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This article is meant to be posted in atulsongaday.me. If this article appears in sites like lyricstrans.com and ibollywoodsongs.com etc then it is piracy of the copyright content of atulsongaday.me and is a punishable offence under the existing laws.

Basics of music- Part I (Swar and Saptak)
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In this blog, we have discussed over eleven thousand songs till now. When I use the word “discuss”, I mostly mean that we have provided lyrics of the song, provided the audio/video link of the song and mentioned the names of artists singing the song and performing in the picturisation. We sometimes discuss the movies and artists of these songs in detail.

Come to think of it, the song itself has many things in it that have rarely been touched upon in the blog. For instance, majority of HFM is based on Hindustani classical music. Many principles of classical music is followed in HFM even if they go unnoticed by most music lovers.

We will be able to appreciate HFM (or for that matter any music) if we are able to understand what goes behind the music. Music may be regarded as an art by laymen but it is based on scientific principles. Music is also noticed following mathematical laws.

I, in collaboration with other contributor(s) of the blog propose to start a series in the blog that will introduce us to the principles of music. In the beginning, we will introduce musical terms and explain what exactly they mean and how they lead to creation of music that pleases our senses. We will try to take many baby steps in this series in the beginning, because the concepts being discussed will take some time to sink for the beginners. Those who are interested in the subject are requested to give their feedback. Participation of readers will determine the course of this series which will take a lot out of us, but it is hoped that the end result will see us getting enriched a great deal, musically speaking, of course.

So, in this first part, I will explain some very basic and important terms, namely “swar” and “saptak” and what they mean. So here we go.

Assumption:-I assume that readers have some understanding of terms used in physics like say “frequency”, “pitch” etc. If required, we will explain these terms too, based on user feedback.

Question-What is a musical “note” ?
Answer- A musical note is a pitched sound, viz sound at a particular frequency.

Question-What is an octave ?
Answer- A range of notes where the higher note is of twice the frequency as compared to the lower note.

Let us understand the above statements with examples.

It has been noticed that human ear is capable of identifying at the most 22 notes in an octave. Theese 22 notes are called micronotes in Western classical terminology or “shruti” in Hindustani classical music terminology. Seven out of these 22 notes in an octave are considered musically significant and they have been called “swar” in Hindustani classical music. Since there are seven swar in an octave, the term coined for them is “saptak”, where “sapt”=seven. So, musically speaking an octave is the same as saptak and it contains the seven swars, as following:

Swar Full name Meaning of the term Inspiration from Abbreviation Remarks
Shadja Creator of six Inspired from cry of the peacock Sa This is an invariant swar (Achal Swar)and a reference point for other swars
Rishabh Rishabh means bull Inspired from sound of a bull Re Has two variations, viz Shuddh and Komal
Gandhaar Sweet fragrance Sound of a goat Ga Has two variations, viz Shuddh and Komal
Madhyam Middle one Sound of heron Ma Has two variations, viz Shuddh and Teevr
Pancham Fifth Sound of cuckoo Pa This is an invariant swar (Achal Swar)
Dhaiwat Sixth note Neighing sound of horse Dha Has two variations, viz Shuddh and Komal
Nishaad Seventh note Trumpeting sound of an elephant Ni Has two variations, viz Shuddh and Komal

The seven notes together are also described as “Sargam”, where the word sargam is an acronym contaning the first letters of the first four swars.

It must be kept in mind that four of the swars, viz. Re, Ga, Ma, Dha, Ni have one variant each- called komal for Re, Ga , Dha, Ni, and Teevr for Ma. So there are a total of 12 musical notes, though we still describe the sargam as consisting of saat swar only. Incidentally, the term “Sur” is same as “swar”

In a classical musical composition, the swars are sung in ascending order (called aaroh), followed by singing in descending order (called avroh).

Let us assume that the composition makes use of all the seven notes of the saptak (octave) in aaroh as well as avroh. Then the aaroh will go:
Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni Sa’ where each swar (note) is sung at an increasingly higher pitch compared to the previous swar till we arrive at the seventh and final swar Ni. The singer then goes higher and sings Sa’ which sounds the same as the first note Sa but it is at twice the frequency vis a vis the original swar Sa.
These swars, viz Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni Sa’ constitute an octave (Saptak). Typically a singer will most of the time operate in one octave. He would sing the aaroh in that saptak and they go down Sa’ Ni Dha Pa Ma Ga Re Sa by singing the avroh.
[Note- The convention followed here has Sa’ as twice the freqency of Sa, Re’ at twice th frequency of Re etc.]

