Sunday, March 25, 2012

A temple just outside the studio of Aadesh Shrivastav

Jalsa , Mumbai                       Mar  24/25 , 2012                     Sat/Sun  1 : 39 AM



A temple just outside the studio of Aadesh Shrivastav, near by, celebrates festival .. songs and 'bhajans' are being sung .. the 'manjeera', the small sized cymbals often associated with prayer meetings, plays softly, almost distant to where the singing progresses … a large Ganesh ji with many heads stares majestically down the road where I drive and drive out a minute ago ..

Inside within the confines of sound proofed walls and computers and electronic plugged in gadgetry, we play around with buttons and prerecorded sound, placing them in right order, singing the verses of Madhushala, the 'alaap' and lending orchestral brilliance to the basic structure that I made in an impromptu setting on my piano.

What a different world this is. And yet the real world is just a few feet away. We crave today in music sittings for the age of unplugged instrumentation. The reality and the joy of listening to the original sounds of string and 'dholak'. Of the great masters and their wares – the Sarod, Shehnai, Sarangi, Sitar. All lost and buried under the weight of modern sounds, mastered and manufactured through science and technology … away from the days of learning through years and years of practice and devotion from the elder masters .. from 'gharanas', the old world house or regions where a particular style of playing came about and those connected with it felt proud to be representatives of it .. all gone and overtaken by technology.

Gone are the days when at song recordings over 100-150 musicians sat through days in large studios, and played to perfection in one single take. A mistake by one resulting in the entire song being recorded again. Now the electronics take over. A small room, barely 5′ by 6′ houses a large machine that balances sound, a microphone which stands in for the singer and the instrument both. On a basic beat the singer comes and sings a song and goes away. Musicians with their electronic devices come in separately do their piece and go away. The arranger comes in and arranges all that has been put before him into a song and goes away. Mastering happens where all the singing and the tone of the instruments are checked, brought into tune through masterful computers that can sing for you and … viola !! We have song !!

A few grunts and screams and hisses from the mouth form part of the song that now climbs up rapidly on the charts and no attention is given to the written or rather the sung portion of the tune. Words are futile and have little or no meaning. Beat is of paramount importance, and yes the capability of the song being remixed for the clubs around the country, for the younger generation to dance to it in intoxication ..

I wonder then as I sit vacant in the studio … who would want to listen to the words and philosophy of my Father ? It would hurt me beyond measure if it were to be looked upon as something that needed to be designed for commercial value. Best then to make this my personal play effort and remain with it in my solitude and hesitate to share it. I would, if I were assured that the listener were to be in the same frame as I was. It is a proposition that seems irrelevant with today's youth.

So … make it and keep it and live with it alone in its beauty. Getting the others on the same plane is asking for much too much. The humiliation if they treated it shabbily would be difficult to overcome. I shall live with it on my own ! Sharing it with them that do not have the intent to understand it, would diminish its wonderful sheen. Better then to burst into trance like condition within the silence and contours of my own little space, than to be seen coaxing another into submission and forced liking.


I leave in a few hours to dub for the event for the IPL, being launched in Chennai on April 3rd .. to recite and invite the opening of this season with the cricketing greats of countries across the world, many of whom one sees almost every other day on the tube. Now an opportunity to meet them face to face. A great desire fulfilled, a memory to cherish ..

Good night ..

Amitabh Bachchan 

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