Two a cappella versions of ‘Vande Mataram’

Two a cappella versions of ‘Vande Mataram’

There is something about ‘Vande Mataram’, composed in 1896, that keeps on evoking genuine emotion with each Indian. Authors and vocalists have never quit trying different things with the first structure scored by Jadunath Bhattacharya. We have heard diverse versions in the voices of Lata Mangeshkar, M. S. Subbalakshmi, S.P. Balasubramaniam, A. R. Rahman and Anup Jalota among others. Presently another era of artists are attempting to think they could call their own propelled renditions of the melody. Two distinctive a cappella variants of the tune have hit the online networking in the meantime. While one is by artists Soumya Sanathanan and Preetha P. V., the other is finished by Bodhi Silent Scape, the music label of composer Bijibal.

It was a few months ago that Soumya Sanathanan garnered likes on the social media with the first a cappella cover in Malayalam, with the film song ‘Thumbapoo kaatilpaadum’. She hasn’t disappointed in her second attempt. “It is a dedication to the nation celebrating its 69th Independence Day. Also, after the first a cappella got noticed I was told by many that it shouldn’t be a one-off attempt. So I wanted to prove that I could do it again. Instead of taking up a new song I thought of experimenting with a song that all of us are familiar with. We zeroed in on ‘Vande Mataram’ so as to release it around Independence Day,” says Soumya, who has made her mark as a composer and percussionist as well.

She got the perfect partner in Preetha, a veteran in her own right with a 27-year-old career behind her. Preetha says: “I am fortunate to have sung with singers of many generations. And trying a different style after so many years is something really special for me. Thankfully other than going for varied levels of humming and giving different variations for the opening lines, I didn’t have to reproduce vocally any instrumental portion.”

The duo ensured that they didn’t tamper with the innate beauty of the song.

“The beauty of a cappella is that it has an element of curiosity. As for the song it has an emotional element to it. So we were very particular that our attempt didn’t spoil that aspect.” The song has been arranged by Anish J. S. and mixed by Anil Arjunan.

“The video has been edited by Abhishek G. A., who is doing his Plus I,” Soumya adds. Her daughter Neelambari has sung the refrain along with others.

Scoring high
Composer-singer Bijibal is basking in the glory of yet another Kerala State Film Award. And he is equally thrilled to talk about the recent experiment from his label Bodhi Silent Scape. “I don’t want to take credit for this a cappella version. It has been conducted, arranged and produced by Aby Salvin Thomas, with whom I have been working for many years. Bodhi aims to promote talents in music and but for Aby this wouldn’t have happened.”

Bijibal and Vipin Lal (one of the singers of Thaikkudam bridge) are the lead singers and they are backed by 12 others.

“It needs expertise to arrange a song in a cappella format. The beauty lies in the harmony of voices. Adapting that to Indian music brings a different feel to a song. And if it is a popular song like ‘Vande Mataram’, it is even more special.

“The song has Bengali and Sanskrit words. ‘Vande Mataram’ is based on a classical raga and that makes it very musical. So giving vocal arrangement for the song isn’t easy,” says Bijibal. The version has been mixed and mastered by Nandu Kartha.

Commenting on the a cappella version by Soumya and Preetha, Bijibal says: “It feels great that our musicians are coming out with such new ideas. It augurs well for parallel and independent music.”

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