Dilani Rabindran



The Rahmaniac Syllabus, AR Rahman


Good morning boys and girls. Today I will be presenting a lesson on “the basic elements of the South Indian musical system”. Since we are a mix of experts and beginners I’ve decided to use a human analogy we can all relate to – IsaiPuyal A.R. Rahman. He celebrates his birthday on January 6 & this seemed a fitting way for us Rahmaniacs to pay him tribute; also, he makes for a great parallel, because, as we’ll discuss, A.R. Rahmanis music. Please take note of the examples I have included throughout the lesson.

Swara – a swara is a singular note, one that stands apart from all others. Coming from Madras and rising to the title of “world’s most prolific film composer” (Time Magazine)– Oscar-winner Rahman certainly stands apart. To many around the world he is the face of Indian music, and his compositions are what help define the grandeur of Indian cinema altogether. As a living legend who has composed for films of many non-Indian languages as well,Rahman’swork has taken him to where his peers have not neared – including a collaboration with the late Michael Jackson and being in a band withMick Jagger; he has also composed anthems for the Olympics,produced music forEuropean musicals, and performed at the White House State dinner - all before the age of 50.

Examples:Bombay Dreams; The Lord of The Rings Musical; SuperHeavy; We Are the World 25 for Haiti

Raga – ragas are melodic formulas, the result of combining various notes. Like the ancient founders of Carnatic music carefully pieced together swaras to build ragas, Rahman ushered in a new varietyof Indian music, by piecing together sounds and instruments from all over the world. Rahman’s mastery of multiple musical systems has resulted in the beautiful fusion of genres and cultures that many could not have even imagined were possible. His love of experimentation has led to music that transcends class and ethnicity, such that even Caribbean steel drums sound perfectly at home in a Tamil song.

Examples:ThillanaThillana (Muthu); MayyaMayya (Guru); Taxi (Sakkarakatti); Irumbile (Enthiran)

Justas various ragams are used to portray certain Rasams(emotions) Rahman’s music has the ability to portray the depth of true human sentiment. Whether he conducts agrand orchestra to boom out feelings of triumph, or playfully tickles piano keys to portray whispers between lovers, entire stories and cinematography are painted with his tunes. Sometimes, in life and film, music says something better than dialogue, because certain melodies have been crafted so expertly that they express universal feelings we sometimes cannot find the words to describe; luckily, there is pretty much an AR Rahman song for anything you ever want to say.

Examples:NenjaeEzhu (Mariyan); Aaromale (VTV); ThoddaThodda (Indira)

Tala – is the rhythm that forms the foundation of composition. Like Tala, Rahman has helped build the foundation of 21st century Indian music by extending his genius to the technical aspects of production. Having established one of Asia’s most high-tech studios and introducing the ‘7.1 technology’ to Tamil cinemaeven the recording process of Indian music has been changed foreverthanks to him. His appetite for learning benefits us as listeners, and helps to advance the sophistication of all Indian film industries.

Sruthi–Finally, we come to sruthi, which refers to the pitch, from which all other notes are derived. We can plainly see that like the sruthi that gives rise to notes, Rahman has given rise towhole generations of artists. From ShakthishreeGopalan to Chinmayee, Rahman has introducedincredible singers whose voices now ring throughout earphones all around the globe. Many instrumentalists, sound engineers and producers have alsoreached stardom through Rahman’s mentorship. Through his KM Conservatory we see a compassionate man spreading his love of music to children of all creeds, and everyday an innumerable amount of youth are inspired to pick up an instrument because of his music – I know I was. Some of my first memories were of hearing “ChinnaChinnaAsai” throughout our home, and as soon as I was old enough to recognize his face on a CD I knew I wanted to play AR Rahman’s music. I pointed to a Veena on TV and asked for lessons, because it sounded like something he used in his songs; AR Rahman’s music was so magical that there was no way I could go through life without attempting to play something that sounded like it, and to this day I still get in trouble for practicing “MunbeVaa” more than I do my actual syllabus.

So students I hope this lesson in AR Rahman will help you remember the key elements of South Indian music from now on, and that you’ve realized just how much Rahman has contributed to the state of international music. In conclusion, I’d like to discussthe unique argument that Indian music is both extremely complex and yet beautifully simple at the same time…which is AR Rahman in a nutshell. With a history that dates back to the 16th century and itsintricatestructure the depth of Indian musicis obvious, as is the musical genius of Rahman. But just as Carnatic music is believed to be a divine art form, meant to connect humanity, Rahman’smusic translates to messages of peace, love, faith, and appreciating your blessings, in any language. A well-known philanthropistRahman takes the time to give back to humanity through his music & stature, and never once forgets to give thanks for his God-given talent: “ellapughazhumiraivanukke”.

Like the sruthi that gives rise to certain sounding swaras, which form ragas with great rasam, that are used to build songs usingthalam…AR Rahman is music. Simple in spirit, and complex in musical genius AR Rahmantells the world about the beautiful balance of Indian music everyday,just by being the modestMozart of Madras.

Respond to dilani.behindwoods@gmail.com
Behindwoods is not responsible for the views of columnists.


Tags : AR Rahman


This page hosts the views of the authors of the column. The views are generally about films, movie reviews, movie news, songs, music, film actors and actresses, directors, producers, cinematographers, music directors, and all others that contribute for the success or failure of a film. People looking for movies online, movie reviews, movie analysis, public response for a movie, will find this page useful.