Geethanjali- Om Namaha-Hamsanadham

Song: Om Namaha (Telugu)
Film: Geethanjali
Scale : Hamsanadham

Friday, February 12, 2003
This is the fifth in the series of articles celebrating the music of Maestro Ilayaraja, from a technical standpoint. The article treats the Maestro's music as a textbook on music composition and presents certain technical and non-technical nuances in his music that may be of interest to students of music composition and orchestration as well as to listeners with a technical background in carnatic and western classical music.
The content presented in this article is just an observation made by the author. Please feel free to indicate any analytical errors that you may find.
This is a wonderful semi-classical melody for a romantic song situation. This song plays the role of explaining the fact that real love is a feeling that blossoms from the bottom of one's heart and that it cannot be expressed in words. The composer has brought out this fact through this song and has showed how music could be used to evoke the feelings of love, romance and emotion.
Hamsanadham is a pentatonic and symmetrical scale ( s r2 m2 p ni3/ C D F# G B). The composer has used a range between the lower pa and the higher ri (approx. alto and soprano), in composing this song (the pallavi and charanam).
The song takes off at the middle sa and presents soul stirring phrases in Hamsanadham. The most touching phrases in the song are the slide from ni to pa (that sounds like sa ni sa ni pa) and the slide from ma to ri (that sounds like pa ma pa ma ri).These slides occur at several places in the song (the pallavi begins with this slide) and is typically found in classical compositions in Hamsanadham..
Note how a single melody has been turned into a whole pallavi in this song. A melody is sung with middle sa as tonic and then repeated twice with pa as tonic (a perfect 5th above) and then repeated once again with middle sa as tonic. A beautiful slide from ni to pa. (ni ni ri ni ni pa) clubs these melody lines.
The usage of unstable landing notes (D) and unexpected accidental (G flat) mark the image of the composer.
In this song, the last note of the charanam and the first note of the pallavi are the same (middle sa). This causes an overlap of two notes (essentially same note). This is clearly noticed at the end of the second charanam. A related feature is that the pallavi of the song stops with the first note (sa..lyricised as Om), immediately after the first charanam and the second interlude takes off. In brief the composer demonstrates how creative features should be added to a song to make it sound distinct from others and to hold the attention of the listeners.
The song has a constant rhythm pattern on the percussions symbolizing the human heart beat, in its backdrop. This must have been obvious to the composer in order to match the song situation.
The first interlude starts with a beautiful tremolo on a santoor like instrument, which is further used to harmonize the strings. Ilayaraja's command (and trademark!) in writing bass lines is obvious in this song. The interludes have simple melodies on strings and flute, excellently harmonized with bass lines and chord progressions.
Thanks to Maestro Ilayaraja for giving us yet another song to celebrate.
- RS Balaji

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