Suppose that the singer, after reaching at Sa’, which is twice the frequency as the original Sa, keeps going at higher and higher frequencies, viz. Sa’ Re’ Ga’ Ma’, Pa’ Dha’, Ni’, Sa”. Then that will constitute another octave. The original octave is called mid octave (madhya saptak) while the higher octave is called taar saptak. Likewise the octave below the madhya saptak can be obtained if one goes down in frequency below the original Sa by singing awroh, viz. Sa ‘Ni ‘Dha ‘Pa ‘Ma ‘Ga ‘Re ‘Sa, where ‘Sa is half the frequency of Sa. This lower octave, one octave below the madhya saptak is called mandrak saptak.
[Note- The convention followed here has ‘Sa as half the freqency of Sa, ‘Re at half the frequency of Re etc.]

For the sake of illustration, let us say that the madhya saptak is between 240 hz to 480 hz where 240 Hz is Sa and 480 Hz is Sa’, then taar saptak will be between 480 hz to 960 hz whereas mandra saptak would be between 120 hz to 240 hz.

What about the frequencies of shuddha notes other than Sa in an octave ? They too bear some relation with each other. In madhya Saptak, if Sa is 240 hz and Sa’ is 480 hz, then Re Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni would be 270 Hz, 300 hz, 320 hz, 360 hz, 405 hz and 450 hz. Every note in the octave would be 1.5 times the frequency of the fifth note before it. Thus Pa (360 hz) will be 1.5 times Sa (240 hz), Dha (405 hz) will be 1.5 times Re (270 hz) etc. So one can say that the notes in an octave display the property of geometric progression. It must be kept in mind that we are talking about shudd swars. komal notes of Re Ga, Dha Ni would be of slightly lower frequency than the shuddh version whereas teevra Madhyam would be of slightly higher frequency than shudhh madhyam.

I will let the above information sink in for readers for whom this information is new. People who are familiar with the above concepts are requested to show patience because these concepts are fundamental concepts that must be understood properly before we move on to other concepts.

I have purposely avoided bringing in other musical terminologies in this discussion today. Their turn will come in subsequent discussions. For the time being, here is a song from “Jugnu”(1947). This song is based on a classical “raag”- a term that we will discuss in future.

The song is sung by Noorjahaan and it is picturised on her as well. Asghar Sarhadi is the lyricist. Music is composed by Feroz Nizami.

So enjoy this song, and also the article, and look forward to some “interesting” discussion on the nuts and bolts of music in the days to come. :)


Song-Hamen to shaam e gham mein kaatni hai zindagi apni (Jugnu)(1947) Singer-Noorjahaan, Lyrics-Asghar Sarhadi, MD-Feroz Nizami

Lyrics

(cough cough
cough cough)
hamen to shaam-e-gham mein kaatni hai zindagi apni
hamen to shaam-e-gham mein kaatni hai zindagi apni
jahaan wo hain wahin ae chaand le ja chaandni apni
jahaan wo hain wahin ae chaand le ja chaandni apni

agar kucchh thhi to bas ye thhi tamanna aakhri apni
agar kuch thhi to bas ye thhi tamanna aakhri apni
ke tum saahil pe hote aur kashti doobti apni
ke tum saahil pe hote aur kashti doobti apni
hamen to shaam-e-gham mein kaatni (cough cough
cough cough
cough cough
cough cough)

taqaaza hai yehi dil ka
wahin chaliye
wahin chaliye
taqaaza hai yehi dil ka
wahin chaliye
wahin chaliye
wo mehfil
haaye jis mehfil mein duniya lut gayi apni
wo mehfil
haaye jis mehfil mein duniya lut gayi apni
hamen to shaam-e-gham mein kaatni hai zindagi apni

khuda ke (cough cough)
khuda ke vaaste
zaalim ghadi bhar ke liye aa ja
ghadi bhar ke liye aa ja
bujhaani hai tere daaman pe shama-e zindagi apni
bujhaani hai tere daaman pe shama-e (cough cough
cough cough)
hamen to shaam-e-gham mein kaatni hai zindagi apni
hamen (cough cough cough cough
cough cough cough cough)


This article is written by Sadanand Kamath, a fellow enthusiast of Hindi movie music and a contributor to this blog. This article is meant to be posted in atulsongaday.me. If this article appears in sites like lyricstrans.com and ibollywoodsongs.com etc then it is piracy of the copyright content of atulsongaday.me and is a punishable offence under the existing laws.

Troika of the latest century singers – Mukesh, Rafi and Kishore – 1. Mukesh
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Sometime in the middle of April 2015, I had sent two write-ups to Atul ji and coincidentally, both these write-ups were on the songs sung by Mukesh. Atul ji sent me a reply saying that for the time being, he was avoiding posting songs of Mukesh as also of Rafi who are on their way to hitting centuries of their songs in the Blog. So he reckoned that my write ups on Mukesh’s songs may have to be held back for a few days. It was apparent that articles for the special events had already been planned.

