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Rambling on: The muse

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

The muse

Writing is a form of catharsis for me. As one spends more time at work than home, one strives for the balance, sense of direction and a place and writing is an anchor to sanity.

The person who has got me blogging is also the first person to commment on my first blog. So firstly sincere thanks are in order :)

A comment you made that I read in one of your archives is how friends would give you a strange look if you played classical music and they would make you feel like a 80 year old loser. Most people are so accustomed to having their entertainment like packaged goods on cable, they have lost all appreciation for the simple things in life. Music is a source of inspiration and it has brought me closer to poetry. So much so that I am hoping to have something published this year.

My first exposure to semi-classical music was thanks to old 78RPM HMV records that my uncle used to listen to. I think it was Lata on the Mughal-e-Azam soundtrack. But it is Begum Akhtar that has left an indelible mark. She is the yardstick by which I measure all Ghazal singers. Even though the voice is not that of a young person but her peculiar voice makes her rendition even more haunting.

I first heard a Begum Akhtar tape playing in the car stereo when my father used to drive me to school every morning. I may not have been so impressed with it initially as my friends used to make fun of me when they heard what was playing in the car. But the tape grew on me. Years later that I found that lady is the queen of ghazal both sides of the internation border that divides India and Pakistan.

Momin Khan Momin signature ghazal voh jo ham main hum main (The love we had between us)has been covered with effortless ease despite the fact that misra (each line of the verse) is quite verbose. First misra had 15 words.

The full couplet is

voh jo hum main tum qarar tha, tumahin yaad ho keh na yaad ho
vohee yanee vada nibah ka, tumhain yaad ho keh na yaad ho

[The love we once had, you may remember or may not recall
Sweet promises and commitments we made, you may remember or may not recall]

Another ghazal's first couplet has a similar 'problem' but the singer is so immersed in the piece of poetry being covered and the raag selected is so ideally suited that the true essence of the ghazal is captured, the effect that an actual conversation is taking place between lovers.

This is by Mir Taqi Mir who is otherwise known for simpler behar (lesser quantity of words with maximum impact)

ultee ho gain sab tadbeerain kuch na dava nay kaam kiya
deekha is beemari-e-dil nain, aakhir kaam tamaam kiya

[the schemes have not worked, the panacea has come to naught
the sickness of the heart, has atlast, sealed my fate]

The tape played endlessly till the fate of the car stereo was sealed. My pre-adolescent mind wondered about the true nature of love, nostalgia and of things gone wrong. With time, it made more sense, more relevance as these are mere illustrations of the human experience. As I grew older, so did the treasure trove of my music collection, the magnetic tape replaced by compact discs.


Blogger Jalal said...

Yar I love these two by Begum Akhter as well. She has a very unique style of singing. But when she sings woh jo hum main tum main it is an epitome of beauty.

1:10 AM  
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