An Old Speech Packs Quite a Mu­si­cal Punch

The Economic Times - - The Edit Page -

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.

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