The Violin in Carnatic Music

From the Ravanhasta to the Indian violin
Some people get irritated when I conjure up a story connecting something from the present to its past origins in India. They equate it to the pater in “my fat Greek wedding’ who would connect everything great to Greek history. But I guess it has to be accepted, for the flow of ideas, business and goods from the East to the West has origins going back to times before the advent of the Gregorian calendar. Look at a recent discovery, they found prehistoric rock art (petroglyphs) in a Konkan village, going back tens of thousands of years depicting hunting, sea creatures like whales and sharks, and animals not local such as the Hippo and the Rhino. But well, I will not get into all that, this is an article on a musical instrument and its journey from India through China, Lanka, the west and finally back to India, the instrument being the Violin.

So many great names are associated with this stringed instrument played with a bow. Names of those who ma…

When Melody Was Queen – As Music Changed Character

The Magic of RD Burman
As you grow older and the world changes, you slip into periods of nostalgia now and then, looking back to the road you have traveled. It is in those moments that you remember music that you loved, food that you enjoyed and some of life’s great reads, just to name a few. For me, music has always been an integral part of my life so far and Hindi film music has been at the fore, starting right from my high school days.
Last evening, we attended a lovely program by a Bombay based troupe called Niche entertainment working with the Dhristi foundation and titled ‘Gata Rahe Mera Dil’. It was a revelation, for it was so beautifully crafted and conducted, with awesome (a word I do not use normally) singers and a brilliant orchestra to boot. The evening was filled with some 4 hours of SD Burman’s songs and the team on stage took us to another decade, a period when melody was Queen. Milind Oak’s production with classy singers and a scintillating orchestra including ace keyb…

Geeta Dutt - the Enigma

The morning had started, and I was tuning stations as usual, not watching the cats-eye on the valve radio which by the way would have been apt, but rather the LCD display of my trusty Logitech squeezebox internet radio. Finally I settled on the station I wanted and soon the magical voice wafted over the airwaves, that of Geeta Dutt a perennial favorite of mine. I must say, I have always been partial to her, and when I hear Geeta Dutt, the song and the voice takes me away, to another era, to another scene, as it should. The song was one of her last ones and perhaps the most sonorous…Meri jaan, mujhe jana kaho meri jaan….The scene, a rainy playful one between Sanjeev kumar & Tanuja in Anubhav – set in 1971, penned very interestingly by Gulzar and set to a lovely tune by Kanu roy. For a while I was lost in it, and then the pensive mood set in, with thoughts of Geeta Dutt, the queen of sultry melody who lived in this world for just 42 years…before the voice was lost..

There has be…

When melody was queen - making the song

Part 2 – Making the song
For a person to listen to a song and finally say – ‘are wah! kya gaana tha… yaar, woh’, the song has to be nothing short of inspirational. From conception to production, from advertisement to music CD release is a long process, and somewhat haphazard when it relates to Bollywood. By the time the music director finally has his copy ready for mass CD or record punching in the pre-90’s era, he was huffing and puffing and would have lost a good deal of hair.
In the first article ‘From the original soundtrack’ we went through the historical development of the music scene. In this one we will study the steps taken to get a song ready. As we saw, a few film studios were established in Bombay during the 30’s and some names like New Theatres, Prabhat talkies and Bombay talkies were prominent. Many others followed, notably Imperial Film Company, Minerva Movietone, Ranjit Movietone, Sagar Movietone and Wadia Movietone. Of course Calcutta and Madras had their own studios,…