Sweet melodies with flute

The violin was perhaps the most frequently used instrument (apart from the mandatory tabla, bongos or other percussion instruments) in Indian films from the 1940s to the early 70s. The Flute will perhaps come a close second to the violin as the most frequently used instrument.  Many music directors created memorable sweet melodies with flute in this period.

Of course, any song featuring Lord Krishna featured the flute. But there are also several other songs where the flute was used in a variety of ways. The flute appeared to be a natural fit for some situations. In other cases, the music directors seemed to have a liking for flute and used it extensively. A number of music directors also created attractive sounds and interesting arrangements by using the flute with other instruments.

Many songs featuring flute use the combination of flute and clarinet in Hindi film music. This combination allows the composer to combine the relatively high sounds of the flute with clarinet and provides flexibility in using the flute across multiple pitch levels. This combination also creates an overall sound that is both rich and mellow. Sometimes, composers use multiple flute instruments in the same song, at different pitch levels. Interestingly, there are many types of flute – ranging from the classical bansuri, the recorder, common man’s flute, and electric flute to the piccolo. Our composers created many sweet melodies with flute, but the sounds of the flute are not the same across all the songs. As an example, here is the sound of the piccolo that has a relatively high pitch.

And here is the sound of the classical bansuri at a different pitch.

Here is a medley of 17 flute pieces from Hindi film songs that runs for 5 minutes. The medley shows how different types of flutes were used to produce a wide variety of sounds and effects. However, the sweet sound of flute is the common factor across all the songs.

If you want to enjoy the complete songs with vocals, check out the playlist below. Enjoy 20 sweet melodies with flute (other than Lord Krishna songs). Most of the songs are from late 40s to early 70s (with one exception). 

A tip to enhance your listening pleasure: When listening to the songs in the playlist, if you want to browse further on this site or another one, open a new window for further browsing. The player will continue to play the songs in the current window while you are browsing)

Extensive flute

Stalwarts like Naushad, S D Burman and Roshan seemed to have a preference for flute and used it extensively in some of their songs.

Gaye jaa geet milan ke (Mela) and Tu mera chaand main teri chaandni (Dillagi) are two of Naushad’s songs that have beautiful and extensive use of the flute.

Another stalwart, Roshan used the flute extensively in Bahut diya denewale ne tujhko (Soorat aur Seerat). The flute sounds sweeter in Roshan’s songs!

S D Burman used flute in many of his songs to provide a breezy and light touch to complement the vocals composed in his unique style. But, it is his sad number Jaayen to Jaayen kahaan (Taxi Driver) that has extensive use of flute. Talat’s voice and the flute combine to create unforgettable pathos.

Situational flute

Situations and visuals with green or snow-capped mountains and streams seem to be a natural fit for flute. And romantic duets or solos in the moonlight are tailor made situations as well. And to top it all, if the hero is a flautist, it is only natural for flute to figure in the song.

Shanker-Jaikishen were at the top of their profession for a long time because they were masters of all types of genres from classical to modern. Basant Bahar, at one end of the spectrum, had lovely songs like Main piya teri that featured beautiful flute interludes played by the hero.

Composer Ravi was a master in creating simple and beautiful melodies often with the use of santoor and flute. Two of his lovely songs with flute are set among the hills and streams in the movie Hamraaz– He nile gagan ke tale and Tum agar saath dene ka vaada karo.

Kalyanji- Anandji created the super hit Mere mitwa mere meet re (Geet) also amidst hills, streams along with a hero playing the flute. There is another equally attractive Sweet melodies of flutesong in Geet, Jiske sapne humen roz aate rahe that also makes brilliant use of flute. Apart from the lovely flute interludes, observe the delightful use of flute as a countermelody.

S D Burman gave some of his best music in Dev Anand movies that had good doses of romance and mischief set amongst beautiful backdrops. While Dil Pukare (Jewel Thief) was set amongst the hills, there were additional elements of fog and moonlight in the lovely song Tu kahaan ye bataa (Tere ghar ke saamne).

And S D Burman’s long time assistant, Jaidev gave us some memorable songs as an independent composer. One of his best songs with flute is Yeh dil aur unki (Prem parbat). There are many variations in flute which make this song among the best flute songs.

Attractive flute

Sweet melodies of flute

Some of the music composers used their creativity, inspiration and their expertise in arrangements to make attractive use of flute, sometimes in situations where the flute was not a natural fit.

Salil Chaudhary was a composer who could play the piccolo and who loved the instrument. He used the piccolo attractively in the prelude in Jaa re Jaa re (Maya).

The song Jis dil mein basaa tha (Saheli) was a Binaca Geet mala topper. This is a sad song but Kalyanji-Anandji used the flute attractively in the interludes like a normal song. Kalyanji-Anandji also made unusual and attractive use of the flute in the song Jo tumko ho pasand (Safar). This attractive flute piece creates a haunting effect as well and will remain etched in your mind long after you finish listening to the song.

Another sad song, Chahunga main tujhe (Dosti) by Laxmikant-Pyarelal was a big hit. The flute was used attractively in this classical song.

Shanker-Jaikishen’s Shree 420 was a blockbuster musical. The song Pyaar hua ikraar hua, perhaps evokes many images in the mind and one of the unforgettable images is of Raj Kapoor playing and dancing to the common man’s flute. The flute is also attractive in one more Shanker-Jaikishen movie, Teesri Kasam in the song Duniya banane wale.

RD Burman’s Aaja piya tose pyaar (Baharon ke sapne) has a superb flute piece in the first interlude that sounds very modern. And among relatively modern songs, Zara Zara (Rehna hai tere dil mein) has a superb heart touching flute prelude.

Mind blowing flute

Sweet melodies of flute

Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia – Photo courtesy: Wikipedia

If you want to enjoy truly magnificent and the best flute in film songs, you have to turn to regional songs.

Dadasaheb Phalke award winner K Viswanath also won multiple National awards. His movie Sirivennela (in Telugu language) is about a blind flutist and a mute painter. Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasia played the flute in a number of songs in the movie. When you hear his flute, you will run out of words to describe the effect – magnificent, heavenly, soulful, brilliant are some of the words that will come to your mind. Enjoy two of the songs below from this movie with heavenly flute. The composer, K V Mahadevan needs to be credited for creating tunes that were melodious and became hugely popular without being overshadowed by the brilliance of the flute. Even though the language may be alien, if you can listen to the songs patiently till the end, I am sure you will enjoy the mind blowing flute (and also the songs).

The first song from Sirivennela, Ee gaali is a joyous one – note how the mood is set by the outstanding flute in the prelude. Though S P Balasubrahmanyam has a major share of the song, do not miss the magnificent flute set to the visuals of rain before P Susheela begins her singing.

The second song from Sirivennela, Vidhaata thalapuna  starts with words about the sound of ‘Om’. Again, observe how Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia sets the mood in the prelude with his flute as well the brilliant interludes, background and the soulful end to the song.

Apart from these two songs, there is a song from another K Viswanath movie Salangai oli (Tamil version of his Telugu movie), Mounamana neram that also has gorgeous flute. This silken smooth melody was composed by Ilayaraja and is considered one of the most romantic songs in South Indian music.

