Let the musicplay
When Habib Wahid burst into the music scene, he came across immediate success. “His songs were like a breath of fresh air. He helped dawn a new generation of Bangla music, somewhat akin to what his father had accomplished many decades ago”, says Wasfia, an avid follower of Bangla songs.
Music gave Habib stardom, his cover versions- iconic status, yet the lyricist and composer of most of the original tunes, Shah Abdul Karim remained in oblivion. The aged folk maestro has only recently attracted public attention, an honour much awaited.
In the near decade into the new millennium we have seen a spur of fusion, an entry of underground bands into the main stream and a new breed of composers. So, how will the future remember this generation of musicians?
Wasfia singles out “Confused!”
Muaz, another follower of current musical trends elaborates, “I guess this period will be remembered as the age of 'soul searching'. I observe with much fervour a lot of experimentation. We have Habib and Fuad, and then we have Aurthohin and we also have Black, Cryptic Fate…so much variety. I will go as far as to say that we have the best musical trend in the subcontinent. Pakistani musicians made it big with Junoon and Strings but that was almost a decade ago. India is dominated by Bollywood and economics took over giving rise to a generation of musicians catering to the taste of the audience. Here, we have bands and we have solo ventures. Our music is varied as well as rich.”
Tahmina Tabassum Cecilia, a die-hard metal fan, prefers her music hard and loud. “Actually I have never tried Bengali rock music. I usually listen to Bangla classics of Hemanta and Manna De. Bangla rock or contemporary Bangla music does not appeal to me”, she says. Her breed of music aficionado is a rarity but there are boys and girls of this generation whose musical taste finds a place only in the classic melodies. “I recently bought the tribute to Khan Ataur Rahman by Rumana Islam. Some of the songs were good but all in all, the effort seemed average”, says Shujan, a young journalist.
Shujan nevertheless relinquishes his musical thirst with a heavy dose of Dolchut, Farida Parveen and his addition, Krishnokoli. “Fusion is en vogue but I am a skeptic, a purist if you may. Fusion music loses the original tune, as it is revamped. Although this makes the tune contemporary the original composition is often lost.”
Muaz differs, “Well I doubt the matter is so clear cut. True, we possess variation as it is because of the long tradition but before Habib I doubt if young people ever used to listen to Hasan Raja or knew of Shah Adbul Karim.
“Competition is driving musicians to search new avenues or revive the old. For instance, the way Fuad is covering songs of Abdul Jabbar. So outside influence is playing a role and I believe, a constructive role.
“I am not a believer of old is gold. Nothing remains constant and everything changes. There is no yardstick to justify the claim of the critics that fusion is a threat to tradition. Without people like Habib and Fuad some of these songs wouldn't have left the house of the critics!”
Sultana likes Mila and is not ashamed to admit the fact. Fusion has found new meaning through her; who would have guessed that a nursery rhyme had the making of a 'pop' sensation. “I am 'disgustingly' addicted to fun stuff and music is no different. I cannot take songs that need soul searching and analysis of its contents. I listen to music for the fun of it. Once the song ends, its out of my head.” Shujan says, “Mila is a name that just gets stuck in your head even when you don't want it to!”
“Music is no longer about the voice and the lyrics; it is now a total package that includes composition and also the media coverage through music videos and FM radios. Thus we see singers with relatively inferior vocal strength make it big while others being quality musicians fail to make an impact in the audience”, says Cynthia, an aspirant journalist studying abroad. “When I was in Bangladesh, I had a diverse interest in music. But here in the US, I listen only to songs that come recommended from friends.
“I Google my way into Bangla music now. There are not enough portals for Bangla music, which is worth mentioning. It is a pity that the industry has not given enough attention to this market that remains detached from Bangladesh, yet so eager to bond with the local musical scene.
“When in Dhaka I eagerly follow Closeup1 and believe that it has a tremendous positive impact on the music scene. The song selection in the show takes people back and forth in time, which brings a sense of nostalgia to the aged audience, with a dash of contemporary music, just in the right proportion.”
TV set aside, FM Radio has once again brought music to our doorsteps. A wide assortment of music is now available just with the tap of a button. It has become a good companion while driving or just relaxing. But the biggest role that I feel FM radios play is probably in bringing new releases to our attention.
We can now choose to buy a new album after listening to a few tracks from it, rather than buying the title without listening to any of the tunes. With massive airplay, we also start liking tracks that initially fail to attract our attention. This is plain psychology that we often start liking something only through repetition.
I had initially started out with the question: How the future generation of musicians will perceive the current period of musical history? It is however, not important how we will be remembered tomorrow, what is important is how we see ourselves today.
