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News |  28 Sep 2020 14:27 |  By Aatish Jaisinghani

Queen of Melody's 91st birthday, here's a take on modern-day music whether music is still alive, or is melody no more

MUMBAI: It is the eve of Bharat Ratna Lata Mangeshkar’s birthday. As the Nightingale of India turns 91, and the rains pour, creating music of its own, we wonder, in the modern times, whether Music is still alive, or is melody no more…

Getting back to the topic on hand, Melody is a crucial fragment of music as a whole, however, on its own, it is not enough! According to Aaron Copland, America’s music genius, by the way, music comprises four central components – Melody, Harmony, Rhythm and Tone Colour.

One may compare music to a fine dine spread! The harmony is the appetizer, you ear it in and you savour it. The Tone Colour as the spritzer follows it, you gulp it down to quench your thirst, followed by rhythm’s rendition of a decadent tiramisu layered cake sundae. You might feel content after such an exquisite fare. However, wait! Where is the entrée? That is what music is without melody, where melody being the entrée, is often skipped and not given its due respect.

Nevertheless, in today’s date, there is a lack of melody in modern music. One may call it a dramatic take as the common ears fail to ascertain it, but that is what it is. It is a growing trend to ignore melody as the rhythm takes the forefront. Not just in modern-day commercial music genres, this phenomenon also prevails over modern classical music.

Personally, as a music aficionado, I want to disagree when people say that melody is dying. However analyzing today’s music, be it film, mainstream pop culture or the overuse of electronic music in clubs, one can say it is safe to assume that this trend is in it for a long haul, and building up since a long time. These pop culture musicians, bands or groups did learn things from musicians of other genres. They realized that repetitive music is catchier than a good melody that selects notes arranged like a TV commercial in a repetitive stance. 

Recently, Billie Eilish, an 18-year-old singer-songwriter, released a track called ‘bad guy’ which went on to become a raging hit in billboards across several countries. That is not all! She went on to get nominated for several award functions. How did she do it? Well, all it took is a superficial yet catchy bassline followed by whispered vocals. To complement this, she adds rhythmic claps and funky electronic synthesizer tones in a simplistic jingle! One might say that on an overall, there is a hint of melody. That melody exists because of everything else. The melody is not expressed primarily because it is suppressed to a point that it has now become a trend to disregard the essence of the melody. It has simply gone out of fashion. The crowd wants a ‘banger’ beat with electronic tones that does not always sound mellow. By classical music standards, it is far from melodious.

With the new wave of electronic music with techno in the forefront, the lack of melody was widely ignored as its popularity started rising. Then came disco and then came today’s EDM. The diabolical rise of electronic dance music came as a rather shock to classical music followers as music producers explore the whole new world of sound and how it can be manipulated, rather than working on new melodies to dance to! The same can be said about Rap, RnB and hip-hop. The performer, informally called a rapper, uses a backing track that is, more or less, like endlessly repetitive beats. In addition, what can someone say about the remake culture! Alter existing music, while completely disregarding its melody, and then recreating it as an all-new ‘banger’. Not just in India, this is happening across the globe.

What better for the man in the digital age? Lack of melody makes you think lesser than your exhausted mind needs to. Lack of melody is easily digestible to the music brain. It is not being used as an expressive tool anymore. Even if one says that it still exists, one can also argue that its significance is lost. And maybe there is no way to save melody. Your take?

About The Author: Aatish Jaisinghani

A Musician by passion, a Publicist by profession and a writer with an 'occasional' block, Aatish Jaisinghani is an ardent lover of Music!

Contemplating life as it happens, he can be seen strumming his beautiful Fender Acoustic or plugging in his Les Paul style Cort Electric Guitar. And yes, both come in black!  He is also particularly fond of his Harmonica. All in all, everyday he gets the Blues!