Sweet melodies with flute

The talent, skills and creativity of the music composers and the beautiful sounds of flute gave us many evergreen and sweet melodies with flute. I hope you enjoy the songs, admire the sounds of flute and the greatness of our composers.

 

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Enchanting Salil Chowdhary

Among the stalwarts of the Golden Era (1950s, 60s), Salil Chowdhary has a special place in the hearts of music lovers and connoisseurs. And there is a strong reasonsalil1 for this special place. A number of his songs were light, elegant, easy on the ears and leave you enchanted with a pleasant feeling. He had a distinct style of composition that seemed to make the songs flow quickly with brisk and graceful movements among notes. His passion for Western classical music and flair for instrumentation also made his songs cheerful to lift your mood as if you were waltzing on the clouds!

He was a passionate man with strong views on a wide range of interests, I am restricting myself to his film songs here. I am not familiar with his songs in Bengali and Malayalam, so this post is only about his Hindi films.

Jaagte raho, Madhumati, Maya, Do bigha zameen, Anand, Rajnigandha were some of his major films with Madhumati recognized by many as his best with all the songs topping the charts.

Enjoy 18 of my favourite songs from Salil Chowdhary by clicking the link below. These songs are from the 1950s to early 70s and many of them feature brisk movements among notes and wonderful arrangements to create an enchanting experience.

LINK TO PLAYLIST OF SALIL CHOWDHARY SONGS

(This link will take you to Gaana.com where you have standard features of Play all, Shuffle and Skip song available. Sometimes, you may have to skip Ads to enjoy the music! Unlike my earlier posts, this player opens in a new window/tab. Since the music player opens in a new window/tab, you can browse through this site or others and enjoy the music playing in the background while you browse!)

Enchanting melodies

clouds

How did Salilda create songs that made you feel as if you were waltzing among the clouds? Many contemporary songs are percussion heavy and feature too many instruments (most of them electronic). The effect of such songs is to make you feel as if you have fallen to the earth with a thud. In contrast, Salilda used brisk movements among notes to create light, breezy melodies. In addition to these light, breezy melodies, his skill in arranging and creating effects like western symphonies transported you to the clouds.

Consider the song Itna na mujhse tu pyaar badhaa (Chaaya) where the prelude is like a piece from a western symphony. The mukhda itself is inspired by a Mozart symphorchestrationony. And enjoy the brisk and graceful movements in Rim jhim ke yeh pyaare pyaare (Usne kahaa tha) that make the song a delight. The interludes contain a blend of western symphony type arrangements and Indian arrangements. And as a grand final flourish, Lata sings effortlessly in western classical style at the end of the song. Baagh mein kali (Chanda aur Suraj) is one more song where you can experience a delightful combination of Indian melody and western arrangements.

Two extremely popular songs from Madhumati, Dil tadap tadap ke and Ghadi ghadi mora dil dhadke also feature brisk movements among notes. At the same time, these songs are easy and light on the ears with attractive rhythm devoid of heavy percussion.

While Salilda’s songs may sound light and easy, they are not easy to sing! Some of the movements among the notes require mastery of pitch and ability to jump notes across the octave. The title song in Rajnigandha and Na jiya laage na (Anand) are two such examples. They are very pleasant and light songs, but try singing them and you will realize the difficulty in moving among notes quickly.

Memorable masterpieces

madhumati

Apart from the light and brisk melodies, Salilda also created memorable masterpieces that come to mind as top songs in certain situations. Ae mere pyaare watan (Kabuliwaala) is one such masterpiece. Though this song is about Afghanistan, it will rate among the top songs that come to mind when you think of “motherland”. Mannadey’s emotion filled singing and the simple orchestration (mostly rabab – a stringed instrument) create a patriotic feeling and a longing to go back to your roots. Dharti kahe pukar ke (Do bigha zameen) is one more masterpiece that takes you back to your roots.

lataand-salil

Apart from the above two earthy masterpieces, he created light songs that were a great fit for idyllic and picturesque settings. Two songs from Madhumati, Suhana safar aur yeh mausam (Madhumati) and Aaja re pardesi are examples of such masterpieces that also have strong appeal to a romantic heart. And when you think of rain and raindrops, perhaps the top song in your mind will be O sajna barkha bahaar (Parakh).

Imaginative arrangements

trumpet

Salilda was passionate about Western classical music. He could also play many instruments and knew how to make the best use of instruments. Earlier, I highlighted a few of his songs that feature preludes and interludes that sound like elements from western symphonies. In addition to creating sounds like western symphonies, he also used instruments imaginatively.

Jaa re Jaa re ud jaa re panchi (Maya) starts with a beautiful piccolo flute. And in the antras he uses Saxophone imaginatively to accompany Lata’s voice. In totality, this song is outstanding for the melody and arrangements. O Sajna barkha bahaar also uses the same imaginative technique of using saxophone to back up Lata’s voice in the antras.

His knowledge of western music and flair for instrumenrajeshkhannats stood him in good stead in transitioning into the 1970s. While he used saxophone in the 60s imaginatively, in the seventies he shifted to trumpets! Observe the beautiful use of trumpets in Zindagi kaisi hai paheli (Anand).

Jaaneman Jaaneman (Choti si baat) also uses brisk movements in the vocals as well as instrumentation to create a light and breezy effect. If you listen to Guzar jaye din (Annadata), the instruments and arrangements sound fresh, modern and relevant even today and can be easily used in any contemporary movie! The deep sonorous voice of Kishore was used to great effect in this brisk song. Try singing the song and you will realize the difficulty of moving from bass notes to higher notes.

Another song from Annadata, Nisdin nisdin has interludes with rich sounds of a full western orchestra. Salilda’s mastery of instruments and arrangements also gave him the reputation as an expert in background music. Sometimes, he was asked to compose background music even when the songs in a film were composed by someone else. Kanoon and Kaala Pathar are two examples of movies where Salilda’s background music was an attraction.

Salil Chowdhary was truly a man with many passions, flair and creativity. His unique talents created a special place for him in the history of film music and in the hearts of music lovers. Hats off to this creative genius who gave us many enchanting and evergreen songs.

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Southern Spice in Hindi Music

Our wonderful world of Hindi film music absorbs, adapts and accommodates styles and influences from all over India and the world. In this post, I will highlight key aspects of South Indian music that have been absorbed in Hindi film songs, that have added what I would call as a dash of Southern spice in Hindi film music. I do not mean vocal styles from South India, but instruments from South India.

Mridang(am)

Mridang or Mridangam

Three instruments play a key part in Southern music, especially classical music – Mridang, Ghatam and Morsing. These 3 are percussion instruments played with the hand. Morsing is considered side percussion. All three share a common ‘twangy’ sound that can be considered spicy! The Mridang is called Mridangam in South India.

While these 3 instruments are used predominantly in Southern classical music (also called Carnatic music), other regions of India also have instruments that are similar or closely resemble these 3 instruments. Interestingly, Morsing is played with the hands but the instrument is placed in the mouth.

