Anand Fadeout

Mdeii Life - Anand Krishnamoorthi's blog

Monday, August 15, 2005

Music and more music

Judging from the previous post {rather, the response to it (or lack of) (that's fucking silly with all those brackets!)} I guess people don't take my political side very seriously. Hmprf!
Have just been in touch with Chakra, Anand and Jag, and I suppose you must be aware of what's gonna happen in London over the bank-holiday weekend. Well it certainly does involve a lot of Asian men (alright, persons!) meeting up in crowded public places. Yet our intentions are wholly innocuous. More at Chakra's.
I hope this trip to London, actually my first proper 'touristy' trip to the capital, also involves some music (just to tie the title of the post to this piece of news)

Now, to the actual post: the work on our film is almost done, but for the music, and this is where I suppose the experience of Indian films come in handy. If there is one area in our filmmaking culture that is world-class, it should be our music. Little wonder that what some of us have just started in terms of analysis of narratives and the other aspects of the film medium, has actually been going on for quite a bit of time as far our music is concerned. To take an example, check out the really nerdy vyagyanam on Ilayaraja's Raajangham website (strangely, cannot find the link now).

A strange fallout of our musical tradition of filmmaking is the sheer expertise we have built up in that area. In fact, the only thing we ever export in terms of film talent, has been in music. Now, I've just been doing my dissertation analysis of Stanley Kubrick's use of sound and music in his films, and am rather amazed at how talented the chap is. You see scoring for films requires two distinct talents. One is to actually be able to write music, and the second one is to write proper music for the proper parts of the film: ie suitability, timing, and placement.

But before we go into the intricacies, we must first have a look at the role music plays in film. I personally am averse to the slapped on mood-track, but that certainly is one role a background score has been relegated to. But during my analysis of Kubrick's 2001 A Space Odyssey, I came across a rather remarkable thing. As everybody should be familiar with, the film does not have an exclusive commissioned score. Alex North wrote one, but Kubrick did not use it. He simply chose existing pieces of Classical and contemporary music and used it in the right spots. Which brings us back to the two aspects of film music. The first one being simply waved off, it is the second aspect that takes importance. Remarkably, unlike most films, 2001 does not have mood music at all, instead it has lengthy music pieces (almost complete works) that play on as distinct units with their own choreographed sequences. That is what songs do in musicals, that is the basis of the Indian film tradition.

But! Importantly, unlike modern Indian films have become, these 'song sequences' are not altogether dispensable from the storytelling: They are, for most part of the film, the sequences that tell the story. That is a big lesson for any of us learning to use music in films. They need not be either slapped on veneer, or stand out like a sore thumb. They can actually tell the story and serve both purposes.

10:54 pm


Comments to Music and more music

i agree, often peoples short sightedness send them in other directions.

posted by Blogger Neovo 

9:54 pm, August 16, 2005

I was listening to some of illayaraja's best numbers
last night and one thought struck me. That the opening bars and some
interim ones were - somehow - a mixture of what would be cacophony -
as in dissonance and anarchy was bolted together to create some kind
of strange harmony - not sure you understand what I feel.
There is somehow a order in the way he brings glaring and "unmusical"
sounds to create his music.

posted by Blogger Ravages 

6:25 am, August 17, 2005

2050 A Journey.

posted by Blogger Ghost Particle 

6:26 pm, August 17, 2005

CC: You're right about dissonance opening music. That I presume is one mark of a master composer. I personally have not studied music enough to comment about that, but drawing parallels in films, I can say that for any form of narration or storytelling, conflict is something that is first established. I hope to write more in detail later, but right now if I do not get back to my dissertation, I am done for!

posted by Blogger Anand 

11:04 pm, August 18, 2005

Even Hollywood started on musicals (Sound of Music, for example) but they divorced song and dance from the narrative later. Since we have had a rich tradition of "dance-drama", music & dance and drama have never been separate for us. The other aspect is the analogy to the typical "Indian meals" where small servings of different things are a sine-qua-non and this has been a hallmark of our films too :-)

posted by Blogger thennavan 

3:07 pm, August 23, 2005

Mukund: I don't think they started of exclusively as musicals. In fact films as they started out served vaiour purposes including extensions of vaudeville in America. It had various origins in Europe as well.

While I am no apologist for the crasseness of our grasp onto nonsense in the name of tradition goes, I do appreciate the fact that the mixture of many so-called pure-arts, has always been a part of our tradional theatre. But that certainly does not do justice to the fact that our tradition also encompasses a seriousness of purpose and a difinite unity as demonstrated in most of our early literature.

Masala night be our biggest USP, but we need not always be pigeoholed as being purveyors of only masala and nothing else. And more importantly, is preservation of tradition any excuse for stagnation of culture?

posted by Blogger Anand 

5:25 pm, August 23, 2005

Post a Comment

References to Music and more music

Create a Link
Powered by Blogger

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License.