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Playback Singing: Scope and Opportunities

Playback singing is the art of vocal recital, a backstage artist who sang for the artists who plays role in cinema, tele-serials, jingles, OTT, and many other module of entertainment industry worldwide. Like other singer, playback singer need to maintain his/her all attributes of vocal quality in-addition with the script, scene, role play and receptor of the character.

Not all can be a playback singer because of the voice texture and the flexibility that can be mingle with screen artist, the  hero/heroin but nobody knows what kind of voice texture may fit with screen artist. The selection of the playback is purely based on the physique and vocal quality that suit for the on screen artist.  

As a career in playback singer following qualities/ attributes need to developed by the singer.

a. Versatility 

b. Flexible tonality

c. Clear Pronunciation 

d. Diction and clear dialect 

e. Pitch Perfection

f. Knowledge of chords 

g. Habit of shifting scale 

h. Understanding Aesthetics 

i. Realisation of literature 

j. Understanding the scene and character

k. Nature of Assimilation

Looking into the India, there are lots of scope and opportunities that playback singing can be excellent career. Hindi Film Industry, widely know as Bollywood may be one of the best career option. In Hindi Tele-serials, OTT and commercials , playback singer are highly on demand but need to develop the above mention attributes. 

The major challenges for Non-Hindi speaking candidate in Bollywood is diction, the clear dialect of Hindi- Urdu, so one should prepare and learn the proper pronunciation of words -- of Sa, Sha, Ba, Wo, nukta words drives from Urdu like  Ja, Za, Pha, Ka Kha, Ga, and the phonetic of Sanskrit, Hindi and Urdu. 

Like wise in some other film industry of different state i.e. Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Marathi, Gujarati, Bhojpuri, Bangla, Oriya, Assamese, playback singing can be a most vibrant profession if your are in music field. But the consequences of playback singing is only possible if one can maintain the attributes mentioned above. Singing for the cinema/ OTT/ TV shows seem easier to those who do not deserve to be a playback singer and it is always a challenging profession for those who wish to rise-up. In regional industry one more challenges to a singer is the adaptation of local dialect and accent so those who are grown up in multi linguistic society can assimilate to the regional dialect and accent. 

The growing industry, online resources and freelance projects, opportunities are increasing day by day. Number of Films, TV serials, Show reels, OTT are flooded in industry so one has to prepare for the industry with enhancing the qualities and efforts to versatility that he/she can sustain in the industry. The most essential part in being the singer is potential learning and proper guidance of Guru so identifying a guru is also a challenging task in present time.  to be continued ...


Brihaddeshi: A Transition Period in Indian Music

        Brihaddeshi is another milestone text that spans the period from Natyashastra to Dattilam to Sangitaratnakara. It carries forward the tradition of Natyashastra and Dattilam; and, at the same time, it establishes the Desi Sangita on a firm pedestal. Brihaddeshi bridges the Marga and the Desi class of Music; and, it also provides the basis for the emergence of the Thaat/Mela system of classifying the Ragas.   One could say; Brihaddeshi gave a new birth to Indian Music; and, revitalized its creative genius by bringing the concept of Raga into the very heart of the Music traditions and their sensibilities.

        This text is one of the major references of many earlier authors whose work are now almost disapeare from the lineage of Indian Music. The text attributed by Matang in Brihaddeshi was the collective and conclusive study of the Natyashastra, Abhinaya Darpana and Dattilam. Further he also added references from the text of Kasyap, Durgashakti, Kohal, Maheshwar, Vallabh and Shardul to establish the concept of Raga, Jati Gayan, and Deshi- Marghi Sangeet and other components of Vedic music. Brihaddeshi was composed and released for bibliophile during the mid of seventh century. There is no any concered demography about the exact relase date of the book but it is assumed that Brihaddeshi time was approximately around mid of the seventh century. 

        The Edition of Brihaddeshi is a half lost verson, only of five hundred around Verses are available to us. The available Chapters and verses deal only with music and the term closely related to singing. The Chapters in this book deals with the Concept of Deshi- (Geeta- Vadhya-Nritya), a countryside music defining the characteristics of Grama – (Shadaj-Madhyam-Gandhar), Murchana, Nada, Shruti, Swara and component of vocal practices. He describes all togthere twenty-one Murchan, seven each from Shadaj, Madhyam, and Gandhar Gram.

