The New Arrangers

The unabashedly experimental phase in Hindi film music includes music producers who find that ‘arranging’ a song qualifies them as composers.

Written by Sankhayan Ghosh | Published: September 11, 2012 3:41 am

“SEVERAL music directors I know merely record the tune of a song they are composing on their iPhone and mail it to the music producers,leaving them to do the rest of the job,” says Daniel. B George who has extensively worked with Shantanu Moitra. Earlier referred to as arrangers,the music producers,says George,then lend the mood,groove and panache to the song and also decide on the instruments to be used in the recording. Since much of the work that goes into composing a song is done by a music producer,George has understandably decided to turn into a full-time composer. His first assignment was Sriram Raghavan’s Johnny Gaddar in 2007 for which he composed the background score. George also worked on Agent Vinod recently and hopes that more such assignments will come by.

Like George,several other Bollywood music producers today are opting to trasnform into music composers. Sachin-Jigar are perhaps Bollywood’s recent successful producers-turned-composers. Hitesh Sonik,the man to whom Vishal Bhardwaj has been entrusting his tunes for over 15 years,made his debut as a music director with Stanley Ka Dabba and Pyaar Ka Punchnama. Sonik now has three more assignments underway,which include composing background scores for two films under Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions banner. Clinton Cerejo,who has extensively worked with A R Rahman,gained acclaim for the background score of Sujoy Ghosh’s Kahaani.

The transition from a producer to composer,can be attributed to the changing dynamics of Hindi film music “Earlier,a song was all about the lyrics and the singer’s voice. Today,its arrangement,its ‘feel’ matters too,” says Sonik,“For instance,while composing Dhan Te Nan for Kaminey,the challenge was to lend Gulzar’s grim lyrics a groovy,contemporary feel.” Similarly,the declining trend of lip-sync songs helps since the focus then is on the music as opposed to the voice.

What has also helped is the increasing knowledge and acknowledgment of the producer’s contribution to songs,which is far more balanced today,like in the West. “The composers openly give credit to their producers now,certain award functions have introduced a special category for music producers,and full-page credits for all the instrumentalists in the CD-inlays,” explains Jigar Saraiya of Sachin-Jigar duo.

Given the extensive role that technology plays in composing music—the sound of most instruments is reproduced using various software and equipments—Saraiya is also of the opinion that most great composers are equally good arrangers. “Under the tag of music composers,AR Rahman,Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy or Amit Trivedi are all gifted music producers too.”

However,making a transition isn’t entirely smooth as the industry tends to typecast music producers as technicians over artistes. “You are thought of as someone who lacks the talent and ability to compose melodious music,” says Cerejo.

In that respect,this year’s MTV’s Coke Studio has offered several music producers,including Cerejo and Sonik,the platform to demonstrate their songwriting as well as composing skills. One of Cerejo’s compositions,Madari has been this season’s biggest hit with around four lakh hits on Youtube. “I wanted people to take me seriously as a songwriter,and it happened with Coke Studio,” says Cerejo who hopes to bag a few

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