By Mannan Masshur Zarif
Photo: Zahedul I Khan, Ashish Peter Gomes and
Ashraful Awal Mishuk
The hot items at CD stores over the past month have been the soundtrack to the movie Monpura, Habib and Ferdous Wahid's album Obosheshe and Balam's album Balam 2, among others. The following is a playlist - that also features songs enjoying regular airtime - which we think you, our esteemed readers, might enjoy.
Cholte Cholte (Habib) This catchy number is liable to stick in your mind. With lyrics from Anurup Aich, the love song has a repetitive chorus, in which the singer sings of his lover's beauty. With its meandering, lovesick tune, it should leave a smile on your face, especially if you are romantically inclined.
Gaibona> (Fuad featuring Shumon and Anila) A Dialogue between two people realising their love for each other. The style oscillates between soothing verses accompanied by tabla to a techno bridge, which leads to a chorus with a soaring anthem and powerful guitars fit for a stadium. The chorus sticks in the mind, repeatedly stating “Won't sing another song without you, Won't write another poem that isn't about you.”
Dukkho Chhuye Dekho (Ferdous Wahid) This number rides on a 'tablaesque' beat done on the drums, which gives the song its 'fun quality'. The song, with lyrics from Jewel Mahmud, is the playful plea of an admirer promising to be the balm of all his beloved's problems, a sentiment expressed through charmingly hyperbolic metaphors typical of a fool in love.
Nithua Pathare (Monpura Soundtrack) In arranging and composing all of the music of this movie, Arnab has managed to surpass himself. Also, for those who know Fazlur Rahman Babu as the actor famous for portraying obnoxious characters, they are sure to be wowed by his evocative singing on this track. As the singer chants his loneliness and pleas for companionship, the song builds from enchanting ektara to a pulsating tabla beat that will carry you along on a soulful journey.
Aushomapto (Aurthohin) A dark, brooding song that talks about the singer feeling hopelessness and staring at a blank wall, which is possibly a metaphor for the disenchantment that people feel about things beyond their control. The imagery plays on light and darkness, with the singer at first calling for all the lights to be turned off so that he can sleep. After a brilliant instrumental climax typical of Aurthohin, the song ends on a hopeful note with the singer reminding us that all nights are followed by days.
Chaina Meye (Hridoy Khan) A young artist with a new song that is proving increasingly popular among youngsters. Singing a catchy pop tune that has a distinct Punjabi flavour, the singer pledges his passion for his beloved by declaring his all-consuming love, which demands that she will only be his. The song is loaded with digital effects and employs a fusion of diverse instruments, with even the harmonium making an appearance.
Premer Dhun (Balam) The song pulsates through a drum loop and has foot-tapping rhythm. The music is interspersed with grungy guitar work, and the lyrics by T. I. Ontor talk about how the singer in his loneliness looks for his love. The stars and the clouds, which the singer sees seem to him to exist for the soul purpose of seeking out his beloved.
Shadhu (Fuad featuring Mila) This one is a groovy number with Fuad bringing his musical prowess and combining it with Mila's stylish singing. The song is perfect to listen to with the volume turned up when you are on the go, be it on a car or on foot, with its catchy beat and up and down tempo.
Rimjhim (Balam) Through the lyrics provided by Papia Akhter, here too Balam is searching for his beloved, and this time in the rain. Opening with the sound of falling rain, the song has a beautiful melody, which makes it a must for romantics.
Shada (Minar) A regular on the airwaves, this song depicts the singer in a pensive mood because his dreams do not translate into reality. His dreams are beautiful because they show that he is ready to do anything to make his beloved happy. Unfortunately, the singer realises the dreams are not enough, and that makes him more desolate. This song is likely to tug at heartstrings. The singer is a newcomer on the scene and is believed by many, including Tahsan whohelped in album production, to have great potential.
Shurjosnane Chol (Shurjosnane Chol) This is an uplifting track from Bappa who calls for his shokhi to forget all her worries and break her bonds to join him on an expedition outdoors where they can be one with nature. The imagery, with its references to Krishnochura red and the Padma leaf dewdrops, expresses the joy and redeeming qualities of our natural surroundings.
Aage Jodi Jantam (Monpura soundtrack) Mumtaz might be known for her rambunctious songs, but she is a powerful vocalist, about which she reminds us with this haunting number. Her singing does not need much musical accompaniment, with her voice evoking an image of the sun setting on a riverbank with only one boat in sight. The lyrics, from Krishnokoli Islam, paint a picture of quiet despair and regret of one who has lost her love and now finds herself adrift and alone.