How are songs composed? How do those different ragas, tunes and beats fall in perfect harmony? Making Of A Song explores the vocals, visuals, lyrics and other features that define a musical creation.
Rex Vijayan says he cannot re-listen to his compositions. “Not a single one of them unless it’s for work,” he admits. “I keep finding mistakes. Every time I hand over a completed song to the director, I feel a sense of discontentment because I know it could have been better. All those songs are incomplete one way or the other.”
The composer, multi-instrumentalist, and occasional vocalist has been around for over two decades now. He rose to national fame as the lead guitarist of Avial, the immensely popular Malayali alternative rock band. He made his debut in mainstream film music in 2009, through Bridge, a segment directed by Anwar Rasheed in Malayalam anthology film, Kerala Cafe. In ten years, the soft-spoken musician has done just a handful of films. In the second half of 2017 and early 2018, the most prolific period in his career, he delivered three stunning albums – Parava (September, 2017), Maayanadhi (December, 2017) and Sudani From Nigeria (March, 2018). The immersive soundtrack of Maayanadhi comprises of three songs and a bunch of theme pieces that sound truly exotic. In a telephonic conversation with Silverscreen, the composer talks about Uyirin Nadhiye, one of the tracks from the film which he has also sung with Neha S Nair.
“Aashiq wanted a slow-paced soothing number in a techno-trance mode. Something that sounds like a conversation or recital of a poem,” says Rex about Uyirin Nadhiye. The song appears in a flashback sequence, charting the past of the protagonists when they were in love.
“I first composed the guitar portion in the middle, and then added the tune, base line and beat to it. I wanted to use Dilruba (an Indian string instrument). Arun Suradhaa, the Chennai-based musician who played it, was initially hesitant since he hadn’t played the instrument in a long while. I managed to convince him. The Dilruba piece in the beginning adds a lot of soul to the song,” says the composer.
“Aashiq knew exactly what he wanted in the visuals, and had cut a rough montage. It helped me get a better idea of how the song should be. And meanwhile, I had started working in Parava. One day, Aashiq rang me up and said he wanted the completed version immediately, and Sekhar Menon, who was assisting me in Parava, and I got down to work. In one night, we recorded the vocals, and wrapped it up.”
The lyrics, written by Vinayak Sasikumar, talks about the dreamy stage of love when everything appears ethereal and forever. “There were some initial conflicts about the lines. But I don’t usually worry about the lyrics. I leave it entirely to the lyricist,” he says. “I don’t write. Not a writer, not a reader, not a man of many words,” he laughs.
This isn’t the kind of song I listen to when I have nothing to do, says Rex. “For a fact, I don’t listen to a lot of film music. I deliver according to the briefs I get from the director. I feel a film song operates within a limited range. It’s inseparable from the film’s plot and the characters featured in the song visuals. For this reason, independent music is what I prefer because there is more room for imagination,” he says. “I like learning about the background of songs – the journey of the artistes, how the song was born… One of the artistes I have been listening to a lot recently is Tony Misch, a guitarist from United Kingdom. Also, the works of the English rock band, Bring Me The Horizon.”
Listen to Uyirin Nadhiye:
Feature image courtesy Manorama online