Saturday, November 26, 2011

Sony Walkman, Jagjit Singh and my love for music

It is interesting sometimes to look back and seek a reason for things that you find existing in your life. To search for that whiff, a glimpse, a touch or that tiny moment of inspiration which one catches and registers unknowingly in one’s mind, and when that seed got planted in the vast terrain of our subconscious, blooming later into consciousness - that one might want to wonder about how it all started.

Hence I pondered very recently on how it all began – my love for music.

I don’t come from a family which can lay claim to some gharana in music. So music for me didn’t come along the classical route of training of voice; rather, it was my ears that underwent a sort of training by way of listening to the melodic notes in my mother’s voice – indeed when she speaks her sound seems to fill me in some way making me feel whole – and the amazing music which I came across very early in my childhood.

My family has an ear for good music. This isn’t a peculiarity reserved only by us but it’s the eclectic taste in music which cuts across age in our family that helps me pay that compliment. The kind of music received by us with admiration or loathe is surprisingly so common that sometimes it becomes difficult to recognize that music is such a subjective matter and very private and exclusive too!

And among these commonalities is Jagjit Singh whose voice ushered me into the world of music.

It all started because of a Sony Walkman.

My father had been on an official trip to Europe and among other things which he got for us was a Sony Walkman. An engineering marvel, a beautiful specimen of how man brought his imagination to reality, the Walkman became the apple of our eyes for days to come. It would gently pass from one hand to the other and a slightest hint of imbalance would evoke a collective gasp from our family. The design of the equipment was meant to suit a pair of ears – preferably belonging to the same head – but on umpteen occasions this solemn assumption by the makers of the Walkman was struck down by a creative adjustment of two heads trying to share the wonderment brought by that Walkman.

Father didn’t bring along a cassette with the Walkman, which would have completed our experience of that device, so we used to tinker along with the radio buttons to make out anything useful from the persistent static that it produced. But the wait didn’t prove to be too long, and the first cassette which the Sony Walkman played was Jagjit Singh’s Desires. 

Very soon Jagjit Singh replaced the Walkman with himself on our pedestal of awe and admiration.

I can’t recall how many times I went over the same songs tirelessly listening to them again and again as they carried me into a new world of music. Never before had I listened to music and songs so carefully. The various television programmes that played film songs were at best perfunctory interruptions prior to Jagjit’s welcome intrusion in my life. Now slowly I began to critique music - not really as an expert but surely as someone who knew what he was looking for.

Among the select few indulgences, which our family had, Jagjit gradually climbed up to acquire the highest spot. Our shelf gradually piled up a collection of Jagjit’s albums. Sony Walkman had to give way to a bigger music system thereby eliminating any need for an ingenious arrangement of heads to enjoy music. Jagjit transformed from a chance encounter to become an enjoyable association, and festivals or no festivals he would play making evenings so melodious that it would be a jarring interruption if suddenly a power cut would take place forcing silence to prevail alongside the lingering tune of his song in our minds.

Jagjit’s music has become a part of my life. Somehow I am able to connect to his songs in every mood that reigns me. His voice riding on the notes of his compositions extract such soulful meaning from the lyrics that one feels the poet sigh his emotions right in your ears.

It’s been one steady and harmonious journey with Jagjit’s music. Jagjit is no more – another sudden and jarring interruption from which one cannot recover – but his music lingers on and so shall my love for it.