Sunday, October 17, 2010

Understanding Rehman’s Music


In view of the recent dissatisfaction of the average music lover with CWG theme (so much so that the maestro apologized to the public, such a sorry state of affairs), and in general the apparent newness that Rehman’s albums (Robo, Ravan) have created to superficial listeners, I felt like expressing my reasons for holding the genius’ work in such great regard. As I understand it, people seemed to have absolutely no problems in appreciating albums like Jeans, Roja, etc. A primer for the post is the standard structure of a normal song. 

Standard Structure of a Song:
A song usually has the introductory stanza- called Pallavi in Telugu- followed by a refrain. This refrain is quite catchy and is repeated often in the song with minor changes/tweaks. You might as well call it the USP of the song. Some music directors get off by just focusing on a good refrain with the rest of the tune being mediocre (BYLA BYLAMO from Sainikudu). The combination of the intro stanza and the refrain adds up to 6-8 lines. This is followed by an instrumental interlude which could also be supported by some vocals – individual or chorus. Then comes the intermediate stanza and the sequence is repeated.

This sequencing is to be found in the picture containing lyrics of the song ‘Poovullo Dagunna’ from Jeans: (Ajooba in Hindi). The song essentially has three layers: an intro, a refrain and the intermediate stanzas; there could be minor changes in the pitch/scale. This is how most of the songs are composed and Rehman did follow suit until a while ago.

A new pattern:
Imagine an intro and a refrain adding up to 10-12 lines; followed by a single (and not two/three) longer intermediate stanza; and this further by an intro in a different tune/ with male female voices reversed in case of a duet. What you get is the song ‘Neelo Valupu’ from Robo.

The point of the post:
I totally understand that there cannot be any rationale in a preference; and all those who didn’t like ARR’s previous albums have my full respect for their opinion. But I am afraid that theirs could be a ‘snap’ decision; and the reason for such decisions is the point of this post. For one, the standard structure is very, very easy to absorb. Because there are only three layers in the song which repeat themselves, it hardly takes ten listens to get a hang of it. Contrast this with the second pattern where in there is hardly any repetition in addition to the refrain. Also, the intro itself is double the size of what it normally is. So, it feels as if the song has started out of nowhere. I am inclined to believe that the second pattern takes at least twice as many listens; and that too, mind you, with a good deal of concentration. Nobody is to be blamed; it is just a tendency of the mind to expect uniformity/repetition. In pure logical terms, the permutations and combinations in the second pattern are a little more complex than in the first. All I am saying is that unless you take the time to totally absorb the song, your judgment is half-baked and carries absolutely no weight.  Try listening to the more complex works of Mozart and compare them to Fur Elise. The latter follows a fairly standard tune. I hope the point that I am trying to make will be driven home.   The song “I have been waiting for you” from Jhootha hee Sahi is another case in point for the second pattern.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The tribal premise of Casteism

Before I get going in my quintessential manner, I’d like to get a few things clear. I am definitely not against the caste system of our society. That they existed so long and will continue doing so implies there is some good in them. Besides, the greater the number of sects, the better is the case. This is because people will have a wider choice to choose from (and no one would be left out). What I strive for is a change in the way people choose to attribute their belonging to the community.

I, for one, do not use the word tribe in a condescending manner (just to make few things crystal clear). Though a digression, I believe that the sensitivity and humanitarian levels of tribes these days far exceed that of the competitive, back-stabbing city people.  The tribal premise that I want to write about is this.  It so happens in a tribe that the earned fruits are shared among the entire community. This is without due recognition to the actual bread winner. I have no qualms about this tendency because the tribe doesn’t claim any exclusive privilege for itself.

When the same behavior is replicated in environs with lofty ideals such as equality, liberty, and the like; a problem crops up. That ChandraBabu is responsible for the IT hub in A.P jibes totally well with me. I have no qualms about giving the visionary his due credit. This shouldn’t and cannot be a reason for the entire batch of Khammas to jump on his band wagon and wag their tails about. My simple question is this: “Agreed that the guy has done so much; what did YOU do? What are you even gloating about?” If logic as simple as this sits well in your head, I am all up for casteism.

