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Nine is fine

Today I’m in one of those random moods where I pull a concept out of the air and I try and hinge a music topic onto it.

music Updated: Apr 09, 2010 19:25 IST
Hindustan Times

The BeatlesToday I’m in one of those random moods where I pull a concept out of the air and I try and hinge a music topic onto it. So, today’s the 9th of April, which makes it the 99th day of the year. Three 9s, when added, total 27, which also totals to 9, when added! Since 9 has popped up with such ominous ferocity, let’s look at the number 9 in music.

Spooky connection
The sound that immediately begins to play in my head is the loopy and avant-garde sonic pastiche from the Beatles’ White Album called Revolution 9. The piece is a series of tape loops (thereby pioneering the first ‘sampled’ record) of bits and pieces of dialogue that has the voices of John Lennon, George Harrison and Yoko Ono, with some additional spoken parts by George Martin and Ringo Starr. In retrospect, one of the spookiest things the Beatles ever did.

Its also amazing how the phrase ‘Nine lives’ has become the title of many an album or song by quite a few artists.Aerosmith, Steve Winwood, Def Leppard, Reo Speedwagon, Bonnie Raitt and Robert Plant are some of the few stalwarts who have used the phrase to describe their longevity.

But to go back in time, to the classical age, one finds most composers have a Symphony No 9. Beethoven, Mozart, Mahler, Schubert, Haydn, Shostakovitch and many others have had their 9th compositional work stand out in some way.

Stand out success
In the case of Beethoven, it was his last work and the first to use voices in a symphony. And those who have heard it, will testify to its magnificence. The most amazing thing of it all is that Beethoven was completely deaf when he composed this! Imagine the mind-boggling music in his head when he was composing it.

I must tear myself away from the magical classical age to a more contemporary time and mention the musical Nine, which was also recently made into a film. The basis of the musical (and film) was the concept of picking up from Federico Fellini’s masterpiece film 8 1/2, and carrying on the story of Guido Contini, a film director (within the play and the film) who is suffering a mid-life and creative crisis.

The play opened in 1982 and starred the late actor Raul Julia, who won many awards for his performance, as did the play itself in many capacities.

Incidentally, a revival of the play in 2003 starred Antonio Banderas, who also won many awards for his portrayal. And even though it was only natural for Hollywood to have a film version, many questioned the casting of Daniel Day-Lewis in the title role.

Oh well…
Many inspirations. So, its interesting to see how the number nine has been such an inspiration to so many creations in so many ways. Hey, I think, I’m going to go write a song inspired by the number nine too (haha). Next week , the importance of the number ten! Just kidding… if I may say so.

First Published: Apr 09, 2010 13:36 IST