My experience with Nostalgiaana
This blog is reproduced as submitted and the views given are those of the Author(s)
Music is part of our being from start to finish. There is laya n swar in the way the birds start chirping first thing in the morning. It has a very soothing and calming effect on our frayed nerves. The ringing of bell in a temple or home accompanying our daily worship has a certain peculiar way to energise us with its positive vibes. It is all a matter of feeling it and getting immersed in the same. Now even the modern medical science vouchsafes for the medicinal and beneficial qualities of listening to and humming melodious quality music.
From the time I had a hang of things musical I had always been besotted with Hindi film music without any clue as to what exactly lured me to the song in question apart from the lyrics of course which are still the most important part of the song for me. As the days went by slowly and steadily came to know about major instruments being used in the orchestration of the song namely Tabla, harmonium, shehnai, flute, violin, piano, sitar, sarod, sarangi, dholak, santoor, trumpet, drums etc. All these played by accomplished musicians have a significant role to play to make the song convey the full meaning in addition to the lyrics written for a particular situation in the film. Normally nobody takes notice of this part of a song even while enjoying the song as a whole which is the sum total of all the parts chipped in by different musicians in the prelude, interlude or the ones accompanying the singers. Hardly anybody is aware of the names of the musicians playing these instruments.
With the decline of radio listening in the eighties coinciding the drastic change in the quality of songs being churned out we all used to remember those days of being glued to the radio for hours on end for the wonderful experience of listening to our select songs.
In Lockdown when everyone was confined to their homes for a long time, a group of enterprising music connoisseurs hit upon the fabulous idea of starting a zoom session thrice a week, under the banner of Nostalgiaana, airing shows of around 40 minutes each having eight songs, from 1950 onwards till 2000 in the night to be repeated next day in the morning to cater to the overseas listeners. This lovable musical community has grown gradually in the last three years to more than 350 members like a close-knit family having remarkable bonding and camaraderie with music being the sole binding thread.
After being part of this musical movement called Nostalgiaana, for more than one and a half years, taking us back to those nostalgic radio days with details of musicians making their contribution to the success of the song, I have come to enjoy the songs much more holistically than before being introduced to this group. The meticulous and laborious research with which a mix of popular, unheard and less heard songs with a sprinkling of a regional song every now and then, carefully chosen, celebrating the unsung artistes along the way apart from remembering the writer, music director and singer, is a sheer delight, I am at a loss to explain. There is an added attraction of listening to our choice song by registering in advance as two such songs r aired in the two shows, the third being devoted to the most popular format of Member Presentation in which a member presents eight songs of his or her choice with their own perspective or recollection of the songs chosen. There is absolutely no interference from the group organisers in this presentation. This is the most eagerly looked forward to format with advance booking of interested members for more than a year for their slot.
Later on another segment called Jukebox catering to songs of 1985 onwards generally thought to be a period of less quality music, rightly or wrongly depending on the perception and age group of the listeners, too was started , having shows of six songs twice a week in the night to be repeated next day in the morning. This too has attracted a fairly good number of listeners pretty successfully. This format also has its Member Presentation slot once in a fortnight, with a waiting time for the booking of slot exceeding one n a half year. The airing of songs is accompanied by their full details n an ongoing chat between the members on the finer points of the songs being played. There is a continuous exchange of views making the show very informative and engaging. The songs similar in nature to the songs being aired are mentioned, even a particular phrase or line being used by another music director in his song is discussed threadbare enriching all the members. Similarly, the meaning of some difficult words or phrases is explained via chat. The anchors or the members presenting show can speak in Hindi or English whichever language they find themselves comfortable in. In March this year more than sixty members assembled in Goa for three days of enriching musical sessions, on the interesting topics like songs having western influence, songs which carry a story along, the place of ghazals in Hindi music, lyricists of the seventies and the duets involving one lesser known singer and one popular one. This jamboree was a superhit show with all the thought-provoking topics bringing out the best in the members. The members sat throughout the day indoors too absorbed in the proceedings to attend even any phone call leave apart thinking of skipping these sessions for sightseeing. In the evening, the choice songs of members were played apart from crooning of songs by the members themselves. There was a great deal of shaking of legs to the beat of enchanting music, creating a festive atmosphere. Members from all over the country and even abroad had made it a point to make this personal interaction with each other and being part of these excellent sessions worth their while. It was a memorable union of likeminded music crazy people , leaving them asking for more at the end of it all. Plans r already underway for the next such rendezvous. Members of Bombay, NCR, Chennai keep on meeting among themselves from time to time and in Bombay recently a trip of Cinema Museum was organised which was liked by everybody as they came to know the history of Indian cinema through the magnificent pictures from the silent, black and white era to the colour picture era. All the thespians and legends of film line have been documented n profiled there.