Southern Spice in Hindi Film Music

Check out the sounds of these instruments in the short audio samples below (less than 6 seconds each). Here is the Mridangam.

Here is the sound of Ghatam.

And enjoy the sound of Morsing below:

A number of Hindi film songs have used these three instruments and as you can observe, the songs that I highlighted are very popular.

Enjoy 12 of these songs from the playlist below. All the songs are from 1940s to 1960s (with one exception). In some of the songs, the instruments can be heard clearly. In others, they are a part of a wider range of instruments and you have to listen very carefully to hear them.

LINK TO PLAYLIST FOR SOUTHERN SPICE IN HINDI FILM MUSIC

(This link will take you to Gaana.com where you have standard features of Play all, Shuffle and Skip song available. Sometimes, you may have to skip Ads to enjoy the music! Unlike my earlier posts, this player opens in a new window/tab. Since the music player opens in a new window/tab, you can browse through this site or others and enjoy the music playing in the background while you browse!)

Naushad’s spicy touch

Naushad

Among the music directors of the golden era (1950s and 60s), Naushad was a perfectionist. He worked very hard to get the vocal melody right. In addition, he also paid a lot of attention to the accompanying instrument arrangements and introduced a number of innovative arrangements and combinations. (You can check out Lively songs from Naushad for some of his innovations). It is not surprising therefore, to find that Naushad used the 3 instruments in a number of his songs.

Tu kahe agar (Andaz) features Ghatam that captures the rhythm of the song beautifully to accompany the graceful dance on the screen. And observe, how he starts with Ghatam with a folksy rhythm in the hugely popular Door koi gaaye (Baiju Bawra).

Tere sadke balam (Amar) is a song that I love very much. I can hear it a thousand times without getting tired of the song. I enjoy the beautiful waves in the song that take you up and down for a sweet and melodious ride. You may not observe the Ghatam, but it is playing throughout and lends a beautiful twangy background to the song. Incidentally, this song is not easy to sing – once you try it, you can appreciate Lata’s ability to move smoothly from one note to another in waves.

Naushad made innovative use of Mridang along with bongos in Mera pyaar bhi tu hai (Saathi).(See Enjoyable western beats)

Naushad also used Morsing in a number of songs. Check out the sound of the Morsing in Na toofan se khelo (Udan Khatola) from 00:30 to 00:40 in the song below.

The twang of the Ghatam

SJ_color

Many stalwarts from the golden era used Ghatam to great effect.

Shanker-Jaikishen used Ghatam beautifully in Yeh shaam ki tanhaaiyan (Aah). Ramlal used Ghatam to create an impact in Tere khayalon mein hum (Geet gaaya patharon ne) and add to the haunting effect.

Nashad (not to be confused with Naushad) was actually Shaukat Ali who composed several popular songs. Apparently, a director Nakshab Jarachavi approached Naushad to compose music for his film. And when Naushad did not agree, he was angry and got Shaukat Ali to compose music after changing Shaukat Ali’s name to Nashad. Baradari has a lovely Talat Mahmood song Tasveer banataa hoon that features Ghatam prominently.

Madan Mohan, the master of soulful songs used Ghatam in Mere piyaa se koi jaake (Ashiana). As always, he stretched Lata’s voice in this song as well to add a delectable touch.

Spice in the Golden Era

padosan

SD Burman made heavy use of Mridang in Tere naina talaash (Talaash). You can hear the tabla and other instruments  in the first few minutes. After those few minutes, the mridangam takes over and can be heard clearly, and in several places, as the sole percussion instrument to accompany the dance on the screen.

The Mridang becomes a natural accompaniment for Mehmood, the dance teacher from the South in the comic Ek chatur naar karke (Padosan) by RD Burman.

Pakeezah is actually a golden era movie even though it was released in the early 70s. The Morsing is actually playing throughout the song Mausam hai aashiqana. However, you may not observe it except between 3:08 and 3:11 in the song below where it is played as the lead instrument.

AR Rahman masterpieces

A R Rahman

AR Rahman raised the bar in instrument arrangements, even in the days of computerized arrangements. He introduced new sounds and rhythm patterns in percussion, among many other outstanding features in arrangements. In many of his songs, you can hear each instrument distinctly even when the percussion and rhythm appear to be heavy and all encompassing.

Jiya jale (Dil se) is a masterpiece that is a beautiful fusion of folksy vocals from Kerala with the vocal melody of Lata Mangeshkar. You can hear the Morsing and Mridangam in this song clearly. The Morsing accompanies Lata’s voice from 0:05 onwards and can be heard through most of the song. The Mridangam starts with a short roll at 1:05 and is used primarily to create the percussion roll through the rest of the song.

Another of his masterpieces is Taal se Taal mila (Taal). He used many percussion instruments to emphasise the Taal, but the Ghatam can be heard clearly from 1:23 to 1:37 and later whenever the line Taal se Taal mila is repeated.

Thus far, I discussed songs that had one or two of the 3 instruments being discussed. Is there a song that has all 3 of them? Yes, but it is a regional song that truly embodies the Southern Spice. Check out the section below.

Authentic Southern Spice

240px-india_-_madurai_temple_-_0781

There are of course innumerable songs from South Indian films that feature the 3 instruments. However, I would like to draw your attention to two special songs.

Madhura madhura tara Meenakshi (Telugu movie – Arjun) is one such special song. If you listen to the song carefully, you will observe that there are many percussion instruments used in the song. Apart from this, the combination of percussion instruments and the pattern they play in the song changes frequently – it varies between female and male singers, between chorus and interludes, between high and low pitch and in every possible combination you can think of. These variations really call for perfect arrangements and orchestration. Mani Sarma composed this song and you can hear all 3 instruments in the song (though not all of them at the same time). From 1:41 you can hear the Mridangam joined shortly by Ghatam and other instruments till 1:51 and shortly thereafter you can also hear the Morsing join the percussion from 1:53 to 2:17.

The music of Ilayaraja, the genius from South India defies description. He combines many different styles to create amazing effects. Listen carefully to Poongathave thal thiravai (Tamil movie – Nizhalgal) below. In his arrangements and Ilayarajaorchestration, there are sounds of western symphonies, ‘conversations’ between the keyboard and violin, beautiful use of humming, seamless transition from western to traditional instruments and as a final flourish in the song, the blending of the sounds of violin and the humming. And all of these superb combinations and blends are in addition to a wonderful vocal melody!

In the midst of all this wizardry, did you notice the use of Mridangam? The Mridangam adds a final twangy beat to complete the pattern played by bongos. This single beat on the mridangam is one more amazing combination among the many wonderful combinations in the song.

We are indeed fortunate to enjoy the wide variety of influences and styles that Hindi film music gives us. I hope you enjoyed the twangy sounds that added southern spice in Hindi film songs!

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Orthodox RD Burman

To me, RD Burman’s music has many more dimensions than mere ‘Hits of RD Burman’.

I see RD Burman’s music in 3 dimensions.

1) First, he was an extremely talented and creative composer with a solid foundation in the orthodox style of composition. When I say orthodox, I do not mean traditional or classical or old style. Orthodox also does not denote an Indian or Western style of composition.