To further instantiate, that the beautiful temples in South India and prominent Universities (Nalanda) were built by people of Viswa Karma shouldn’t be a reason for a guy from that community to boast about it. It is as much his as any other guy’s. It is precisely this attributing the effort of a few guys from a caste to the entire caste which results in unfounded privileges and brute like behavior (read caste feeling).  YSR might have done something good in his tenure; but this can never ever be a reason for Reddys to claim credit. Ditto with the Brahmins. Agreed their forefathers had great command over the Vedas, what credit should we attribute to them if the principle of all encompassing unity that the Vedas preach is nowhere to be found in their behavior.

The square truth is that caste gloating happens only if the sect is known to enjoy some privileges. Obviously, you don’t see a guy speaking highly of his caste by quoting a notorious failure. But the vantage status is totally unfounded. ( This tribal premise also applies to the place of study. I see pictures of libraries and other facilities of different institutes on facebook with a caption detailing the largeness of that facility. But what good is the facility when you frequent it once in a blue moon?)

To sum things up, Casteism per se is neither good nor bad, like the fire that cooks the meal and burns stuff; like the internet which has helped me post this write up and also exploits the not so tech savvy customers trying to e-bank. If it isn’t for claiming privileges, I think caste maniacs will hardly find casteism attractive. 

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Doing justice to the URL of my blog.

I started blogging during the third year of my B. Tech. When pondering over an appropriate title and URL for the blog, complaints and compliments about my sarcasm were what came to mind. People change and so do I; and the transition from sarcasm to something less frivolous did occur in me. Hence, the change of the title to ‘Shiva’s take - a mixture of sarcasm, rhetoric and originality’. As you know, you can do little about your URL once you fix it (or maybe you can actually change it, I like it this way); and the fact that there was very little sarcasm, if any, in most of previous posts was weighing heavily on my conscience. I will try to make up for it by pouncing on all those who fell short of my standards.

CWG theme:

I was little late in listening to the CWG theme by ARR. I loved it- the sitar work interspersed with electric guitar, Shivamani’s percussions, Blazee’s Rap bit and the energetic rendition by the maestro- being the reasons. Now the people who didn’t like it have my full respect for their opinion; and also the following: If you were expecting an Indian equivalent of Waka Waka, then you had in the first place no logical grounds for your expectations. Hell! The latter song wouldn’t interest me one little bit, if the video didn’t have Shakira and her moves. And, on youtube, I saw comments like “Is the song worth 5 Cr INR?”; comments only peanut-sized brains are capable of.

I have a simpler question: “Are your NIKE sneakers worth the 3000 INR (or may be more) that you shell out?” For a change, see the underside of the flap reading “MADE IN VIETNAM” in bold letters. FYI, the factories employ children too, for as little as a few cents per hour. Ditto with the sweat shirt factories. If your priced possession standing for nothing but consumerism is worth the market price, then so is the genius’ song. And since when did so many become experts in deciding the price of a song? Don’t dole out this piece of trash again. Dissonance as regards liking the song can be accepted, but not this definitely!

Kaleja’s OST:

As for Mahesh Babu’s batch of fanatics, grow up and accept the fact that the music of a movie may not be top-notch, even though he stars in it. When the thing at the back of head (called brain) works, it will be obvious to you that he does very little in composing the music. Also, there is no implication of his starring in the movie on the OST. So grow up kiddos, and call a spade ‘a spade’; a bad OST, a big waste of money/ time; and a flop, a flop. Again, Mahesh is just one of the ‘many’ components that go into movie making. The director is just as much a component behind the curtain as is Mahesh in front of it. Oh, yeah! the music sucked pretty much, just so that you’d know.