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Can Musical Instruments Express the Lyrical Meaning Effectively?-Score Short Reads

Can Musical Instruments Express the Lyrical Meaning Effectively? – Score Short Reads

Music is one of those powerful artistic mediums that are used for expressing emotions that are deep, thought-provoking and tugs the heart strings. Sometimes, even a thousand-page novel cannot express what a five minute musical piece can do.

What makes music so expressive? Which aspect of musical composition makes it most appealing for repeated listens?- These are some of the questions that music critics as well as normal listeners ponder about.

While some feel that lyrics are the main aspect which brings up the beauty in a musical composition, some people say otherwise. When it comes to musical instruments, some of the greatest artists find it a big challenge to express the lyrical aspect of it through the instrument.

The main reason for this is because- an instrument doesn’t convey the lyrics- but only the sound and the timbre. How can the musical instrument convey a lyric that is essentially vocal in nature? Is it possible to express the lyrical beauty of a composition through an instrument?

In Indian Classical Music, this particular aspect is called “gaayaki” style of instrument playing. Legends like Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia (Flute), Chitti Babu (Veena) and L.Subramaniam (Violin) have proved time and again that through an instrument- a lyric can be greatly expressed as well.

It all lies in the hands of the instrument player and the emotions he/she wants to convey through music. But there is definitely something beyond mastering just the instrument to do this. 

The musical masters say that- understanding and perceiving a composition plays a great role in expressing the lyrical aspect of it. One need not just vocally sing the lyrics to give an expressive angle to the composition.

If the instrument is the place where the heart belongs- there is absolutely no reason why a musical instrument cannot express the lyrical feel perfectly.

When we hear the rendition of Ustad Bismillah Khan’s Vaishnava Janatho, or U.Srinivas’s rendition of Niravadisukhada, the lyrical meaning is greatly expressed in the voicing of the instrument.

At times, the vocalist also may not express the meaning so beautifully as the instrument. In short, musical instruments bring out altogether a new aspect of the lyric through a different dimension of expressivity.

The real beauty of a musical composition is brought out by the artist who understands the composition in their own unique manner- with a heartfelt feeling. The deep spiritual aspect of a composition needs to be first understood to give the best output through a rendition- whether vocal or instrumental.

In contrast to the conventional opinion that vocal rendition can only bring out the best aspect of lyrics-  let us take a moment to realize that it all depends on the artist and how they treat the composition to bring out the best lyrical aspect of it through the sound. 

Just when the spring sets by and with sunny and brighter days ahead, and with COVID-19 still bringing us chills every now and then- take some time to reflect on any of an instrumental musical piece and feel the lyric behind it.

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