Friday, February 24, 2006

Music and Memories

"Nasha yeh pyaar ka nasha hai" (This is the intoxication of love) crooned Udit Narayan. I was lost in ecstasy, immersed in the music. I had actually bought an audio cassette of Mann, just for this song, which is totally unlike me. (I rarely buy new Hindi movie albums. I listen to it, but refrain from buying it). I was trying to get my sister to listen to it and enjoy it. She and I have very similar tastes in almost everything, including music.
But she listened to the song with me, and said, "Yes, it's very good, but nothing to go crazy, raving mad about. Why do you like it so much?"
I was stumped. "But it's such a lovely song! Don't you see it? Come on, listen to it again, it has such an atmosphere!" I said, and tried to stuff the notes into her ear.
"You probably have an association with this song. Where did you hear it first?" she asked.
Ah, I said.

I heard it for the first time when I had just moved out of home into the hostel. A very nice couple, our family friends, lived in the same city. They used to pick me up from my hostel, take me to their home, ply me with goodies, and drop me back to the hostel. They realized that I was lonely and missing home, and did all they could to make me feel comfortable.

I heard the song sitting in their car. Cocooned in the comfort of the A/C car, protected from the burning heat outside. "Nashe mein yaar doob jaao" coaxed Udit Narayan (Drown, my friend, in the intoxication). I did. I did drown in the intoxication of that moment. That moment of peace. That moment of cool comfort. That moment where I felt I was not alone any longer. A small drop of home in an ocean of unfamiliarity.

This feeling of comfort, of assurance, envelops me whenever I listen to this song. Each time. Even after all these years. Little wonder that I like the song so much!

Same is the case with Sonu Nigam's "Deewana". I heard it for the first time in Gangtok. While driving in a jeep through narrow winding roads. The chill in the air, the mountains and the greenery. The snow. The feeling of ecstasy, of camaraderie. The thrill of seeing the wheels of the jeep just inches away from the edge of the road, and knowing that one wrong turn means certain death. The feeling of recklessness. Of satisfaction. Of joy.

Even after eight years, the first few notes of any song from Deewana takes me back. Gangtok gets merged with Darjeeling, which we had visited right after Gangtok. I can feel the chill. I can see Kanchenjunga. I can smell Darjeeling Tea, and I can taste hot veg momos. I can hear the chanting in the monastery. Added to it, I can feel the mountains, the clouds, the snow. If I want to revisit Gangtok and Darjeeling, all I need to do is close my eyes and listen to Deewana.

There have been unpleasant associations too. Like the song that was playing early in the morning, when the newspapers came full of the news of Rajiv Gandhi's assassination, with gory pictures splattered all over the pages. Even now, that song makes me uncomfortable.

That's why, I never call a song or a piece of music good or bad. I just say "I like it" or "I don't like it". For every person who doesn't like a song, there is surely a person who has a pleasant association and so loves that song.

Google tells me that many Alzheimer's patients have retrieved lost memory through listening to particular types of music. Apparently, processing music involves the use of memory and also aids in the retrieval of past memories. Obviously, there must be a strong connection between memory centers of the brain as well as those that process music.

Continuing with this assumption, listening to music regularly might stimulate the memory centres, and improve your memory! Now that's a great memory enhancer for you!

There must be research going on in this area, somewhere on earth. Wonder if they would like a volunteer? ;)


Kalyan said...

my favorite music is mostly pure instrumental without the words. I wondered why and realized that its because if I understand the lyrics ... I tend to sing along!! and listen less :)

btw.. on a lighter note... if you've seen karz... one tune/song can even remind you things from the past life ;))

the One said...

Hmm. One has always associated songs with memories too .. and with friends. Powerful, is music.

Supremus said...

Without music, I think my life would be meaningless. Period.


PS: Great post. I have a lot of songs that I recall my memories too - umm - now there's another topic to write on, second inspiration from your blog...

Shruthi said...

@Kalyan: Ha ha :) Nope, not seen Karz. But coming to think of it, a song has been the unifying factor in so many brothers-separated-in-childhood movies :)

@The One: I agree with The One about this. Music is powerful indeed.

@Suyog: That's cool :) and thanks!!

Jigal.. said...


Sonu Nigam is my fav singer...

And i love album DEEWANA.....awesome songs.....

do u kno abt Music Therapy???


take care

Bhargav said...

Good one!!
I guess its not just the music, but the sense of smell too. Things like these permanently etch some events in the past into your memory and you tend to recollect them quite often later. For instance, a really good cup of steaming hot coffee reminds me of the cold early mornings at my home, with my grand mum and mum. The picture of them and their talks ring in my brain. Amazing is this association of events with your senses of smell or hearing.

dev said...

truly.. how much u like a song depends upon how much u associate the song with urself..!
if the song has something common with ur life, u develop an instant liking for it..!

Shruthi said...

@Jigal: Yes, heard quite a bit of music therapy... !! :)

@Bhargav: Yes, the sense of smell is also a major memory-bringer-back. Of course, this has been researched and dealt with, but i was curious about the connection between music and memory :)
Your memories sound so beautiful and nostalgic...;)

@dev: How true!

Aparna S Mallya said...

Really liked your post. You have described yr emotions with beautiful words.

'Deewana' has a haunting tone.I love it for the tone more than the words. And don't be surprised if u catch me humming it twenty times a day!

Akshay said...

i listen to music while i solve maths. its a great help.

great post.

Shruthi said...

@Aparna: Thank you! :) Yes, even without the memories, Deewana is a very good album!

@Akshay: Hey I used to do that too! I could never work out maths without music! ;) Of course, that was a long long time ago :O

Hiren said...

