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Wow.. Simply superb

 
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sridhars
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Joined: 24 Dec 2006
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Sun Dec 24, 2006 1:39 pm    Post subject: Wow.. Simply superb Reply with quote

Its rare to see a musician who has no ego of any magnitude. I have seen many a times when he goes by his Fiat (1960s model) MSV 5052. One can see him towards studios located in then Kodambakkam anytime between 8:30AM to 9:00AM. This was in the early 80s. Someone told me that he still maintains his same car. SPB also mentioned the same when MSV was honored in Singapore in 1999.

I have never seen him any press conference or other functions where his counterpart legen poet Kannadasan is being praised by MSV.

Though there are many non-hit songs, but he was able to by and large tied the audiance with is sweet melodies.

He was composing music to then legends MGR and Sivaji with proper balance. I do not think he has any differences with anyone.


Sridhar S
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srandy
Enthusiant


Joined: 06 Dec 2006
Posts: 62

PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2007 9:49 pm    Post subject: One day with the MM Reply with quote

have below one of my experiences with the MM : ) It is exactly one year since that meeting!!!!

I had the great fortune of being present at a composing / recording by the one and only Mellisai Mannar (MM) on 5th Jan 06.

It was by sheer chance that I was invited by a close friend of mine (Vaidy) to meet with the MM while he was at work...

MM had been invited by a few from Kerala who are producing a series of Malayalam folk albums, one of which is by our MM.

First, the amazing simplicity of this great man is to be seen to be believed. His enormous knowledge of music values are kept right within himself and he does not take one wee bit of credit for any of his great works... he says it is all "deiveega seiyal" and "inspiration"...

When I walked into the studio, 4 songs had already been composed / recorded. At the end of the day, I felt really sad that I was not around for those as well as I was present only for 3 that he recorded after I went in.

He was clothed in a white dhoti and white shirt, thiruneer and kungumam... and a beaming smile... As I walked in, he raised an eyebrow at my friend in a gesture to ask who I was, and after he was told that I had come to see the recording, he greeted me with folded hands, to which I reciprocated and he said..."romba sandhosham" and pointed his hands upwards..

He had asked the singer to sing out the lyrics and while listening. The song was a krishna leela. His fingers were playing on the harmonium, and with each new line, his tune kept changing and he would play a few notes that sounded gibberish to a "gnayana soonyam" like me... He kept asking for the previous few lines to be sung again, back and forth, and a he played a few notes here and there... and a few aah..aaahs.. around... All the musicians watched him intensely... And suddenly, he looked a the flutist and said.. itha vaasi... and played a few notes on his harmonium... and looked at the flutist.. the flutist looked straight at him...and in a couple of moments played... as the flutist was playing.. MM played the notes again and looked back, saying, hey buddy, thats not what I asked you to play... here it is once again for you... the flutist got the cue.. and played it again... and MM replayed it... the third time over, he played a different set of notes... and the flutist played that... for which MM said, seri..ithuvae irrukattum... it gave a feeling that he improvised for the sake of the flutist... One of his team asked him if he would like the person on the keyboard to play the notes, to which he replied, "krishnarukku keyboard othu varaathu" : )) meaning, krishna and the flute were inseparable... he wanted the flute to be the lead instrument in that song not the sound from the keyboard... so much for realism...

In about 5-10 minutes he had the general raagam and tune in his head and he looked at each of the orchestra and played a few notes and wanted them to recite that on their instruments... which most did...

Then he rattled out a series of notes which was written out in tamizh and handed over each of the musicians and he asked them to play it, which they did after a few tries each...

Then the MM asked the person on the keyboard to play his bit to which he replied... "program pannikittu irukaen sir"... MM said, ippo thaanapa compose pandrOm, athukkulla indha tunea endha programla pOi vaasika pOrae : ))) After a few tensed moments, the keyboard was ready and he played the background which consisted of about 5-6 instruments for the rhythm... After a few seconds, the MM raised his hand and said.... andha "bell" engapaa?? The keyboard guy was baffled and asked.. "endha bell sir?".. The MM said.. "andha anjaavathu barla varra 2 bell pa"... The keyboard guy ruffled through his notes and said... "sorry sir, marandhu pOchu"... and the MM replied "en kaadhu marakalayae paa".. The bell was added and played back... and the MM made adjustments to a few notes, a few instruments.. he wanted a "banjo" in place of another instrument and stuff like that...

He then asked for all the musicians to play the "opening" and after a few tensed moments it all came into life... from harmonium to the rest of the instruments... even as the music was being played, the MM's fingers were playing the tune and his ears were razor sharp... cos he identified wrong notes being played!!! I've heard of 16 track recording, but this was 16 track listening!!!!