In my view, orthodox style of composition is one where there is an emphasis on melody and melodic content in the vocals of the song. Accompanying instrument arrangements, orchestration, rhythm patterns are not a factor in an orthodox style of composition. The Hits of R D Burmanchoice of notes and pitch determine the melodic content to some extent. Also, the extent of wavy contours, graceful patterns in the vocals denote varying degrees of melodic content in an orthodox style of composition.

Orthodox style of composition was predominant in the golden era of 50s and 60s. Most composers of the 1950s and 60s composed in the orthodox style with remarkable and consistent success. In fact, most music composers worked to create the vocal melody and struggled to get it right and appealing. Once the composer got the vocal melody right, the task of composing accompanying instrumental preludes and interludes was often left to the assistants. There are endless possibilities in vocal melodies that appeal to connoisseurs as well as to popular taste. Innovations in style, vocals were therefore rare and more of an exception in the golden era.

2) The second dimension of RD Burman’s music is his trendsetting style, innovation and a certain distinctive appeal to youngsters with songs that had a youthful exuberance and lilt. This dimension took him beyond the orthodox style and made his music stand out. Some songs from Teesri Manzil, Hare Rama Hare Krishna, Caravan and Jawani Diwani are of this type. The young generation was simply bowled over.

The orthodox style and the trendy, youthful styles stem primarily from his abundant natural talent, inspired creativity and of course, hard work in translatHits of R D Burmaning his talent and creativity into a well presented song. Though RD Burman made his debut in 1961 with Chote Nawab, the late 60s and early 70s saw RD Burman at his best in both these dimensions – he seemed to ascend the stairs to success at a rapid rate. And the songs simply seemed to gush out in full flow; full of creativity, inspiration and abundant talent.

3) The third dimension of RD Burman’s music came in the mid 70s and later. During this period, for some reason, he deliberately adopted a style that involved breaking up the tunes into short bits sometimes with staccato like sounds. Perhaps he wanted to appeal even more to the younger generation. The vocals lost the graceful and wavy contours and became flat, straighter. Some songs from Khel Khel Mein are an example of this style. There could have been quite a few popular songs and some people may like this style, but to me, this style is not appealing. High quality orthodox style songs were few in this dimension. He gradually descended into the ‘average’ zone in the 80s. Even when he tried to compose songs in his earlier orthodox style, they seemed to be laboured efforts and not the free flowing melodies of his earlier years. During this period, there were also many RD Burman songs that are labeled ‘classical’, but were no match in my view, to his songs from the late 60s and early 70s.

In this post, I will highlight many of his songs based on the ‘orthodox’ style, from the late 60s and early 70s. All of them can also be called ‘Hits of RD Burman’, but in my opinion, these songs are the embodiment of the orthodox style of compositions that are a delight to the ear and soul.

In a later post, I will cover his trendy and modern songs.

Enjoy 30 handpicked songs in his orthodox style from a playlist by clicking the link below.

LINK TO R D BURMAN PLAYLIST

(This link will take you to Gaana.com where you have standard features of Play all, Shuffle and Skip song available. Sometimes, you may have to skip Ads to enjoy the music! Unlike my earlier posts, this player opens in a new window/tab. Since the music player opens in a new window/tab, you can browse through this site or others and enjoy the music playing in the background while you browse!)

Classical and sublime

Hits of R D Burman

Apart from his abundant talent and skill, RD Burman was also versatile. As proof of his versatility, he composed several classical based songs that are a delight for any connoisseur.

While Padosan had several popular and delightfully crazy songs, Sharm aati hai magar is evidence of his strength in classical and light classical songs. Almost all Hindi film songs can be traced to some Indian classical raag or the other. But, in my view, mere identification with a classical raag does not make a song classical. Nor does the presence of the correct set of notes in accordance with a raag. Apart from graceful and wavy contours in the tune, you also need additional stretching and stress on specific notes and ‘gamaks’ in a song to give it a classical touch.

Hits of R D BurmanAmar Prem marked a high point in RD Burman’s classical based melodies. Raina beeti jaaye (Amar Prem) is a superb classical based number. Lata’s singing, the graceful undulations in the song and stress on key notes are truly sublime and make this an
outstanding classical. Though, Amar Prem had other popular songs, Raina beeti jaaye truly is on a high pedestal on its own.

Mere naina saawan bhadon (Mehbooba) was also a beautifully composed classical based song with Kishore touching high notes and emoting strongly in the song. Another light classical based song, Bite naa bitayee raina (Parichay) is also a joy to the ears.

In my view, these classical based songs were sublime and much better than some of his later ‘classical’ compositions.

Orthodox and delightful

Hits of R D Burman

Apart from his sublime classical songs for special situations, there were also a number of normal filmi situations for which RD Burman composed songs that were delightful.

His first major hit Teesri Manzil had two pleasant Rafi solos – Tum ne hamein dekhaa and Deewana mujhsa nahin. These two compositions with emphasis on vocal melody were mellifluous and a delightful complement to his trendsetting songs from the same film.

Apart from these two solos, there were also several memorable duets that captured expressions beautifully – some full of joy and abandon, others more muted and romantic. Among these duets, Kitna pyaara waada (Caravan), Dil tera hai (Bombay to Goa), Chahe raho door (Do chor), Kaahe ko bulaya (Humshakal) and Gum hai kisike pyaar mein (Raampur Kaa Lakshman) stand out for the orthodox style with pleasant vocal melodies.

The songs from Sholay were counted as ‘Hits of RD Burman’, after Gabbar Singh’s dialogues became popular! Among the songs from Sholay, Yeh dosti stands out as perhaps the best composition (Mehbooba, Mehbooba was an inspired song, not an original composition).

Kishore and resurgence

Hits of R D Burman

Aradhana is a landmark film in Hindi film music. It marked the end of Mohd. Rafi as the dominant male singer, and catapulted Kishore Kumar to dizzying heights of dominance in the 70s. There are many theories and stories about this dramatic turn of events. Some say Rafi was away on a tour and hence Kishore was chosen as the playback singer. Other theories claim that RD Burman (who was assisting his father SD Burman in the movie) had a role in pushing Kishore into the forefront. RD Burman and Kishore had a strong bond from the 60s with Kishore singing for him in his second film, Bhoot Bangla. Whatever be the reason for Kishore’s resurgence with Aradhana, RD Burman and Kishore became a formidable combination in the 70s.

Perhaps the seeds of Kishore’s resurgence were sown earlier in Padosan; Kishore’s Mere saamne wale khidki mein became a super hit with his resonant and booming voice. And Kishore did ‘real’ playback singing for Sunil Dutt in Kehna hai kehna hai.

After Padosan, Pyar Ka Mausam also provided the base for Kishore’s resurgence with Kishore’s Tum bin jaaoon kahan proving to be more popular than Rafi’s version of the same song.

Kishore and RD Burman scored several hits for Rajesh Khanna including Yeh kya hua (Amar Prem), O mere dil ke chain (Mere Jeevan Saathi) and Ek ajnabee (Ajnabee). R D Burman was at the height of his creative powers in early 70s. Apparently, the tune for O mere dil ke chain was milling around in RD Burman’s head and he could not sleep. He got up and recorded the tune and Majrooh Sultanpuri came up with the lyrics the next day morning!

