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This is a comments thread about Blog Post: An "Unknown" Indian Film Music master by Steven A. Kennedy
 Posted:   Mar 10, 2009 - 12:36 PM   
 By:   sakman   (Member)

Some details about where to get copies of the CDs in this article:

1. How to Name it - Oriental Records -

2.Nothing But Wind - Oriental Records -
3. Tiruvasakam - Classical Crossover - Amazon stores, iTUNES

4.Cheeni Kum - Amazon stores,
5.Mumbai Xpress -
6.Nan Kadavul - Ayngaran International (,

 Posted:   Mar 10, 2009 - 1:54 PM   
 By:   workingwithknives   (Member)

Really did enjoy reading this.

I've been meaning to check out the CD's at the India store where I buy incense and Soya Vada.

 Posted:   Mar 10, 2009 - 2:31 PM   
 By:   SeaBiscuit   (Member)

Thanks for the article, Steven. If you like the above said tracks of Ilayaraaja, you shouldn't miss his background score of 'Hey Raam' (released in 2000), as an Indian movie fan, I would say the best background score for any Indian film so far.

 Posted:   Mar 10, 2009 - 7:10 PM   
 By:   enigmatic   (Member)

Thank you Steve! growing up listening to Ilaiyaraaja's music is the Indian equivalent of someone in the West growing up listening to the Beatles! the difference being the Beatles simply dont possess the wide repertoire/ versatility of this one-man industry that goes by the name Ilaiyaraaja!! there are two webpages of the composer that I came across - which does not seem to updated and maintained and one on myspace music

 Posted:   Mar 10, 2009 - 9:54 PM   
 By:   megarajan   (Member)

Hi ,

Please hear some of the best compositions of Ilayaraja at


 Posted:   Mar 11, 2009 - 1:20 AM   
 By:   Raj   (Member)

That was a wonderful article Steve!

It is rather unfortunate that such a great composer-with firm conviction I can say one of the world's best composers-has not been recognised even in India leave alone the West!

Not many in the Northern part of India even know his existence.While it is a fact that the loss is theirs and definitely not ILayaraaja's, people like me who grew up with his music feel rather sad about this.

Though you have covered some facts in detail, there are a lot of dimensions not known to a majority of people outside the Southern part of India.

ILaiyaraaja is a spontaneous composer.The moment the Director explains the situation in a film, he takes his harmonium and composes the tune.

Next is the composing of the prelude and the interludes and here is where the Master excels.
He writes the notes on the sheet(i think one of the few to follow this at least in India).The notations follow the western pattern.As he writes the notes, he decides on the instruments to be used.

Copies of the sheet are handed over to the members of the troupe and ...the song is ready for recording.

But this is not the end of the story.
His ingenuity and mastery do not stop here.

He adds life to the movie with his Background Music(Original Score in Western Parlance and Re-Recording in Indian lingo!).

Reel by reel he watches the Film and writes the score then and there with a perfect sense of timing.He conceives a theme music-leit motif- for the film and uses this music in different tempos depending on the situation making us wonder if it is the same musical piece!

In fact,some of the popular Directors would leave 'gaps' in their films for the Maestro to fill-up.
His forthcoming film-Nandalala- has a 45 minute climax without any dialogue.Does one need any dialogue at all when there is great music?

One of his other specialities is his choice and use of instruments.He was the first one in India to give importance to Bass Guitar.His Basswork needs a very deep analysis.He introduced many instruments-hitherto not known in India- in his compositions.

You have mentioned just some of his songs.There are many gems of his-early works in particular-which are unknown to a majority of people now(includes those who live in South India!).

Please do listen to such compositions that are mind-boggling.

I would only be too willing to share such gems with a cross section of people across the globe.

Thanks again for the beautiful article!

 Posted:   Mar 11, 2009 - 3:34 AM   
 By:   dinesh4777   (Member)

hi steve, Thanks for the wonderful post, Maestro Ilayaraaja is a born genius and is considered GOd Of Music for millions of his fans, his music compositions are like meditation, yoga. there is something which i would like to add , he is the only music director who doesnt use a timer when composing the background score for a movie, meaning when the original score of the movie is done and a scene goes on the screen, he just watches it, writes the notes and bingo when the crew plays the notes it ends exactly when the scene ends, moreover he is again one of those unique composers who can identify a single vioilinist making a minor change in the notes from a group of 100 plus, again not just identifying the mistake, he can pick that particular vioilinist by name and the row he is playing from the group.isnt this amazing, i have seen this with my own eyes during one of his recordings, like you have mentioned his combination of classical and indian folk in particular mixed with indian classical is a subject by itself, not just one or two songs here and there 4500 compositions are a subject which needs superior knowledge of music to analyse the greatness of this composer, long live maestro ilayaraaja, thanks, dinesh

 Posted:   Mar 11, 2009 - 6:33 AM   
 By:   rajasaranam   (Member)

Hi Mr.Steven A Kennedy,

Kudos for the Well written article on 'Raaja' (We fans prefer calling him like that which means the 'King'). He has collaborated with few composers in the west and their feedback on his music were similar to your thoughts.

Here is what Stephen Schwartz said about him at the time of recording for 'Thiruvaasagam'
Last night, at Sony Studios in New York City, I had the pleasure of hearing the almost-finished mix of Ilayaraaja's amazing work. It is unlike anything I've ever heard before, a stunning blend of Indian and Western music and instruments. I asked Mr. Raaja if this was something different for him too, and he said he had never done anything like this piece before. I don't know if anyone has. So I believe those of you looking forward to this are in for a great treat. The section to which I contributed English words is about twenty minutes long and dovetails back and forth between Mr. Raaja singing in Tamil and an American singer singing in English, plus there is a large and beautifully produced chorus. Mr. Raaja's orchestrations are superb, and the recording engineer, Richard King, has done a spectacular job sonically. I felt so very proud to be a small part of this project.

