7.24.2008

Rock On Soundtrack

Sticking to a particular genre of music means a lot of restrictions for a composer, especially for the Indian film music composers. With same set of instruments accompanying the melody, the overall sound of the songs will remain the same. The composer has no choice but to try different ways of arrangement, different rhythms and choosing different tempos to break the monotony so that each song work. But this will make them concentrate more on the music and melody part of the song than the sound part of it. With genre pieces, a composer cannot escape by replacing a guitar with Veena in a rock arrangement and cheat the listeners in name of fusion. Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy has not cheated us by playing around but has given us one of very few Indian film soundtracks that stick to a particular genre of music, i.e., Rock, in ‘Rock On’.

Listening ‘Rock On’ soundtrack, made me to think about the lack of pure genre pieces in Indian Film movie soundtracks. When most of our films still don’t conform to one particular genre, why should the music be? The makers want the film to be seen by audiences of all ages and by making a genre piece, one cannot satisfy all kind of audience. ‘Rock On’ could be the first soundtrack (Some say ‘Paanch’ soundtrack, which I haven’t heard) I heard that has songs strictly conforming to one particular genre of music that doesn’t belong to India.

Indian film music as we know is an amalgamation of 100s of genres of music from all parts of the world. With such a colorful mix of genres, Indian Film music has become a genre in itself. But no matter what genre our Indian composer picks for the song, the sound of the borrowed genre is mostly restricted to the orchestration and backing arrangements and mostly the melody gets the Indian touch.

I haven’t heard much of pure Rock music. But Wiki says that Rock music is a genre of popular music with a prominent vocal melody, accompanied by electric guitar, bass guitar, and drums. The western way of writing a melody for vocals, is to leave the notes orphaned (as told by Illayaraja), unlike Indian classical music, where there is lot of wavering and linking happens of and between the notes. In ‘Rock On’, I don’t see any such technique being used in any of the songs.

An Indian film song comes out of great amount of collaboration between lyricist and the composer. The music is bend to fit the lyrics and lyrics is modified to fit into a tune and it is a combined evolving process wherein which they find a balance between the two. So, obviously when a composer makes music particular to a genre, the language plays an important role in overall sound of the song. Lyrics by Javed Akthar fit so perfectly into the sound of Rock music, so much so that you can take out the Hindi lyrics and put English words in the songs, without changing a note in the melody and yet a non-Indian would find it as a true rock song.

With the melody remaining purely western and with arrangements strictly restricted to the rules of the genre, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy’s ‘Rock On’ is one great soundtrack that hits bull’s eyes with its guts, riffs and rhythms.

3 comments:

jaazay said...

I expected you to write on the My Life song from Yuvan's album.

I expected an English rock band kinda music, but it sounds more of Ilayaraja's 80's rock, transformed to fit the current Chennaiites.

Ramesh said...

Which film is this song from?

Suresh Kumar said...

Jaazay - Heard 'My life' only once while doing some other work.... So, I have no opinions on it yet... Yet to buy the 'Saroja' Soundtrack, hope u all heard abt Bangalore blasts... didn't go out for past 2 days...

Ramesh - It is from 'Saroja'