RD Burman and Kishore also came together for a number of hits for other heroes as well. Rafi was Jeetendra’s voice in a couple of chartbusters in Caravan, but it was Kishore who sang for Jeetendra in Parichay with Musaafir hoon yaaro becoming a big hit. RD Burman and Kishore were a strong combination for almost every hero, including struggling heroes like Navin Nischal who had an evergreen number with Raat kali ek khwab mein (Buddha mil gaya).

Lata, Asha and crossovers

Hits of R D Burman

During the 50s and 60s, Lata and Asha carried certain images – notably with Lata’s voice being branded as ‘voice with soul’ and Asha’s voice branded as ‘voice with body’. Perhaps this was unfair to Asha who had wonderful songs to her credit in the 50s and 60s and who later went on demonstrate her vocal range and versatility to carve a distinct place for herself. R D Burman was instrumental in giving Asha a number of challenging songs that tested her vocal range.

Surprisingly, Lata sounds Asha like in quite a few RD Burman songs. Listen to Bangle ke peeche (Samadhi) and Yaari ho gayi (Do chor). Perhaps Yaari ho gayi can be considered as Lata’s Dum Maro Dum!

And Asha crosses over to Lata’s side by singing a devotional song (normally Lata is the first preference for such songs) with her distinct vocal style in Kaahe apno ke (along with Kishore in Raampur ka Lakshman).

Of course, there were several other RD Burman songs where Lata sang like Lata and Asha sang like Asha. Kis liye maine pyaar kiya (The train) and Aaja piya tujhe pyaar doon (Baharon ke sapne) seemed to have been composed with a sweet sounding Lata in mind.

Asha was her usual self in songs like Chori Chori solah singar (Manoranjan) and Bechara dil kya kare (Khushboo). Chori Chori solah is a delightful number where Zeenat Aman’s crooning in the night has some vocal embellishments normally found in light classical songs!

Folksy and tipsy

Hits of R D Burman

At the other end of his versatile range, R D Burman composed memorable songs with a folksy touch. Chadti Jawani (Caravan) captures the joyful abandon of the gypsies. O Maajhi re (Khushboo) is another lovely folksy tune.

Even the tipsy song situations gave us some evergreen songs based on Orthodox style! Abhi to haath mein jam hai (Seeta aur Geeta) is a superb melody and so is Do ghoonth mujhe bhi (Jheel Ke us paar).

A solid grounding in the Orthodox style of composition was the foundation on which RD Burman showcased his versatility, spanning a wide range from classical to folksy and tipsy songs.

Hits of RD Burman

RD Burman was an extremely talented composer whose music is truly evergreen with some songs that are top of the range. There are many music composers of later years who swear by RD Burman and try to follow RD Burman’s style. I wish they would imbibe his orthodox, melodious style and save us from the high pitched, ‘assault on the ears’ numbers that pass for melody in these days. That will perhaps be the best tribute to RD Burman, the talented genius.

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Simple melodies of Ravi

Think of Ravi, the music director and you immediately associate his music with melodies dominated by Santoor and Flute. Many stalwarts of the golden era of film music (1950s and 60s), enjoyed tremendous popularity, huge visibility and an envious image. During these two decades, Ravi was ‘flying under the radar’ all along, alongside these stalwarts and popping up unexpectedly with superb scores that were simple, easy to sing and hugely popular. Ravi became an independent music director in the early 50s. A set of loyal producers backed him throughout his career.

imagesHis songs were predominantly simple melodies. His music may not appear extravagant or carry the ‘flourishes’ of the top music directors of the golden era. However, since his melodies were simple, they were appealing, easy to sing and extremely hummable. Ravi boasted that he could create a tune from almost any set of words, including newspaper headlines or columns! It would not have been very difficult for him. Give him santoor, flute, tabla players and a newspaper and I can imagine him creating simple tunes from the newspaper.

Ravi

With Ravi, the lyrics came first and the tune later. A number of his songs captured the power and emotions of the lyrics and were impactful because they were very soulful.

Most films have a set of standard situations for songs for heroes and heroines like a peppy or romantic situation, a location or situation meant for duets and a solo sad song situation. Ravi was a master in unusual and special situations and created many unforgettable songs for such situations. His legacy also lives on with many evergreen songs that are hugely popular even today.

Sadly, like most of his peers from the golden era, he was unable to cope with the changes of the 1970s and lost his way in the 70s. After several years in near hibernation, Nikaah was his swansong in Hindi films in 1982, thanks to his faithful producer B R Chopra. Ravi also scored many popular songs in Malayalam.

Enjoy 24  of his lovely songs from the link below.

LINK TO SIMPLE MELODIES OF RAVI

(This link will take you to Gaana.com where you have standard features of Play all, Shuffle and Skip song available. Sometimes, you may have to skip Ads to enjoy the music! Unlike my earlier posts, this player opens in a new window/tab. Since the music player opens in a new window/tab, you can browse through this site or others and enjoy the music playing in the background while you browse!)

Master of special situations

Ravi’s predominant style of simple music without any ornamentation or flourishes, was tailor made for songs by children. Chanda Mama door se (Vachan) and Dadi Amma Dadi Amma (Gharana) are extremely simple and very appealing. Also, in another special situation, Balraj Sahni’s adoration of his ‘son’ is captured beautifully in the song Tujhe suraj kahoon yaa chandaa (Ek phool do maali). Similarly, Garibon ki suno (Dus Laakh) is another song that stands out for the specific situation.

Ravi created many memorable songs for wedding situations with the tear jerking Babul ki duayen lethi jaa (Neelkamal) at one extreme and the peppy and joyful baaraat song Dil karta yaara dildaara (Aadmi aur Insaan) on the other extreme.

Though his music and popularity began to fade in the 1970s, Ravi created a wonderful song Sansaar kee har shay kaa (Dhund) for a situation that shows the obligatory titles and credits in the beginning of the film. Sahir Ludhianvi seems to capture the philosophy of life with his lyrics, reminding you of his other philosophical and timeless classic Aage bhi jaane na tu.

A bhajan is not unusual in Hindi films. However, this is not the standard hero, heroine, romance-sad song type of situation. Ravi created Tora man darpan (Kaajal) that appears to be a bhajan but has loads of philosophy as well.

Perhaps his most popular song for special situations is for the ‘not so young’ Balraj Sahni becoming a youngster for his wife and singing Ae mere zohra zabin (Waqt).

Simple and melodious

Music directors strive to create mukhdas that are catchy and appealing. Keeping the mukhdas simple came naturally to composers like Ravi.

Ravi is perhaps best remembered for his simple melodies – solos, duets and the like that are very easy to sing and hum.  Many of these simple melodies became huge hits. Sometimes, Ravi’s songs appeared to be very similar and repetitive. Perhaps his liking for santoor and flute was the reason. Santoor and flute dominated a number of his songs. A number of his simple melodies are also soothing to the ears, because of the limited number of instruments and his preference for the sweet sounds of flute and santoor.

