Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Naushad still lives

Album: Taj Mahal (2005)

Singers: Hariharan, Preeti Uttam, Kavita Subrahmanyam
Lyrics: Naqsh Lyallpuri, Syed Gulrez

I have no idea how they convinced the maestro to let Preeti Uttam sing for him. Her deadpan style, reminescent of the drab "light music" shows on Doordarshan, succeeds in only one thing - reminding us that Mumtaz is dead. Of course, Hariharan more than makes up for her."Apni Zulfein", "Dilruba Dilruba" and "Mumtaz Tujhe Dekha" are in my opinion the pick of the album (see optional tracks below).

"Apni Zulfein" is a ghazal in the truest sense, with simple, gentle and subtle lyrics, and a leisurely, masterful rendering by Hariharan (except when he says "ghumaan" with a strong G). The track leading to it is also simple and beautiful (the symphonic aspects of which the more qualified members of this blog can elaborate on), and the song carries all the majesty of a past era.

"Dilruba" is (unfortunately) a duet. Preeti Uttam shows up like somebody shanghaied out of a disco to sing sweet ballads. But the background score is the saving grace of this track. The "Allah, Allah" chant gives one goose-bumps, and the supporting instruments effortlessly create the imagery of long camel-back caravans in the desert. The lyrics are otherwise pedestrian.

"Mumtaz Tujhe" again belongs to Hariharan. Composed in the Hindustani equivalent of Kaamavardhini (I think, please correct me if I'm wrong), it begins where "Dilruba" ends, with a simple avarohana. Haunting (despite Preeti Uttam) and, once again, leisurely in its stately exploration of a bereaved romantic's heart, it effectively makes a statement for the listener trying to re-capture the glory of a bygone time:
"Phir aaj ki aankhon se guzra huaa kal dekha."

Optional tracks:
"Tareef-e-Meena Baazar" is somewhat interesting, especially for a lovely saarangi piece.
"Taj Mahal": Theme for the movie, borrows from "Dilruba" and "Mumtaz". Feels kind of reduntant.
"Yeh Kaun": Ajoy Chakraborty's very laborious attempt at reviving something of what Ustad Bade did for Mughale-Azam. Features more heavy breathing than music.
"Ishq ki Daastaan": A very lack-lustre qawwali. Preeti Uttam sounds like a dancing troupe lead and Mrs. Subrahmanyam like she'd rather be somewhere else.

Naushad's command over music still seeps through, though a little anachronistic, which I believe is expressed in the sentiment of "Mumtaz tujhe". In all, the album is worth a visit, if just to pay a tribute to the legend that is Naushad; just to think about a man who directed the likes of Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan; whose ethereal tunes make jokers of today's Ismail Durbars and others with delusions of grandeur.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

An unedited discussion on Tam Tana

Thanks are due to Sketchy AKA Chandu for hosting the song.

Kottha Jeevithalu: All I know about this movie is that it was made by Bharatirajaa and Ilaiyaraja scored music for it. I guess it’s a remake or dub of the Tamil movie “Pudhiya Vaarpugal” from preliminary searches on the web. From the start to the finish this song is packed with elements of interest for every kind of listener (to listen to the song go to the post below by Sketchy). We’ll look at it from a composition POV.
The voices: Chimes, veena, tabla, chorus, bass guitar, chamber and vocals with touches of mridangam. The beginning of the song might as well have been the ending, but IR uses it to build up ‘tension’ right from the word go. Shanmukhapriya is established right by the time the intro finishes. The “Tam Tana” chorus starts after a very brief and effective use of silence, and the chorus in the intro also ends with a brief silence before the song begins (symmetry). The main tune starts as a further improvement of the already established intro. Prominently visible additions are a bass guitar backing and a mridangam touch. Bass embellishments for the lines fall exactly at the ½ beat before the count.

