Swathimuthyam-Manasu Palikae-Sudha Dhanyasi

Song: Manasu Palikae...(Telugu)
Film: Swathimuthyam
Scale : Sudha Dhanyasi

Thursday, December 26, 2002
This is the third 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 song is a romantic melody based on the symmetric pentatonic scale, Sudha Dhanyasi (S G2 M1 P N1/C Eflat F G Bflat). The calm and sober nature of the characters in the film are perfectly reflected by the soft voice timbre that the singers maintain throughout this song. This song is characterized by a controlled use of chord progressions and mild contrapuntal texture, unlike the composer's usual compositions which emphasis on these elements of harmony. This could probably be attributed to the story of the film which is based on a traditional south Indian backdrop. However, the amazing string arrangements that have been written for this song, represent the ability of the composer to use western orchestration for an Indian scenario.
The song begins with a wonderful solo vocal in the higher octave ( note that the ri that is sounded right in the first phrase of the solo vocals , is not part of the underlying scale). The solo voice and the chorus accompaniment followed by the strings (violins), veena and flute backed up by the rhythm pattern on the tabla, mark a typical Ilayaraja way of beginning a song.
The first interlude that opens up with the use of the "thavil" (percussion instrument) and an arrangement of strings (interleaved with a dulcimer kind of instrument) speaks of the unusual orchestration skills of the composer. This is immediately followed by a combination of tabla, veena and flute in a sort of contrasting tempo.
The second interlude proceeds like a dialogue between the strings, flute and vocals. It begins with a dialogue between the strings and flute. The vocals are then introduced followed by an harmony between the strings and vocals that produces a romantic mood for the situation. The strings and the flute have a final dialogue before the interlude leads to the charanam.
The pallavi and charanam of this song are interesting with respect to the flow of melodies in them. The pallavi begins on the lower pa and gradually moves towards the middle pa (anuvu anuvu...) and finally touches the higher sa (sumadhanuvu...), and falls back through a series of notes in descent, to start off once again. The flow of notes start from the lower pa and move till the middle pa.(though the higher sa is touched just once). This flow is further continued in the charanam that begins on the middle ni. The melodies gradually move touwards the higher sa (kalala koumudilo....) and finally touch the higher ga (kougilinthaluga...). Note the gradually movement of the phrases from the lower pa (in the pallavi) to the higher ga (at the end of the charanam).
(Note: Also an interesting point to note in the last part of the charanam, is the word "kougilinthaluga", the "ga" in this word matches with the note that is sung , ga (Eflat). A similar feature can be found at the end of the first charanam also. I'm not aware whether the lyrics were written before the song was tuned)
Thanks to Maestro Ilayaraja for giving us yet another song to celebrate.
- RS Balaji

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