Musing about musicSongs have played a pivotal role in many political and rights movements.
Art has been departmentalised into music, literature and sculpture along with the intellectual movement of Enlightenment in the 18th century. Thenceforth, these arts have been developing side by side claiming their own independent existence, and there has been no crucial attempt to reconcile them again. Among them, literature has been a more essential, popular and scholarly genre. But music and sculpture cannot be overshadowed, and they aren’t on the verge of extinction, instead they are ever growing. Music, particularly song, is an eminent quotient of human life which can be construed and valued as vast as literature. It can be the domain of serious literature.
Song as a part popular culture can impart awareness about the socio-political and cultural status of the nation and the world along with the theme of love, peace and fraternity like literature. We know that songs have played a pivotal role in many political and rights movements. The civil rights movement which was largely corroborated by rebel songs and jazz music is an example. Songs like ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’ and ‘The Times They Are a Changin’’ by Bob Dylan, Nobel Prize winner for literature in 2016, became the anthem for the movement. His being awarded the Nobel Prize for literature itself deconstructs the popular belief of that literature is superior and music is inferior.
We are also witnessing this very culture in Nepali political movements as well. Songs like ‘Jaga lamka, chamka he nau jawana ho’ and ‘Gai ta badhne dhungroma mohi chhaina’ are a few which are mostly sung at political conferences, conventions and demonstrations in Nepal. Songs, along with advancements in electronics such as radio, TV, mobile and the internet have provided easy access to the people. During 2000s, a song by Adrian Pradhan, ‘Mero desh talai k vo’, is a paragon for awareness upliftment while Nepali politics was in a transitional phase. The genric boundary between song and literature has already been ruptured. For instance, songs like ‘Balaka baburo’ and ‘Rato ra chandra surya’ are poems which are widely known and studied in academic literary courses. These poems were set to music by some innovative artists.
The themes of songs may range from love, culture and history to the nation, world and universe. ‘Eauta manchheko maya le’ by Narayan Gopal, ‘Kati kamjor rahechha vagya’ by Deep Shrestha, ‘Nabahana mero maya’ by Adrian Pradhan and ‘Look into My Eyes’ by Bryan Adams are some heartrending love songs among many others. ‘Jaso gara je bhana’ by 1974 AD, ‘Gorkhali ko chhoro ma’ by Mantra and ‘Jaha chhan Buddha ka aankha’ by Bhakta Raj Acharya are a few songs with national pride having cultural allusions. What inspires me most are songs having the universal ethos of fraternity like ‘Ekai akash muni’ by Sabin Rai, ‘Bacha ani bachana deu’ by 1974 AD and ‘Heal the World’ by Michael Jackson. One cannot forget the rebel song ‘Buffalo Soldier’ by Bob Marley.
Some song compositions are heavily loaded with meaningful emotions evoking love, nationalism and even universal ethos. Despite some songs from subgenres like rap and metal which are sometimes found to be cacophonic, other songs (from other subgenres like classic, rock, folk, blues, jazz including rap and metal) do have an aura of cadence.
My urge is to construe songs in relation to literature. I found a close resemblance between songs and poetry. Obviously, lyrical poetry is musical and song-like. Songs too encompass meaningful messages like poetry. It can bring a lot of changes in society by making people cautious. So I propose to make an interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary study of songs for which there are no inhibitions. Most countries lack the tradition of reading songs seriously and critically, which may be the reason behind the production of songs with degraded qualities these days. However, songs carry historicity, folk and popular culture, and humanitarian values. Hence, songs should be studied as serious literature having profound meaning, love, cultural allusions, history and fraternity and should be the concern of the academic arena and researchers too.
Timsina completed his masters from the Central Department of English, TU.