After allotting a chapter to the Jaati-s, Matanga devotes a special chapter to the Ragas.  Here, he deals with Grama-raga; and the Desi-ragas: Bhasa, Vibhasa and Antarabhasa. These Desi-ragas are again classified into four categories as: Raganga, Bhashanga, Kriyanga and Upanga. Indeed, it is in this chapter of the Brhaddeshi we first come across the definition of Raga as given by Matanga. and, it is his definition that has guided all the later literature (lakshana grantha) on Classical Music. In the history of the Ragas, Brhaddeshi is, therefore, a landmark textThe term Raga seemed to have been in use even prior to 7th century. But it was not used in Music or in Music-theories in the way we know it and, in the way, use it now.  It is, therefore, difficult to say that the concept of Raga as it is understood today, had fully evolved and was recognized as such in the period prior to Matanga; say, at the time of Natyashastra (second century BCE)

        The Musical Scenario in India was quite unstable during the 8th century an onwards because of foreign invasion. The religious background and rituals beliefs in India was highly affected because of the political intervension by those rulars. The Turkish, Irani or the Afgans Muslims invasion suddenly changes the social structure of the society in the beginning of medieval period. The Bhakti Adnolan was the the commmandable social unity started by Adi-Guru- Shankaracharya to reform and reunited against the forceful conversion and religious attack by the Muslims Bharta Desh. The Movement was also the savior of the musical tradition in mediavial period, from Bangal to Gujarat, Assam to Multan, Lahore to Madras, Konchi to Kashi, Bhakit movement was widely accepted by the people of India for the resistance of their indegenious culture, tradition, rituals and religious belief. 


Chords in Hindustani Music : Relevancy and Purpose


    Actually the chords means the group of notes that have a relation of harmonisation to each other. In western music the chord is one of the fundamental aspect so it is also called a harmonic music. But, in Indian classical music, an individual notes matter most so it is called  melody music genre. Now coming to the point, whether a chord or group of notes ensemble can justify the relevancy of chords and its progression in Indian Classical Music, of course not. Western chord system are based on the interaction between different notes played simultaneously. These notes are typically selected from a particular scale or mode. The way chords are constructed and their relationships to each other form the foundation of harmony in Western music. Here are the key aspects that chord systems are based on Triads. Scales, Intervals, Modulation, Functional Harmony and so many adjoining and extend chords progression. The basic concept in chord is designed is triads- meaning three notes played together i.e. root +third + fifth notes and it can be extended seventh, ninth.. or more . 


    The scale in Indian Music, basically in Hindustani music is of five notes, six notes and seven notes what generally called Jati of the Raga. The Jati can be extended up to nine different sub category. That is way the chord progression as said in western music cannot be possible in all Raga . Sampurna-Sampurna Jati Raga can be set to the chord system but the values of individual notes is different in each Raga. For example, Raga Bilawal is of seven notes raga of Sampurna-Sampurna Jati but the notes combination in Bilawal is complex and zigzag thus triads can be created mathematically but does not sounds effective as per the nature of the Raga. Similarly in Raga Kafi which is also Sampurna-Sampurna Jati Raga, the position of Komal Nishad in Aaroh is not so much strong as other notes and Komal Gandhar stands a bit sharper to touch the Madhyam. If we squeeze these frame and make a minor chord the values of Rishav and Madhyam is obvious down  and the nature of Kafi demolished. 

    In Shadav Jati or in Aaudav Jati Raga Chord progression is quite harder and seems more irrelevant that Shampurna Jati Raga. Let’s take one Raga – Bairagi, a Aaudav Jati Raga.  Sa Re Ma Pa Ni Sa  is the notes where Re and Ni are komal and rest are Suddha.  Regular Triads in these notes cannot make chords and justified the nature of the Raga but the complex chords Cm7b5, Dbmaj75, Gmaj75, Caug6, A#dim7 can be composed in these keys which does not sound good to the raga and make it only mathematically correct and kills the entire aesthetics of the Raga. 


Conclusion :

    The nature of harmonic music is different than the melody music and we should respect the style, pattern, combination of triads that frame the music genre around the globe. The nature of Hindustani Music is based on the Shruti, tiny components having variable of each notes as per the nature of Raga thus the diatonic and chromatic triads cannot defines the importance of individual notes in melodic structure of Raga. The structure of Indian Classical instruments are also designed in different way than piano or Harmonium, Guitar. We do not follow the diatonic or chromatic scale and our notes and semitones not fixed and based on the flexible mode. The Tanpura, Sarangi, Veena, Surbahar, Sarod, Bamboo Flute, Sitar few among many Indian instruments  whose structure are based on micro tone structure with flexible notes position. The fix notes or fix bars instruments are never the part of Indian Classical Music. 


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Method of Vocal Training in Hindustani Music

 Human vocal is a precious gift by the nature treated as an instrument in music. Vocal is commonly called Gatra Veena in India and often said as the toughest to learn but easier to explore. Human Voice is varies from one Sex to another, childhood to adolescent or adult to old age. Each one has an uniqueness in voice but each one cannot sing. Principal based on anatomical study of human voice and the factors needs to train the normal voice to singable voice is the hardest pathway that nurture a common man to a singer. In Hindustani Classical music, we seldom use scientific methods to train the human ear and human vocal but the entire process we follow traditionally is no less than the scientific method. 

