Wednesday, January 7, 2015

CHARANJIT SINGH KI AJEEB DASTAAN



Roland Corporation Japan launched their TB 303 bass synthesizer and sequencer in 1982. Only 10,000 pieces were manufactured and sold, that is, it proved to be a flop. The equipment was marketed as an accompaniment for guitarists practising alone. In 1987 Chicago electro-musicians discovered a major application for the 303- it worked as a unified console for creating  psychedelic disco music, producing heightened basses and squelching sounds- the funky sounds in Bappi Lahiri’s ‘I am a disco dancer’ or R.D. Burman’s ‘Dil lena khel hai dildaar ka’ came from this equipment. The genre was later named Acid House music, the discos where it resounded being LSD joints. The Guardian listed the machine as one of the 50 key events in the history of dance music. The major hits created with the machine really date to 1987. In 2002, there was a sensation in Western music circles which is best described by The Guardian:

“In 2002, record collector Edo Bouman came across Ten Ragas in a shop in Delhi. “Back at my hotel I played it on my portable player, and I was blown away. It sounded like acid house, or like an ultra-minimal Kraftwerk.” But it was the date on the record that shocked Bouman. Released 1982, it predated the first acid house record – often regarded as Phuture’s Acid Trax – by five years. Bouman tracked down Singh to Mumbai. “He was most friendly and surprised I knew the album. I remember asking him how he got to this acid-like sound, but he didn’t quite get my point. He didn’t realise how stunningly modern it was.”
(Louis Pattison writing in The Guardian in April 10: http://www.bombay-connection.com/en_gb/site/page/2/reviews)

On his part, Edo Bouman wrote:

"This is so absolutely brilliant and bonkers, that when we first heard it, we thought it must be fake, some modern day Rephlex artist putting everyone on, taking the piss, with a “raga-techno” album supposedly from the early ’80s. But, no joke, this is the real thing! In 1982, Charanjit Singh, a famous Bollywood composer (he was featured on Sublime Frequencies amazing Bollywood Steel Guitar compilation), had a plan to translate ancient traditional Indian classical ragas to the synthesizer. Using the very synths that would later define Acid House (Rolands TB-303 and TR-808!), Singh unwittingly created a proto-acid masterpiece, before the techno genre ever existed! Since only a hundred or less copies were made originally, this release was mostly a rumour since its creation.
THE MACHINE
THE MAN
AS A KESHDHARI
The record in question is called ’10 Ragas to a Disco Beat’ created by Singh with the TB 303, a TR 808 drummer and a Jupiter 8 keyboard. According to him, the glissando functionality (gliding between pitches) is particularly conducive to playing of Raga melodies. Kalawati (spelt in Punjabi as Kalvati here) is one of the best- rest assured, all are devastating..just read the Youtubites' comments below the video.."unbelievable...can't stay sit.." says one expert...

In each composition, a set of the raga's swaras forms the basic rhythm. It sounds almost like an ostinato. For instance in 'Kalvati' it goes:

S G S/G P G/PP DD nn SS.

The artiste has admirable command on the raga melody-palle pai gya, as we say in Punjabi:
video

For records, Charanjit (now 73) on guitar was part of the original score in many many celebrated Bollywood numbers created by Music Directors like Shankar-Jaikishen and S.D. Burman. His son Raju Singh is now a major arranger in the film industry, having arranged scores for Traffic Signal, Pagalpan, Kisi Se Na Kehna etc. Charanjit now plays mostly overseas single-handed, and rarely if ever locally, apparently to escape from demands and machinations of local neta-types. You can judge his caliber from the following solo:



On Youtube, one can watch how Rana Ghose tracked him down in Mumbai in 2010 and took a lovely interview with affable clean-shaven Sardarji and his plain-speaking Bengali wife Suparna (Rana Ghose channel). The efforts of friends like Rana have resulted in offering Indian audiences a chance to admire his music and the 10 Ragas release has been relaunched. Singh enjoys an iconic status all over Europe and US. Here's a man whose ideas transformed a dud instrument into one of the top devices responsible for transforming dance and music styles of the age. Our Ministers would do well to recognize the live phenomenal talent amidst us rather than launch on a wild goose chase after the rishis who allegedly were the original inventors of the Pythagoras theorem or the flying machine.

RANA GHOSE’S ALBUM:


MAN ON A MISSION
RANA LOCATES THE HOUSE
TERE DAR PE AAYA HUN
SUPARNA JI BELIEVES IN MOTICHUR LADDUS NOW: SHESH HEGACHE ROSHOGOLLA!
REST IS FORGOTTEN HISTORY

PLAYING TO ANTWERP AUDIENCES: THEY KNOW DIAMOND BEST



CHARANJIT SINGH BREATHED HIS LAST THIS 5TH JULY; WE'LL NEVER FORGET PAAJI, FOR HE HAD A LOT TO PROUD ABOUT IN HIM, BUT HE NEVER CLAIMED GREATNESS.

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