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Lessons from A R Rahman’s music

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A R Rahman is a double Oscar winning legendary musician from India. He has composed and sang in more than 90 albums in over 10 languages over the period of 25 years. His music has raised the standards of commercial music from India. Only a few have attained such worldwide fame in the past from India. His work is appreciated internationally by both listeners and critiques. I always listen to his albums when i’m down and looking for inspirations.

Indian movies are musicals.

Songs are essentials elements of movie making and watching process. Action, Comedy, Romance and all genres movies have to have at least 5 songs. Most of the times these songs are interruptive,  and invasive to the narration and feel of movies. However, A R Rahman has mastered the art of blending such inconsequential melodies.

Like Zombies in American movies, Indian moviegoers inherit songs as part of our movie culture.

Why is he so inspirational to me?

Dynamic I don’t know if it’s just me or anyone, i have always felt his songs and compositions are pretty unique from each other. All musicians have a style and A R Rahman’s music style is its tranquillity. Slow, Consistent, and less noise is evident in every track. Also, his compositions sound very different from each other. For example if you listen to Illayaraja or RD Burman or Beatles, after a while you can guess it gets repetitive. There are tons of music directors who came and gone since A R Rahman started. He is still ruling the industry.

Re-inventing Rahman’s has been re-reinventing his orchestra every couple of years to sound more modern. If you listen to his albums from Roja to Rangeela, you can spot the music is more synthetic and less noisy in Rangeela. The is the case after Boys and Rang de Basanti. Every couple of years, he changes his instruments and singers he works with to avoid repetition and bring new flavor. This might obviously require lots of efforts to step up. However, considering the commercial nature of movies it becomes difficult for movie makers to release movies on time in case of any delays in music composition.

To balance out the commerce and craftsmanship is an art by itself.

Utilizing Cutting edge technology A R Rahman has always been on the cutting edge of technology utilization in his scores by using new instruments, and technology. This has inspired me a lot. The fact that he brings in so much into such a thin scope is amazing. Commercial music is bound financial deadlines and it is not very easy to get creative in such tight deadlines. However, by dedication and hard work he has mastered various instruments and the technicalities of their usage. In a recent stage performances through out USA, he showcased the use of handheld thumping instruments designed and developed by Intel research team. It seem Intel team worked with him several iterations to come up with such a out and out idea.

Compassionate Above all, A R Rahman is a likable and humble character. He is open to ideas, and always excited to serve his masters. His empathy towards others has national and international musicians and directors waiting and wanting for a chance to work with him.

I congratulate him on the 25th anniversary in Indian cinema.

You can read more about life and achievements from his biography on wiki.


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