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Episode 97: Ilaiyaraaja : A Musical Movement (8)

In this episode we dive into one of the first true fusions of Carnatic and western classical music to come out of India – Ilaiyaraaja’s 1986 independent album How To Name It. We discuss the context for the album and what may have been Raaja’s artistic intent in attempting this album. Additionally we dive deep in to 2-3 specific pieces and what Raaja has been able to achieve in terms of composition there.

Topics Covered:

What was perceived as fusion at the time How To Name It was released?

A detailed breakdown of the title track and what it achieves in terms of melding the Carnatic and Western classical forms

What is fugue and why did Raaja choose this form for a piece in the album?

What was Raaja’s artistic intent in pursuing this effort? How has the album panned out in an overall evaluation and would it be different if done now?




Bala Chidambaram

Musical References

East meets West

Veedu BGM

Simhendra Madhyamam


Marainthirunthu Paarkum

Raajathi Raaja

Kaathal Kasakkuthayya

Art of fugue

The How To Name It Album

Image courtesy Karthik Srinivasan for Vijay TV

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