Friday, June 17, 2011

The Sounds of Music

Funny, its not until I stepped out of India when I realized two things:

1) The music repository that we have, on average, is huge.

2) Our music classification, if we include the likes of 'movie' music, is rather odd.

Let me elaborate on the first, first. The overarching circle here is the Hindi Movie Industry music (seriously, I am starting to find the 'wood' affiliation a bit annoying. Bolly, Tolly, Molly? What are they? Bimbos in the villains lair? I insist on Hindi film industry). Mom was and is an avid listener and makes bashful claims that my name was inspired by one such song. With a name that translates to 'dream' thats pretty much any song between 1977 and 1986. Then comes the state-based affiliation (Tamil, as it would be for us). For the longest time the songs were only melodious to me, the real meaning of the lyrics outside the grasp of my colloquial language skills (seriously, the lyricists sounded like they belonged to royal courts based on the songs alone). However, it was still music. Then came the influence of "English" songs which usually started with the safe 'Sound of Music' and then progressively and now embarrassingly graduated to the likes of Samantha Fox (there, i said it) and Madonna. And then comes the Tambram influence (oh yah mom. you are gonna see me use the word Tambram quite a lot here. So stop reading already). Tambram basically meant you were born with an innate affiliation to carnatic music. While the sibling wisely pointed out that most songs involved vigorous nodding and sounds but very little words, he was doomed to a summer of learning to drum the mridangam. While I can re-chant some of the songs even 20 years later, I can never tell if it came from the HMV audio tapes that we were subjected to every morning or because I liked it. So, on an average at age 5, the cross-bred AMC is exposed to 5 different types of music. Thats huge--simply because the differences are not only in language but structure and form too. Now, a quick cumulative analysis to late 1990s indicates a staggeringly large number of musical influences. (backdating it, the musical influences span decades because the Hindi movie songs of the 60s are just as relevant to my music collection as is the Elvis and the Beatles. I was not born during any of these times!).

As for my second point, the classification of the music I listen to (As 'movie' music goes) was something I definitely dwelled upon when trying to fix a Pandora station. We classify these types of music based on emotion, did you ever think about that?. A cursory look at my audio tapes of the 80s would render this:

-Old Hindi sad songs
-New Hindi sad songs
-Old Tamil happy songs
-Optimistic songs
-Romantic sad songs
-Tragedy songs
-fast songs (now its based on tempo, I presume)
-new romance
-old romance
-crazy songs (??)
-Songs about kids
-kids songs (whats the difference?)
-dad sad songs
-Relaxing songs (huh??)
-mom puja songs (This is the one me and my brother taped over with an audio version of one of our fights. Complete with sound effects of slapping and screaming. The audio footage also includes mom walking in on us and whacking our butts. No sound effects this time)

This is exactly why a Pandora won't get my music affiliations (I now have hip-hop added to the mix just incase I missed 'anger' in my emotional music repository). And my playlists will always be titled based on emotions, not music types (So Lady Gaga is going to sit next to remixed Dum Maro Dum).

Turning up the sound on 'Johhny Johhny Joker' under my 'peppy numbers' playlist.