrange of complex compositional techniques, he often sketches out the basic melodic ideas for films in a very spontaneous fashion. The Indian filmmaker Mani Ratnam illustrates:

"Ilayaraja would look at the scene once, and immediately start giving notes to his assistants, as a bunch of musicians, hovering around him, would collect the notes for their instrument and go to their places.. director can be taken by surprise at the speed of events.

Musical characteristics

Ilaiyaraaja's music is characterised by the use of an orchestration technique that is a synthesis of Western and Indian instruments and musical modes. He uses electronic music technology that integrated synthesisers, electric guitars and keyboards, drum machines, rhythm boxes and MIDI with large orchestras that feature traditional instruments such as the veena, venu, nadaswaram, dholak, mridangam and tabla as well as Western lead instruments such as saxophones and flutes.

He uses catchy melodies fleshed out with a variety of chord progressions, beats and timbres. Ilaiyaraaja's songs typically have a musical form where vocal stanzas and choruses are interspersed with orchestral preludes and interludes. They often contain polyphonic melodies, where the lead vocals are interwoven with supporting melody lines sung by another voice or played by instruments.

The bass lines in his songs tend to be dynamic, rising and falling in a dramatic fashion. Polyrhythms are also apparent, particularly in songs with Indian folk or Carnatic influences. The melodic structure of his songs demand considerable vocal virtuosity, and have found expressive platform amongst some of India's respected vocalists and playback singers, such as K.J. Yesudas, S.P. Balasubramaniam, S. Janaki, Sujatha, Swarnalatha, P. Susheela, K.S. Chithra, Malaysia Vasudevan, Asha Bhosle and Lata Mangeshkar. Ilaiyaraaja has sung over 400 of his own compositions for films, and is recognisable by his stark, nasal voice. He has penned the lyrics for some of his songs in Tamil and other languages. Ilaiyaraaja's film scores are known both for the dramatic and evocative melodies, and for the more subtle background music that he uses to provide texture or mood for scenes in films such as Mouna Raagam (1986) and Geethanjali (1989).

Prev << 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 >> Next
Indian classical music is categorized under two genres. They are Hindustani and Carnatic. Broadly Hindustani developed in the northern regions of the country
more..
Folk Kuchipudi
History of Tamil Nadu | Tamil Nadu Tourism | Tamil Nadu Education | Tamil Nadu Festivals | Tamil Nadu Cuisine | Tamil Nadu Shopping | Tamil Nadu Hotels | Sitemap | Articles | News | Contact Us | Tamilnadu News | Resources