Music has a great therapeutic role in my eyes. It is indeed healing and relaxing.

Anonymous said...

nice blog,throroughly enjoyed readin it..
have a nice day

Bhupi said...

my favourite song one and only "The guru". Favourite band "Euphoria" and singer "Shaan".

and ya being a voulenteer for the research...u really need it :) :)

Shruthi said...

@Hiren: How true!

@G: Thank you! :)

@Bhupi: Why do I need to be a volunteer? Explain please!!

Chitra said...

I could'nt agree with you more. My sister always asks me to turn off the music,if i play Ashique's ( a 1990s bollwood musical) songs and says she feels feverish when she listens to those tunes. I remember kamal being very sick when Ashique was released. She associates her sick feeling to the songs she heard then. Good line of thought there shruthi! and ofcourse well written :) Music sureley does have theraputic value.

chitra said...

Ya....we like particualar songs/music because they strike some chord in us. A stanza... a tune.... or plain music!

Anonymous said...

Classical anytime :) [ To be frank, I had never heard of Mann till I read your post ;) ]
Old songs almost anytime
New songs sometime ( rare though )
English/Rap/Disco/most others No time !

Did someone listen to 11am FM today? All 'Zindagi' all time fav 'Mein Zindagi ka saath nibhaata chala gaya'

Trivia abt Karz - Kannada film Starring 'Yudda KanDa' was remake of Karz and week before it was released karz came on DD-1 Saturday Night film show and incidentally 'Yudda KanDa' did not do well. I have somehow linked those incidents ;)

Jeevana, ee jeevana yeru perina gaayana

Shruthi said...

@Chitra(of my childhood): Exactly! That's what I mean! On another note, Aashiqui songs remind me of our Rajyotsava functions in the township :))

@Chitra:(of Chitraaz): True! Its not the words that give the effect, even the tune, or plain music will do!

@Anon: Interesting trivia ha :) And "interestinger" logic. :) But tell me, does music evoke memories in you too?

Anonymous said...

What kind of 'memories' ?! ;)

Among the many other memories songs remind me of, this is one till date the funniest one in my life.....

There is a hindi song 'yaar bina chain kahan re' right? there is a parody in Kannada 'preetiye nan usiru' ...exactly same tune.....
roomie always used to sing a song in the same tune 'yaar nanna chaddi kaddoru, yaar nanna chaddi kaddoru, kempu dalla, kappu dalla, patte patte du...ada...naa kadiddu' when he went to take bath( shall i add not so often :D )
( translation - who stole my chaddi, who stole my chaddi, not the red one nor the black one, the stripped one , the one i had stolen )

I had heard it so many times that I had forgotten the original was attending this Antakshari and we were supposed to sing Kannada version of the song 'Yaar bina chain kaya re' much ever i remembered 'Preetiye nan usiru' i cud not remember the lyrics but only Chaddi song was coming to my mind. When that particular round was over i volunteered to sing the similiar sounding chaddi version of the long and it was a huge hit :)

Shruthi said...

@Anon: That was hilarious!! :))
Anyway, the memories I meant was more towards feelings, unconscious memories, like those I have mentioned in the post :)

Anonymous said...

@Shruthi - Almost always my comments have nothing to do with the blog. I thought u wud have figured it out by now ;)
Its girls who generally bother too much 'feelings' 'memories' etc , guys usually listen to a song and ...listen to the next one :D

anyway am off with comments for this blog...dont want too many 'Anons' !!

Swathi said...

yes, yes songs n memories r inseparable n i do remember blogging vividly 'bout it

here it is

Sing Me a Memory

VirginUpdates said...

music makes the world go round

Shruthi said...

@Anon: No, don't do that! My blog needs your insightful comments ;))

@Swathi: Wow that's a lovely post :)

@VU: It does indeed! :)

Rishi40023 said...

good one. the memories are always there. it comes back if you see/smell/listen to something that reminds you about them. songs that you listened to during your heartbreaks, chai & pakoras that you ate during rain,your fav food from your childhood,smell of coconut oil (head massage by mom during sundays) list goes on & on. As the songs goes "Koi lauta de mere bite hue din!"

Madhooo said...

I completely agree with you. Lot of songs are my favourites mainly 'coz somewhere they are associated with memories. In fact, many a times people do not understand why I like a song so much.:)))

Anitha said...


Offlate I have started reading your BLOG. I like your writing style very much.

Very true, there are some songs which are closely associated with some good memories and the moment you hear that sone there is a flash back of events ...

The same happens to me with "odour/fragrance/smell"...


Shruthi said...

@Rishi: How true! You have put it very well - heartbreaks, joys, everything comes back, as clear as the day it happened!

@Madhooo: Ha ha :) I understand exactly what u mean ;)

Shruthi said...

@Anitha: Thank you so much :) I assume you are the same Anitha who is a Muktha fan? :)

Anitha said...

Yes , I am the same person :)


VirginUpdates said...

i love those songs too.they have a total punch in them.great post.enjoying reading

Akshay said...

money sounds good
but good sound makes money.
music sales across the globe is more than us$40 million.
(copied it from a book.{;)})

Nirwa said...

I do not understand the technical aspects of music.. sur, taal.. etc.. but yes, music is very soothing.. and I do enjoy it!! :)

Nice post indeed! :)

Keep writing!!


Shruthi said...

@Anitha: Cool, good to know that ;)

@VU: Thanks! ;)

@Akshay: Ha ha, thats a good one!!

@Nirwa: You don't really need to know the technical details to enjoy something, especially music! :) And thanks!

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