Ilaiyaraaja (born Gnanadesikan on 3 June 1943) is an Indian film composer, singer, and lyricist mainly in the Tamil film Industry.Ilaiyaraaja is also an instrumentalist, conductor, and a songwriter. To date, he has composed over 4500 songs and provided film scores for more than 950 Indian films in various languages in a career spanning more than 30 years, particularly being acclaimed for his background scoring for Indian films. His songs and background score played a very crucial role in the success of many films. He has scored music for Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Marathi and Hindi film industries.
A gold medalist in classical guitar from Trinity College of Music, London, in 1993 he became the first Asian to compose a full symphony performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London’s Walthamstow Town Hall. He is usually referred to by the title Isaignani (Tamil: இசைஞானி; English: A man with great knowledge in music), or as The Maestro. He has won four Indian National Film Awards; three for Best Music Direction and one for Best Background Score and is a recipient of the prestigious Padma Bhushan Award from the Government of India.
His Musical characteristics
Ilaiyaraaja’s music is characterised by the use of an orchestration technique that is a synthesis of Western and Indian instruments and musical modes. He uses electronic music technology that integrates synthesisers, electric guitars and keyboards, drum machines, rhythm boxes and MIDI with large orchestras that feature traditional instruments such as the veena, venu, nadaswaram, dholak, mridangam and tabla as well as Western lead instruments such as saxophones and flutes.
He uses catchy melodies fleshed out with a variety of chord progressions, beats and timbres. Ilaiyaraaja’s songs typically have a musical form where vocal stanzas and choruses are interspersed with orchestral preludes and interludes. They often contain polyphonic melodies, where the lead vocals are interwoven with supporting melody lines sung by another voice or played by instruments./
The basslines in his songs tend to be melodically dynamic, rising and falling in a dramatic fashion. Polyrhythms are also apparent, particularly in songs with Indian folk or Carnatic influences. The melodic structure of his songs demand considerable vocal virtuosity, and have found expressive platform amongst some of India’s respected vocalists and playback singers, such as S. P. Balasubramaniam, K. J. Yesudas, S. Janaki, K. S. Chitra, Swarnalatha, S. P. Sailaja, T. M. Soundararajan, P. Susheela, Sujatha, Malaysia Vasudevan, Asha Bhonsle, Lata Mangeshkar, Sadhana Sargam and the latest sensation Shreya Ghoshal. Ilaiyaraaja has sung over 400 of his own compositions for films, and is recognisable by his stark, nasal voice. He has penned the lyrics for some of his songs in Tamil and other languages. Ilaiyaraaja’s film scores are known both for the dramatic and evocative melodies, and for the more subtle background music that he uses to provide texture or mood for scenes in films such as Johnny (1980), Mouna Raagam (1986), Geethanjali (1989) and Guna (1991).
Ilaiyaraaja rarely performs his music live, which may be due to the time he devotes to his composing activities. His last major live performance, the first in 25 years, was a four-hour concert held at the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium in Chennai, India on 16 October 2005. The show was widely televised both in India and abroad, in which he played a song with just three notes (sa re ga). Less well-known was his live 2004 performance in Italy at the Teatro Comunale di Modena, an event-concert presented for the 14th edition of Angelica, Festival Internazionale Di Musica, co-produced with the L’Altro Suono Festival.He had done a few small-scale shows early in his career in Sri Lanka and Malaysia and was involved in a charity concert to raise funds for the construction of a Hindu temple in India. A television retrospective titled Ithu Ilaiyaraja (‘This is Ilaiyaraja’) was produced, chronicling his career. He last performed live at the audio release function of Dhoni film and before that he performed a programme that was conducted and telecasted by Jaya TV titled Enendrum Raja (‘Everlasting Raja’) on 28 December 2011 at Jahawarlal Nehru Indoor Stadium, Chennai.Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ilaiyaraaja