Monday, January 30, 2012

Musical Notes

There is something perenially endearing about Jolene by Dolly Parton. May be it is the subject matter of the song - a woman fighting for her man, the sheer desperation in the lyrics or the beauty of the tune; whatever it is, the song is addictive. I find myself coming back to it and getting hooked every now and then. My latest 'Jolene' phase has been brought on by hearing the Norah Jones and The Little Willies' cover of it. Wonderful stuff. I want to be like Norah Jones - making incredibly cool music with incredibly cool people.

The best way to listen to The Beach Boys (especially songs from Pet Sounds), I've realised, is to reduce the bass on the equalizer and push up the treble. There is just so much happening in a Beach Boys song - so many instruments all contributing differently to make up a magical whole. An overpowering bass just spoils the effect completely. They are probably the only band I love where I actually reduce the impact of the bass.

The Beach Boys also have the knack of leaving you wanting more from a song. In some of their songs, the last 10 - 15 seconds or so are the most lovely and you wish that part would go on forever. Case in point - Caronline No. The flute bit in the end is just beautiful; and as it fades away, at least I always wish it had lasted for longer. 'Good Vibrations' and 'I Know There's an Answer' also boast similar endings.

Alanis Morisette has made some bloody good music. I should really dig up more of her.

Higher on Maiden is a pretty crappy cover band. Ok may be crappy is harsh, but Led Zepplica is much better as far as covers go. I am not a Maiden fan but I know that the Higher on Maiden vocalist is nothing compared to Bruce Dickenson and goes off tune a fair bit. Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy on the other hand are fantastic, live. I mean they were simply awesome! I do wish they had played 'Uff Teri Ada' though. And that I had been properly drunk :).

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Bachchan and Schubert

It's been a while since I posted on music. I've been listening in a practically continuous loop to two very different pieces over the last few days.

The first is 'Neela Aasman So Gaya' from Silsila. Silsila is one of the few older Hindi movies I have actually seen - being made to watch it by my mother at some point. I remember not understanding very much of it but quite liking it overall. I was also aware that this movie contained some pretty famous songs - 'Yeh Kahaan aa Gaye Hum', 'Dekha Ek Khwab', 'Rang Barse' and so on. Recently in the Mess of all places, the song 'Neela Aasman' (the Amitabh Bachchan version) was playing on TV and I was struck by the tune and picturization of the song.

Finding the song on Youtube, I was surprised to discover that Bachchan had himself sung this beautiful song. His singing doesn't quite agree with me in places. While his voice is a weak-knees inducing baritone with so much potential, his diction and rather flat rendering really jar sometimes with the slow and unearthly arrangement the song has. I think it is in the last minute of the song that you really see the potential his voice has. He mellows down the harshness of his tone and blends much better with the music and for a few seconds, not just the music, but the beauty of his voice also transports you.

For the musical arrangement and the picturization, I am in love with this song. It is so ridiculously romantic. The two of them aren't really doing anything - they're just walking hand in hand and as night sets in, he sings to her. There are no major displays of affection and yet the chemistry between them is electric. I could just go on watching this, it is just so lovely. And the music suits the mood beautifully - smooth and mellow with no sudden high notes.

The other piece of music is 'The Trout' quintet composed by Schubert; more specifically the 4th theme and variations. I particularly love this video of it: I picked up this piece from 'An Equal Music' (in my quest to hear all the musical compositions described in the book. Didn't like the 'Art of Fugue' though) and just love how happy and playful the music is. The whimsical way in which notes leap around between instruments is lovely. My favorite bits are when the piano comes in for the first time (What an instrument! I must learn it) and when at 3:00 minutes in the above video, the quintet goes completely berserk playing the high speed variations. While I cannot comment critically on this music, I continue to be amazed by how beautifully instruments blend in western classical music. I should really try listening to more of it!