One of the interesting elements is the Tala scheme. If you start counting from the beginning (assuming it is adi tala or 8 beat cycle) the song’s pallavi starts exactly in the middle of the tala (precisely the 5th beat) and each line takes up exactly 12 beats. Which makes one wonder if the tala scheme is indeed 12. But wait till the first interlude – it has 8 cycles of 8 beats which is 64 (64 is indivisible by 12). Mm hmm. So if you start to count the total number of 8 beat cycles for the song – it is 50 (which is a space of 400 (=50*8) individual beats). Which are divided as Intro (7 ½ cycles = 60), Pallavi (5 ½ cycles = 44), Interlude 1 (8 cycles = 64) Charanam 1 (8 ½ cycles = 68) Interlude 2 ( 8 ½ cycles = 68) Charanam 2 (7 cycles = 56) and pallavi repeat to ending (5 cycles = 40) (which is 60+44+64+68+68+56+40 = 400). This 400 number of beats therefore cannot be a 12 beat cycle (12 doesn’t divide 400). So it is an eight beat cycle tala but the division of each part of the composition follows a different order. This opens a whole set of possibilities with the 8 beat cycle (lyrics need not start or end on the exact starting of the count – but the song should).

That aside, at every moment in the composition there is a carnatic classical-influenced element and a western classical-influenced element in almost equal proportion. To elucidate, the tune in general is in the shanmukha priya scale (although this must not be confused with shanmukhapriya raga itself – think of it like lego blocks to make up your dream (kiddy) home – just the lego blocks don’t give you the exact feel of the structure – one has to add cornices, friezes, etc to give it the aesthetically pleasing look – IR however manages to sketch some of broader ideas of the raga through this song) and the harmony part of the song is in the western classical mode (you might say what’s so great about this? every other Indian movie song follows and takes elements from a variety of systems – the answer lies in how much justice the composer does to both the systems – what I am driving at is the transition from one system to the other system is completely fluid not discrete which cannot be said for a lot of other south Indian composers) the tabla and mridangam do both Indian and Western beat patterns, there is a brush kit involved somewhere all merged smoothly.

Another blog can be started just to describe the usage of harmonical elements in the song. All I will say here is that the way the bass lines are laid with respect to the song lines, change their character as being supportive to both the Indian classical as well as the western classical elements of the song. One superb feature which is probably IRs pet subject is Sruthi Bhedam. He uses the idea in the second interlude before the second charanam. Shanmukha priya becomes dhenuka if the sruthi is changed to pa. By leaving some swaras, and application of proper gamakas, one could get gambheera nattai/nata (to be technically correct it is the janya of Chala Nata) which occurs in the interlude for a very brief period of time and is used to brilliant effect.

After all this, the song ends after the 400th count. Just as a reminder to folks that count and bash your head any way you like its still an 8 beat cycle…

tam tana tam tana by illayaraja

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Unsung Maverick - Prem Joshua.

One year ago, i was watching NDTV news after having dinner. As the bulletin was about to finish, they showed a newsbit about the release of a new album "YATRI" by Prem Joshua. At the first glance, i was curoius because the man there appeared to be a foreigner but was playing Sitar. And the pieces he played were amazing. It did (infact he did..) register in my brain.

15 days later, i was at sangeet sagar, secunderabad. Again, for the nth time, i was in the same position of breaking the resolution(everytime i enter a music/book shoppe, i resolve that i wouldnt buy anything..but eventually..i could never come out empty-handed..). By sheer trial, i bought Prem Joshua's "Secret of The Wind". And when i played it at home, i liked it immensely. I was more surprised/shocked because Prem Joshua is a foreigner and his compositions have their roots in Hindustani Classical Music.

Background : A german( i think..) by origin, he was an instrumentalist with many jazz/rock-bands. After his teens, he began to search for his own spiritual & musical roots. By sheer chance, one day, He came across a Record of Pt.Ravi Shankar's sitar concert and the next thing on his mind was Destination India. Since then, he's been in India, studying/performing Indian Classical music. Learnt sitar under Ustad Usman Khan. There were Occassions when Pt.Ravi Shankar himself graced Joshua's concerts and blessed him. He plays a variety of instruments like Sitar, Saxophones, Bamboo Flutes, Santoor, Harp, Dilruba and few percussion instruments. He is into spirituality & meditation. Dedicates all albums to Osho.

