C. Sathya whose just-released songs for Theeya Velai Seiyyanum Kumaru have become a hit with film music fans

Composing music is not rocket science, if you know the ragas and the talas. For composing film music, all you need is a keyboard, follow a trend and add your personal touches… That's what most aspiring composers believe when they take up a film project.

Well, it is not all that easy when it comes down to brass tacks, found out music director C. Sathya. Three films old, Sathya is still trying to find his feet among the multitude of composers and songs that are being churned out in Kollywood. Sathya's songs for the upcoming comedy entertainer Theeya Velai Seiyyanum Kumaru have been released to popular appeal. His six compositions add a lot of value to the youthful entertainer featuring Siddarth and Hansika in the lead and directed by Sundar C.

Coming from a Carnatic background has, no doubt, helped Sathya grasp the techniques of film music composition. A Carnatic singer, he also knows to play the harmonium. This has made it easier for him to master the keyboard, which he has played as well as programmed for several music directors, including Bharadwaj. But, Sathya had to wait long to get his first break. “My first film was Yaen Ippadi Mayakkinai in 2009, which has not yet released. The songs did well in the audio circuit and almost three years later, when the producers of Engeyum Eppodhum heard the compositions, they signed me up.”

That film was considered a ‘sleeper hit’ in industry circles and Sathya clearly arrived on the music scene. In quick succession he did Sevarkodi and Ponmalai Pozhudhu. “The latter film, I hear, is finally releasing after much delay, but the songs are already a hit. Meanwhile, the audio of Theeya Velai Seiyyanum Kumaru has released and I am in the midst of Ivan Vera Mathiri and Nedunchalai,” says Sathya.

His father, a Carnatic musician who excelled in the harmonium, was his great inspiration, says Sathya. “Ilaiyaraja’s music had a great influence on me and I would listen to his compositions over and over again to learn the chords and structure. This has helped me a lot while composing,” says Sathya.

“Composing is a gift from God. The various sounds we hear everyday are my inspiration. I give a lot of importance to melody, even if the requirement is for a fast, upbeat number. It is the melody in a song that remains in one’s mind for long,” says Sathya, whose composing style harks back to the era of Ilaiyaraja and earlier.

For Sathya, the lyric is all-important. Tune and structure only come next. “Just as the dialogue in a film, the lyrics should ideally carry the story forward. I prefer to compose tunes for already written lyrics. And, when it comes to vocal recording, I prefer to record the entire song at one go so that the pallavi has a touch of variety in intonation.”

Fascination for live sound

Sathya’s most challenging song has been a kuthu number in Theeya Velai…sung by Sharmila and Ranjit. “It took a long time to record this song, mainly because of the genre.” Sathya is meticulous about the background score. As someone who believes in the strength of live sounds, he tries to engage as many live musicians as possible. “Electronic sounds and programmed music have limitations and there is nothing to match a live orchestra. When one watches a film with such sounds, the effect is dramatic, thereby enhancing the overall experience,” says Sathya.