Music it was to my ears… or so I thought… until it was obvious that this wasn’t from the great ghazal maestro’s collection but a jarring Indipop number! The issue wasn’t the genre… the issue was the romance that I anticipated as the rendition began, having been slowly, agonizingly smothered.
Well, lyrics was never a forte with him… and voice was not mine. So it always seemed a perfect compliment to the uninitiated- I provide the lyrics while the soulful voice does justice to the emotions, rhythm et al. But then how does one go about providing the lyrics when the enthusiasm of the singer refuses to acknowledge the script!
Its not that I have assumed myself to be a bad singer congenitally. In fact, well into my tweens I believed that along with being a good classical dancer, I would be able to get by with singing too coz the practice does call for it sometimes.
But then came the moment of truth as I was asked to stay out of the choir when 95% of the class of students were part of it. To be among the tiny group which for varied reasons (including being unavailable on the day of performance due to a cousin’s wedding) stayed out of the performance was- to begin with- an embarrassment. However, it left an indelible impression on my very impressionable mind about my abilities with singing! Little would the teacher (selector) know she was about to have such a deep impact on my life!
Lack of depth (of the impact) is obvious by the fact that I have never bothered with this one talent (or lack thereof) of mine. Believe me on this when I say it, coz once challenged/ wounded, I come back with much more perseverance and a resolve to prove myself, always… but not this time.
Yes, I do realize and accept that between the ‘hum’ and the ‘sing’, is a wide chasm I am unable to leap across. And its fine.. coz.. singers there are aplenty.. all within the family. There are the ones who sang to enable their betrothal (in the true Indian tradition of being tested for their superior vocal chords- a very important criteria for marriage). Then there are the others, especially belonging to the northern parts of the country, who insist on bellowing out along with loud bangs of the ‘dholak’ (and a spoon tapping on it), all sorts of sounds believed to enhance merry-making at Indian weddings. Then of course, there is this other category (need not be mutually exclusive to the above two) which insists on singing when extended/ enforced families meet for occasions.
Much to my dismay, I acknowledge, I have witnessed them all. And not just via listening but also by expressing my interest – with the mobile-enabled videography- coz after all, memories are being made! Honestly, it’s been the least I have figured out I need to do, to seem busy enough to not have to expel sounds of music from my throaty self.
But music (beside the above integral experiences) has been at the core of my existence from the time I was a child listening to All India Radio.. that tune which was harbinger of the wee hours of morning as the household woke up to another new dawn, stays etched nostalgically in my memory. It reminds me of a time when the only care one had in the world was of waking up in time for school and ensuring you did what you needed to for school… not one other worry in the world, besides!
In fact, there are so many songs I associate with a particular period of life- or sometimes even a scene of life. Its almost like I get transported to that era/ that visual the minute I listen to them. Could be that college crush or that heartbreak.. could be a time out with friends, or could be the stressful assignment in the midst of which someone came to your rescue and took you out for a break (a.k.a one of the well established causes of burning of midnight oil thereafter).
Then there is the time when you get drawn into the mood of the song. Now this one tends to get problematic especially when there are three generations living together in the house – and of course most of the folks would like to share their choice of music with the rest of their loving family. The problem is even more acute when two of the same generation end up having the same music impact their moods very differently. This last has a tendency to cause tremendous angst to those it doesn’t agree with, much to the chagrin of the (self-acknowledged) connoisseurs.
Then there are the times of the day, and the kind of songs one may want to listen to at those times. It perhaps very aptly explains why the temple down the road insists on blaring bhajans (religious songs) at the loudest decibel possible. After all, the mortals (including atheists) need to be jolted out of their slumber to acknowledge the presence of Gods they may have forgotten overnight.
In fact to several denizens in my locality, late nights it seems are the best to play music especially with varied percussion instruments, to celebrate the Gods who come to wine and dine only at those unearthly hours. What else would explain the enthusiasm of the several housing colonies jam-packed as they are with residents sharing their dedication with vigorously swinging limbs right outside their compounds!
But the one that deserves to be mentioned (mostly because no one else seems to appreciate their efforts) for creating moods is that one piano player who sits in the middle of a huge luxury hotel lobby right in the middle of the day soulfully playing Bach or was it Beethoven… my untrained ear (and vocal chords, of course) would never know. It was a tough discussion I happened to sign up for with a business partner, thus made sublime by the effects of the musician’s fingers on the keys. Maybe the discussion could have gone very differently or who knows the business could have taken a very different course.. But this was still better than straining to hear at another hotel, a flute player sitting in the middle of the concierge and a very busy hotel entrance almost unheard amidst the din…But I am sure his efforts haven’t gone unnoticed to the heavenly souls of the great masters because as the say.. music is the soul’s food!