To many, the sound of music is his voice, his musical arrangements with cascading violins, matched with the equal mellifluence of S Janaki and P Susheela.
Illayaraja is more than one person. A phenomenon would be an understatement. A musical movement, would perhaps do justice to the maestro. For, it is by invoking his name that most of today’s music geniuses compose their music. AR Rahman, a former assistant to the Isaignani, is a confessed fan of the composer, and in Devi Sri Prasad’s studio, stills hangs a long portrait of the composer, simply calling him the face and figure of music, in all its divinity.
Musicians make music. The Isaignani however, made magic. Film music, which until then was tied to the mercies of the lyrics it contained, broke free in his tunes. Music was regarded for its own reason, some even without bearing any lyrics. Voices, even baritones like his own voice, could carry with them the soothing effect that music is bestowed with, only when Illayaraja strung them together.
If film music is what the Isaignani was known for, music buffs recognize his inane talent for background score, where silence matters as much as music. Isaignani sure knew how well to use both to good effect. Music isn’t about volume, it is about impact. And it was this ideology that drove him to compose simple, yet spectacular tunes.
If Rahman composed a song with only vocals for background music in Thiruda Thiruda (Raasathi), it for sure had its roots in Iasignani’s superhit attempt in this regard, in Thalapathy (Raakamma). If Devi Sri Prasad is noticed for his jazzy numbers, like in Something Something, the tune definitely has a lot to lean on the peppy Rum Bum Bum, in Micheal Madana Kama Rajan, by the maestro.
Here’s wishing the face, voice and figure of our music, Isaignani Illayaraja, all happiness, peace. Here’s also wishing his innumerable fans many years of His music on this special day.