After listening to it a few times, he then went back to his harmonium and improvised again... and wanted his musicians to make changes.... I must say that the musicians were tensed as they had to be on their toes & fingers all the time as this man was changing the tune each moment and I am sure each one would have scored a 10!!! He did not seem to be satisfied till his heart said it was acceptable... The musicians had no time to practice.. Hats off to the musicians who played for him during his hey days, cos many who have been with him for a long time say, he has sobered down now...

As much as he is a perfectionist, his sense of humour is something to admire as well.. Straight faced, he was saying things that caused one to burst out in laughter!!!

Once he was happy with the opening, he went to the bgm's. Each bgm was kinda different... One instrument would be key in a particular bgm and subdued in another... but the continuity from the and base would be identical...

His choice of beats during the song were amazing.. while he had initially set a rhythm pattern, he chose to change it mid way and wanted the beats to be "reversed".. for instance, the tabla he wanted the right and left to be interchanged for a different effect... small nuances that went a long way to give body to the song... these he did based on the lyrics of the song... an example of blending the orchsestra / instruments with the lyrics... Thats probably the reason why we are able to appreciate the lyrics of the songs of yesteryears without the insturments overshadowing the lyrics....

After all the bits were put in place, he wanted a "full" with all the instruments, opening, vocal, bgm etc... and kept fine tuning the way the lyrics had to be sung, singing along and giving it the finer nuances almost everytime till he was "satisfied".... boy, each small change made a huge impact on the body of the song...

Then came the "take"... Even in the recording room he made a few subtle changes on the timing of a few instruments ... only to make the body richer at the right places and crisper at other places : )))

What amazed me was the spontaneity with which he composed for the song and at the same time, improvising around the capabilities of the musicians... his flow of thought was so free that he had so many options for each one... that he never seemed to be stuck with one option.... If one would rememeber, he apparently composed close to a 100 tunes for Ulagam suttrum valiban... I am sure it would have been a breeze for him.... unthinkable for most!!!!

After the recording of the song, he hardly took a break and was right back for the next.... a song with a totally different mood.... a kinda vayaL song.. and he could get the song composed with the same ease from the previous with totally different instruments, the thara, thappata, dolak, etc.... and with a totally different shape and feel...

He kept telling his musicians, that when one listens to the song, they should be able to visualise the scene without having to see the sequence at all... a different kind of "virtual reality"... Believe, me while listening to the song, though in malayalam, I could figure out the sequence right through the song.. not only the general background / backdrop, but the actions as well... I must say, a choreographer / director of his movies had it real easy, cos he had done most of the work for them : ))) And I must say, he may have also made it difficult to have a different scene for his song from the original intention : )) I wish I could have been witness to the spontaneity of lyrics though his best friend, the one and only Kaviarasar... Wow.. what an experience it would have been... and what we have as their works, is just what they ended up with... not what they had in the process... and if you add to this someone like iyakunar thilagam.. boy.. you get what we have as master pieces!!!!!

At the end of the day, I was fortunate to touch the great man's feet.... embarrased he was,in silence, biting his tongue.. in a way saying "avaNukku munnadi naan oNNum illa paa".. pointing his hands to the sky!!!

On the whole, I felt like being at Brahma's workshop - from a skeletal lyric to a full bodied song...words are hard to describe my experience of that day!!! What I have said is just a miniscule bit!!!! One has to experience it to get the "dharshan"..

Cheers
&y
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Ramesh.P
The Ardent


Joined: 07 Dec 2006
Posts: 177
Location: Chennai

PostPosted: Tue Jan 09, 2007 1:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

srandy

Thanks a lot for your article. really superb one. Yes we missed those days.

MM-KAVIARASU-VALLE
MM-KB-SRIDHAR-BHIMSINGH
MM-TMS-PS-SPB-PBS

Based on your article I can visualise how MELLISAI MANNAR would have worked with those giants and how they extracted best of MELLISAI MANNAR.

While discussing about how MELLISAI MANNAR use to change the tune quite often, I can recollect song from Utti varai uravu.
MSV finished song recording THEDNEEN VANDHADHU with PS without sridhar presence as he was away.

Sridhar was not satisfied and but not willing to tell MELLISAI MANNAR.
Having noticed discomfort from sridhar, MELLISAI MANNAR immediately change the tune and recorded it . Yes the great song THEDINEN VANDHADHU with Jazz back ground arrived and sridhar was so pleased and amazed the way MELLISAI MANNAR changed the tune .
Rest is history.

regards
ramesh
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