Saturday, February 21, 2009

Why I listen to La Complainte de la Butte

When I first obtained the Moulin Rouge CD I listened to this one song, La Complainte de la Butte, so much that I feared for the life of the CD.



While I caught and understood some phrases, the song as a whole remained foreign. But my heart raced ahead, deriving meanings my head could not. At times the song was a lullaby, sometimes a despairing dirge, at other times a lament for a love lost. I found myself drawn to the song when I as alone at home, moping round or when on a long ride with my son and he was close to falling asleep.

Sharanya's column, Songs in Another Language, instantly reminded me of my obsession with La Complainte and smoothed out the rough edges of my understanding.
Perhaps there is something to be said for innocent impressionism. When a song is heard as sound and not story, something special happens. Its semantic spaces broaden. Our understanding draws blanks, and our imaginations fill them in. The human voice becomes an instrument in its own right. The whisper of a throat racked with failure can turn seductive; the grieving crescendo of a mourning song may rouse instead.

9 comments:

Kavi said...

Wow ! "When a song is heard as sound and not story, something special happens. Its semantic spaces broaden. Our understanding draws blanks, and our imaginations fill them in"

That was an inspiring and awesome Sunday morning read !!

thanks !

choxbox said...

lovely and that explains my obsession with tam songs during my first year in madras!

workhard said...

its fun, although i dont know telugu and other regional languages, i listen to them , and theres some kinda mystery as to what they are saying

Work from home

John said...

It helps if the singer is into the song, so that their enjoyment comes through... part of that 'other level'. Our imaginations fill in some gaps, but a part of us goes along for the ride with the singer, and if they are really enjoying themselves, you share the magic across the language barrier.

On another note, if the singer is only singing phonetically, and doesn't really speak that other language, the song can be enjoyable on another level... usually a humorous one. :0)

Cheers, JOHN :0)

Sujatha said...

John, that's a great point, about the singer being into the song.

Sujatha said...

Wonderful song. I like this rendition even better than the slightly drawn out drawl of the version you posted. It was in one of the associated links with a singer from the 1950's.
Kind of like the difference between Kishore Kumar and Kumar Sanu.

Sujatha said...

Sujatha, thanks for posting that! Thoroughly enjoyed listening to it. Love the crackle of old video. But too upbeat for me. Not good when I'm feeling all maudlin. :)

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John said...

Looks like the spammers have found you, Sujatha. Best thing to do is delete as many as you can, fast as you can, and they'll go away.

Don't know why they waste everyone's time like this... I mean, it's obvious the post is garbage, and who would click on a link knowing they're supporting these idiots?

They hit everyone, eventually. Must be nice to have so much time...

JOHN :0)

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