Later on , i bought another album " Mudra", which had lounge music feel. Then, One evening, i went to Music world. i found 2 albums by Joshua there,each costing 95 bucks. unfortunately, i had only 100 bucks in my pocket though i wanted both the tapes.after much dilemma, i choose one and landed at the counter to pay the bill. there i saw a poster which read , " Special Offer- Buy 2 Music-today albums..for the price of one" ( i told u right..when it comes to good music...i have been fortunate ..). i ran across the showroom and got the other one too. Both the albums " Desert Visions" & "Humsafar" were fantastic. Later on i bought his other albums " Tales of A Dancing River", " Sky kisses the Earth"(lounge music again), " Water Down The Ganges" , and got "Yatri" burnt on CD.

After listening to all his compositions, i still cannot understand why he is not that famous among the fusion artists. Though he is quite popular in the north, people down south hardly know him or his compositions.Though many composers have liberally lifted( or cut-copy-pasted) some of his tracks,( The sitar piece in "hare krishna" song from Mani Sharma's Okkadu is pasted from a joshua's album..it is not even a lift..but it is copy-paste..) many of his albums lie unsold here in hyderabad. i could procure eight albums of Joshua. And the remaining ones and unavailable here.

Though he draws the roots from Hindustani Classical Music, Fusion is his style. And in few albums, he ventured into Lounge/Trance kind of music (sky kisses earth/mudra/dance of shakti etc..,.). i would love to buy his entire collection (CDs..not even Tapes) because he has got his own unique style...of composition..and even his own unique sound, which is marvellous. i would rate him far ahead of Indian Ocean and i wont be surprised if anyday, he collaborates with Shakti (Zakir Hussain, McLaughin & co. ).

I have just noticed that a couple of his albums are hosted by MIO. I would suggest the very first album i heard "Secret of The Wind". The compositions which enthralled me are : New Kafi, East Wind(chalanaata), Kites, From Across The Water, etc.,. just play on while u r working or relaxing..and i am sure u too will start buying his music...just like me. And mind you, he being a foreigner could compose(and even Play) these fantastic albums, while the youth today in our country swoon to 3rd rate remixes. Thats our shame.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

New contributor

Hey!, how come no one is attempting to answer the quiz..c'mon guys! try ..

and welcome to the new contributor Smt.Padmasani.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Rare Shyaam Kalyan

Though the Quiz-1 is still on (assuming that rest of the guys didnt visit the blog yet...), i couldnt contain my enthusiasm to continue.

Today, i was casually browsing through www.sawf.org and in the page http://sawf.org/newedit/edit07222002/musicarts.asp , i came across this song "yun neend se" from the film Dard Ka rishta. The music is composed by R.D.Burman. though i have a decent collection of R.D.Burman songs, i never knew about this song before and was pleasantly surprised at the beauty of this song. R.D used raag "shyaam Kalyaan" in this song and the dominant features which give the classical effect are :

1.his tune basically. brilliant tune.
2. Kishore.
3. Tabla ( typical Burmansque style)

Kishore Kumar once again..or as always, excelled in the rendition. And R.D has used his typical violin-section+sitar interludes backed by fantastic Tabla. After the 1st line of charanam, he uses a flute aalaap (with single rhythm of tabla), which i liked a lot. he doesnt repeat the same idea during 2nd charanam. actually the interludes are quite short. But the role of tabla is not restricted to interlude or charanam alone. Even in pallavi, he changes the taala.

another interesting aspect is the counter-melody on violins. during pallavi,the violins counter-melody start at the words "jaane chaman" and they take a different ascent while kishore classicalises the tune.Even as the charanams end,the last lines, which are in the the tune of pallavi, have the same counter-melody structure, which speaks the composer's genius.
Awesome composition plus Awesome rendition, makes this song the most-wanted for me. Unfortunately, only half of the song is available there. i guess there is one more charanam , because the song here fades out with tar-shehnai piece.

Now the purpose of posting this blog : I Want this song. Complete Song. Anyone???

Friday, October 07, 2005

Quiz-1- Answer

In the post-independence era, Name the first Indian Motion-picture Soundtrack (including songs and Background Score),which was played/aired on BBC Radio,London. What was the speciality of this soundtrack? try your guesses, fairly. and yes, it is implied that you need to crack the name of the composer too.. good luck.


The film is Aan (released in 1952), directed by Mehboob Khan.
Composer is Naushad Ali.
Speciality of the Background score : Symphony by Naushad.

(chandhu! U came close..but missed the film-name. It was Naushad and Mehboob Khan combination, but not Mother India.)