A click on ‘Some stats’ page of the Blog revealed that while Mukesh was close to attaining his 700th song, Mohammed Rafi was only one short of his 2400th song in the Blog. A further glance on this page revealed that Kishore Kumar too was also very close to hitting his 900th song. So it was rare ‘celestial’ event like that of conjunction of planets Jupiter, Venus and Mars in the triangle shape which is expected on October 28, 2015. And all the three playback singers are nothing less than celestial stars along with Talat Mehmood and Manna Dey. There was an inner urge in me to pay tributes to the troika of playback singers on this unique conjunction of century songs. A thought tickled in my mind. What if I was to select special songs for the troika of playback singers on the occasion?
Read more on this topic…


This article is meant to be posted in atulsongaday.me. If this article appears in sites like lyricstrans.com and ibollywoodsongs.com etc then it is piracy of the copyright content of atulsongaday.me and is a punishable offence under the existing laws.

“Aakaash”(1953) was produced by Khwaja Ahmad Abbas and directed by Manmohan Sabir for Manmohan Films, Bombay. the movie had Balraj Sahni, Shammi, Nadira, Manmohan Krishna, Badri Prasad, Jillobai, Neeta, N Trivedi, Agha etc in it.
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This article is meant to be posted in atulsongaday.me. If this article appears in sites like lyricstrans.com and ibollywoodsongs.com etc then it is piracy of the copyright content of atulsongaday.me and is a punishable offence under the existing laws.

“Ambar”(1952) was produced by Seth Jagat Narayan and directed by Jayant Desai. The movie had Raj Kapoor and Nargis in lead roles. The movie also had Agha, Bipin Gupta, Ramesh Sinha, Nayampalli, Baby Tanuja, Samson, Vyas, Cuckoo, Helen etc in it.
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This article is meant to be posted in atulsongaday.me. If this article appears in sites like lyricstrans.com and ibollywoodsongs.com etc then it is piracy of the copyright content of atulsongaday.me and is a punishable offence under the existing laws.

“First Love”(1961) was directed by Ved Madan for Natraj Productions, Bombay. The movie had Naaz, Mehmood, Preetibaala, Raj Mehra, Amar, Baij Sharma, S N Bannerji, M B Shetty, Balram, Rafiq, Hanuman, Mahabal, Nirula, Shankar etc in it.
Read more on this topic…


This article is meant to be posted in atulsongaday.me. If this article appears in sites like lyricstrans.com and ibollywoodsongs.com etc then it is piracy of the copyright content of atulsongaday.me and is a punishable offence under the existing laws.

“Pyaar Ka Saagar”(1961) was produced and directed by Devendra Goel. The movie had Meena Kumari, Rajendra Kumar,Madanpuri, Malika, Mohan Choti, O.P.Ralhan(Introducing), Leela Misra, S.K.Prem, Shah, Jagdish Raj, Nazir Kashmiri, Abhimanyu Sharma(New face) etc in it.
Read more on this topic…


This article is meant to be posted in atulsongaday.me. If this article appears in sites like lyricstrans.com and ibollywoodsongs.com etc then it is piracy of the copyright content of atulsongaday.me and is a punishable offence under the existing laws.

“Bhai Bahan” (1950) was produced by Krishna M and directed by Ram Daryani. The movie had Geeta Bali, Nirupa Roy, K N Singh, Prem Adeeb, Bharat Bhushan, Gope, Jeewan, Kukku etc in it.
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This article is meant to be posted in atulsongaday.me. If this article appears in sites like lyricstrans.com and ibollywoodsongs.com etc then it is piracy of the copyright content of atulsongaday.me and is a punishable offence under the existing laws.

“Nirdosh”(1950) was directed by Najam Naqvi for Filmistan. The movie had Shyam, Rehana, Misra, Om Prakash, K. N. Singh, S. M. Abbas, Kuldip Kaur, S. L. Puri, Mukri etc in it.
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This article is meant to be posted in atulsongaday.me. If this article appears in sites like lyricstrans.com and ibollywoodsongs.com etc then it is piracy of the copyright content of atulsongaday.me and is a punishable offence under the existing laws.

“Pyaar”(1950) was directed by V M Vyas for Sunrise Pictures, Bombay. The movie had Raj Kapoor, Nargis, Yakoob, Gulab, Shyama, Nawab, Neelam, Kesri, Wazir Muhammad Khan, Parvati Devi etc in it.
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This article is meant to be posted in atulsongaday.me. If this article appears in sites like lyricstrans.com and ibollywoodsongs.com etc then it is piracy of the copyright content of atulsongaday.me and is a punishable offence under the existing laws.

“Kaale Baadal”(1950) was directed by Anand Thakur for National Film of India production. The movie had Pushpa, Shyam, Meena, Gope, Jeevan, Raj Mehra, Ramesh Sinha, Tabassum, Hansa, M. Rajan, Pratima Devi etc in it.
Read more on this topic…


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What is this blog all about

This blog discusses Bollywood songs of yesteryears. Every song has a brief description, followed by a video link, and complete lyrics of the song.

This is a labour of love, where "new" songs are added every day, and that has been the case for more than six years. This blog has over 11100 song posts by now.

Total number of songs discussed

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