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Veena unusual conversations

Raja’s use of Veena in his compositions is legendary. No composer who came after him have used
the instrument so well and few who came before him can compete in this regard. This is a vast
subject as he has used veena in combination with several other instruments. He has also used the
guitar in a veena mode (it deserves a separate post later). Raja’s specialty with the use of veena in
the C&R mode is his boldness to use it with another similar instrument and still drive the distinction
between both these instruments very clearly. Use of the veena and guitar, or veena and synthesizer is
a bit risky, but Raja seems to love such risks. We will cover this topic with several clips.

First let’s start listening to some songs where Raja has used the veena in C&R mode with flute. The
clip below has several segments:

1. The first segment (16 seconds) is from the song ‘Ponnil Vaanam’ from Villu
Paatukaaran (Tamil 1992). The call is a long one from the flute and the veena responds is not
as long. Set to khamas (courtesy: Vel Ramanan), this is one of the finest from Raja in this
arrangement category
2. The second segment (about 15 seconds) is from the song ‘Oru Ragam
Padalodu’ from Ananda Ragam (Tamil 1982). The call from the flute is responded by the
veena is almost same time
3. The third segment is from the song ‘Poomalai Vaangi Vandhaan’ from Sindhu
Bhairavi (Tamil 1986). The call is a long one from the flute and the veena responds is not as
long. Set to Kanada (courtesy: Vel Ramanan), this song uses a lot of hidden western
harmony in its interludes though it gives an external appearance of a very CCM laden song!
4. The fourth segment is from the song ‘Ravivarman Ezhudhaatha’ from Thaikku Oru
Thaalaatu (Tamil 1986). The call here is a long one from the veena and it gets a short flute
response
5. The fifth segment is a short one from the song ‘Nee Paadhi Naan Paadhi’ from the
film Keladi Kanmani (Tamil 1990). The call is from the flute and the response is from the
veena – bewitching melody!
6. The sixth segment is from the apt song ‘Veene Veene’ from the
film Aalolam (Malayalam 1982). The call is a long one from the veena and it gets a short
response from the flute

Let’s hear the sample of Raja’s unusual veena-flute conversations …

Let’s next shift out focus to a Raja specialty – veena and guitar conversations. The clip below has
several segments:

1. The first segment is from the song ‘Kamalam Paada’ from the film Mogha
MuLL (Tamil 1994). The call is from the veena and the guitar responds beautifully. Set to
Ramapriya (courtesy: Vel Ramanan), this is one of Raja’s finest in this combination of veena
and guitar
2. The second segment is from the song ‘Nanna Jeeva Nenu’ from the
film Geetha (Kannada 1980). The call is from the veena and the guitar responds beautifully.
This is a Raja regular 80s arrangement and it gives a fantastic melody
3. The third segment is from the traditional song ‘Alai Payuthe’ orchestrated by Raja in
its traditional kanada ragam. Raja however, adds interludes to this song makes it even more
attractive than traditional Carnatic renderings. The song is from the film ‘Ethanai Konam
Ethanai Paarvai’ (Tamil 1983). This is another top veena-guitar C&R arrangement of Raja
4. The fourth segment is from the prelude of the song ‘Kaalai Thendral’ from Uyarntha
ULLam (Tamil 1985). The call is by the veena and the response is by the guitar. However, the
bass guitar keeps playing in the background and you can also hear a synthesizer being used
in bells mode.
5. The fifth segment is a rare song – ‘Kaalai Netra Kaatre’ from the
film Bhagavathipuram Railway Gate (Tamil 1983). The call is a detailed one from the guitar
and is met with a short veena response
6. The last segment is from the song ‘Velli Nilave’ from the film Nanadavana
Theru (Tamil 1995). The call is a short one from the veena and the response is a sober one
from the guitar. This is my all-time favorite in this category of veena-guitar C&;R arrangement.
To this date, I have not heard such a sweet arrangement between these two instruments

Let’s hear the sample of Raja’s unusual veena-guitar conversations …

Let’s next shift out focus to a veena and violin conversations. There are many examples from Raja’s
work over the past 5 decades. The clip below has several segments:

1. The first segment is from the song ‘Poovai Vinrinjnu’ from the
film Adharvam (Malayalam 1989). The call is from the veena and the detailed response is
from the violins. Set to keeravani ragam, this is another bewitching melody of Raja in
Malayalam in the late 80s
2. The second segment is from the song ‘Sangathamizh Kaviye’ from the film Manadhil
Urudhi Vendum (Tamil 1987). The call is from the veena for which the violins respond. There
are two back to back melodies in this segment and two C&R arrangements sandwiched
brilliantly by the composer
3. The third segment is from the song ‘Tham Thananam’ from the film Pudhiya
Vaarpugal (Tamil 1979). The call is from the violins for which the veena responds
4. The fourth segment is from the song ‘Naadha Vinodhangal’ from the film Salangai
Oli (Tamil/Telugu 1983). The call is from the violins for which the veena responds
5. The fifth segment is from the song ‘Pallaviye Charanam’ from the film Oruvar
Vaazhum Aalaiyam (Tamil 1988). The call is from the violins at a rapid pace and the veena
responds with equally same temp but in short phrases
6. The fifth segment is from the song ‘Vaidehi Raman’ from the film Pagal Nilavu (Tamil
1985). The call is a detailed one from the violins for which the response is from the veena

Let’s hear the sample of Raja’s unusual veena-violin conversations …

Raja’s work with veena is unmatched by any composer when it comes to the C&R arrangement with
this instrument. He uses a blend of Carnatic and western traditions in his conversations. While he
claims that he does not do fusion, in this aspect of arrangement, we can easily say that he makes at
times both these systems converse with ease!