Penn Masala (Heartless + Kabhi Kabhi Aditi)

Jagjit Singh – The man beyond words
November 12, 2012
Sawai-Gandharwa-Bhimsen Mahotsava
November 28, 2012

Penn Masala (Heartless + Kabhi Kabhi Aditi)

Penn Masala (Heartless + Kabhi Kabhi Aditi)
Few weeks ago, one of my friends (@KoLaaVeRi ) sent me some songs and told me to listen to them ASAP. And how can I thank him enough for this? That was real “Sangeet-Khajina”. I was introduced to a new world. Off course, I had heard some people making different sounds and forming a song without any instrument, using only their vocal chords, but I had not come across such a neat, organized and unique effort!

Penn Masala is a “Capella” group. And that too, first one in Hindi. The members of the group kept changing since its formation in 1996 by the students at the University of Pennsylvania. Capella is a type of music in which no instrument is used. All the sounds are produced only by mouth. Interesting, isn’t it? Although there are many such groups in English music, Penn Masala is the first in Hindi, and their specialty lies in mixing Hindi with English songs.

Current Members: Varshil Patel, Ram Narayan, Akshat Vaidya, Akiff Premjee, Samuel Levenson, Rohan Murthy, Dilip Rajan, Dhruv Maheshwari, Prashant Ramesh, Chetan Khanna, Anil Chitrapu, and Ashwin Muthiah

The first song of Penn Masala I heard was “Heartless + Kabhi Kabhi Aditi”. I was so amazed listening to this excellent track that I couldn’t resist myself playing it in loops for next few days. The two songs have been perfectly blended with each other in this track, they sound perfectly homogeneous! I have few things to say about the track and also about the overall capella thing Penn Masala has been doing with pure perfection. Better I list them out as different things…

1) Singing – I just loved the main vocal voices, almost to the extent that I think this singer should have replaced Rashid Ali in Kabhi Kabhi Aditi! Both the English and Hindi vocals are perfect, with accents maintained, just enough to sound them very natural.

2) Cappella – Except the basic rhythm on drums, everything has been sung and no instrument is used. This is a very difficult thing. Singing chords which have minimum 3 notes together is hell of a difficult task. And that too, singing with others, where everyone is singing something different than you, with different notes, maintaining your own notes intact – hats off! Some of regular singers can’t even maintain the harmony where he/she has to sing only one different note than the other! And these Penn Masala guys are just way ahead! Superb! What I liked the most is they have introduced not only chords, but also rhythmic musical patterns in between with flawless synchronization.

3) Innovation – While singing the song, these guys have complemented the original tracks by adding some new things which are not present in original track, which make the song more beautiful. And off course, those singing in place of chords, and rhythmic patterns have to do something different, unless it won’t be fun. And Penn Masala is excellent in this case!

I will keep you all posted on more songs by Penn Masala, but it’s high time you should explore them by yourself. These guys have published 8 albums till now! 9th awaited in 2013.

 

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