A month ago, i happen to watch a programme on TV, on Maestro Naushad and was surprised to know some snippets. Aan's soundtrack being the first-one being played on BBC, was one such snippet. They showed a clipping from the film which had phenomenal background music.

Aan also happens to be the 1st colour(technicolour) film of India.

Also, i found this in the internet -->
Speaking of Aan, Naushad says “I created a symphony for Aan on stage with a hundred musicians. I had a special tent... made of blankets... on the surface, I laid out coir carpets, so that the sound wouldn't echo. The final recording was done in London. We worked day in and day out for three months. We were under enormous pressure when we received news that the Liberty cinema in Bombay would open with this film. People slept for days outside the theatre to book tickets in advance. My symphony was widely appreciated in Britain, it was played on BBC. Orson Welles who was busy with his Othello also happened to see the rushes of Aan and loved the music.”

The extravagant opulence of the sets, the spectacular visuals and the universal appeal of good triumphing over evil propelled Aan to elicit notice even beyond Indian frontiers. Edited to 129 minutes, it was released all over Europe, titled ‘Mangala, the Rose of India’. The enchanting epic prompted Cecil B. Demille write to Mehboob Khan, “I found it an important piece of work, not only because I enjoyed it but also because it shows the tremendous potential of Indian motion pictures for securing world markets. I believe it is quite possible to make pictures in your great country which will be understood and enjoyed by all nations and without sacrificing the culture and customs of India. We look forward to the day when you will be regular contributors to our screen fare with many fine stories bringing the romance and magic of India.”

Thursday, October 06, 2005

By Chance...

"If you are passionate about something, luck is always beside you"--said one wise man. i dont know about the merit of this statement, but it holds completely true, when it comes to music & me.

i have had innumerable experiences when i could get some brilliant music, by sheer chance or luck, without any effort. take this--> tired of studying for long-time ( which means 1 hr, in my dictionary), i switch on the TV @ 1:15am and i get to listen to a brilliant tamil song of ilaiyaraaja. (this happened hundreds of times).
or this--> i was fortunate to grab the last piece of Thiruvasakam, before it got sold out.
well, i cant remember many..but i am quite convinced that some force has always been/is/will be (hopefully) guiding me towards avenues where i can collect some nice music.

today i had an unsual encounter with some long-awaited music. i was casually browsing through many links & chanced upon a site where this much-awaited album had been put up for sale. i was shocked, in disbelief..because the album hasnt been released in the market yet. and to my surprise, it was there, not only for sale, but also for online-listening. within a second, i started playing each of the songs & realized that they are indeed from that album.
but the twist in the tale came 2 hours later. that album had been pulled out of that web-page. i think they put it up only for some testing-purpose.and i am sure they are going to put it up back there , once the date of audio-release is out. now, if you are wondering which album it, let me break it.

The album : "Water", a film directed by Deepa Mehta
Music : A.R.Rahman.

And this is the chance-link for the audio-files.

I did have quite some expectations from this album because Deepa Mehta did extract some fantastic music from rahman for her previous film 1947-Earth. Also, rahman himself said long ago ( the music was composed/recorded during 1999-2000) that he moved out from the commercial-clutches to compose music for this film.now, before you shoot your questions, let me write what i felt after listening to the album. in one statement, i think what he said was right. the albums sounds as if its a shyam Benegal film( arty-kind) .

the album has 5 compositions of rahman plus one more song, "vaishnava janatho".All the songs have minimal usage of instruments. and the tunes are such that you cannot even believe that they have been composed by a guy from south-india(given the fact that rahman usually blends all flavours). My picks are two songs sung by a female (i dont know whose voice it was..but i have often noticed that rahman seems to reserve the best songs for female singers...be it harini or sadhana sargam or sujatha bhattacharya-tehzeeb or reena bharadwaj-yeh rishta kya kehlaatha hai...& many more).

"Naina Neer Bahaaye" is one brilliant composition which has shades of two hindustani raagas (one being lalit i think).the lyrics reminded me of madan mohan classic from Bawarchi -more naina bahaaye neer.anyways,this song boasts about some wonderful rendition, without any major interlude music, leaving a flute piece. this song definitely showcases a different rahman, the one we rarely get to see.