Tumhin mere mandir (Khaandaan) is an example of his simple style. Also, Chalo ik baar phir se and Aaja aaja re tujhko meraa pyaar pukare from Gumrah are two simple melodies that are very appealing. Also, in a similar simple style, Tum agar saath dene ka (Humraaz) is easy on the ears and attractive as well.

Kisi pathar ki moorat se (Humraaz), Milti hain zindagi mein mohabbat (Ankhen) and Door rehkar na karo baat (Amaanat) are simple solo melodies in Ravi’s trademark style. His O neele parbaton ki dhara from Aadmi aur insaan and Aaj ki mulaqat bas itni (Bharosa) are two attractive duets.

My personal favourite is the happy version of Tumhari nazar kyon khafaa ho gayee (Do Kaliyan). And for a change, you get to hear lovely accordion pieces in the song along with the extremely melodious humming by Lata.

Soulful impact

Aage bhi jaane na tu

Ravi preferred to set his tune to lyrics. He believed that one has to capture the emotions in the lyrics. His special focus on the lyrics gave us some soulful and impactful songs. Who can forget the soulful Sau baar janam lenge (Ustadon ke Ustad) or the equally soulful Tujhko pukare mera pyaar (Neelkamal).

Ae mere dil-e-nadaan (Towerhouse) is also memorable for the impact of the lyrics and tune. Similarly, Is bhari duniya mein (Bharosa) makes an impact with soulful singing by Rafi.

Perhaps his best and most impactful song is Aage bhi jaane na tu (Waqt), thanks to Sahir Ludhianvi’s classic and timeless lyrics on Now. I consider this to be among Asha Bhonsle’s best songs.

Evergreen legacy

Chaundvin ka chandSome of Ravi’s songs can be considered among the best songs in their category and live on as evergreen songs. Chaundvin Ka Chand ho (Chaundvin Ka Chand) is one such top of the category evergreen songs for solo romantic songs. And who can forget Yeh Raaten Yeh Mausam (Dilli ka thug), the romantic evening duet set against moonlight, stars and water! Dilli ka thug also featured yet another evergreen song – CAT Cat, Cat mane billi, the song that puts life into anyone and any situation.

A number of Ravi’s songs were set among hills. He makes the hills, flowers, water and trees reverberate with the melodious He neele gagan ke tale (Hamraaz) and Aa bhi jaa from Gumrah with superb use of flute, santoor, Mahendra Kapoor’s voice and the echoes!.

Despite being ‘under the radar’, Ravi created a unique place for himself and had a clutch of loyal producers who swore by him.  Hats off to this creator of simple and appealing melodies.

 

 

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Bells and Whistles

“Bells and Whistles” is a popular English idiom. It means extra or fancy add-ons. For example, we often say “this phone or computer comes with many bells and whistles”; meaning a lot of extra features that may not be really needed and used by us.

However, when you hear bells or whistles in some Hindi film songs, they seem very much an integral part of the song and not something fancy or extra. In fact, the add-on we get in bells and whistles is their sweet sound which is extremely pleasant to hear. We also get to hear and enjoy a variety of bells and whistles in our songs.

In most cases, the visuals for the songs depict situations, events or things that make the sounds of bells or whistle a natural fit for the situation. For example, there are a number of songs on a bicycle where the sound of a bicycle bell is a perfect fit for the visuals. And when you have a cheerful situation, whistling in the song sounds natural.

Whistling permitted

There are literally hundreds of songs that feature bells and whistles. I have created a playlist of 17 lively and popular songs with bells and whistles. These songs have been picked from movies from the mid 1960s to the mid 2000s. Enjoy these 17 songs on the player below.

(Mobile phone users may not be able to play the songs continuously since the devices do not support automatic play – due to potential data consumption issues)

If you are based in the USA or Canada, you can also enjoy some of these songs on the 8tracks player below.

(A tip to enhance your enjoyment –  To listen to these songs without any break, open another window after clicking the play arrow on the players. If you want to browse further on this site or another site, use the newly opened window. The players will keep playing the songs as you browse in the new window.).

 

There are of course, different types of bells and whistles. I have however not included the most commonly heard sound of bells – the ghungroo used in many dances and the manjeera used in most bhajans and temple songs. I am sure there will be hundreds and perhaps thousands of songs that feature the sounds of ghungroo and manjeera.

Bells

Bicycle bell

One of the most commonly heard bells in our movies is linked to the common man’s vehicle –the bicycle. S D Burman’s Hey maine kasam lee (Tere Mere Sapne) is a soothing melody that uses the sound of a bicycle bell in the prelude to the song. R D Burman’s Main chali main chali (Padosan) is a lively song that also features the sound of bicycle bells in the prelude. It is interesting to note the different styles adopted by the sisters Lata and Asha in this song. It is clear that Asha was trying something ‘extra’ to compete with Lata.

Salil Chaudary’s memorable song Kahin door jab din dhal jaye (Anand) has the lovely sound of cowbells in the prelude to accompany the visuals of a cart. Mere desh ki dharti (Upkar) is an iconic classic that is heard on all days that call for patriotic songs. It is also a song where Manoj Kumar and Kalyanji-Anandj put in gigantic efforts.
cowbellsKalyanji-Anandji spent more than 24 hours at a stretch to record this song and get everything right. Manoj Kumar also went to great lengths to synchronize the visuals with the song and sounds. You get to see birds flying, women filling water, a stream flowing, seeds being sown and lots more with the visuals perfectly synchronized to the sounds in the song. One of the interesting sights in the song is bullocks running with bells around their necks. You can hear these sounds in the first prelude.

Bells also can play a role in the orchestra to build up tempo, anticipation and sometimes a climax in the song.  Though electronics and computers became the standard ‘orchestra’ for songs in the 1990s, A R Rahman mastered the art of  arrangement and raised the standards to a new high.  Rahman used bells beautifully in the song Muqala Muqabla (Hum se hai muqabla). (As an aside, Rahman’s use of bells in this song reminds you of the  themes from popular western films. The theme music in the Dollar trilogy of For a fistful of Dollars, A Few Dollars More and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly are masterpieces in the use of bells, whistles and of course, guitar). Observe the brilliant use of bells by Rahman for building up  tempo and anticipation in the 45 second prelude to the Muqala Muqabla song below (the bells come in after 27 seconds).

Laxmikanth-Pyarelal blended the sounds of bells beautifully with guitar in the inspiring song Ruk jaana naheen (Imtihan). Bells can also be used in the orchestra to create a contrasting sound and bridge different scales of music. R D Burman used bells and chorus effectively in the orchestra in Ek din bik jayega (Dharam Karam).

A R Rahman created a wonderfully soft and dreamy melody in Nahin saamne (Taal). He also used the bells beautifully in his instrument arrangements to build up tempo in the song in the second prelude.
temple bell

Kalyanji-Anandji used temple bells in Mose mera shyam rootha (Johny mera naam). Laxmikanth-Pyarelal also used temple bells effectively in the classical raga based titled song in Satyam Shivam Sundaram.

