Friday, 28 June 2013

Timeless Tunes (Lessons from the Bong Bard #3)

You may read the first and the second posts in this series, ahead of the third one here.

Before I begin, I'd like you to listen to this beautiful English song based on a poem, "Song. To Cecilia" written by Ben Jonson in 1616. (Don't worry, this'll be a short article. So, go ahead and hit the PLAY button.)

Drink to Me Only with Thine Eyes in the voice of Laura Wright:-

Today, I finish two months of Rabindra Sangeet riyaaz (practice). It's a different matter that I've barely done 12 hours of actual singing all this while. When I started, I thought I'd have to transform myself into a demure,  tant-saree-clad Bengali girl of that era, in puffed sleeves and long, plaited hair, to do justice to the emotions that should flow with the music. I thought my ears would have to get adjusted to the sound of the harmonium to make my voice one with the melody that played out of it. But Tagore showed me how narrow minded I was being.

Lesson - 3

Kobiguru Tagore's music transcends the man-made boundaries of countries and cultures. The great poet was well travelled and had the open mind and big heart to accommodate styles from the Western world. Many of his songs are set to tunes borrowed from England, Ireland and Scotland. The mark of a great man (excuse my patriarchal choice of word here) lies in his ability to accept diverse ideas and develop his own line of thoughts over those.

The world today is a global village, they say. Why is it then that we sully the repute of our generation by comparing cultures, fighting over traditions and competing to keep our own on a pedestal above the rest? Why can't we expand our hearts just a little to admire the beauty of all that is around us? What stops us from falling in love with the multitude of melodies, rhythms, languages and people we come across in our journey through this life?

Tagore lived, loved and wrote in the 19th century. His works, however, are timeless. His music never feels anachronic even as I hear them in the 21st century. The tunes blend well with the piano, the sitar, the harmonium, the violin and most other musical instruments you can think of. The versatility of his compositions leaves everyone the liberty to pair his melodies with classical Bengali dance forms and Western ballroom styles alike. I close my article today with the bard's rendition of the song we heard in the beginning. 

Kotobaro Bhebechinu (I've Mused Many a Times . . .) in Srikanto Acharya's baritone:-

This is one of Tagore's many songs perfect for a round of English Waltz.

P.S. To know the meaning of the the Bengali lyrics, drop me a line :-)

P.P.S. For a round of waltz with me, drop me another one! ;-)


  1. Replies
    1. Haha! :P Thanks for feigning some interest...PJ-style! I shall waltz with you and translate the song when we meet.

  2. My very rudimentary knowledge of bangla non withstanding, post the translations as well. Interesting stuff

    1. English translation of the Bangla song (exclusively for you, Priyesh!):-

      I've mused many-a-times...
      (Losing myself in the process)
      About unveiling the contents
      Of my heart at your feet...

      About exclaiming to you
      As I clasp your feet-
      How much I've loved you
      All my life, secretly.

      I've been wondering how
      I'll disclose to you
      The words in my heart,
      For you are the Lord of Heavens!

      I've always thought to myself-
      We live far apart from each other.
      I will worship you quietly
      For as long as I live.

      No one will know of
      The state of my heart.
      No one will witness
      The tears in my eyes.

      Now that you have finally
      Appeared in front of me,
      How do I confess to you
      How much I love thee!


Let me hear your thoughts!