Facing the Mu-sic(k)

Music definitely struck a chord. Unfortunately the wrong one. Tirades against remixes are now passé, remixes are now popular culture. Sometimes I wonder if popularity bars debate and discussion. What I intend to do here definitely precludes any two way interaction, because I have chosen a self conceited form of expression called an article which I shall use as an excuse to be opinionated about something that I love enough to be opinionated about. Music.

I am sure I share the passion for music with a lot of people. There is something about music that completely grabs you. Of course, it is right up there, a recognized form of Art. And like all forms of art, the basic uncorrupted desire for perfection and beauty that music manifests is what really enchants the human psyche. You may say a whole lot of highly worded ideals, so I shall just do a simpler analogy. Every musical piece has three essentials – the melody or rhythm, the words or the lyrics and the spirit.

Leaving aside instrumental music which I think is composed of self-explanatory ‘notes’, the music that we encounter in our daily life, is complete with the words. Have you ever asked yourself why you like the kind of music you do? Maybe it is the tune, maybe it is the words…or maybe it is both! As I have discovered, my own preferences lie in my heart and mind. Romantic as it may sound, it is not really just another cliché. The beating of the heart for me defines man’s urge for making and savoring of all that is perfect in terms of its symmetry and pattern. Isn’t that what ‘beat’ is all about? In fact ever noticed how, when in conversation, the bits that we appreciate most or get our most vigorous nods are those which we relate to, something which somewhere reflects our own reality? Ever gone to a disc and felt the dance beats, reverberate inside your own rib cage? Of course in discs the words are hardly of any concern, so there is also very low probability that one would fall in love with a song first heard at a disc. Incidentally most people describe their dancing bouts at discs as ‘dancing like crazy’, which essentially further reduces the probability of your falling in love with a song there, since your brain is not as interested in decoding lyrics as you are in impressing the cute guy/gal around. So am I suggesting that even appreciating music requires brains?? Absolutely not. Its just the uniqueness of your grey- matter that matters a lot here. What makes a song special to you is the kaleidoscope of memories, thoughts and sometimes fantasies that it conjures in your mind’s eye. Which is why I believe having your own choice in music is part of your person, you may copy song choices but you can’t really do the memory/thought/fantasy transfer business- yet.

My point is simply this, the rhythm of music appeals to your heart while the words even though they may touch your heart, are brought to life by your mind. Personally I would move to anything that makes me want to move, but I like only those songs whose words make sense to me.But pieces which are really unforgettable are those whose spirit make me feel alive. The spirit of a song may sound like an insane idea, but it’s actually the premise of the crime I am about to describe. Ok so maybe it’s not a crime under any code, but what would you call lyrics like- baby where did you get your body from? Baby if you strip, you can get a tip cos I like you just the way you are… When are you going to give it up to me? I mean come on, why even use any words, just scream SEX! SEX! SEX! and get over with the damn song damn. Frankly its not the overbearing ‘ I want to have sex with that hot girl/s / mama / s tone that I find nauseating, it’s the fact that the spirit of the song is not even sex. I have heard enough music to vouch for the existence of songs which musi-fy the same feelings of want, desire and lust without making you sick.

To me the spirit of these songs can be best described in the four letter graphic word.. Which brings me to another feature of this kind of music- repetition of words, lyrics and well noises – sometimes it really sounds like a woman wailing.The most creative lyrics I have come upon till now are from Will I Am (which grade English man?); In answer to his profound question- Baby where did you get your body from? The baby/s reply: I got it from my mama (Baby repeats this three times, I think the music director if there was one thought it sounded good. It may have sounded good perhaps in that ‘come and get me’ tone of a woman The song then goes on to explain how “ if the girl really pretty, I guarantee she is pretty like her mama… if the mama really ugly I guarantee she is going to be ugly like her mama. …”

For a moment let me leave the- it hurts my musical sensibilities argument aside, it even hurts my sensibilities as a woman. I have heard some very snide comments about the portrayal of woman in Hindi cinema and post-Ekta Kapoor era in Indian Television, as being highly derogatory in nature. At the same time I have followed the music scene at the other side of the world from the time I learnt English- their English I mean. But from ‘Living Next Door to Alice’ to ‘ I Wanna Love You’ the tone and tenor of the songs have definitely undergone a not-so-subtle change ( the not-so-subtle bit can also be applied to Akon’s ‘I Wanna Love you’. Every time I hear one of those songs, I can almost see myself in the club, with men high on testosterone (or maybe Viagra) and women in as little clothes as there is sense in the song, waiting to be picked up. Yes! Waiting to be picked up, by the first man who eyes her. The nausea that washes over my conscience is my tribute to feminism. Let us not forget that music after all is a product of culture. If musical pornography has infiltrated the west, how can India be far ‘behind’? In my two decades of belonging to a generation which thinks it’s moral to ape the west, but immoral to admit you ape, for the first time I feel a disconnect. The Cultural Gap just got outsourced.

Malavika Vyawahare

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