We all know of A. R. Rahman and his greatness. But what is the secret behind his greatness? How does he compose such great music? Let's have a crack at decoding how Rahman makes music. Skilled in most types of music, Rahman considers himself an instrument. He once said, "I was never happy with my music earlier. But the whole thinking changed from ‘I’m playing music’ to ‘I’m an instrument’."
Before venturing into the industry on his own, Rahman assisted legendary music director Ilayaraja, who recently completed 1000 films as a music director. Not just in films, Rahman dominates even in the ad world – with memorable and loved jingles for Airtel, Hero Motocorp, Renault and more.
After signing up for a film, Rahman asks the director to give the exact situation of the song and why it is needed. He also sees the actor/actress and accordingly determines the singer. He then proceeds to compose the song on his own and records every song in his voice. Most of his popular songs have multiple singers. He records music with his singers only at night, with Lata Mangeshkar being the only exception. He also modifies the singer as per the song, instead of the other way around.
After recording, he begins to assemble, program and edit the music with logic, an audio recording and mixing software. Symphonic orchestral themes accompany his scores, occasionally using a leitmotif. Did you know he can play four keyboards at once? Well, he practices all the time – he prefers composing instead of sightseeing even during his tours.
Over the later years, his methodology has changed, as he experimented with the fusion of traditional instruments with new electronic sounds and technology. Rahman's musical interests and outlook originate in his love of experimentation. His compositions have an influential use of counterpoint, orchestration and the human voice, melding Indian pop music with a unique form and instrumentation. With this style and wide-ranging lyrics, the appeal of Rahman's music crosses classes and cultures in this country.
Rahman will be performing across the country in November and December. Book your tickets for AR Rahman Encore the concert with MTV here.
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