The Gharana- a uniqueness in vocal training is one of the distinct linage we follow as a traditional style of transferring the knowledge to disciples. In Indian classical music Vana/ Style / Gharna are commonly used to identify the distinctness of singing or to tune the vocal in distinct way. In Dhrupad style of singing, four major uniqueness in vocal training are identified throughout the age name as Vani- Dagar Vani- Nauhar Vani, Khandhar Vani and Gauhar Vani. In Carnatic Music Thanjavur Vani is one of the oldest style of vocal training followed by Mysore Vani, Pudukottai Vani, Palakkad Vani and Semmangudi Vani are few prominent style of vocal training. 

We often discuss on the process of gayaki/singing but seldom discussion on the training process of the vocal in each and individual Gharana. Gyaki- vocal recital or the performance is the byproduct of the training what guru teaches to the Shishya. The Gayaki may more flourish if the training of voice in proper way with identifying the nature of the vocal of the individual who come for the lesson.

Every voice cannot be that much flexible in term of Chaumukhi Gayaki but if the training is proper guide an individual can explore all the gayaki in sound manner. The fundamental of Indian Music is Swar so each Swar need to be treated as base note and train in proper way that the pupil can understand the concept of building the notes. 

Shadaj is the base note in Indian Music but on what pitch the Shadaj is perfect for individual is to identify first while starting the class. our traditional style of learning-teaching music is no-doubt good but some effort on ear tuning and identifying the pitch can be a crucial in learning the music. Today we all are dependent of electronic and scientific equipments to produce music so with the knowledge parallel to modern innovation can help for better career opportunity to the students. 

Each individual Guru has a uniqueness in teaching music. it also depend on the style and gharana where proper vocal training was obtained but as per the needs of contemporary scenario here are few tips that a vocalist can adapt the vocal exercise which learning music. 

1. Establishing the base note Shadaj as per the comfort of the scale 

2. Ear tuning- understanding the actual pitch of  C , C# or any other note 

3. Mapping of Shadaj with all the 12 notes - swarstahn and distance of every notes from every notes. 

4. Breathing Exercise - Consistence in Shadaj

5. Establishing the Note - Sa, Re.., Thairav(longer stay on one note with vocal clarity) 

6. Visualising the notes- practice to listen and visual your own notes and mapped with tanpura. 

7. Regular practice 

8. Focusing of perfection on one - Ek Shade Sab Sadhe 

Raga is only the projection of melody of cluster of notes so initial vocal practice should be consistent and visionary that one can understand the concept of Naad , Anunaad , Shruti and Swar. Blind practice with improper guidance may be fatal and may ruin the dream of any individual so it is the most important part to train your voice in proper and scientific way that may help you to create a good career in singing. 

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Thumri: a technique of expressing the emotion through Voice

 The traditional vocal style of North Indian music known as thumri is renowned for its empathetic and sappy themes. To give the audience the intended emotional effect, this genre necessitates close attention to voice culture. The significance of vocal culture in Thumri and the methods for developing a rich and expressive voice will be discussed in this content. A important component of Thumri singing is voice culture. To attain the desired tonal quality, pitch, and range, the voice must be developed and refined. The nuances of the Thumri genre, such as the mood, passion, and poetry of the lyrics, can be conveyed by a well-trained vocal. 

Having good breath control is the first stage in voice culture. Long notes and intricate melodic patterns in Thumri require vocalists to maintain a steady, regulated breath. A strong and steady breath can be developed by vocalists through breathing techniques like pranayama and abdominal breathing. The expansion of vocal range is a crucial component of voice culture. Thumri singers must be able to use a variety of vocal tones to communicate various emotions and moods. Scales and arpeggios are two vocal exercises that singers frequently use to increase their vocal range and improve their ability to sing both high and low sounds. 

Thumri singers work hard to develop a fluid, seamless sound. To produce a more melodic and elegant tone, they strive to make their speech less harsh and rough. To produce a smoother voice, singers frequently employ methods like vocal warm-ups, throat relaxation routines, and voice modulation. Thumri singers give careful attention to their pronunciation and diction in addition to their vocal technique. The words and poetry of Thumri must be pronounced with clarity and precision. Singers frequently work with language coaches and put their diction and accent through exercises to better it. 

Thumri vocalists put a lot of effort into finding their unique voices and styles. They strive to develop a distinct voice and style that captures their individuality and take on the category. Singers frequently research the vocal techniques of well-known Thumri vocalists in order to create their own style.

Lastly but not the least, voice culture is a crucial component of thumri singing. It necessitates that vocalists learn how to control their breathing, widen their vocal range, develop a smooth, seamless voice, and pay close attention to their diction and pronunciation. A personal style and expression that shows their interpretation of the genre are other goals of thumri singers. Thumri singers can captivate their audience and elicit strong emotional reactions by mastering these methods and delivering a powerful and emotive performance.


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