Like all other disciplines of art, listening to music is also an art which can only be learnt by joining such groups of knowledgeable people ready to share their knowledge with like-minded rasiks for their benefit and joy. The collective listening to the songs is a unique experience leaving us with a sense of fulfilment and satisfaction beyond words. It is something to be experienced to be believed.
I have already given three member presentations to the admiration of most members present. I never thought that I could address a group of people even virtually but was made to feel relaxed and at ease by the encouragement and support of the ever helpful organisers, leaving me surprised at my own hidden potential to express myself about my selection of songs, giving voice to my inner thoughts. This was a great morale booster for my self-esteem as it came as a bolt from the blue taking me by surprise by my own ability. I believe it is the same feeling with most other members too who have ventured to present their member presentation.
Being a Member of both the groups, it goes without saying that this association of mine as part of this lovely erudite community has been a game changer not only in the way I enjoy music now as compared to the time before joining this group, but also the way I think and go about my daily routine. The difference is too stark and unmistakable to miss. There is room to express our opinion on the nature of songs played on a site devoted for this purpose and lively one to one chats about the quality music.
If you wish to be part of this silent revolution and swim in the same current I find myself in, please don’t hesitate to be in touch with the community
Nostalgianna Musings, March 2023
This blog is reproduced as submitted and the views given are those of the Author(s)
Hello and a warm welcome to the very first issue of Nostalgianna Musings, a monthly update on all things music at the curated group, R4 Nostalgianna.
First off, about 70 members participated in a 3-day music jamboree in Goa, the very first such initiative by the group. Three days of retro music, camaraderie and more music as people made new friends; and enjoyed, lived, and breathed music together. Sharing the curiosity and the joy of discovering good music from across the decades to present times.
Underlying the fun was a template of serious presentations. These presentations were thoroughly researched, time-bound and innovatively shared. Just look at the scope and relevance of some themes—Ghazals in Hindi Film Music (HFM), Innovative Western influences in HFM, Landmark songs in the current millennium. The joy of sharing music with a likeminded group must be experienced, one can’t quite put it in words. For most of us the atmosphere was a return to the boisterous zest of college days.
Looking at how music-enthused the group was and how immense the opportunity to build on the vast universe of retro, serious discussions followed about taking the joy of R4 Nostalgianna’s music to far more people. The presentation by Shri Ajay Pandey, mentor and noted management expert, added a thoughtful note to the discussion. A roadmap was charted, and work on some of the tasks has already begun.
“After 10” was marked by karaoke improvisations and impromptu concerts on the lawn-- concerts that lasted almost all night, yes such was the enthusiasm.
Arranging the logistics for 70 people with varied travel schedules and menu choices is a mammoth task, a big shout out to the Goa team for orchestrating this flawlessly.
The music, enthusiasm, high spirits, bonhomie, were evident during the journeys to and fro, much to the amusement and interest of co-travellers.
Ideas for the next jamboree are on the planning board, with many new faces and initiatives expected!
March is a month with several anniversaries. On the R4 shows tributes were paid and memories shared for greats like music director- saxophonist- arranger Manohari Singh, master Lyricist-poet Qamar Jalalabadi. Their contributions were highlighted, with rare trivia and engaging chatroom discussions. Discussing music while listening adds much energy to the R4 shows.
Lesser-known facts, anecdotes and memories often come to light in the monthly Book Charcha selection. This involves a book discussion with an author or sharing of memories by a music professional or a family member, interspersed with songs. The last book charcha with Nasreen Munni Kabir was about her book on Lata Mangeshkar. This discussion revealed many facets of her personality—her sharp sense of observation, her keen wit and humour, her interest in photography and film techniques.
Jukebox, the show that features high quality music from recent times showcased two music stalwarts this month. Music Director and background music composer Rahul Ranade spoke at length about his work philosophy, his style and his insistence on the story to match his songs to. In yet another show, film maker Soumik Sen shared how he convinced Snehlata Dixit to sing along with her star daughter Madhuri Dixit for his movie.
That’s the update for now.
Wishing you a musically-rich journey as we explore the month ahead, together
Retd. Government Official & Music Lover