Counter Melody in Bollywood Film Songs

According to information available in many articles by music lovers and as per true definition of music, “a counter-melody (often countermelody) is a sequence of notes, perceived as a melody, written to be played simultaneously with a more prominent lead melody; a secondary melody played in counterpoint with the primary melody. A counter-melody performs a subordinate role, and is typically heard in a texture consisting of a melody plus accompaniment”.

If you listen to a film song composed by maestros Shanker-Jaikishan, O. P. Nayyar or Salil Chowdhury, you also hear a tune being played along with the song in the background. This parallel tune is created with violin, cello, piano, Spanish guitar or an organ. This “parallel tune for a song” technique, known as a Counter-Melody.

In simple words film song has 2 types of set up. In 1st set up when a singer is singing either MUKHDA or ANTARA of any song, some musicians play the same lines along with voice of singer. This has been common practice for many decades. In 2nd type of set up musicians play a tune which is different from words of song. This is counter melody. Now what to play and how to play is decided by composer and his arrangers. Counter melody is a western concept which adds freshness to a song. It was introduced in Bollywood by Anil Biswas ji, but later on it was refined by Shankar Jaikishan and their arranger Sebastian D'Souza who worked with SJ from 1951 to 1975. During this period Mr.D'souza also worked with OP Naiyyar, Salil da, SD Burman dada, Roshan and other composers. He originally belonged to Goa and had vast knowledge of western music and was fluent in notation writing work, after spending few years in industry he also imbibed finer aspects of Indian classical music. It was the counter melody set up of D'souza along with 100+ orchestra of Shankar Jaikishan that created magic, that's why music of SJ sounds different from their contemporaries. In 1950’s many composers started using counter melody in their songs, all this was possible due to work of Anil Biswas and D’Souza ji.

Apart from this small musical pieces (fillers) are also part of counter melody set up which are used when singer takes a pause for breathing, and also in places where we notice gap in words of a song. Sebastian D'souza's contribution to film music is immense. He remained bachelor throughout his life and was completely devoted to music. Before joining SJ he was conducting a western music band in Shimla, Musoorie, Delhi where programmes for British officers and urban elite were organized before our independence. Hope this info shall answer all queries. 1 more thing to understand counter melody, you need to listen to a song 3-4 times. Once we understand this concept it will increase our enjoyment about listening a film song.

I started listening to film music in 1960 process is still continued. I was fortunate enough to watch film song recording in 1973 in Bombay and also participated in many programs at AIR Jodhpur, Udaipur so know little bit about music recordings.

Udaipur has been a popular film shooting destination since 1960. Films like Guide 1965, Mera Saaya 1966, Mera gaon Mera desh 1971, Bond film Octopussy 1982 have been shot there.


More by :  Prof. Rakesh Goswami

Top | Cinema

Views: 3545      Comments: 1

Comment what a write-up....... NOT a single example or pointer !!! Hats off

21-Mar-2022 03:53 AM

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