Mera kuchh saman – मेरा कुछ सामान

“This song is so magical, Ashaji’s voice takes me to another world….” says singer Rakhi Hegade about this evergreen from R.D. Burman. At first not aware of the legendary status of this song in Bollywood history, Wim was instantly charmed by its melody and arranged it into a Spanish-sounding nostalgic ambience.

To re-sculpture a cultural monument can be challenging since inevitably the result will be subject to comparison. But being non-Indian, Wim wasn’t inhibited by cultural sensitivities when arranging the song. More so, the melody seemed quite suitable for an infusion with flamenco sounds, a genre for which Wim always has felt a great affection.

Instrumentation

Melosthesia - guitar
The arrangement is scored for vocals, bansuri, piano, classical or flamenco guitar, strings, double bass, cajon and shakers.

Melosthesia - bansuri

The bansuri is a bamboo flute. Brought into the footlight by masters like  Hariprasad Chaurasia and having a timbre close to the human voice, it occupies a prominent place in Indian music. Contrary to its Western sister, the Boehm flute, it has no valves. At one hand this makes the instrument more difficult to master, but this very fact provides an enormous flexibility in creating sounds and effects.

Melosthesia - cajonThe cajón, originally Peruvian, was introduced not so long ago in flamenco to provide percussive support to the singer, guitar and dancer. Basically it’s a wooden box with internal snares.

Recording

Vocal recording was done by Rakhi in Pune/India. Instrumental recording in Antwerp by Wim playing the bansuri (E-flute), classical guitar, piano, double bass, cajon and shakers. A 3-weeks crash course in India with bansuri-master Rajendra Teredesai had proven to be rewarding. It was the amazing song Night in Lenasia by Deepak Ram which inspired Wim to start studying the bansuri.

Video

Melosthesia - painting Ketaki Pimpalkhare
Painting by Ketaki Pimpalkhare

Indian painter Ketaki Pimpalkhare contributed to the visual part of the video with an ink-drop video. The shapes and colors synced with the music are a metaphorical evocation of the neurological phenomenon chromesthesia. Ketaki had already applied this technique previously on the video Song for K by Agnee.

“Being one of my favourite Bollywood classics, I was so excited about making this video. Also chromesthesia, when mentioned by Wim, was a completely new phenomena to me and I could only imagine how it must feel like to ‘see’ music. “, says Ketaki.

“This collaboration with Wim and Rakhi has brought me closer to understanding the subtle nuances of melody and mood and thus colours and motion. It’s been a beautiful journey.”

 Harmonies

Melosthesia - migrationThough the original is in the ionian mode (thaat bilawal), the melody is also very well suited to be presented in the phrygian mode (thaat bhairavi). This mode is the trademark of Spanish flamenco, a form of music partly rooted in the folk music of Indian tribes who migrated to Spain from 600 AD onwards. This interchangeability between modes is a feature often used in 20th century classcial music and jazz.

Lyrics translation & subtitles

The subtitles were made by Wim for a non-Hindi-speaking audience. They are based on existing and personal translations. The sole purpose of the subtitles is to give the non-Indian viewer an idea of the lyrics. It goes without saying that compromises had to be made, but an effort was done to convey the feeling of the original poem.

Translation of Mera kuchh saman (by Wim Vanallemeersch)

Some of my things are still with you  
Some of my things are still with you  
Some drenched monsoon days are still there  
And in one of my letters is wrapped a night
Wipe out that night
And my things… return them
It was autumn, wasn’t it?
      
Autumn leaves… the sound of their fall…  
… lingering in my ears once when I came back  
Still that autumn branch is quivering
Free that branch and return to me my things  
Free that branch and return to me my things  
      
Both of us under one umbrella, getting drenched in the rain   
Both of us under one umbrella, getting drenched in the rain   
Half dry, half wet… the dry stuff I took with me  
My rain-soaked heart… maybe besides the bed is where I left it
Send it back to me 
And my things… return them
      
One hundred and sixteen moonlit nights,  
A beauty mark on your shoulder,
The fragrance of wet henna, 
Some feigned sulking….  
All those false promises, let me remind them  
Send all of it back, and my things… return them
Send all of it back, and my things… return them
      
Just grant me this one wish, that when I bury these things…  
I will also rest besides them forever  
I will also rest besides them forever

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