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The decline of film music as we knew it

The decline of film music as we knew it

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  4 Nov 2019 11:21 AM GMT

While, technically, quite a few aspects of the film industry in general have improved, one aspect - vital to many films - that has died a slow death is music.

Music has been a part of Indian tradition, whatever the occasion, good or bad, from birth to death and every event in-between. And this culture was adopted by filmmakers.

To this end, a lot of help came from the rich Indian folk culture as well as classical ragas. Almost all film music composers were well-versed with ragas and were inspired by the local folk music of the place they hailed from. The music composition involved the music director/s, lyric writer and a few musicians and the session was called ‘sitting’. This is where a song took birth and shape. The routine was to involve the lyric writer and the music director in the story, which was narrated to them.

A song was recorded in one session. That is, when the recording started, the singers were supposed to finish it in one go. It was a great show of coordination between the composer, the arranger and a horde of musicians along with the singers. The arrangers were a special category. They conducted the orchestra according to the music charts.

Wonder how many so-called music directors today can make sense of musical notes or even know ragas or folk songs!

A good musical score not only helped a film become popular much before its release, but also inspired the choreographers when it came to filming these songs. The producers had a ear for the music and got the best out of their composers. They were a party to not only music sittings but also when it came to recordings. These choreographers created a magic on screen with a song, so much so that one song in a film was enough to draw repeat audience.

There were many examples but ones that come instantly to mind are: The song “Vaada tera vaada” from the film “Dushmun” (1971), or “Jhoom barabar jhoom sharaabi” from “Five Rifles” (1974), or “Khaike paan Banaras wala” from “Don” (1978) or “Bindiya chamkegi” from “Do Raaste” (1969). There were numerous such songs that helped a film draw a repeat viewer. This concept about the audience wanting to watch a film again and again is almost non-existent now.

All that is gone. Songs in a film are no more a part of the proceedings. Filmmakers don’t even know how to and where to place songs in a film. More than a film, songs started to be used for the promotion of a film on TV promos. Now, even that does not help. The makers found an easy way to fit and justify songs into their films like one song in opening titles, one item song, one song playing in the background, depending on the situation and, phew, one finally in the end scrolls!

Earlier, music companies produced private albums for release on occasions like Navratri, Ganesh Chaturthi, the Ramzan month as well as Christmas. Now, that trend is as good as over.

The creativity has gone out from music composing. The music that accompanies a song is produced on machine, the singers render a song in pieces unlike in one go as was the practice. There is no teamwork. Lyrics don’t inspire, and if a song gets a catchy ‘mukhda’, there is nothing thereafter, meaning the rest of the words penned have little to say. Even if a song becomes popular, its value ebbs soon after the film is discontinued. Some tried to remix old songs for their films, which musiclovers called murder of great songs.

The best example, besides the success of Saregama’s Caravan gadget, are the TV talent shows where even participating kids sing mainly old songs. That is because new songs don’t inspire like oldtime melodies do. (IANS)

Also Read: ‘Golden era of film music gone’

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