What does a music conductor do?

Excellent post from Kottke.org about the role of the music conductor. The thing is, it started as a curious post by the author, and ended up with a response from a professional conductor that made the post epic.

In orchestral conducting, two things are different. First, the musicians don’t need much help keeping time, so the patterns are either heavily modified or abandoned entirely-although you can often see downbeats and things if you look for them. Second, orchestral conductors conduct WAY ahead of the beat the musicians are actually playing. This helps the musicians respond in real time to the conductor’s instructions.

Go read!

‘Etymology’ of Baba Sehgal’s Thanda Thanda Paani.

Remember Baba Sehgal, the pop “star” who had a handful of hits in the 1990s? His first hit, which put him on the map, so to say, was the song “Thanda Thanda Paani” (which I personally didn’t really like). Well, here’s the ‘etymology’ of the song:

Baba Sehgal sang ‘Thanda Thanda Paani’,

after he copied the entire premise from Vanilla Ice,

who copied their baseline theme from Queen!

Amazing how so much of India’s ‘hit’ music is directly or indirectly derived from copying someone else. (Note that Vanilla Ice took Queen’s baseline theme, and made a new song; Baba simply copied Vanilla Ice, baseline theme and all.)

P.S.: I’m not saying he isn’t talented—he certainly had his place in the industry. It’s just that—why can’t people make their own songs?!

Lyrics of Alvida from Life in A Metro

Everywhere I look, some of the lyrics are invariably wrong, so I decided to write them down myself. This is a personal favorite.

Alvida (Life in A Metro)
Sung by: K.K. (also by James)
Music: Pritam
chupke se kaheen
dheeme paon se
jaane kis tarah, kis ghadi

aage badh gaye
humse rahon mein
par tum to abhi thhe yehin

kucch bhi na suna
kab ka thha gila
kaise keh diya alvida

jinke darmiyan
guzri thhi abhi
kal tak yeh meri zindagi

lo un bahon ko
thandi chhaon ko
hum bhi kar chale alvida

alvida, alvida
meri rahein alvida
meri saansein kehti hain

alvida, alvida
ab kehna aur kya
jab tuune keh diya

(Interlude 1)

sunle bekhabar
kyun aankhen pher kar
aaj tu chali jaa
dhundegi nazar hum ko hi magar
har jagah

aisi raaton mein
le ke karwatein
yaad humein karna
aur phir haarkar kehna kyon magar
keh diya

alvida, alvida
koi pooche to zara
kya socha aur kaha

alvida, alvida
ab kehna aur kya
jab tuune keh diya

(Interlude 2)

hum thhe dil jale
phir bhi dil kahe
kash mere sang aaj hote tum agar
hoti har dagar gulsita

tum se hai khafa
hum naraz hain
dil hai pareshan socha na suna
tune kyon bhala keh diya

alvida, alvida
koi pooche to zara
kya socha aur kaha

alvida, alvida
ab kehna aur kya
jab tuune keh diya

(oo HOO)
alvida, alvida
kyon socha aur kaha

(Interlude 3)

lo un bahon ko
thandi chhaon ko
hum bhi kar chale

A great weekend, Part 1

I’d never been to a Yanni concert before. I think, after this weekend, I’ll try to be at every concert that he does in my geographic vicinity.

I was a fan of Yanni anyway (that’s why we went in the first place, of course), but this was something else. The music, the ambience, even the light tricks to show visuals on a curtain as the music went on – it was all very, very good.

And the sound!! Perfect acoustics, great instruments, great compositions.

And the people!! He’s got a team of musicians that is simply so good! Invariably every song features a solo piece by one of his showcase musicians, and every one of them is a class apart.

And the vocalists!! This Yanni tour is essentially to promote his latest album, called Voices, where he includes, for the first time, vocals in his music. And the vocalists are very good! He says he’s been working with this group of vocalists for two-and-a-half years, and it shows. One big difference that I found from most Indian music is the fact that the singer and the songwriter are the same person in this case, while back in India it’s more common to find one person as a pro singer, who does the singing, and another a pro lyricist, who does the penning. Not so here: the vocalists are actually singing their own lyrics.

The show was at Raleigh, NC, and it turned out that the trip started on an off-beat right at the word go: the GPS decided to take us as the crow flies, rather than via the Interstates and the freeways (yes, I know, you can set it to take you via the shortest route time-wise, but it still gave us that route). The result: a challenging drive through the mountains, but an incredibly scenic drive through the mountains. (And considering that I was behind the wheel, the challenge part was actually part of the fun too :P).

The performance itself I think I can categorize into three parts:

1. Instrumentals, as he has been doing until now (he started off with Santorini, which I think is one of my top 3 favorites among his compositions).

2. Previous compositions, which he has re-incarnated to include the vocals (I was going to write re-mixed or re-composed, but I don’t know which, if either, is the right word to use).

3. Compositions that at least to me seemed unfamilier, and which I guess he has originally composed keeping the vocals in mind.

In all three categories of music, however, he just blows you away. As I have been gushing for a while now, he was very, very good.


1. More Raleigh plus: we had Indian food, specifically Dosa, and Thums Up! 😛

2. A quote by Yanni when talking about times two decades ago, when he and one of his partner musicians used to play in a rock-n-roll band and dream about being in a concert just as the one he was in that evening: “It’s all right to dream once in a while. Sometimes dreams do come true.”