There is something about patriotic songs that tugs at our soul. We forget the ‘narrow domestic walls’ and think and cheer as one citizen when we hear one. Vande Mataram, written by Bankim Chandra Chatterji, is one song that has caught the imagination of citizens as well as musicians. A.R. Rahman’s reinterpretation of the song became as popular as the original version.
Now, perhaps for the first time, A cappella versions of Vande Mataram have come, that too here in Kerala. On the 69th Independence Day, we talk to Team Bodhi Silent Scape and singers Soumya Sanathanan and Preetha P.V., who have brought out the A cappella versions of this national song.
They say, the song they have created with the support of claps, snaps and sounds made using mouth and body, is a tribute to the country. Music composer Bijibal, one of the founders of Bodhi Silent Scape, says that the song happened quite accidentally.
“A cappella is a popular style in Western countries. It is widely used in church choirs there. In India, though we use the style in songs, it is not very popular,” says Bijibal, who sang the lead vocals with Vipin Lal. “Aby, who works with Bodhi, has arranged the A cappella of Vande Mataram. We had seen him experimenting A cappella styles for the ‘happy birthday jingle’. He used to make us sing those notes,” he adds.
In Bijibal’s opinion, singing A cappella live gives a special feeling. “The harmony that happens when many people sing the same song in different pitches is really interesting. At the same time, we have to be careful while singing it,” says Bijibal. According to Aby Salvin Thomas, who arranged the vocals, it was an interesting exercise for him.
“We have listened to Vande Mataram in different styles. But, not A cappella. When Bijibal suggested this song, I said I will arrange and write the song and teach them. I divided the song in different notes without losing the essence of it. Besides one instrumental sound, we have produced all other supporting sounds using mouth and body. The song is sung by members of Bodhi,” says Aby.
Backing vocals are by Soumya Ramakrishnan, Santhi Bijibal, Swetha Menon, Vijay P. Jacob, Madhu Paul, Jibin Gopal, Justin Varghese, Vysakh Bejoy, Sarath Chandran, Bibin Ashok, Nandhu Kartha and Aby Salvin Thomas. The song was mixed and mastered by Nandhu Kartha.
Salute to India, another A cappella version of the same song by Soumya Sanathanan and Preetha P.V. does not have any musical instrument in their composition. Soumya had earlier done an A cappella Thumpapoove, which was a hit then.
“I had wished to do another song in the same style with Preetha chechi soon after Thumpapoove. Then, we thought about doing A cappella of Vande Mataram as it is a popular song. People would be able to relate to it easily. We require patience to do an A cappella song. It has been a long process. In fact, it was hectic. We took three months to complete everything — song composing, shooting and editing. The video was arranged by Anish G.A, a plus one student,” says Soumya, who is also a percussionist.
“Claps and snaps play a key role in the song. Since it is a patriotic song, we have tried to bring a secular nature in the song,” she adds. Preetha, who tried A cappella for the first time, is still excited about the song. “I am so happy that I did something different. Singing A cappella was not that difficult for me,” she says....