"Piya Ho" is another classic composition, in league with the above mentioned song. the character of this song too is very similar to that one, in the sense that more emphasis has been given on vocals only. This one too has a mixture of 2 raagas.one raaga is same as the one used in "koi nahi hai..mera yahaan ..tere binaa", in shankar mahadevan's Breathless.But rahman lets you to enjoy the raaga with elaborate aalaap-ic effects.i think these 2, are the best songs of the album & both these songs do reflect the maturity of the composer & you will wonder why he is being wasted these days ..friends..just watch on..listen to these 2 songs when the album is out..
The other songs are"bangri marori" & "aayo re sakhi", "shaam rang" which are folk numbers. though rahman's typical "hindustani+folk" formula has been used, this time, he didnt let the instruments dominate.these songs are by sukhwinder singh(somehow i dont like this fellow's voice), Richa sharma. Though not-so-great, they sound quite OK for 1st hearing atleast.in "bangro marori" , sukhwinder tries to do the same what the female did to "piya ho" & "naina neer bahaaye"..but his being a folk-ish voice, the song doesnt captivate the listener that much, that too with no instruments to back-up.

the last song "vaishnava janatho" by Pt.Ajoy Chakroborthy & Kaushaki Chakroborthy has the usual traditional tune of the song.

This album is an unsual one, especially because it hardly has any orchestra in any of the songs & rahman is known for some beautiful instrumentation.however, the songs do speak about his musical sensibilties & most importantly his capabilities which are rarely utilised effectively by the film-makers these days. but the catch is that, even when he comes out with some classy music, there are no takers, like in the case of Shyam Benegal's "Bose".i hope it doesnt discourage him from making good sensible music.
For the meantime, wait for this album...exclusively for those 2 songs.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Amar Bhoopali

No Maharashtrian can call himself one, until and unless he has listened to "Jyothi Kalash chhalake" from "Bhabhi ki Chudiyan" and "Ghanashyama Sundara" of the movie "Amar Bhoopali".

Raga Bhoop or Bhoopali (Mohanam), is immensely adored in Maharashtra and some lovely pieces have been wrought as a result of this attachment to the raga. Till recently, even the layman of Pune would have told you if a song is in Bhoop. No wonder, when I heard the full version of the song for the first time (I had only a part of it till now), there was no need to ask for tears.. they obliged on their own!

The movie Bhabhi Ki Chudiyan had Late Sudhir Phadke as the music director. One of the most creative musicians of the Ghatiland, he was both an excellent music director as well as a beloved singer. I simply cannot forget the softness of his mellifluous voice.

Bhoopali is such a great raga that I, being only an aspirant to be an amateur, cannot dare comment on the lakshanas of this raga (in fact, I can only recognise it!) ... but you can find them here:

You will be surprised to know that though Bhoopali is a fairly common raga, very few compositions in light classical exist (atleast in Hindi cinema)

Lets what other songs are there in Bhoopali:

1) "Kusha Lava Ramayana gaathi" from album "Geet Ramayan"--Sudhir Phadke.
2) "Ghanashyama Sundara" from "Amar Bhoopali" --music by Vasanth Desai.
3) "Dehachi Tijori" from "Aamhi Jaato amcha gaava"-- music by Sudhir Phadke.
These three can be found at http://www.geetsargam.net/bhakti_geete/
4) "Vimoha Tyaguna" from "Samadhi Saadhana"--Sudhir Phadke. (My fav!)
I have this one.

1) "On Namah Shivay"--Bhairavi(1995): This is a pure beauty. A tarana (thillana) of similar notes exists in the Hindustani. Laxmikanth Pyarelal (confirm plz!) have done a really commendable job. The raga can be as majestic and royal as it can be and at the same time, can be sweet and tender.

2) "Jai Jagadeesh Hare"--Anand Math (1951): Jayadeva's Geetagovindam is set to music by Hemath Kumar. This is partly Bhoop... only the part sung by Hemanth Kumar is in Bhoop, the part sung by Geeta Dutt is very beautiful, but I couldnt figure out what raga (sounds typical bongish)... Nevertheless, everytime I listen to it, the sheer power of the composition engulfs me and goosebumps and tears are a norm.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

vessel of light

An analysis of this song would be much appreciated -- if necessary in a new post (posts). Thanks!