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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Kudos, SPB!

I have not posted anything on this blog since Dec 2014 and that must give you an idea of how thoughtless my mind has been. Not really, actually. There have been several issues on which I've had strong opinions, but none that made me feel like spending the time to sit and write an entire blog post about.

And today, that long hiatus has been broken. I stumbled upon this video of my all-time favorite male singer (in Tamil at least), SP Balasubrahmanyam voicing his thoughts to Bosskey about today's music scene. With this one video, I'm sure SPB has touched a chord and resonated with more hearts than any of his recent songs would have.

Whatever I've written below has been there in my mind for about 2-3 years at least, ever since I started attempting popular film songs. But I just didn't feel like telling anyone about it, because I just didn't / don't feel anyone would even want to waste time reading it :P

But this one video of SPB really made me feel like telling this all out and getting it out of my mind.
It doesn't matter if anyone is going to read it or not, I just felt like writing this out, so here it is, anyway :D

Coming to the video, truer words have never been spoken. Especially his statement on Vidyasagar - echoed many people's thoughts, I'm sure! Just listen to Vidyasagar's recent Malayalam album "Anarkali" and compare it with the kind of music that's coming these days otherwise - that's EXACTLY what SPB is talking about.

I'm not musically trained at all, I've not learned music.
The very minuscule bit of what I'm able to do with my Yamaha keyboard and loud, noisy voice is mainly a result of God's will and some high passion from my end.

Yet, people sometimes ask me why I don't use a proper microphone, do studio recordings etc etc - this is precisely the reason. No offence intended to those doing these, but IMO, I find these so-called "cover versions" that come out these days, recorded and filmed in studios & then digitally altered, mixed etc etc slightly pretentious. Again, the singers who do these cover versions are probably really talented and skilled, no comments on them. It's just the process that I find a little pretentious.

It's very easy for me or for anyone to play and record music note by note, record my voice line by line (this is what I did in the so-called background music that I had done for a couple of short films) & accompany it with auto-tune, may be, while filming all of the recording process. And then when the recording is done, mix the recorded bits all up and then do a similar video compilation and publish it as a "cover version" and get tens of thousands of views.

But I just don't feel like doing so. I know I'm not some great singer or something, but I don't think that the little bit of what I hum will ever improve if I just keep on recording line by line. Likewise, I'm no Yanni, but I don't think my little bit of keyboard playing ability will ever improve if I kept recording line by line or note by note.

That's why in all my attempts of film songs (until now and in future), I always put a simple digicam in front of me, start recording, do the whole thing in 1 take and then stop recording. If I make a mistake somewhere, I stop and record all the way from the beginning. I then publish on Youtube, the final full take that, to me, is at least not pathetic even if not good :P.

Painstaking, I know, but this 1-take mechanism is the way songs used to be recorded long ago and that's how SPB and his generation of singers (Yesudas & the immediate next generation too, like Hariharan, Unni Menon etc etc) became such legends, who can sing so flawlessly at any stage, any time, without going off pitch even a teeny weeny bit.

I obviously am not and won't be a great singer ever, but I at least want to be someone who genuinely tried / tries to improve his stuff without digital assistance / technologically lazing or dumbing down.

Thank you for speaking my heart out, SPB! And for making me do it as well! :)

That's all. To those who actually read my long rant, thank you for your patience and time :)

- Ashwin.

1 comment:

Sankar P said...

Nice post.

Also reminded me when some of the new age singers sing very bad when they are singing in a stage or un-enhanced videos, especially female singers. The movie/re-recorded version sounds way better than their original voice. They are also careful not sing in un-editable places, as much as possible.

Old singers like SPB, Chitra, Jayachandran are excellent even on stage. See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wc07aXebCUE