Musings: On Musical Roots

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Although there’s an abundance of Korean music with a splash of Japanese and Chinese stuff thrown in on this site, I think that my perception of that musical style is heavily influenced by other, and very different musical genres: Carnatic Music, Bollywood/Tollywood, Classical Music and American Pop/Rock/Alternative music. As to why I bother to talk about it is that I found it interesting that a commenter somewhere mentioned that since I’m not a professional musician, my authority to critique music and someone’s singing ability is next to none.

I’m not paraphrasing this comment for the sake of arguing against it; rather, I think it’s a very valid sentiment to have (provided they have the correct intentions) and something most definitely worth pondering. When it comes to music, I don’t have a very strong background in musical theory. To be honest, I don’t even have one. What I do have is a decent ear for music and some broad experience in a variety of music genres. Carnatic Music has been the heaviest influencer in my musical life and my “theoretical analysis” of music. Many of my “standards” for a song are heavily based on the qualities of highly sought Carnatic music and  Carnatic singers. Spending many years with the genre (both singing myself and listening to it) and coming from a relatively musical family (no professional music artists or anything, but we have a great appreciation for traditional Indian music) I’ve come to become opinionated by what I think makes music work based on what I’ve been taught.

I don’t think that I have the right to critique music in the ultra-professional sense, but at least I do have enough musical background to form knowledgable opinions, and I guess that’s the important thing. However, what’s even more important is that if one disagrees with my perception of something, I would like to hear why. I’m going to be biased towards what I’ve been exposed to and understand, so sharing opinions, be it in affirmation or rebuttal, is essential to both my growth as a “amateur music-critic” (I don’t think that I’m even that) and as a music consumer.

But before I go off on too large of a tangent, I’d thought that I would share some the music that has influenced me over the years that are in the Indian Film/Classical Music category. This isn’t necessarily something I know that most of you would like, but I think this would give you an idea of where my musical tastes come from and why I place emphasis on certain musical elements that a lot of other reviewers don’t. And if you are curious about any of the movies that the film songs come from, I can probably give you my impressions of them. Just ask in the comments 🙂

Carnatic

(Note: There are no artist names, because most songs don’t belong to any one artist. Everyone sings the same songs with slightly different interpretations under a rigid framework.)

“Bhavyami Raghuramam”

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-sRQtVxdrH8]

“Entharo Mahanubhavulu” (one of the five Pancharathna Keerthanas composed by Thyagaraja)

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=98vu-xKuLRU]
Hindi Film Music

I actually didn’t listen to a lot of this music by my own free will, though I did like it. I rarely watched Hindi films because I generally don’t like the Bollywood film style, and so my only exposure came through listening to it on car rides with other Indian families/friends.

“Jashn-e-baahara”

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l7tdA8aRSAs]

“Tujh Me Rab Dikhta Hai”

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nX1NdfmRFfY]

“Yeh Ishq hai”

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BW-o_4IDisI]

“Bole Chudiyan”

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i1871tJgCT4]
Tamil Film Music

This I am far more familiar with, considering I speak Tamil. If you pay attention, you can see the influences from Carnatic music (and Hindustani) in these songs and the Hindi ones as well. It’s most obvious in the song “Kumaari.”

“Oru Maalai Il Vaeyil Neram”

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oDHiVFn_GoA]

“Ven Nilave Velli Velli Nilave”

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XHkvBQq10eM]

“Poovukkul”

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tWYfqrZJG0A]

“Kumaari”

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fuLc6Z4ID1U]

(Credits to Respective Owners)

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12 responses to “Musings: On Musical Roots

  1. You speak Tamil? Listen to Carnatic music? Listen to Indian film music without making fun of it?!?!?
    I thought I was the only one in the kpop-fans world who was Tamil…and listened to Carnatic music!
    I’m unnecessarily excited now, as I am an amateur Carnatic artist…I love you 🙂

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    • I’m touched indeed! It’s amazing to meet a Carnatic singer around these parts. Although I no longer actively sing, I still love the art form.

      Btw, you’d be surprised Shruthi, how many Tamil speaking people there are in the Kpop realm. It’s only a matter of looking hard enough 🙂

      Like

  2. Fantastic!
    I think it’s the same for the people doing the commentaries for other fields like movies, sports, and dramas…we don’t really have to be in that specific industry to be granted the authority to speak up and state what we find lacking. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion but it doesn’t hurt to share what our thoughts are and help thoe who have the same taste like us..right?

    Actually, I envy you for being brave enough to talk about music. I love music and singing but I never have the courage to make a review on songs and music. I guess my musical talent stretches only as far as good ears for lyrics. Hehe

    Like

    • Thank you very much!

      I’ve never thought I had that great of an ear for music, especially since my cousins and my friends are far more musically talented than I am when it comes to singing and playing instruments. But I guess I’m the more opinionated one? I don’t even know.

