Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Do Musical Notes Have Colour?

There have been two diverse but well qualified opinions about the moods that musical notes can generate. One side advocates the premise that musical notes have no colour, so to say, but take on the shades lent to it by words it accompanies. There’s also a divergent school of thoughts saying that notes are eminently capable of creating moods independent of words.

Whatever side one takes, there’s no doubt when you hear songs like ‘Dil ek mandir hai’ (Lata, Film: Dil Ek Mandir) or ‘Keh do koi nä kare yahä pyär’ (Rafi, Film: Goonj Uthi Shehnäi), you take on a sad, melancholy mood. Raag Jogiyä, which both these songs belong to, tends to project this mood with its typical framework. Jogiyä, belonging to Bhairav Thät, uses the complete octave and is usually sung in the early morning zone. The specialty of this matrix is its vistär in the upper range of the octave and unbroken descent from Komal Rishabh (in taar – higher – octave) through all minor notes, finally coming to rest on the Pancham (fifth note). This aaläp tends to take on the form of an intense call of a sad, hurt mind.

Most of the composers in popular music have used Jogiyä in their work extensively, more so in the background score than in songs. Just imagine death of an important character in a movie and you are sure to hear intense notes of Jogiyä on a violin or taar-shehnai in the background. We also associate these notes with the music played by national television / radio network during the period of national mourning.

Apart from the famous songs mentioned above, there are a few more extremely popular songs in Jogiyä like ‘Rät bhar kä hai mehmän andherä’ (Rafi, Film: Sone Ki Chidiyä) or ‘He Natraj’ (Film: Sangeet Samrat Tänsen). Marathi repertoire also has some beautiful compositions like ‘Nako jäu Rämräyä’ from Sudhir Phadke’s ‘Geet Ramayan’. But the most popular, perhaps, amongst all Maharashtrians is the immortal Bal Gandharva nätyageetVad jäu kunälaä sharan’ (Sangeet Saubhadra) from the golden age of Marathi Nätyasangeet. Asha Khadilkar, amongst contemporary singers, also presents this composition beautifully to a rousing applause.You can debate to the world’s end whether musical notes have any inherent moods or not. But it is more or less certain that Raag Jogiyä certainly wears colour blue on its sleeve permanently!

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