A Golden Institution indeed

sonunigam2014For those of us who grew up in the 70s and 80s, in Indian cinema what stood out was the melody in songs. Be it Kishore Kumar, Mohammad Rafi, P B Srinivas, S P Balasubramanyam or any of the many female playback. For a song to be successful, melody was a must more than innovation. Creativity was explored but within a set boundary. Too much risk taking was unnecessary with all the stalwart singers golden voices ruled the hearts of the fans. The same continued in the 90s but with the fading away of KK and MR in Hindi cinema, people were rooted to ‘Old is Gold’. That all changed with the coming of Sonu Nigam. His singing was not only melodious but he took singing to another level. I know, Kannada more than Hindi and in Kannada film world, I can say in my personal opinion, that Sonu’s singing is incomparable. What is unique about his singing is he changes his pitch within a song much more than the traditionals. I am used to hearing the same pitch maintained by singers throughout a song. By pitch I mean the pitch of the singer’s voice. I know pitch can be confusing as it means different in western music but in Karnatik music pitch is the narrow range a singer maintain his or her voice. For example a female singer’s voice is of higher pitch than a male singer’s. Given this context, Sonu varies his pitch much more than other singers I have listened to. This is purely in film songs of course. That’s what makes the songs more challenging to sing. You not only have to master the raaga (or the tune), but have to sing different parts in different pitches. Classic examples of such Sonu Nigam’s kannada songs are ‘Ee Sanje Yaakagide’, ‘Beladingala Ee Cheluveya’, ‘Neenendare’, etc. This is the hallmark of his singing. I don’t listen to much of his Hindi songs, but of those that I have heard, I haven’t noticed the same. Anyway, today is an exciting day for as I am going to his concert at the Sun National Bank Center in Trenton, NJ. This is a bit less exciting though as the event is primarily going to focus on Hindi songs. Hope he sings Kannada songs as well. Will know in a few hours.

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