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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

SPB's greatest songs - My perspective

SPB - needs no intro. There is hardly any south Indian who does not love him (including malayalis). It is simply impossible to overlook his gargantuan contribution to the field of film music. SPB = playback and playback = SPB. A self-styled gentleman and a self-taught genius. A colossus both in sight and performance. Darling of the masses and music directors alike. It is almost an impossible task to list a few melodies of SPB here and classify them as the list that I love the most. Really speaking, the list of "Best of SPB songs" depend strictly on the mood.

  • When you feel languid, "nilaave vaa", "kELadi kaNmaNi", "thene thenpaaNdi" or"thanga nilavE unnai urukki"- will top your list.
  • When you feel resurgent with manly hormones peaking, you want to hear "namma ooru singaari".
  • When you feel naughty and romantic you pick "andharangam yaavumE". when you feel lovingly romantic you pick "nandhaa en nilaa".
  • When you feel sad, you could pick "pOguthE pOguthE" or "paadi parandha kiLi"
  • When you want to connect to he almighty you may pick "aayar paadi maaLigaiyil"
  • When your mood is classical, you get "Omkaara naadhaanu santhaana" from shankaraabaranam.

What is not there? one may wonder. There is nothing left for the mortals who followed him to experiment and find out. He has pretty much written the encylopaedia of playback singing. So, when I say "SPB's greatest songs", it becomes imminent that I mention in what context I am writing the list.

The context here, I would loosely put, as technical prowess. Technical prowess is a combination of multitude of factors - expression (bhaavam), enunciation (azuththam), pronunciation (uchcharippu), modulation (brighas and sangathis), breath control (moochchadakkam), ease of singing (paadum eLimai) , maintaining the scale (shruthi shuddham) and so on.. The list that I present here is more of a perspective. It concentrates mainly on the songs that have tough modulations ( brighaas and sangathis) to sing. These songs are a listener's delight and a (lesser) singer's nightmares. They challenge the singer to go beyond his perceived ability and perform. In my case, they both inspire and intimidate me. They inspire me since I learn new techniques and intimidate me because a the flow is not yet natural which is absolutely important for singing. Or in other words, I "enforce" these sangathis in my singing, whereas SPB sings "naturally". The gap can be lowered only by pressing the gas pedal on the practice.

Although I very well understand that it will be impossible to improve beyond a particular point (Well, adhukku mEla improve paNNinaa, genius kum namakkum enna vithyaasam ?), I just keep pushing myself into these songs by listening, contemplating and humming all the time. Let us first see the list of such songs which push the singer's threshold.

Top 10:

  1. Nandha nee en nilaa
  2. Enakkoru kaadhali
  3. Mazaiyum neeye
  4. KadhilE mEgama ( Telugu from movie Laila)
  5. ThErOttam (NuvvEna in telugu)
  6. Nalladhor veeNai
  7. KadavuL amaiththu vaiththa mEdai
  8. RaagangaL 16
  9. Niththam niththam en kaNNoram inbak kanaa
  10. Kamban yEmaanthaan

Next 10:

  1. IlakkaNam maaRudhO (tempted to include it in spite of being a duet)
  2. Maan kaNda swaragangaL
  3. Radha kaadhal varaadha
  4. Geetham Sangeetham
  5. ThiruththEril varum (a duet)
  6. Pon enpadho poovenbadho
  7. Mazaitharumo en mEgham
  8. Naan eNNum pozudhu
  9. Kadalil alaigaL thondrum aanaal
  10. Theerththakkaraiyinile therku mooliayil

I have already tried a few songs of SPB in my blog. I am planning to try a few more from the above list.

I will be similarly coming up with a list for my other favorite singers:

  1. K. J. Yesudas - my maanaseega guru :)
  2. Jeyachandran - singer par excellence whose voice SPB envied (his remark)
  3. Ajoy chakraborty - Bengali singer and one who I worship :)