A Christmas Novelty and a Big Question

I was browisng through the 'tubes to see if I could find good christmas songs in various interesting genres. One of them was manele, at least sort of:

Now, a commenter helpfully informed me that the melody of that track is borrowed from the 1976 Bollywood classic Kabhi Kabhie:

Which is rather fun and makes sense in the Asia-obsessed world of manele. I quite understand why it was chosen, too - it's a very pretty melody, even when detached from its original context like this or when Nelly Futardo sings it.

There's definately something Indian about it too. I'm sure there are many connoiseurs of Indian music who would readily be able to analyse the melody and recognise its quality of "Indianness" even if it weren't for the fact that it's a known filmi track. In general, the melodic construction of indian popular music has, I hope, been well studied and I definately need to read up on the subject since it interests me a lot, a melody detached like this from its cultural context.

There's another side of the same issue though which interests me even more, and that's the Romanians' perception of Indianness. When Denisa and Florin Peste sit down and chose a song with Indian qualities, what is it they're actually hearing? And when they're creating a new track which they want to sound Indian, how do they construct the melody?

The concept of someone else's conception of a musical system fascinates me, and the Indian one is unusually widely spread. What do the Greeks, the Indonesians, the Tanzanians, the Guyanans see as Indian melodic structure? What do second-generation, culturally detached diasporadic immigrants in Britain and the US? What did the hippies in the 60s?

If I ever get around to doing higher-level research in this subject, that's definately a strong contender for something I'd consider studying.

1 comment:

wayne&wax said...

I agree that this is a fruitful line of research. It's akin what I've been thinking of as, say, hip-hop's reggae canon or hip-hop's jazz. Such an analysis can draw attention to modes of tranmission, representation, imagination, etc. What you've been showing about manele -- i.e., its articulations with "Asian" music -- seems like a really interesting node in the orientalist network, with its own peculiar cultural history, etc.