An Old Speech Packs Quite a Musical Punch
Aspiring politicians are normally drawn to Jawaharlal Nehru’s ‘Tryst with Destiny’ speech. But it has inspired musician Ted Nash to write a score for the speech, which has won him a Grammy for ‘best instrumental composition’. That is a little unusual. Nehru’s speech was captured in eight jazz movements. How would other speeches from India fare, if these were set to music or, better still, converted into musical scores? Without doubt, the best bits of music-fromspeech would emerge from Tamil Nadu, where passion and eloquence routinely combine to produce long outpourings whose cadence and pitch vary across the spectrum, to require an entire philharmonic orchestra to represent them. Nehru’s great grandson has none of the illustrious forebear’s lyrical charm. His short, staccato sentences call for a percussion instrument, say, the tabla. His bête noire specialises in attacks, mocking, frontal or throwaway. Battle drums and trumpets would probably be his best musical equivalent. Speeches by left leaders would be a string of false notes, these days. Mulayam’s speeches would switch from Country and Soul to angry Rap. Lalu’s songs would ascend from bass and tenor to a high falsetto. But if someone were to put the content of an everyday parliamentary debate to music, we would be treated, no doubt, to the sound of silence.