      I don’t feel it’s necessary to have training in musical theory in order to talk about it, but I still think that a strong musical background gives a person a better understanding for what they are trying to pick apart and pry at. There’s something wonderful about not just telling others what you like or dislike about a song or album, but why it comes to be that way. It makes us all have a greater appreciation for that music even if the end product is something we don’t like. Moreover, musical tastes can vary so much that it’s nice to know what one has an affinity for. Speaking from my vantage point of music, I’m going to tend to like things that are more melodic, because that’s what I’ve been exposed to since before I was born. This “bias” also applies to what I find impressive or unimpressive about any song or album.

      In any case, I have no idea how I got “brave” enough to post on the internet about my thoughts on music, because I’m still not brave enough to post on dramas the way you do. I admire your talents all the time, as well as others who are able to recap and discuss dramas. So we’re even 😀

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  3. I grew up learning piano and violin and sang in my church choir. I’d like to think that helped me appreciate music better. But I’ve never been the expressive type, be it in my actions or words. Hence I found it especially hard to put my thoughts into words. Moreover, I’m quite limited in certain terminology. So I think that held me back from writing.

    I know what I like and dislike and we seem to share similar tastes in music. so I’m appreciative that I have people like you who could vocalize my thoughts 🙂

    Like

    • Thank you very much! All the appreciation is starting to feel weird because this is not what I intended at all… Nevertheless, I’m still thankful of all of you for spending time here.

      I’m a pretty quiet person in real life, so I guess relative anonymity is really helpful when expressing my thoughts. I don’t think I have the most vibrant or broad vocabulary either, so I kind of make do with what I’ve got! I guess in the end, the most important thing to have is sincerity. (Although, sometimes I feel like I’m sounding the same across all reviews; hopefully that’s actually not the case.)

      Btw, if you’re ever interested in guest posting because you feel like you want to try this out–if you think you might like it or have any desire to, that is–don’t hesitate to ask me! Though I’m no expert, I think you could do a really good job.

      Out of curiosity, how much do you think Church music, piano and violin (I played violin too!) have influenced your tastes, or are they segregated?

      Like

      • i suppose being in the choir made me appreciate the harmony made by a group of people, that each and every one can come together as one. it’s not only about learning your parts, but learning how to listen to one another and support one another so that all the different voices meld together seamlessly. which is possibly why i gravitate towards strong vocalists and groups that harmonise. TVXQ! is the perfect example of this; they’re strong individually but when together, they make me wanna cry :’)

        as for my background in piano and violin… i am not a talented musician. i cannot freestyle or play according to my moods and feelings. so i am always in awe of those who could emote through their music, be it using their voice as an instrument or actually playing musical instruments. in a way, because i’m not a good performer, i want to be a better audience/listener. i want to be a critical listener so i’m pretty unforgiving towards those that cannot even hold a steady note. i really do not support those fans who blindly follow their idols. i remember getting bashed once for a comment i wrote on a youtube video of TVXQ!’s accapella performance (i wrote that they were offkey…).

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  4. Ah! I literally squealed when I saw this post! I just posted about one of these tracks on my blog not too long ago.
    I try not to talk about music but since I discuss Hindi films, at times I feel I must.
    Musical training is bothersome so I try to steer away from music topics and just have fun. Whenever you have a lot of knowledge/experience the tendency to be puffed up occurs more often than one would like.
    Thanks for this! Great post! And I wish I spoke either language, it’s so beautiful. Can just understand conversational Hindi here and there. But my exposure has dwindled over the years.

    Like

    • I just went by your site, and wow, you cover a ton of dramas and movies from so many different cultures! It’s really nice to see that you give all of them equal attention, unlike me, who has inadvertently leaned heavily towards Korean entertainment.

      May I ask what part of the world you’re from?

      Like

      • Aw thanks! I’m American. Always loved other cultures and people groups, languages. Glad that you appreciate my little corner in the blogosphere. It’s fun.
        I say, talk about whatever you want. Whatever interests you. I like and love too many things to concentrate on one. Heh.

        Like

  5. Wow. Thanks again for a wonderful post. I was reading one of your other posts that linked to this one. Very interesting. I have always enjoyed your reviews whether I agree or not, the fact is they are informative and well thought out. That we cannot deny. I have not heard of “Carnatic” music. At east I did not know what it was called because I have heard it. There are a couple of movies that I recall seeing and loving BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM AND BRIDE AND PREJUDICE. I loved the music and the colorful wardrobe. I guess they would be more of a Bollywood style that you refered to. At any rate (like my opinion maters) I love your style and thank you for always teach in me something new when I read your blog.

    Like

  6. I thought I was the only tamil kpop fan around lol.Well I guess there are many people out there. Anyways, I liked Carnatic since I was little, but then I came across Jpop and Jrock through anime. Then, I discovered Tohoshinki through doushite kimi wo suki natte shimattandarou 2 years ago and then got into Kpop.

    Like

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