The song Aao tumhe chaand pe (Zakhmee) starts off with the Christmas carol – Jingle bells Jingle bells jingle all the way. But, sadly, one does not hear the sound of the bells in this song. I am not able to recall immediately songs with Church bells.

Whistles

Boy whistling

Whistling by forcing breath through partly closed lips has been part of film songs at all times. Whistles symbolize joy, fun and a carefree attitude in the songs.

Songs from films prior to mid 1960s, of course, also featured whistles. Anari, New Delhi featured whistles in songs like Kisiki muskurahaton and Nakhrewali.

Among the songs after mid 1960s, popular songs with whistles include two Kishore numbers – R D Burman’s Yeh shaam mastaani (Kati patang) and Rajesh Roshan’s Dil kya kare (Julie). In later years, there were a number of songs that became extremely popular – perhaps the sweet sound of whistle had something to do with their popularity. Jatin-Lalit’s Chand sifarish (Fanaa) and the title song of Main hoon na by Anu Mallik have lengthy whistles. My favourite whistle song is the peppy dance number Arre re are ye kya hua (Dil to paagal hai) by Uttam Singh.

And while these whistles seem to sound dignified and proper, let us not forget what we do in movies when we thoroughly enjoy a scene or situation. ‘Seeti’ or whistling with two 2 fingers whistlefingers in the mouth is actually the ‘proper’ whistle in India. And Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy’s Kajra re (Bunty aur Babli) captures this whistle effectively in the catchy rhythm for this super hit dance number.

Normally whistling is associated with a cheerful mood. However, the whistle after Tum Pukar lo (Khamoshi) leaves you with a haunting feeling. A number of Hemant Kumar songs have this haunting feeling (see The haunting music of Hemant Kumar)

Our songs also feature many different types of whistles. R D Burman’s Jab andhera hota hai (Raja Rani) is all about thieves and their work in the night. As you can expect, you will hear the sound of police whistles in the song. And what about the sound of a train whistle? The train had a key role to play in Meena Kumari’s life in her swansong Pakeezah. The song Chalte Chalte by Ghulam Mohammed ends to the sound of the train whistle. Kalyanji-Anandji also used the train whistle in the prelude of Haathon ki chand lakeeron ka (Vidhaata) though the sound of the whistle in this song is unusual for a train.

train whistle

Did you ever hear the hoot or sound of the horn of a road roller? I thought a road roller would have a horn that sounds like the loud horn of a truck. But, no! I learnt something from R D Burman’s music. R D Burman used the ‘whistle’ of the road roller imaginatively to create a rhythm in Ruk Ruk (Warrant). Listen to the song and decide for yourself whether the whistle of the road roller is an integral part of the song or whether it fits the true meaning of bells and whistles – as a fancy add on.

Bells AND Whistles

Bells&Whistles

Thus far, I discussed songs that featured either bells or whistles – but not both in the same song. But what about songs that have both bells and whistles?

Bhupen Hazarika is a famous music personality from Assam. He was also a music composer in a few Hindi films. His Nainon mein darpan hai (Aarop) features the sound of a bicycle bell as well as Vinod Khanna’s whistle. R D Burman’s Koi haseena jab (Sholay) features the sound of a train whistle prominently as well as the sound of a bicycle bell.

Laxmikanth-Pyarelal’s Gaadi bula rahee hai seeti bajaa rahi hai (Dost) also features the sound of a train ‘seeti’ and the sound of bells.

Kalyanji-Anandji also included both the sounds in their lively duet – Tum ko mohabbat ho gayee (Haath ki safai). While this song starts with a whistle in the prelude, the sound of bells is not as prominent as the whistle. You really have to pay attention to hear the sound of bells in the interludes.

And finally, here is a lovely song in Telugu from the genius Ilayaraja. Maate mantramu (Seetakokachiluka) went on to become an iconic song that is played on most occasions to highlight the sacred nature of marriage and the commitment required for sustaining the marriage. The song includes temple bells as well as sounds that resemble church bells. Enjoy this iconic song below.

I am sure there will be countless other songs that have bells and whistles of various types. I hope you enjoyed this collection of songs on the player and hopefully whistled along with them!

Posted in Hindi film music, Orchestration and arrangements, Special themes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Memorable Guitar songs

air guitarA Guitar is perhaps the only instrument that almost everyone “plays”. Quite often, we see someone “playing” an ‘Air-Guitar’ (acting as though you are playing the Guitar with both hands, but without any real instrument!). I am sure you would have “played” air-guitar at least a few times and perhaps often. I guess most of the songs accompanied by the air-guitar were lively and energetic ones!

Why is a guitar so memorable? A guitar generates notes that are distinct, strong and clear. Also, some types of guitar create sounds that are sweet and enchanting to the ears. Guitars stand out among all other instruments because of these qualities of clarity and enchanting sounds.

In addition to these qualities, a guitar is perhaps the instrument more strongly associated with ‘western’ than anything else. Thus, a number of western songs that are usually full of energy and liveliness feature a guitar.

As mentioned elsewhere in this blog, I enjoy listening to songs on the radio or iPod. I only focus on what I hear in a song. So, when I use the term Guitar songs, I mean a film song where a guitar is heard in the song. To me, it does not matter whether someone in the visuals is actually playing the guitar. If someone is actually playing a guitar on screen, it is a coincidence!guitar

As an interesting ‘guess the song’ exercise for you, I created a medley of guitar pieces from 15 handpicked songs. If possible, listen to the medley and try and identify the associated song for each guitar piece. I hope you find this medley to be fun, interesting with quite a few ‘Aha….THAT song!’ moments for you. Enjoy the medley below and try and guess the songs. The medley runs for less than 5 minutes.

Of course, you can always listen to the songs on the player first or take a sneak peek at the commentary below. But, that would spoil the fun for you.

While all music directors in the 1940s, 50s and 60s used guitar extensively, it gained prominence with the catchy prelude in the chart buster song – Dum maro dum (Hare Rama Hare Krishna) composed by the trendsetter R D Burman. Enjoy this lovely prelude here.

Several musicians were associated with Guitar in film songs. Prominent players include Dilip Naik, Boney D’Costa, D’Melo, Bhupinder (the singer), Bhanu Gupta, Sunil KaushikRamesh Iyer.

Enjoy some handpicked songs on the player below. I restricted myself to songs from the 1950s to early 80s since my familiarity with film songs is mostly from this period.

If you are in the USA or Canada, you can also enjoy these songs on the 8tracks player below.

(A tip to enhance your enjoyment of the songs. The players stops playing when you click the back button or go to another link on this page or somewhere else. To listen to these songs without any break, open another window after clicking the play arrow on either of the players. If you want to browse further on this site or another site, use the newly opened window. The players will keep playing the songs as you browse in the new window). 

Lively Guitar

RD BurmanA Guitar is the obvious choice for lively club songs. Ravi, known for his simple melodies created songs that had lovely guitar pieces. Baar baar dekho (China Town) is one such lively number that was a big hit. Another unforgettable club song is O P Nayyar’s Mera naam Chin Chin Choo (Howrah Bridge) that features Geeta Dutt’s lively and energetic vocals and is perhaps a landmark song in her career.

