Saturday, June 16, 2012

Music accross genres: same or different

Recently I listened to the latest offering of coke studio (Pakistan, Indian version sucked) where aatif sang some nusrat song and it was kind of a reprise, of course with coke studio signature twist. Needless to say, loved it. Pure bliss. It kind of cemented my old belief that every music be it heavy metal or Indian classical is not too different from each other (except for rap and hip-hop because frankly speaking, I don’t understand it/that). During numerous drunk conversations during college times (yes, politics and music are the best ‘drunk debate’ topics), I have kind of defended my stand almost alone when people would refuse to believe, and understandably so, why and how two so different genres of music could possibly be similar in any way. Wish they aired sound trippin then.

  Earliest instances of music known to Indians was found in Kerala (source: the story of India: BBC) where mantras were passed on verbally by making it in music format for generations, some of them still going on. This sound was similar to noises birds make in different seasons. This verses/phrases of mantras were never scripted and was kept strictly verbal. In due course of time Indian classical evolved and with remarkable contributions from different maestros, got fine tuned. The history of heavy metal or rock n roll per se, isn’t that long (not judging here). Elvis primarily gets credit for bringing it to limelight and popular media but I am sure there were many other musicians as well. And if we talk music, opera comes really close to Indian classic in its purest form for the sheer effect of singer’s voice (taansen, anyone?). Unrelated, have you ever noticed a slim opera singer?
 Rock (and every format of metal referred to for sake of this post) basically has rebellion at heart. Every lyric deals or challenges a particular belief of society as we know it. Case in point, 2 minutes to midnight (iron maiden) dealt with female foeticide way back in 80’s(even before #SMJ). This holds true for each and every song you come across of this genre.  While the fabric of the song might deal with some life philosophy, the underlying fact always is about questioning society’s orthodox belief (extensive Pink Floyd is suggested if you disagree). And if we look into the folk songs or poetries by great Urdu writers (which more often than not get translated into songs), the same flavor is present. Probably the reason why ‘kahin dur jab din dhaljaye(anand)’ sounds erringly similar to a certain ‘wish you were here(pink floyd)’.

 Having said that, then there are folks who dismiss the very idea of a certain kind of music without listening to it citing reason such as too much music, weird lyrics; the very thing that sets it apart from other genres, which kind of defeats the whole purpose of comparison. I am sure lot of people wont agree but the point I am trying to make here is, the songs may look different  at the surface but delve a little deeper and you will see the similarity. Probably the reason Coke studio took everyone by surprise when some guys decided that it will be a pretty good idea to mix two completely different kind of music, it turned out to be pure awesomeness. The brilliance is visible when a guitar weilding Ali Azmat's Garaja baras (Rock, if I may?) and sufi/classical(a sublime Rahat Fateh Ali Khan) are mixedtogether. Seriously if you appreciate good music, try coke studio (Pakistan version, they ruined it in Indian version).
 Now, the argument can go both ways depending on the extent of your inclination towards your music, and some arguing in favor of fusion music, but I stick to my argument. Do you agree/disagree? \m/oO\m/


  1. The world is not fair...I am I read this article, I wanted to scroll down to see several comments arguing on the merits/demerits of the points mentioned above. Sadly so...

    It's surprising how a lot of music sounds familiar...resonates with something we have heard somewhere. I've learnt hindustani's amazing when you hear songs across genres and wonder if it derives from a certain raga you have practiced long back.

    Have you actually heard an opera? like a real one...without the musical instruments et-al? The opera singer's voice carries with it all the emotions and nuances and mind you...she sings at a high pitch and an even higher volume. She has to be burly :) :) Her voice should be audible to the last row audience too.

    That's for your blog. Keep it up...and do write more often please.




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