An interesting piece of music can be produced using an instrument or the human voice
An interesting piece of music can be produced using an instrument or the human voice

HT Brunch Sunday Debate: Instrumental vs a cappella music

We get a pianist and an a cappella queen (they are in-laws by the way) to argue their forte - song with just vocals or just instruments?
By Piya Podder, Archit Anand
UPDATED ON MAY 30, 2021 06:58 AM IST

“With a cappella, you can express with your voice and body”

By Piya Podder

Piya says that what she loves about a cappella is that if she wants to express anything, all she have to do is sing
Piya says that what she loves about a cappella is that if she wants to express anything, all she have to do is sing

I was introduced to a cappella at a young age but only got to try it during college when I joined the western music society, Zephyr, in Kamala Nehru College. It’s been a love affair since then. For all the three years, most of my days were spent with my society members, practising for competitions and the fest season!

But once I left college, I lost touch with a cappella. When the pandemic hit, I decided to reignite my love affair with it. Thanks to technology, I was able to make weekly covers on my own and upload them on social media.

I love that if I want to express anything, all I have to do is sing. The fact that you can do so much, express and experiment so much with just your voice and body is something that speaks to me. A cappella opened me up to a world of possibilities, musically. It not only helped me put my existing music knowledge to use, but experiment with songs – changing chords, re-harmonizing, using different sounds and textures – it all taught me so much.

Everybody singing their own thing but also in sync with one another; experimenting but also collaborating - what gets created is pure magic. Hide & Seek by Imogen Heap is definitely my favourite. The song makes you feel a 1,000 different things and convey its story with just harmonies.

Indian audiences are more familiar with instrumental music than a cappella, but it’s getting popular with talented groups like Voctronica.

Piya Podder, 25, is a Delhi/NCR-based singer-songwriter, who has jammed in the craziest of places, including the Delhi metro.

“Instrumental music is akin to pantomime storytelling”

By Archit Anand

For Archit, instrumental music is somewhat akin to pantomime storytelling wherein the absence of words, moments of brilliance shine through
For Archit, instrumental music is somewhat akin to pantomime storytelling wherein the absence of words, moments of brilliance shine through

A storytelling experience is enhanced when paired with the canvas of imagination, for it has the power to paint the superlative – good or bad. To say that music often acts as a palette of colours for that canvas is accurate. Instrumental music is somewhat akin to pantomime storytelling wherein the absence of words, moments of brilliance shine through, albeit maintaining the finger-print like individuality of interpretation.

In an age when synths and plug-ins are big on emulation and have broadened the horizons of music compositions, the versatility of contemporary instrumental music, ranging from minimal piano instrumentals, to massive orchestral projects, is catering to a wider audience across all spheres. It complements the liberation of thoughts without outlining a dictated mood via words. For listeners, instrumental music is a supplement to a visual cue. But, a standalone instrument can sound just as complete thematically.

Bollywood songs are composed with a context of a storyline, with vocal music being the composer’s vernacular. Despite that, the Indian audience has been equally receptive to instrumental music and celebrated music directors from RD Burman to AR Rahman in the same league as vocalists. The same isn’t as prominent in the independent music industry yet.

Archit Anand, 28, is a Delhi/NCR- based pianist and music teacher, who recently released his second single.

From HT Brunch, May 30, 2021

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