Thursday, November 19, 2009

[lyrics] Lyric Engineering

Not just because i hate to stand behind a long queue of 'lyric writers' in Tamil films, have I invented this term! This may be something totally new that I am doing. At least first time in Tamil :-)

Before discussing anything about the topic, some confessions.
I am not a very 'Tamil' person.
I am not a big reader.
Thanglish was my medium of Instruction throughout my school.
So my English is not that great too.
I am not a poet.
Whenever some one asks me for a poem for a magazine, i tell them this. 'I am not a poet'.
The instant question they ask is 'how do you write lyrics?'
I find it extremely difficult to explain it to them that you need not be a poet to write lyrics.

When i met Naa. Muthukumar, Lyricist, sometime back he congratulated me for writing lyrics and asked me how many poetry collections have I published?. I said none. At that time, I did not know that publishing poems was the key criteria for the post of a lyric writer. After this serious disqualification, I found sometime in a cafe alone to sit and think what makes me different from these lyric writers? The answers i found are very much what follows:

I have developed a system. A system comprising of me and a few software. A system that can engineer lyrics.
I call this system 'karky'.

A tune, a situation and optional visuals are usually inputs to this system.
Every input is thus a problem/puzzle that this system attempts to solve.
the output of the system is a set of lyrics that match the tune, suit the situation and visuals.

This is very much an optimization problem.
Problem Definition:
For a given Tune, find suitable words that exactly match the template provided by the tune, such that the following conditions are satisfied :
1. The words form meaningful sentences that suits the situation provided.
2. The phonemes in the words to suit the mood of the tune and situation.
3. Maximize edhugai monai and iyaibu properties of lyrics without compromising conditions 1 & 2.
4. Find words and phrases that are simple, not been used before and semantically related to each other."

It may sound weird to 'mathematically model' a process such as lyric writing. I see this as a structured process.

Apart from me, I also mentioned about a few software in the 'karky' system.
I have developed these small software(in Java) for supporting various activities in this lyric writing process.
Software that cluster meter matched words (மாத்திரை அளவுகள்)
Software that clusters words based on multiple rhyme parameters (எதுகை மோனை இயைபு).
Software that breaks down a tune to appropriate templates (தனனன தனனன தனனன தானா).
and a few more...

This is a very small start.
To develop a WordNet exclusively for lyric engineering will be a great addition to this system.
Meaning analysis of lyrics will be extremely challenging to be automated.

Dreaming to build a Fully Automated Lyric Generating System by slowly removing myself from it.

Until then, I like to be called a 'Lyric Engineer' and my process 'Lyric Engineering'.


Icarus Prakash said...

itha paarthirukkingaLA? :)

An Algorithmic Approach to Modern Tamil Verse

Latest Algorithm from Poet Vairamuthu

Madhan Karky said...

@Icarus Yes. I have seen this one long time back. I remember having a good laugh back then. thinking about these articles now, i feel those 'algorithms' are simple structural patterns for songs rather than algorithms. I can list many such structural patterns repeating throughout a song. thanjaavooru mannu eduthu, nee kaatru naan maram, chinna chinna aasai, poo kodiyin punnagai and more from him.

These patterns were not introduced by him, many oldies have such patterns like kaalangalil vasantham and many new lyric writers have such patterns like in karigaalan kaala pola from vettaikaaran and aval appadi ondrum azhagillai from angaadi theru.

What will be an interesting study will be to see how lyric writers have evolved over time with their words and usage.
It is true that in certain timeframes many lyricists have been madly in love with a small bag of words and have used them repeatedly in many songs. The fact is that they get out of that timeframe sooner or later.

I really admired these article back then for the different angle in which the author was able to see lyrics.

thank you for the links.

Craze Maze said...

interesting read :)

ராஜா சந்திரசேகர் said...

I like to be called a 'Lyric Engineer' and my process 'Lyric Engineering'.
உங்கள் உங்கள் கண்டுபிடிப்பு நிறைந்த பாடல் பயணம் தொடரட்டும்.
"Fight like a brave don't be afraid no one can tell you, you got to be a brave"
-Red Hot Chili Peppers
ராஜா சந்திரசேகர்

கார்க்கி said...

good initiative.

Definitely it raises everyone's eyebrow but interesting.

expecting more info on this.

btw, thanks for your comment(?) on my blog. I am excited, really.

gopikrish.k said...

Its always interesting to see use of technology in art.. After this work, anybody who has interest and comical can try lyrics.. but Poet is a Poet!! It helps the poets.. definitely...

Quicksilver said...

An integration of Tamil and Technology. Lyric Engineering seems like a very innovative process. Excellent, hope to see a lot of your work in the future.

Es_Chris said...

There is no question about your ability to write , code and develop such a lyric machine. But personally, do you think that it would equate the humane element of a lyricist? Especially, with lyricists already forced to compromise lyrics to accomodate tunes of MDs.

Aditya said...

Sir,is it possible that algorithm can be language independent and wordnet dependency can be removed.

kiran r.v said...

great thinking bro......keep up the good work......

Winkannaa said...

Really good job dude. You have done a fantabulous work in Endhiran

archana said...

What does ur name "Karky" means? I'm looking for a gud tamil name for my baby boy, any suggestions?

HCY said...

u have bought up something new......carry on boss...!!!

RVS said...

Karky Engineering is amazing. You are really teaching young poets how to write good poems for the tune.

Excellent!! :-))

Kokilah Kanniappan said...

Excellent and to be honest with you I really cant accept your statement (even though it comes from you) that you are not a poet!! Really sorry for that;-)

Skhari said...

Hi Karky

Good motive

Can you please help me getting a new tamil name for my boy baby. Please :)

(KI, KO, KE, KU)

Thanks in Advance

Mathan Himadri said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mathan Himadri said...
This comment has been removed by the author. said...

awesome lyrics in google google... thanks lyrics engineer

Koushik said...

Your claim is similar to one of my most favorite characters, Sherlock Holmes, who calls himself (the)consulting detective. Good work Lyric Engineer. I

Harish Sankar said...

For a person who writes very good tamizh lyrics at a time where poets go pointless and meaningless corrupting the language to get hit masala flicks, you are too humble sir.
You may not call urself a poet, but you are an inspiration for budding poets!
Sometimes ur writing is equally good as ur father's.
Best wishes for ur future endeavours :)
Your biggest Fan.

a Rat said...

nice term you coined.. :)

btw, not a poet but can write poems, hmm ironically a true saying. i wouldn't have agreed if it was an year ago but now i second you cos that's what i am saying it nowadays. :)

watched your interview few days back on some channel and jus thought of surfing about you. luckily i stumbled upon your blog. many thanks to google.

Karky, you rock ! :)

Deepa said...

I don't know if you still read this blog !! But everytime I hear "Pookkale satru oividungal" from "I" , it lifts my spirits up..Shreya's voice flows like honey and so does the words. You have brought out the beauty in the language so well.
Hoping for such clean and interesting lyrics from you ...Just could not hold expressing after listening :)))