Mr. Raaja is a pleasure to work with, in answer to your question. He is a quiet and gentle personality, always smiling and encouraging, which can make one forget what a musical genius he is. He was extremely clear with me about what he wanted me to do in translating/paraphrasing the Tamil text, what portions of Manikka-Vacagar's poem he wished me to emphasize, and what the deeper meanings were. When he wanted revisions, he was again very clear and helpful as to what adjustments he felt needed to be made to accomplish his vision. The people Mr. Raaja surrounds himself with, at least those it was my pleasure to meet, are also unfailingly positive personalities. The entire project for me has been an enjoyable and fascinating experience from beginning to end, and I feel extremely lucky to have been asked by Mr. Raaja to participate.

I hope this answers some of your questions, and I believe I can promise you with confidence you are in for a major treat when you hear Thiruvasakam in Symphony.

Sincerely, Stephen Schwartz

Here is what the italain composer massimo simmoni wrote about the album 'Wings'

Wings is a fascinating blend of Eastern and Western styles which, while seemingly adhering to a cirriculum of modern classical ethics, transgresses the idom by staying true to the mystical aspects of Eastern music. The implementation of Indian instruments in a modern context makes for a rich pallete of tone colors, creating a wide range of expressive possibilities. This is an excellent combination of stylings - one which will both please those already familiar with the tonalities and sublime aspects of Eastern music, and pleasantly surprise the less initiated.

I hope in the coming days more & more people are initiated into the music of this Genius.

 Posted:   Mar 11, 2009 - 7:32 AM   
 By:   vimalan   (Member)

Thanks Steve for that wonderful article about our Raja ( The King ). As his name says, he is truly the king of music. As you have mentioned, there are over 4000 songs composed by this maestro and out of which at least 2000 songs are great and out of which at least 1000 songs are exceptional. Can you imagine any other composer doing this with so much variety?. And the BGMs that he compose for films are known as the best in India. It is a sad thing that he is not very well known outside South India. I hope in the coming days more people outside South India get to enjoy his music and I am sure they'll become a devotee. BTW, the albums that you chose are only samples and there are many greater albums from this unique composer. Once again thanks for your post.

 Posted:   Mar 11, 2009 - 11:05 AM   
 By:   mailvidi   (Member)

Hi ,

Please hear some of the best compositions of Ilayaraja at


This is the working link smile


 Posted:   Mar 12, 2009 - 10:25 AM   
 By:   akbarraaja   (Member)

Dear Steven A Kennedy,

Thank you very much for writing on IlaiyaRaaja.

IlaiyaRaaja has many many dimensions in music.

For a given situation or for the sequences in the frames of a film, IlaiyaRaaja writes musical notes instantly. Usually for a song he takes 20-30mins. Music flows from him.

So he may not think about the combinations of different styles or different periodic music. Or else I can say, complex combinations occur naturally for him, rather than intentionally.

Sometimes, his music reminds us the under exploration or under usage of music of different periods and different styles.

He is one of the very few musicians who write explicit Original Background Musical Score for the given situation and given frames in the screen. Still you can find an uniqueness in his background score.

He is so spiritual and his music turns many of his fans spiritual. Perhaps, the only film musician who directs his fans to a devotional state and make them lead a spiritual life.

Akbar Basha S

 Posted:   Mar 12, 2009 - 1:20 PM   
 By:   yesmadhukar   (Member)

Hi Steve,

I thank you for writing a wondeful article on Dr.Ilaiyaraaja. Many of his fans feel he deserves a lot more than his current status. But you know i frankly think, what else a man needs more than the support of over 200 million people acroos the world who think they cannot sleep well if they dont hear this man's music. More than the feeling that Ilaiyaraaja has not been duly recognised for his talents at the highest level, i really feel bad for the people who have not heard the musical notes of this great man. Moreover, an Oscar Award or a Grammy Award approving or rejecting this man's music is of no significance to the millions of fans who are fed by his music everyday. I would also like to quote that the west has indeed identified the brilliance in IR long way back as Ilaiyaraaja was the first Asian to have ever composed at the Royal London Philharmonic Orchestra. In South India, he is treated as the Musical Almighty. But he is not too popular in North India(amidst the common men). Eventhough I am not a veteran in music to compare IR's music with others, I would like to say he is on par with Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, Saint Thiyagaraaja and Naushad because the feeling you get while hearing their music will reverberate forever. In my words I would say he is a "Scientist" in the field of Music. His experiments will never stop. There is no success or failure for a musical scientist as long as he creates beautiful sound.

Can you imagine someone who has composed for the verses written in 9th century by a saint? This man indeed has done exactly that and I even think people who have'nt listened to this composition have missed something in their lives. It is a classical blend of western music with the verses of the world's second oldest language (Tamil) in it's purest form.

I would conclude by saying that the films you have mentioned above is just a tip in the iceberg. His music is even bigger than the iceberg and may be as big as an ocean and I would suggest you to hear many more of his compositions as there are specialities and uniqueness in many of his songs which I think has never been tried by any other composers in this world. I feel blessed and honoured to hear IR's Music. Hope your message reaches many of them around the world and they start to hear IR's music and I am sure they will all feel like I do.


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