Sanjay Subrahmanyan and Sean Roldon give Vallalar’s verses a contemporary twist

Feb 6, 2024


Asian College of Journalism president Shashi Kumar launched the Anabanum Peruveli website at an event here on Tuesday.  Carnatic singer Sanjay Subramaniam (left), Onemai Foundation founder and director Vignesh Sundaresan (third from left) and music director Sean Roldan at the event.

Asian College of Journalism president Shashi Kumar launched the Anabanum Peruveli website at an event here on Tuesday. Carnatic singer Sanjay Subramaniam (left), Onemai Foundation founder and director Vignesh Sundaresan (third from left) and music director Sean Roldan at the event. , Photo Credit: Ragu R

Apart from occasional Thiruvaruttapa songs in Carnatic concerts and devotional programs, the poetry of the 19th-century Tamil saint Vallalar is not used in mainstream music. So being introduced to his universal and secular world of peace and love in Sanjay Subramanian's voice, that too in styles distinct from the Carnatic idiom, is a unique experience. he is Anabanum Peruveli, A new music project that was recently launched in the city.

It is certainly unusual for a classical heavy-weight to shed his Carnatic skin and move into rock, jazz and blues to render an ancient Tamil text; But Sanjay happily does it in collaboration with composer Shawn Roldan.

The project, initiated by Vignesh Sundaresan and conceptualized by Onemai Foundation (with AS Panneerselvan as the driving force behind it), consists of six audio tracks and an accompanying music video. The predominant sound of the album is rock, but it also has Celtic and jazz/blues influences, reflecting the universality of Vallalar's poetry. And Sanjay's voice, which is quite charming and consciously hides his classical prowess, and musical knowledge is the glue that holds them together.

When asked about the choice of rock as the predominant sound of the album, Shawn Roldan said, “Rock is upbeat music that is not pretentious.” “The beauty of rock is to expose and communicate your vulnerability. So, it felt right for Vallalar's songs. It gives such a paradox, an interesting dimension. Initially when we said rock everyone was shocked; But when we started jamming, they realized what it meant,” he said.

Sanjay said, “I wanted to do a different sound and see if it worked or not.”

Compositionally, both the general nature and general variety of the songs anabanum peruveli Are unforgettable. if track Ithu Nalla Tharunam And Arutperam Jyoti stay close to the rock, Kallarkum sounds like a requiem with a clear celtic flavor and vanilla, A classic jazz/blues song. and track Orumayudan can be considered unquestionably raga-based (Ape) Fusion. The orchestral sound created by guitar (Vikram Vivekananda), bass (Shalini Mohan), drums (Ramkumar Kanakarajan), elaborate string and Celtic folk arrangements (Kalyani Nair with foreign musicians) and other Western folk instruments is remarkably attractive to the Indian language. Is. ,

Regarding how he consciously kept away the Carnatic influence in the songs, Sanjay said that Sean guided him through the process. “He himself is an accomplished Carnatic musician and knows very well how to handle it. If you have the mindset to be flexible, it's not difficult.” At the same time, he also said that his classical training came in handy in some areas.

“I have stopped calling the music Carnatic or anything else. I used to do this but now the lines are blurring for me. I just express my feelings regardless of genre. The point is to communicate with the listener. I have a progressive approach, especially for Tamil music,” said Sean.

The accompanying music video (Rafeeq Ismail), featuring dancers like Nritya Pillai, adds to the album's appeal. If you listen to the track carefully, you will understand the mind of the composer, enjoy the subtle variations that Sanjay uses even when singing predominantly straight notes, and enjoy the intrinsic lyricism of the Tamil language.

When asked if he felt any melodious melodies in the album, Sanjay said that there were a lot. But, what if he is asked to sing a song? vanilla, He said, “It was a really new way of singing that Shawn introduced me to and I really enjoyed it.”

Will we see more of Sanjay outside the Karnataka concert-circuit? “Hopefully yes,” he said. “I put myself out there to see what I can do and where it will take me.”

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