When you join two parts of a song with a melody

Written by Himangi Vishwaroop on 08 May 2020

In conversation with Shankar Mahadevan 

– Himangi Vishwaroop, Music teacher, Pune.

We all love to have things happen in a flow. When they don’t, we become impatient. Impatience kills ideas, swiftly. And, for creative artists, that can be bad. For it is faith that nurtures creative ideas. In this conversation, Shankar Mahadevan talks to Himangi Vishwaroop about the vital need for artists to give space and time – and loads of faith – for their ideas to breathe and grow. Vital, because some lines will remain elusive. Stubbornly elusive. But if you keep the faith and treat each line of your song with equal care, he says, even that elusive line will come to you automatically. 

I was working on one of my songs. Halfway through I got stuck... How do I connect the mukhda (the first verse or part of a song) with the Antara (the second verse or part)? While composing a song so many melodies come to my head. I am not able to understand which one would suit the song better. How do I handle this thing?

When you hit a roadblock in composing take a break. There’s no need or compulsion to finish it in one sitting. Take a break because your composition has to flow. Else certain lines of the composition will seem forced into place. Take a break from that. 

If you want, leave the composition for a bit. Go somewhere else. Do something else and return to it. And you will never know when you get that line correct. The beautiful line in a composition is not even the main hook – it’s the turnaround line that leads you to the hook which is the beautiful line. For example, in Anupama’s composition, the beauty lies in the turnaround line that leads to the main hook Rangila Mera Sajan. It is a simple line but it is that way of connecting that lends its beauty to the main hook. Remember these things.

So the turnaround line is as important as your main line. And leave it, and let it come to you. Don’t force it and the compositions will come automatically. You will just say, “Oh, wow! This is sounding good”. 

Sometimes, while composing, you’ve lived with that song so much that nothing sounds good. So what you do is you compose a particular line. And have faith in that line where you have got stuck. And let that line breathe a little. Let that line survive on this planet a bit before you stub it out. 

I know accomplished musicians who tend to, many a time, destroy an idea before it is born. They say, “This is not good or this is below my dignity or this is below my musicality or this is too simple”. I say never ever think that any composition is too simple because simple things are the most beautiful things. Never ever think how can I write such a simple line or this is below my dignity or below my musicality. Because simplicity is the most difficult thing to achieve. 

Sometimes you give birth to a line. Let that line live on this planet before you put it into the dust bin. And you’ll realise, “Hey, it’s not bad actually. And then when the lyrics come you may say, “Hey, it’s even more beautiful”. And then when you hear it 10 times, you say, “Yeah, it does make logical sense". 

There are many other things; this topic is a little complex. But the thing to do is let compositions breathe. You might get excited because you get the first 2-3 lines easily. Then, you don’t get the connecting line, and then you are desperate to complete it the same day. Don’t do that – Ever. Just let it be.

Read next. 

A song is a journey of one musical note.

When you work with melody and rhythm.

The fine line between imitation and inspiration.

When you arrange music for a song you’ve created.