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Article: Immortal Musical Phrases Part I

 
By Haresh Bakshi
 
  Listen to Indian music, Country music, or almost any genre of music, and you will be amazed by the strong aesthetic appeal that some of the musical phrases have on you. Such phrases are basically short melodies, often enriched by beautiful musical arrangement. Such an arrangement may consist of support from one or several instruments, simple counterpoints, or apposite chords, or extensive parallel phrasing.

The improvisation of a raga in Indian classical music is a series of aesthetically pleasing, elaborate, intuitionally arranged, large number of short and long phrases. Each such phrase leads to the next, often terminating on the Sa, the tonic. Coming from a skilled performer, such phrases can be too many and too beautiful to be easily dissected for our aesthetic studies. However, beyond doubt, if we do analyse those phrases, they would prove to be a veritable, fertile and plentiful source of everlasting exposition of divine grace and beauty. So also, for othr genres of music.

Having said as much, let us move on to some such eternally enduring phrases. let us try to find what, how and why, about them. Let us also try to discern any undercurrents in them, of aesthetically valid generalisations which can be supported, sooner or later, by theoretical considerations.

The first such phrase, which death dare not defy, nor can time tarnish, is uppermost in my mind; it is:

m' G' S' D P
F' E' C' A G on the keyboard/harmonium.
Its variations: m' G' S' P D, etc.

I am not able to say whether and which raga this piece is based on, if at all: it is not necessary that a phrase has to belong to a raga.

I have been hearing this very often in songs in Country music, ever since I settled in the U.S. ten years ago. The only time I have been able to detect this phrase in Indian movie songs, is an almost inaudible piece in violins, in the song "Meri kahani bhoolane waale", sung by Rafi saheb, film Deedar, music by Naushad.

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