Ilaiyaraaja was one of the early
Indian film composers to use Western classical music harmonies and string
arrangements in Indian film music. This allowed him to craft a rich tapestry of
sounds for films, and his themes and background score gained notice and
appreciation amongst Indian film audiences. The range of expressive
possibilities in Indian film music was broadened by Ilaiyaraaja's methodical
approach to arranging, recording technique, and his drawing of ideas from a
diversity of musical styles.
According to musicologist P. Greene, Ilaiyaraaja's "deep understanding of so
many different styles of music allowed him to create syncretism pieces of music
combining very different musical idioms in unified, coherent musical
statements". Ilaiyaraaja has composed Indian film songs that amalgamated
elements of genres such as pop, acoustic guitar-propelled Western folk, jazz,
rock and roll, dance music, psychedelic, funk, doo-wop, march, boss nova,
flamenco, pathos, Indian folk/traditional, Afro-tribal, and Indian classical.