Check out this link from Madhulika Liddle (Dustedoff) about her uncle Sammy Daula, who played the guitar in Baar Baar dekho. http://madhulikaliddle.com/2012/12/03/introducing-another-guitarist-sammy-daula/

Shanker-Jaikishen introduced new types of arrangements in Hindi film music. Several of their hugely popular songs were lively numbers with energetic guitar pieces. Yakeen karlo (Yakeen) features guitar extensively. Another lively number from Brahmachari, Aaj kal tere mere pyaar ke also had delightful guitar in the prelude.

But the credit for the best lively guitar song goes to R D Burman. Dilip Naik played the guitar memorably in the unforgettable prelude in the trendsetter Aaja aaja main hoon pyaar teraa (Teesri Manzil). Music directors rely on computers today to help in music ‘composition’. But, nothing can beat the sheer creativity, talent, passion of the music directors and musicians of the 60s and 70s when songs were recorded ‘live’. Those were the days when composers and musicians relied and were inspired by creative forces, not computers. One can only bow in reverence to R D Burman and his team of musicians who created this song that will rank among the best guitar songs of all time and enjoyable even today in the days of computer programmed music. In fact, apart from the outstanding guitar, this song also features some of the best performances on other instruments including drums, the brass section, flute and almost every instrument used in this song.

Sad Guitar

Immortal_KA_500

Strange as it may seem, the Guitar also has a strong role in sad songs. Shanker-Jaikishen’s Ajeeb dastan hai yeh (Dil apna aur preet parai) appears lively but also has a hidden sadness. This is based on a western song, My lips are sealed by Jim Reeves. Karz featured a Guitar theme, by Laxmikanth-Pyarelal that can be heard throughout the film and leaves you with a haunting feeling. This tune too was inspired by a George Benson’s tune, We as love.

A Kalyanji-Anandji chart-buster, Mera jeevan kora kagaz (Kora Kagaz) features guitar that seems to blend with the rhythm and matches Kishore’s emphasis on the words.

Perhaps the best guitar song in the sad category is Kalyanji-Anandji’s O Saathi re (Muqaddar ka Sikandar). The guitar notes seem to blend seamlessly with Kishore’s humming in the prelude and you can hear the guitar as an undercurrent throughout the song without drowning the pathos filled vocals of Kishore. Kishore’s singing and the guitar blend to become one in this chartbuster. Ramesh Iyer played the guitar in this chartbuster.

Paul Mauriat, the world renowned French orchestra leader, selected songs from various countries to be played by his orchestra. He selected O Saathi re as his tribute to India. His arrangements for this song are different and can be heard in the following link.

Sweet & Romantic Guitar

Ravi

Guitars like Acoustic or Spanish guitar creates sounds that are very sweet, romantic and enchanting. This is perhaps why you hear Guitar in the prelude in a number of memorable romantic songs.

Naushad used guitar to create an interesting ‘building up anticipation’ feeling with the opening strains of guitar in Mere jeevan saathi (Saathi). Though the guitar notes sound simple, the use of guitar in this song is certainly creative and different.

Shanker-Jaikishen’s masterpiece Yeh raat bheegi bheegi (Chori Chori) as well as the lovely evening song Raat ke humsafar (An Evening in Paris) feature sweet sounding guitars in the prelude. Another romantic classic by Kalyanji-Anandji, Pal pal dil ke paas (Blackmail) also starts off beautifully with guitar.

yaadon ki baraatR D Burman used guitar beautifully in Churaliya hai tumne (Yaadon ki baaraat) – guitar played by Bhupinder. However, this song is based on If it’s Tuesday it must be Belgium. Bappi Lahiri (before he became the Disco man) created a lovely title song in Chalte Chalte. This also features simple, yet attractive use of guitar in the interlude.

But the best use of guitar in a romantic song is Ravi’s Aage bhi jaane na tu (Waqt). Sahir Ludhianvi’s wonderful ‘timeless’ lyrics about the power of Now were beautifully captured in this song. Asha Bhonsle sang her heart out in this song that will perhaps rank as one of her best. The guitar and the entire music create a romantic effect, though the visuals try to convey multiple stories.

Innovative Guitar

Kalyanji-Anandji composed a very unusual lively song Chup Chup Chup kyon baithi ho in Hamrahi. The unusual feature in this song is almost 100% use of guitar in the song. The prelude and interludes have nothing but guitar (except for a few seconds of the train whistle). This is indeed very rare and innovative in Hindi film music.

Top 3 Guitar songs

OPNayyar

Apart from the best songs in lively, sad and romantic categories, I have selected 3 songs as the Top 3 guitar songs. How did I choose the Top 3?  This choice is based on the place and domination of the guitar in the prelude and interludes. Apart from the almost 100% guitar song of Kalyanji-Anandji that I highlighted earlier, here are 3 songs where the guitar totally dominates the prelude and interludes. I have used only this criteria to filter the top 3 songs. In each of the top 3 songs, you can hear the dominant guitar at least 80% of the time.

O P Nayyar created a memorable song in Laakhon hai yahaan dilwale (Kismet). Mahendra Kapoor’s soft voice and the easy paced sweet sounds of the guitar make this one of the most memorable guitar songs. Technically speaking, there is a lovely counterpoint (where two or more instruments are played at the same time but in different melodies or patterns) between guitar and viola in the interludes.

The other two songs in the Top 3 category have a lot in common yet are poles apart. You may be wondering how this is possible. Kalyanji-Anandji composed lovely and fast paced guitar pieces in Neele neele ambar par (Kalaakar). These guitar pieces have become so popular that most guitar students in India aspire to play the fast guitar pieces as a sort of ‘benchmark’. If you can play the fast guitar pieces of the song, then you have reached a milestone in learning guitar! The guitar notes played by Sunil Kaushik are also considered the fastest in Indian film music!

The song Neele neele ambar par is based on a song composed by Ilayaraja, the genius from South India. Ilayaraja, an accomplished guitar player himself composed the delightful Ilaya nila (Payanangal mudivithilai) with acoustic guitar pieces that went on to Raja with guitarbecome an all-time classic in South Indian film music. S P Balasubrahmanyam, makes this an easy and soothing song to the ears with his mellifluous voice. S P Balasubrahmanyam also recounts an anecdote about the recording of this song. Apparently, this song was okayed after 16 takes because Ilayaraja, the perfectionist, wanted the right notes from the guitar and the guitarist Chandrasekhar. The delightful notes of the guitar that end this song are truly memorable. This song will rank as one of the best acoustic guitar songs in Indian film music. If anyone can share a better guitar song than this in any Indian language, I would be delighted to hear such a song.

Kalyanji-Anandji must be credited with retaining the base of the song, yet making it totally different with guitar pieces that are faster, delightfully composed and played.

You can hear the two songs below to appreciate the similarity and common base as well as the huge difference in the guitar pieces.

Some of the songs with guitar will remain etched in our memories forever because of the distinctive and sweet sounds of this wonderful instrument. We are fortunate that we had creative music composers and talented musicians who could bring out the best from the Guitar to give us such memorable songs.

 

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